Incertec puts its faith in Sonora
Incertec, a supplier of secondary processes for the aerospace industry, has approached Sonora with an offer of helping meet demand in its aerospace cluster and consolidate the state's production chain.
In late 2010, the state of Sonora and its aerospace cluster sent out positive signals to Incertec, an American metalplating company. Clearly there were business opportunities to be had here.
According to Jesús Cervantes, manager of Incertec's plant in Empalme, Sonora, the company's Minneapolis headquarters had shown a growing interest in the thriving aerospace industry of this border state in Northwest Mexico. In the end, it was Mohammad who came to the mountain: in 2011 Incertec took a leap of faith with the opening of its plating unit, which currently renders services to some 40 customers, 90% of whom are related to the aerospace sector.
"The plant was set up to develop the local market," says Cervantes. It wasn't about transferring projects or contracts initiated in the US; Incertec came to Mexico to meet the needs of companies producing this side of the border.
The cost of the kind of secondary processes Incertec offers is relatively low but companies in Sonora, Chihuahua, and Baja California had to pay more for them –and some still do– because in the absence of a local provider, these had to be carried out in the US.
"Since we've been here, our client portfolio has increased. One of the reasons some of these companies have opted to set up shop in Sonora is because secondary processes like the ones we offer are now available," says Cervantes.
Incertec's portfolio features the Mexican plants of companies like United Technologies Corporation, Williams International, Radiall, Ducommun, Parker Aerospace, ITT and, according to Cervantes, the hope is that in the near future other French, American, German, and British companies will be attracted by a region that caters to the entire production chain. "All the processes original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need can be found here: machined parts, chemical processes, non-destructive testing, thermal treatments, and paint."
Incertec's contribution to Sonora's production chain –which Cervantes considers fully consolidated– consists of type I, II and III anodizing, universal pre-treatments for steel, brass, castings, stainless steel, aluminum, electroplating and electroless, non-destructive testing, nickel, tin, copper and cadmium plating, and titanium etching –the latter nickel and anodizing being the processes in greatest demand at its Empalme plant.
These processes and the non-destructive testing the company performs are Nadcap and AS9100 C certified. It also has four Boeing certifications, in addition to the certifications extended by its customers.
"If you look for another company with the certifications and processes we offer under one roof, I doubt you'll find it," says Cervantes.
Although its calling is the aerospace sector, Incertec's Mexican plant also has customers in the automotive, electronics and commercial sectors. In the US, where it has been operating for over twenty years, it is a market leader, serving some 600 customers, including medical firms.
Add to these services the smelting and machining processes available, says Cervantes, and Sonora can claim to be a one-stop shop for manufacturers. All they have to do is bring their plans, procure the necessary raw materials and they can go back home with their part.
Since 2011, Incertec has channeled four million usd into its 2,500-square-meter plant in Empalme. Initially, says Cervantes, investing in Sonora required a "leap of faith." Now all that remains is for the company to expand on a level pegging with growth in demand.
In the short time it has been operating in Mexico, Incertec has found an ally in the federal government through initiatives like the Ministry of the Economy's Program for the Technological Development of Industry (Prodiat), which provides funding for technical assistance, training, certification, consulting services, and access to information and new technologies related to high-added-value activities.
By year-end, Incertec will have an additional cadmium and nickel plating lines, and by the second half of 2015 it plans to use available plant space to introduce silver and gold lines, which will require an additional injection of 1.5 million usd. New contracts and more customers will also mean extra shifts and adding to its 32 strong workforce.
Procuring raw material in Mexico hasn't been a problem, since Incertec has a strategic alliance with the American chemical giant MacDermid, which also operates in Mexico.
Incertec continues to put its faith in Sonora and has opened the floodgates for others eager to follow its pioneering example. "It makes us proud that the reason many have come here is because we're here," concludes Cervantes.