The Business Year

Felipe Villareal

MEXICO - Industry

Felipe Villareal

CEO, Alian Plastics

Bio

Felipe holds a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from ITESM, as well as a Global MBA for Latin American Managers from ITESM and Thunderbird. In addition to different certificates in Finance, Operations, Sales, Lean Manufacturing programs.
He has worked in plant, operations and commercial management for more than 22 years, with multifunctional teams from different cultures, including those from India, China, USA, Caribbean, Italy, Mexico. After graduation, Felipe joined General Electric, having the opportunity to be selected to participate for four years within the company’s select Operations Management Leadership Program. He has held management roles at Pentair and Broad-Ocean Motor. In 2018 he became the Managing Director at Alian Plastics. He has actively participated during his career in Household Appliances, Automotive Clusters and associations such as American Chamber, Caintra and INDEX NL. In 2019 he is invited to be part of the Board of INDEX NL where he shares activities and responsibilities with other Board members.

“We set ourselves apart because we are able to perform additional operations, to deliver a more integrated product.“

What is the main added value that Alian Plastics offers the Mexican market compared to other competitors?

There are many companies operating in the plastic injection industry. We set ourselves apart because we are able to perform additional operations, to deliver a more integrated product. Additionally, we develop projects from scratch alongside our customers, having multiple partnerships (in Europe, the US, and Asia) with whom we are developing different tools.

With the rise in industrial demand, how do you plan on taking advantage of this momentum?

The boom has created more demand than we had expected this year. With the pandemic, we are going through a challenging time In the manufacturing sector, there has been an accelerated increase in some products, mainly due to the economic revival of the US. Some companies had to cease operations during the pandemic, which led to a shortage of resins. Since we import them from various locations, we can clearly see how the supply chain has been affected. We had to find alternative resins and work side by side with our customers, who continue to support us. Our resin stock that used to last for 3-4 weeks, today it is only sufficient for 3-4 hours. This is a situation that we have experienced in the first quarter and that will probably continue until next year. Prices have also been affected, the shortage of resins increases their prices. Our partners in our supply chain are fully transparent, working always with honesty and integrity, crucial values in Alian.

What is Alian’s strategy for continued growth?

Transporting plastic is too expensive, as the weight does not justify the price of the shipping. We are located in Monterrey, and we plan on expanding within the same plant. Even with the pandemic we have taken on new projects. In 2008, Alian Plastics was 100% automotive, while today we manufacture in the automotive, heavy-duty, trailers, toy parts, air conditioners, and are even active in the agricultural sectors. Over three years, we have diversified ourselves into five industries. It has taken us a while to develop, and what we achieved in 2021 we started in 2018. Now, we can say that we have new customers in diverse industries and are looking to develop business in proximate regions. Our products stay in Mexico, but our own customers then transport them, say, to New York, be it the toy or automotive industry. We aim to be the added value for our customers and their products, that they then transfer to foreign markets.

What strategies is Alian using to deliver a more integrated portfolio of services?

We deliver a more integrated product to customers, taking care of secondary operations. For the customer, receiving a product that is pre-assembled has much more value than mere plastic injection. We operate with medium to high tonnages, and can produce parts from 330 to 1,650 tons and also do the injection molding process called “insert-molding.“ In terms of logistics, we operate to the “just-in-time“ process with multiple customers, even though timing by definition is as challenge. We know the monthly volume and yet customers send us their orders four hours prior to shipment. This is due to the fact that our customers change their production programs during the day because of shortages. This has been the biggest challenge for us. In addition, there is the health concern to contend with. Our employees must be safe in the facilities, we have to ensure safety measures, and that there are no outbreaks. Thanks to the campaign and culture we have created, a number of employees have tested positive, although there have fortunately been no major outbreaks within the organization.

What are your main goals for the next year?

Our main goal is to develop the programs we have just won, create projects from scratch, work to challenging deadlines, adapt logistics, and work with our partners, both in Europe and Asia. Our main challenge is to achieve the customers satisfaction that took us two and half years to earn. Our second goal is to realize the sales forecast, which is rather difficult to achieve with the pandemic and the shortages I mentioned earlier. The market has been reactivated and there is plenty of supply, although there is staff absenteeism to consider due to sanitary restrictions. Indeed, retaining our employees has also been a challenge this year. Another of our goals is to diversify ourselves, something that we already begun to achieve with the culture industry.

What are main competitive advantages of manufacturing in Mexico?

Indeed, in many industries, like in agriculture, companies are now looking for their components to come from Mexico. The country has a major competitive advantage in its proximity to the United States. Mexico has a free trade agreement with the United States and is in the process of reaping the benefits of this geographic advantage.

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