The Cornerstone of Success for Columbia Chemical de Mexico

The Cornerstone of Success for Columbia Chemical de Mexico

September 22, 2023

Nearly a decade ago, Columbia Chemical achieved the goal of opening a joint venture operation in Mexico to offer full-service, direct product sales and service to a growing market. With three locations in key areas (Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Querétaro), Columbia Chemical de Mexico is in close proximity to the large OEMs and Tier Suppliers with whom their customers work. In addition, the three locations allow them to ship products quickly and efficiently and provide on-site technical service and support at a level that is unmatched in their marketplace.

The successful growth of this joint venture operation is due in large part to the expertise of the team that has led it from the beginning. Operations Manager Raymundo González is a well-respected industry veteran with more than 30 years in metal finishing and Technical Service Manager Adrian de la Torre has more than 20 years of technical knowledge and skills. Both have been with Columbia Chemical de Mexico from day one and are committed to delivering on the organization’s core purpose of Simplifying Surface Finishing® for their customers. When asked what they attribute their success to, they both agree it can be distilled down to what they call the three P’s: Products, Price and Personal Service.

Products. “Columbia’s high-quality products already had a strong following in Mexico when we opened,” shared González. “COLZINC ACF-II, Acid Zinc processes and SpectraMATE® 25 were always the most requested in the beginning and continue to deliver consistent results for our customers.” Over the past several years, Zinc Nickel has grown in demand with COLLOY NI-Z Posit II Alkaline zinc-nickel process becoming a top seller in their market. Interest has also grown in acid zinc nickel and more recently, Tin Zinc. As Columbia Chemical’s renowned expertise in Decorative Trivalent plating has been recognized worldwide, demand for Columbia Chemical’s TriCOL Reclaim® has spiked in the last couple of years and the team has completed new installations in their service area as more OEMs transition away from hexavalent. Columbia Chemical de Mexico carries the full line of products from cleaners and acid inhibitors to brighteners, passivates, and topcoats. González and De la Torre have countless examples of customers whose plating lines have had years of stability after implementation, proving the quality of the chemistry speaks for itself.

Price. Columbia Chemical’s reasonable market pricing has been a benefit from the very beginning, especially when many competitors in the market outsource their manufacturing and therefore cannot control supply and quality as easily. At Columbia’s main headquarters in Ohio, the extensive in-house production capabilities allow manufacturing of products from raw material all the way to completed chemistry. This capability is exactly what allows the company to be able to sell and ship products all over the world while still maintaining a lower cost threshold and delivering superior quality. González remarked this is a direct benefit for CC de Mexico customers and makes a significant difference in their competitive landscape. The ability to warehouse locally with three locations in Mexico and get products in their customer’s hands quickly also enhances CC de Mexico’s ability to provide competitive pricing.

Personal Service. While the products, pricing, and geographic proximity often open the door with new customers, the personal service received is how CC de Mexico maintains so many long-standing customers. The team at CC de Mexico assists their customers through the entire process, from initial inquiry to line/product installation, lab analysis, and ensuring success of the final plated product. De la Torre and his team are available to be on-site, answering questions about the product, troubleshooting issues, and catching potential problems before they arise. To underscore the value of the personal service provided, González shared an example of one of their longtime customers who does plating for an automotive OEM overseas. The customer had been pleased with the ease of use and appearance of Columbia’s TriCOL Reclaim® chemistry they had been using for six months, but an OEM was interested in switching over to their pre-existing trivalent system. Based on the shop’s knowledge and success with the TriCOL Reclaim® process, as well as experience with the technical expertise and support of the CC de Mexico team, the customer resisted the change and successfully defended their desire to keep using the TriCOL Reclaim® chemistry. The OEM is pleased with the results.

Columbia Chemical’s President Brett Larick reflected on the efforts of González and De La Torre as they have successfully grown the operation and realized the vision of bringing Columbia Chemical to Mexico. “We knew Mexico would be a valuable and important area to be present in and this joint venture continues to exceed our expectations and help us expand the Columbia Chemical brand and portfolio globally. Our presence in the Mexico market has also driven innovation in our product research and development. Our R&D team, led by Mark Schario, has been able to work directly with González and De La Torre to develop specialized products designed to meet the specific needs of the region. This innovation allows us to continue to enhance our functional and decorative product lines.”

Looking forward, in today’s rapidly advancing globalization market, companies are expanding from other countries and Mexico is becoming an area that once used to house just assembly plants but is now seeing the addition of several facilities home to the full manufacturing cycle. Companies are choosing Mexico as a strategic location, knowing they can immerse themselves right into a full supply chain network. CC de Mexico works with customers that represent companies based in Japan, China and throughout Europe and the move toward globalization will continue to drive this reality forward. Although their three locations currently cover a good scope of the country, as this growth continues, CC de Mexico will keep an eye on the future and may look to expand even further in the northwestern part of the country in order accommodate more customers.