Many U.S.-based steel service
centers and processors see Mexico holding opportunities for
growth, including several companies that have had operations in
Mexico for many years and continue to make moves to increase
their presence there.
One big draw is the strength of
the automotive industry, said Geoff Gilmore, president of the
Columbus, Ohio-based Worthington Steel Co. subsidiary of
Worthington Industries Inc.
But there are also other bright
spots, according to Carlos Rodriguez-Boras, president and chief
operating officer of Chicago-based Feralloy Corp., noting that
other promising end-use markets include the energy and
In addition to Worthington and
Feralloy, several U.S. service centers and processors have
either joint ventures or wholly owned operations in Mexico,
including Chicago-based Ryerson Inc. and ONeal Steel
Inc., Birmingham, Ala.
Worthingtons first inroad
into Mexico came in 2000 with its investment as a joint-venture
partner in TWB de Mexico SA de CV, which was formed to provide
laser-welded blanks to the Mexican automotive market.
In 2007, Worthington entered
into a 50-50 joint venture with Mexicos Serviacero Planos
SA de CV to form Serviacero Worthington SA de CV, with service
centers in Leon and Queretaro in central Mexico providing
slitting, multiblanking and cut-to-length steel processing
services to automotive, appliance and electronics customers.
The venture has been growing ever since, and recently invested
in a greenfield pickling operation in Monterrey, making it the
first independent pickler to operate in Mexico, according to
Toll processor Acero Prime SRL
de CV, operated for the past 12 years by Feralloy, Mitsui &
Co. Steel Ltd. and U.S. Steel Corp., processes about 500,000
tonnes of hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized steel annually
for the Mexican automotive industry, Rodriguez-Borjas said. It
has three facilities in Mexicos main industrial corridor,
and also provides technical services for some customers in
Phillip M. Wylie, president of
Ryersons southwest region, said the metals service center
chain operates two facilities in Mexico as well as shipping
metal there from some U.S. facilities. We continue to see
opportunities to invest in Mexico, he said.
The companys most recent
Mexican service center, in Tijuana, is one of the largest in
the Baja California region, selling carbon and stainless steel
and aluminum bar, tubing, sheet and plate.
ONeals weldment facility in Monterrey has
doubled in size since the service center opened the operation
more than 10 years ago, helped by strong demand for special bar
quality products, said Jeff Simons, vice president of sales and
marketing. However, many of the products fabricated there
arent for the domestic market, but instead shipped to the