What comes to mind when you think of Mexico? Most of us probably know Mexico for its great food, beaches, and thousands of years of culture. However, back in the early 1990s Keats saw in Mexico an opportunity to serve the underappreciated maquiladora assembly market.
In Spanish, maquiladora refers to the practice of millers charging a maquila, or “miller’s portion” for processing other people’s grain. More recently, it has come to define manufacturing operations in Mexico’s free trade zones. Thanks to NAFTA, there are now almost half a million Mexicans working in over 3,000 maquiladoras. This market is an excellent source of high quality labor for many different industrial sectors including automotive parts and supplies, telecommunications equipment, and medical supplies. At Keats, we saw that with the growth of maquiladoras there would be an ever-increasing need for superior metal stampings, wireforms, and assemblies. So on August 1stof 1994, only a few months after NAFTA took effect, we opened Keats Southwest (KSW) in the vibrant border town of El Paso, Texas.
This new location served multiple purposes. First, it directly served our Mexican neighbor, Ciudad Juárez. This booming sister city to El Paso also happens to be home to more than 300, or 10%, of Mexico’s maquiladoras. Second, it allowed Keats to supply not only all of Mexico, but also the entire southwestern United States.
Eighteen years after we took the bold step to move into the maquiladora market, Keats Southwest is now a 24-hour a day, 5 day a week operation. We have 45 dedicated and highly skilled employees who manufacture a wide range of products on 36 state-of-the-art four-slide and multi-slide machines, and 11 metal stamping presses. During our time serving the region, Keats Southwest has worked on some exciting projects, including designing and building fuel injection steelshieldsand reel to reel phosphor bronze terminals for the automotive industry in Mexico.
Our success in predicting and capitalizing on future manufacturing trends has only just begun. As the world’s economy grows and shifts, Keats is prepared to utilize its practical understanding of foreign markets and its over 50 years of experience to stay ahead of the curve.