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.
Recently Matt Keats from Keats Southwest took a trip out to Anaheim for this year’s Medical Design & Manufacturing West Exposition andConference. The MD&M show is a comprehensive resource for every aspect of the medical device industry. It gathers medtech professionals and leading medical OEM suppliers together all in one convenient location. Gatherings like this have become even more important, because in recent years the size and scope of the medical device industry has exploded. In 2011 alone, the top 5 manufacturers earned an astronomical $85 billion and this number is only going to increase as the world’s population grows and grays.
At this year’s MD&M West, our booth was less about highlighting any one product and more about letting the medical device industry know that we are experts when it comes to dealing with their smallest, most exacting and delicate metal stamping, wireform, and assembly needs. Our industry-leading four slide and multi-slide capabilities, which we offer at both our Illinois and El Paso locations, are a perfect fit for the world of medical devices.
One important thing Matt noticed during his time in Anaheim is that many medtech professionals are not completely aware of the wide-ranging capabilities of modern metal stamping.In many cases, innovative devices are being held back by this lack of knowledge. Therefore, one of Matt’s biggest challenges at this year’s MD&M West was to spread the word about what Keats can do to help turn groundbreaking ideas into lifesaving devices.
We are happy to report that his year’s MD&M was a smashing success! Both from his spot behind the table at Booth 1568 and while meeting and greeting, Matt was able to both disseminate our capabilities and make some amazing connections. We truly believe that Matt’s successful trip will allow Keats to play an even bigger role in the future of the medical device industry.
The FDA recently announced that they have reached a tentative user fee deal with the $105.8 billion U.S. medical device industry. The deal allows the FDA to collect around $500 million from the various companies over the next five years. In return, for this near doubling of fees, companies – and in turn patients – will benefit from a faster and more transparent review process.
While this might not seem like front-page news to most people, it is to us. The U.S. medical device market is the world’s largest. As a country, we spend $339 per person, per year on medical devices. America is home to 7 out of 10 of the world’s largest manufacturers including Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Baxter, Covidien and Medtronic. A faster and more streamlined approval process means more medical devices getting a green light for production.
At Keats, we specialize in the kind of small metal stampings, wireforms, and assemblies that are crucial to making exacting medical devices.We recently designed and built over 3,000,000 wire links for a leading medical device maker.The Florida-based medical device maker came to Keats because they needed their medical device parts to be durable, consistent, and exacting. It’s not the kind of component you want made by just anyone. You might even say it’s a matter a life and death.
Many of these devices play critical roles in keeping people alive and well. Because of this, the quality control experts at Keats go to extraordinary length to make sure that nothing leaves our facilities before it is subjected to rigorous inspection and testing.
Over the next few months, we’ll do our best to keep you informed about how the FDA’s faster review process will directly affect our industry and most importantly, you and your loved ones.
At Keats, we make some of the most intricate custom small metal stampings, wire forms, and assemblies around. At all three of our locations, we are proud to bring our customers high-quality services and excellent design capabilities. Unlike some of our competitors, Keats engineers all of our own dies and tools. This kind of customization allows us to guarantee our clients the tightest tolerances and a consistently high level of quality. In order to bring our clients this amount of technical expertise, we use the best tools available. In the case of designing and engineering, no tool is more helpful than Autodesk’s AutoCAD software.
Autodesk is a proud American company that makes the world’s leading 2D and 3D CAD (computer-aided design) software. Much like Keats, Autodesk is an industry leader in their field, and they are committed to innovation, customer service, and cost competitiveness. Every year Autodesk releases a new, more advanced, and user-friendly version of their award winning software. Like Keats, they never rest on their past achievements. They know that you build long-term relationships by keeping your customers happy and always being ahead of the curve. To top it all off, they were recently included in CNBC.com’s list of 15 companies with zero debt. Not many companies can say that these days. It’s a sign that like Keats, Autodesk is committed to fiscal responsibility without sacrificing innovation and customer service.
If you want to learn more about how we utilize Autodesk’s AutoCAD software to custom engineer our tools and dies, check out our website or give one of our design experts a call today.
If your company relies on a steady supply of steel, you are probably quite aware that the price of U.S. benchmark hot-rolled coil steel recently hit a two-year high of $783 a ton. At the same time, European steel prices have fallen, leaving a $128-a-ton gap between the two regions. That’s both good and bad news. Good, because the improvement in prices on this side of the Atlantic means that manufacturers and suppliers are responding to some very welcomed, upbeat economic data, like a drop in new unemployment claims, a rise in the ISM purchasing managers’ index, and the highest steel mill production since the beginning of the financial crisis.
It’s bad news because higher prices for raw materials all too often do need to be dispersed between manufacturer and customer. Also, the slew of negative European economic factors equals lower overseas demand and sales.
Because we’re a company built on long-term relationships, we just want to let you know that we’re doing everything we can to control costs so you don’t feel the pinch. If your prices do increase, we want you to know why. As a trusted vendor of high-quality steel stampings, wire, and assemblies, we watch the trends and pricing forecasts closely to stay competitive and cost-effective for our customers.
With this in mind, Keats wants to promise everyone that we will make every effort to keep you informed about any price fluctuations that might affect your bottom line.
Prices rise and prices fall, but just know that our quality and commitment to you, the customer, will always remain high.