Altopro plans $50 million expansion in Mexico

Friday, Dec 23, 2016

Polypropylene film producer Altopro SA de CV plans to have a new 28.5 foot-wide, five-layer oriented film line operational in early 2017.

Supplied by Brückner Group GmbH of Siegsdorf, Germany, the new line is at the heart of a $50 million expansion of Altopro’s modern facility in Irapuato, 212 miles northwest of Mexico City — where the company started operations in 1985 and where it runs three plants today.

“We should have received all the equipment between now and the end of the year and it should be up and running by March next year,” Altopro CEO and co-founder Antonio Simón Guerrero said Aug. 4.

The line, the company’s fifth, will add about 40 million pounds to the manufacturer’s production capacity.

“Right now we’re at about 70 [million] to 80 million pounds a year,” Simón said. He believes the project will “unquestionably” place Altopro at the leading edge of the industry.

Simón, the Mexico-born son of a Lebanese immigrant, the late José Simón Nader, said Altopro had sales of $92 million in 2015.

“With the addition of the new line we are adding about $30 million in sales,” he added.

Asked about future investments, Simón said “it will take another three or four years before we go into a third phase, which would be adding another line, another $50 million worth” of investment.

The purchase takes the amount Altopro has invested in the past three decades to $200 million.

Including the new line, Altopro has three Brückner lines and two from Andritz AG of Graz, Austria. Simón said he considered both Andritz and Brückner before making the latest purchase.

Altopro employs 500 in Mexico City and 200 in Irapuato, where Simón plans to add 100 workers.

Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, which claims to be the world’s largest baker, and PepsiCo Inc., a multinational food, snack and beverages giant, are among Altopro’s customers, as is insulation facings specialist Lamtec Corp. of Mount Bethel, Pa., which Altopro has supplied exclusively for 15 years.

Snacks and bakery work account for 60 percent of Altropro’s sales, with construction accounting for 10 percent of the total, according to Simón. The company also offers lamination and bottle labels, and it supplies the pharmaceutical industry. He predicts the biggest growth in the next decade will come from snacks and bakery.

Simón, a business and economics graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, said Altopro owes its success, among other factors, to the care it has taken of its small customers, “some of whom have grown with us.”

Furthermore, he said, the company has proven itself to be innovative by introducing, among others, white films for industrial applications. He said the company uses all of its lines to produce a variety of products, a versatility that, he claimed, gives Altopro an advantage over its two closest business rivals, both of which are located in Mexico.

Family connection

Simón explained that, although it was he who started Altopro on the road to manufacturing, it was his father’s earlier sales efforts that inspired the company’s birth.

Simón’s son, José Antonio, is a company vice president based in Houston, where Altopro has a customer service office and warehouse.

Simón complained about low-price competition from China and India, and said the Mexican government should do more to stop it.

“We’re not going broke,” he said, “but it’s harming us all the same.”

He added that he feels a responsibility to his company’s workers and their families.

“So rather than just looking for a high return on investment, we have a social commitment to all these families who have been very loyal to our group,” he said.



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