Globalization and the integration of supply chains across borders are creating opportunities for world-class suppliers from regions and countries outside of the traditional mainstream.
One such is Vitro, a leading Mexico-based glass manufacturer, which has grown into one of the world’s major glass companies. The Company is focused on two main businesses: glass containers and flat glass, catering for both the architectural and automotive sectors.
Automotive Industries asked Hugo A. Lara García, CEO of Vitro, to tell us more about the company’s presence in North America.
Lara: We are a strong player in the US. In fact, Vitro is the third-largest producer in the NAFTA region. Our manufacturing know-how and state-of-the-art technology has enabled us to produce high-quality automotive glass products. Vitro is a trusted supplier to most of the largest names in the global automotive industry.
AI: How has Vitro strengthened its market share?
Lara: We are present in the US, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil in order to be closer to our customers. From these facilities we support design, engineering, sales, and customer service. Our business model includes the manufacturing of laminated windshields and tempered parts in Mexico. Glass is then shipped to satellite facilities to integrate additional components to the products and ship just in time in a location close by the final assembly plants.
In Mexico we have been leaders for more than 40 years, being a preferred supplier for most of the car makers installed in the country. We currently supply multiple vehicle lines, from compact to full size, from low end to luxury cars, sedans and SUV´s. Our glasses have presence in approximately 50% of the 2.5 million vehicles that are manufactured in Mexico every year. Additionally, new contracts are coming for the following years, so we are confident to keep a solid leadership in this market.
Vitro has a long-term strategy to meet the requirements of the South American market that is going to keep growing very quickly, particularly in Brazil. During 2012 we concluded contracts with major OE Automakers in Brazil, and we have already started to supply different vehicle lines. Our goal is to become one of the major suppliers of automotive glass in this country. We are confident that we will succeed because we have extensive experience in the automotive industry, including highly competitive markets such as the NAFTA region.
Vitro Colombia supplies laminated windshields, as well as tempered side and rear windows. The supply process is based on “just in time” procedures. Through Vitro Colombia we serve the Andean Region, including Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Vitro Colombia has been honored with the Andean Certificate of Merit 2007 by General Motors, for its Quality, Service, Technology and Price. This award is the recognition of a supplier that has distinguished itself by superior performance, for continuous improvement and consistent support of the supply needs of GM assembly facility. The company in Colombia had also been certified as Supplier of the Year, again by General Motors, and by Sofasa (Renault), due to its continuous improvement efforts based on Kaizen methodology.
AI: Tell us about Vitro’s experience with the development of new vehicles.
Lara: Vitro has extensive experience working with automakers from the early stages of design. Our designers and engineers interact with our customers in cross-functional teams to make suggestions and to co-design in order to ensure that glass parts will integrate perfectly with the car design. With some OE automakers, our technical design personnel are located on-site, alongside our customers, engineers and designers.
AI: Tell us about Vitro’s in-house technology on automotive glass bending.
Lara: We have a very solid technology team that has designed and has integrated the latest glass forming and bending technology. Our team works with different suppliers around the world in order to produce complex shapes of glass within a short cycle time, and in an energy-efficient process. This activity is one of the core competences that enable us to compete with other global glass makers. I would like to mention here that every year our clients recognize our work. We have received numerous awards for our quality performance such as Supplier of the Year (General Motors), Best Automotive Glass Parts Supplier and Developing Excellence (Volkswagen), Supplier of the Year (Chrysler), National and Ibero-American awards, just to name a few. We feel very proud of this, because it confirms that our strategies and efforts are going in the right direction. These awards show Vitro’s commitment to quality and leadership among the automotive glass industry manufacturers.
AI: How will the current debt restructuring impact the company as a whole?
Lara: Like other companies around the world, our business is not immune to the challenging times we are all experiencing for the last two years. Nevertheless, Vitro has successfully isolated the debt restructuring process from its day-to-day operations. Though these are challenging times, our operations continue as normal and we continue to serve a broadly diversified Blue Chip Customer base in relationships that go beyond 50 years.
For many of our customers and suppliers these have been also trying times but Vitro has been there to help them get through with its continuous operation and production of quality products and services… Our commitment to satisfy the needs of our customers and paying our suppliers never changed. The process we have carried out has been the correct one, is close to completion and a stronger Vitro will emerge.
AI: Tell us about Vitro as a socially responsible company in terms of sustainable development.
Lara: We focus on competitiveness as the means to achieve our management goals and contribute to sustainable development at the same time. This approach led us to be pioneers in various practices of social security, community development, and environmental protection in Mexico. The experience resulting from such initiatives is reflected in the Company’s current mission, vision, and values that strengthen the linkage with our customers and the sense of responsibility to the community. Vitro has been certified as a Great Place to Work and as a Corporate Social Responsibility Company several times.
The Company is constantly aiming to consolidate its role as a socially responsible company; such efforts have resulted in our Glass Recycling Program being one of the most important in the continent for the volume of recovered material. Further improving our products for the consumer and the environment, we have developed innovative processes to encapsulate glass using TPV and EPDM, replacing the traditional PVC that generates toxic gases in its manufacturing process and during its lifecycle. We are also developing cutting-edge technology regarding the use of nanoparticles, to display in the immediate future.
Even in times of great challenges such as the world is now living, sustainable development is not an opportunity but rather an obligation. We are proud to have the support of more than a century of experience; we are ready to continue supplying the best glass in the market for another 100 years.