As the only company in Mexico that manufactures aluminum tanks, Trailers y Tanques S.A. de C.V. paves the way in innovation and technology in its industry. Rachel Hartman provides an in-depth report on the young company’s fast-paced track to success.
After just eight years of manufacturing trailers and tanks, Trailers y Tanques S.A. de C.V. is already a top player in the Mexican market. “We’re the leading manufacturer of tanks in Mexico, in spite of the short time we’ve been around,” says CEO Guilibaldo Pérez Olivares. “We’ve worked hard to obtain a differentiating factor and have been successful in doing so.”
One of the largest factors that sets the company apart from others is its choice of products. “Aluminum tanks are one of our main products,” says Pérez-Olivares. “We’re the first in Mexico when it comes to these tanks, and third in all of Latin America.” The company also manufactures stainless steel and carbon tanks.
The company’s product mix has helped it land a number of high-ranking clients. Perhaps the most notable of these is Petróleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company. As the 10th largest oil company in the world in terms of revenue, Petróleos Mexicanos supplies gasoline to gas stations all over Mexico. Commonly called PEMEX, this company has contracted Trailers y Tanques for a large portion of its tanks. “Of all the companies that transport for PEMEX, we hold the number one spot,” notes Pérez-Olivares. “We provide the vehicles they need, and we also transport materials for them. We’re the top provider for PEMEX in both sectors.”
Since its beginning in 2000, Trailers y Tanques has sought ways to get to the top and stay there. “We’re the only company in Mexico right now that makes aluminum tanks,” Pérez-Olivares says. In addition to these, the company manufactures products to transport gasoline and other refined products. “We also make trailers to move construction materials, cement hoppers, and other items,” he adds.
Workers at Trailers y Tanques do not just manufacture trailers and tanks; they are always looking for ways to improve the production process. “Our operating system is remarkably efficient,” says Pérez-Olivares. The company has incorporated many methods that save time and money without sacrificing the quality of the end product. “We then pass those savings on to the customer,” he adds. “Our low prices serve as another way to set us apart from the competition.”
This emphasis on innovation has resulted in fast growth for the eight-year-old company. “We started out by producing six tanks per month,” says Pérez-Olivares. “Our current level of production is 120 tanks each month.” The company’s operations have a capacity to manufacture up to 540 tanks per month.
An increase in production levels has led the company to hire more employees every year. “We started out with just 40 workers,” says Pérez-Olivares. Trailers y Tanques now employs almost 400 employees. The company’s operations take place in Guadalupe, a suburb of Monterrey, Mexico. The city is just a few hours south of the Texas border.
“We just inaugurated a new plant in March 2008,” Pérez-Olivares adds. The new facilities include 1,000 square meters of buildings, and more than 20,000 square meters of patio. This space makes it easier to accommodate the large products that the company makes at a continually increasing rate.
All of these steps have helped the company stay on top of a growing client list. “We’re increasing at a rate that’s greater than 30 percent,” notes Pérez-Olivares. “We now bring in sales of around $30 million on an annual basis.”
When it first began, Trailers y Tanques targeted the Mexican market. Company officials are now starting to think beyond their country’s borders. “We’re beginning to establish contacts in Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia and the United States,” notes Pérez-Olivares.
To be able to participate in the international sector, Trailers y Tanques is taking a number of steps to meet certain codes and regulations. Company officials are in the process of receiving certification from the American Welding Society. They are also working toward being recognized as an “empresa limpia” (clean company), a certificate awarded by the Mexican government to businesses that take active roles in conserving the environment. These steps will allow the company to participate outside of Mexico’s borders.
Pérez-Olivares believes that by the end of 2008, the company will have received certification from the American Welding Society. This will allow Tanques y Trailers to start exporting products to places such as the United States. In just a few years, company officials plan to shift the focus from Mexico’s mainland to exporting. “Within four or five years, we want 50 percent of our sales to come from the Mexican sector and the other 50 percent from the international market,” says Pérez-Olivares.
While it makes this adjustment, the Mexican manufacturer also plans to follow the industry’s latest trends. “Right now there is a large tendency in the market to shift to aluminum products,” Pérez-Olivares notes. Currently, 30 percent of the products manufactured by Trailers y Tanques are made of aluminum, 40 percent are made of stainless steel, and the remaining 30 percent are formed from carbon steel. Company officials plan to modify the product mix based on the direction that the international market takes in the coming years.
According to Pérez-Olivares, Trailers y Tanques also wants to expand its product line to include a wider variety of items. “We don’t want to make just tanks,” he says. “We also want to produce platforms, tumblers, and other related products.”
In addition to a more diverse product list, the company wants to get more involved in the early stages of manufacturing. “We want to become a designing company,” explains Pérez-Olivares. To do so, company officials recently invested in special software called Solid Box. This will help workers perform the designing process. Company officials are also making changes in the administrative system, with the hopes of improving internal processes. “This will allow us to become even more efficient in our operations,” he adds.
All of these changes are expected to lead to higher production rates. Fortunately, the company is used to fast growth and constant change. “In the next five years, we want to make full use of our current capacities,” notes Pérez-Olivares. Doing so would mean production rates of approximately 540 tanks per month, which would be 320 more per month than the company’s current production schedule. It would also lead to much higher sales. “This plan would result in annual revenues of an estimated $100 million.”
Ever since its first tank rolled off the production line, Trailers y Tanques has looked for new opportunities in its industry. Its innovative culture has brought fast results to this young company. As it extends to other parts of Central and South America, as well as the United States, its ground-breaking methods will help it continue along the road of success.
To maintain a leadership role, officials plan to continue developing the transporting equipment that clients need. “We’re not a company that makes generic products,” explains Pérez-Olivares. “We’re a company that designs products according to our customers’ needs.” This spirit, together with the drive and motivation workers display, will ensure that tanks, trailers and other products will keep rolling off the line at Trailers y Tanques.