Volume 14 | Issue 1 | Year 2011

“In Mexico, there’s an unrivaled respect for the IG brand,” says Yuri Hernández Rodríguez, an engineer and strategy manager at GRUPO IG, a leading manufacturer of transformers in Latin America. “Throughout the history of our company, our solid reputation has been a competitive advantage. We have powerful brand equity in the electrical industry within the country.”
One of the leading reasons behind the reputation of GRUPO IG lies in the quality of its products. “We produce transformers that make use of the most advanced technology,” explains Hernández. “Our parts are highly efficient and meet the highest quality standards at both a national and international level.”

GRUPO IG manufactures a variety of products, including both single-phase and three-phase transformers ranging from 5 KVA to 10 MVA with voltages spanning between 13,200 volts and 115,000 volts. The company has ISO 9001:2000 certification, and has won numerous awards for its products over the years, including the International Award for Excellence of Products and Services in Spain in 2005. Headquarters for the company are based in the city of Irapuato, which is located in Mexico’s central state of Guanajuato.

GRUPO IG first began in 1940 when Don Everardo Hernández Alvarez started a company that manufactured fuse limiters. Before launching his own firm, Hernández Alvarez worked as a superintendent for the Central Mexico Light and Power Company, a British company operating in Mexico at the time. GRUPO IG would soon be recognized as the first company of its kind in Latin America.

Little by little, GRUPO IG experienced growth and steadily added on to its operations. Today the company is horizontally integrated, notes Hernández. It takes in raw materials such as silicon steel, oil, stainless steel plates, carbon steel plates, and copper cathode, among others. From there, the company transforms the materials into enameled copper magnet wire, tanks, and silicon steel cores; it then uses these to create the end product, a transformer. The final product may consist of up to 100 different components.

GRUPO IG offers a wide range of distribution transformers, from the classic pole and pad-mounted types for residential use to medium power and substation transformers for industrial and commercial purposes. One of the company’s latest developments is the submersible type transformer.

In addition to manufacturing, GRUPO IG also oversees the marketing and selling of its products. “This gives us the opportunity to provide excellent service to our clients,” says Hernández. “It also grants us a great deal of freedom to manage our own processes.”

The company has 16 sales offices throughout the country, located in the following places: Chihuahua, Cancún, Culiacán, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, La Paz, Mazatlán, Mexicali, Mexico City, Monterrey, Querétaro, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Torreón, Tapachula, and Veracruz.

GRUPO IG currently employs approximately 600 workers. The company focuses on maintaining highly trained, well qualified employees. Hernández, for instance, studied industrial engineering at Tec de Monterrey, one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico. Hernández also holds an MBA from the University of Toronto.

Employees carry out operations in the company’s three manufacturing plants, located in Irapuato. Together, the company has 32,000 square meters that it uses for production purposes. GRUPO IG has the capacity to produce approximately 792,000 KVAs per year.

Due to its ongoing growth, the company recently undertook a project to completely renovate the company. Now at the half-way point, the goal is to create a well-organized space in which production can continue increasing and innovation can flow easily. While the project is massive, Hernández notes that the company’s ongoing growth has been well maintained thus far. “In the last five years we’ve grown in production capacity by about 224 percent, all without the need to add on significant amounts in terms of physical plant space or investment capital,” she explains.

For its transformers, the company has an in-house department dedicated to product design. GRUPO IG also holds a number of national patents in Mexico. “We’re always introducing innovative products; the market demands that we do,” notes Hernández.

To make sure its products are made with the latest technology, GRUPO IG brings in machinery for its factories from a number of countries. Recently, the company acquired machinery with the Euroalpha brand from Italy, and also machinery with the Cincinnati brand from the United States. The majority of the company’s equipment originates from the United States and Europe. If a comparable option is available in Mexico, the company usually chooses it in order to support the Mexican economy, Hernández adds.

After manufacturing a product, GRUPO IG sends it to an in-house department to test it. This allows the company to make sure the product is operating properly in both its electrical and mechanical aspects. “It also assures us of the quality of the product we’re offering,” notes Hernández.

In addition to producing high quality, GRUPO IG stays on top of current trends in today’s global electrical industry. “The world is changing, and companies that want to stay competitive need to adapt quickly to the political, socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental changes that occur.” At an international level, Mexico has a strong position in terms of electricity; it even sells energy to both the United States and Guatemala. Still, Hernández notes that the company does not take this for granted. “In our industry, successful companies need to constantly be reinventing themselves and investing in research and development in order to stay on top.”

One of the biggest areas that has experienced change recently in the electrical sector involves the environment. Due to climate change concerns, Hernández explains that many clients are looking for transformers that are highly efficient at competitive prices. “Manufacturers need to constantly be sharpening their pencils, so to speak, to be able to offer low, attractive prices with high quality.” GRUPO IG applies this double strategy – to offer high quality at a low price – while carrying out daily operations.

This strategy has brought in top clients for the company, including leaders such as CFE and Siemens in Mexico. The company also supplies transformers to private clients such as constructors, electricians, and architects. In Mexico, GRUPO IG holds the second position in its industry at a national level. It also is listed in the third position regarding sales to the Mexican government.

In recent years, GRUPO IG has exported products to England, the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Currently, however, Hernández notes that most of GRUPO IG’s customer base remains in Mexico. “In today’s world, many governments are very protective of their markets, and that makes it difficult for foreigners to get a foothold in other places.”

Still, GRUPO IG has plans to expand in the coming years, and exporting may play into the company’s growth strategy as well. After working hard for more than 70 years to provide low prices, top quality, and innovative designs, GRUPO IG has worked its way into a leading position in Mexico. In the years to come, the company plans to continue using its solid reputation and brand equity to continue acting as a key player in Mexico’s electrical industry.

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