IPC Mexico Continues to Grow

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IPC Mexico has been growing for the past few years, and it’s no wonder: Mexico has become a major hub in the world of PCB manufacturing, spurred in part by reshoring as companies pulled work back from China during the pandemic. As the country’s maquiladoras1 thrived, IPC began expanding the Mexican educational and training operations, and the group recently named Lorena Villanueva as director of IPC Mexico.

Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties recently spoke with Lorena and IPC Vice President of Education David Hernandez about IPC Mexico’s growth, as well as the office’s plans to provide PCB manufacturers the training resources they need to succeed.

Andy Shaughnessy: David, why don’t you give us an update on IPC Mexico?

David_Hernandez_2019.jpgDavid Hernandez: As you’re aware, Mexico is becoming increasingly important in the electronic supply chain, particularly for North America. There’s a series of different geopolitical factors that are driving this as well as business decisions but over the last five years, what we’ve really seen is a significant re-shoring of manufacturing—or near-shoring of manufacturing—to Mexico to service the United States. Even before the pandemic, as all this was happening, we at IPC wanted to put a greater focus on Mexico, and we started an initiative to better service the industry in Mexico and what we could do to help.

We started meeting with Mexican companies to see how we could contribute and help them succeed. Then the pandemic hit, and we tried to continue the efforts as best we could virtually, but we realized it was very difficult for us in the United States to service all the needs of Mexican organizations and the industry in Mexico with just the staff here.

We knew we needed to hire someone in Mexico who could really connect with their industry, take ownership, and grow the services we offer companies in Mexico. We were quickly connected with Lorena Villanueva, brought her on board, and she has exceeded all our expectations. We are so excited about everything that she has been doing in Mexico to help us. She brings energy, excitement, talent, and professionalism to the team.

This is the first step. We have more plans for IPC Mexico. Our starting point was bringing in Lorena as director of IPC Mexico, and we hope to grow our team, and the services and product lines that we provide the Mexican companies as well as the industry there.

Barry Matties: I’m curious, are you seeing a certain request from the companies there that may be different from other regions?

Hernandez: It’s a great question, Barry. While there are definitely commonalities in the global supply chain, each region has a particular set of needs that are inherently different from the others.

It has to do with the local workforce, the local supply chain, and local politics; those variations create a different dynamic. They may not need a completely different set of products or services that IPC offers, but maybe they need them in a way that is tailor-made to their needs. That’s why having someone like Lorena, who is interacting with the industry there daily, is so important.

You’re seeing a similar effort by IPC and IPC Europe. We opened our first European office recently and we’re expanding the staff there. We’re placing a greater emphasis in the area, making sure that we can service their individualized needs. It’s the difference between saying, “Here’s a solution that fits everyone,” and, “Let’s take the solutions that fit everyone to figure out what we can do to better serve you.”

Shaughnessy: That’s great. Lorena, tell us about your background. I see that you’re a Six Sigma black belt.

Lorena_Villanueva_250.jpgLorena Villanueva: Yes, and thank you, David, for this introduction. I’m thrilled to be here with IPC. As you mentioned, I’m a Lean Six Sigma black belt, and I’ve been working in the commercial, sales, and business development world for quite some time now. Being able to use my experience plus the knowledge that I had of the region has helped us reinforce the attention that IPC had already put on Mexico and the Latin America regions, as well as give our clients the confidence that we will help them build electronics better. I can’t tell you enough how thrilled I am to be here.

I spent the last 11 years of my life in the outsourcing industry, so I know Mexico very well. I know the border, the offshore, and the near-shore industries, so for me, it’s been quite a ride.

While I’m new to IPC and the electronics industry, IPC is not new to Mexico, so when they brought me onto the team, they had already been tapping into Mexico for a couple of years. They came to Mexico to meet with some of the clients and some of the member companies that we have here, and I think the timing was perfect.

If the pandemic taught us anything here in Mexico and the nearshore region, it was that the world turned again to Mexico as an alternative to the supply chain problem in China and other ports in the world because of the reliability of the maquiladora industry in northern Mexico.

Shaughnessy: It sounds like IPC is really expanding.

Hernandez: We’re trying, little by little. As a nonprofit, oftentimes we must expand slowly because we must be responsible with the funds we receive from the industry. We use the funds in a responsible way, and we must ensure that the things we’re doing are paying dividends to the industry itself. Sometimes expansion is slow for IPC, but when we do make the effort, we want to make the biggest impact we can. That’s why hiring someone with Lorena’s background, experience, and connections was so important.

Sometimes it’s controversial when you hire from outside the industry to such an important role, but this is something that I’m a fan of doing. I am not from the electronics industry. I’ve been with IPC for five years, but prior to this, I worked for the American Welding Association, and prior to that I worked in academia. Bringing in people with a different skill sets and experiences helps us broaden our perspectives. It helps us view the same challenges that we all see in a different light. That’s something I admire about Lorena—she brings so much experience and knowledge and she was contributing from day one.

She looked at the challenges we have seen in Mexico and said, “There’s another way of looking at it. There are other ways and solutions, other ways to approach this.” Bringing teams together with these varying skill sets, ultimately pays the best dividends for IPC.


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