Many U. S.-based CPG brands and packaging customers have expanded their manufacturing to Tijuana and Mexicali. As they expressed their desire for a local packaging partner, Transparent Container set a plan in motion to expand to the area. When Rohrer acquired Transparent Container in October 2018, it jump-started Rohrer’s manufacturing expansion to Mexico.
Two key Rohrer personnel have been working on this project since its inception: Steve Fifer, VP of Operations, and Bart Casper, Director of Research and Development. Fifer was an early leader of the project; he provides executive leadership for all of Rohrer’s thermoforming facilities. Casper has a hands-on project management role with the new Tijuana facility.
“We have a really experienced and talented crew down there. Our plant manager, Javier Solis, is a manufacturing veteran with over 20-years of experience working for Japanese and American companies. He’s also a lean manufacturing instructor at the local college,” states Fifer.
Fifer’s strategic plan is founded on implementing Rohrer’s best-in-class combo thermoforming program, ezComboTM. The Tijuana team has been training with employees from other Rohrer facilities to ensure the industry-leading manufacturing knowledge is shared throughout the organization. Rohrer currently employees more than 20 full-time staff in Tijuana. When the facility is at full production, there will be nearly 200 people working in Tijuana. Fifer and Casper described how Tijuana will also be the launch pad for Rohrer’s lean management programs being implemented throughout the organization.
Rohrer is producing packaging for several key partners. Production has been live throughout the test phase. Casper explains, “A lot of what we were doing in the beginning as testing was producing good parts, so we’ve been able to move forward quickly.” The team considers Tijuana to be conditionally operational, with a “Grand Opening” occurring after the implementation of a formal Quality Management System. As Casper explains, “This formal QMS program will document the manufacturing processes already in place and will establish our agreement with our packaging customers moving forward.”
Rohrer is currently operating four thermoforming lines in the plant, and has a significant expansion plan. Rohrer’s expansion in the area will come from existing partnerships, and Rohrer will have plenty of capacity to take on many more local partners.