Lumitex is an Ohio-based company with a manufacturing plant in Celaya, Guanajuato.
When medical lighting manufacturer Lumitex began operations in Mexico four years ago, it had just five employees in the country. Today, the Strongsville, Ohio-based company has 32 and is set to increase its Mexico-based workforce even more in the coming years.
The firm is one of numerous global manufacturers that operate out of Entrada Group’s manufacturing campus in Celaya, a mid-sized city in Guanajuato, a Bajío region state that is one of Mexico’s industrial powerhouses as well as a growing hub for the production of medical devices.
“Lumitex sees Mexico as an essential part of its future expansion,” Entrada co-managing partner Doug Donahue said in late 2019 as the company prepared to set up shop in Celaya.
Four years later, the Lumitex plant, at which medical lighting products are made for customers worldwide, is indeed an integral part of the company’s structure, complementing production centers in the United States and Taiwan.
Before we look at what Lumitex is doing in Mexico today – and its exciting plans for the future – let’s go back a few years and consider what lured the company to Guanajuato in the first place and why it decided to partner with Entrada, a U.S. company with more than 20 years’ experience guiding international manufacturers in establishing and running their own operations here.
As has been the case for many other foreign manufacturers, Guanajuato was an attractive destination for Lumitex for a range of reasons, including proximity to the United States, Mexico’s free trade pact with the U.S. and Canada (formerly NAFTA, now USMCA) and competitive labor costs.
The ongoing “availability of good people, lower labor costs and open trade agreements” are all advantages to operating in Guanajuato, according to Ricardo DeJesús Hernández, general manager of Lumitex’s plant in Celaya.
In a recent interview with Mexico News Daily, DeJesús also said that the short supply chain to customers in the United States is a major benefit of having a manufacturing facility in the state.
Donahue, who along with the rest of the Entrada team has helped numerous foreign companies establish a presence in Mexico, said in 2019 that Celaya in particular “offers Lumitex access to more sophisticated processes and skilled labor, which helps it diversify its product range for new clients.”
The company “needs to be in a high-growth area like Celaya,” he said, describing the city as “one of Mexico’s fastest-maturing manufacturing centers.”
Lumitex’s rapid growth in Mexico is impressive, though not unexpected. Having witnessed the success other Entrada clients have had in Mexico, Donahue predicted in 2019 that the company would expand its “footprint and headcount in coming years.”
Why partner with Entrada?
“Entrada makes it easy for a mid-size manufacturer like Lumitex to enter Mexico,” Peter Broer, Lumitex CEO and president, said when speaking about the company’s decision to expand its operations south of the border.
“They take care of the local details – permits, paperwork, logistics, personnel, etc. – leaving us to focus on what we do well: innovate and produce,” said Broer, who heads up a company that has over 35 years’ experience developing and creating medical lighting solutions for a range of customers.
As mentioned in a previous MND article, Entrada offers a comprehensive “shelter solution” that provides companies from North America and Europe with all the non-production related support they require in Mexico, ensures they are – and remain – compliant will all local laws and regulations and offers a proven pathway to growth.
In addition to its Celaya hub, the company also has a manufacturing campus in Zacatecas.
A fully certified “very clean” plant in Celaya
DeJesús explained that Lumitex currently makes “medical human-machine interface lighting” in Celaya
“We use proprietary [patent-protected] fiber optic processes to extract light only in specific areas that need to be backlit on a medical control panel,” the plant manager said.
“It is a very clean environment, and we are qualified to ISO 13485 production standards,” DeJesús said, referring to international standards for the manufacture of medical devices.
He said that Lumitex in Celaya mainly supplies customers in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Raw materials used in the company’s manufacturing processes in Celaya are shipped to Mexico from the U.S. and Asia, but the company envisions that it will soon be able to source at least some of its inputs locally.
While the Celaya-Querétaro corridor has an educated and motivated workforce that includes many people with experience in the manufacturing sector and relevant qualifications, DeJesús noted that Lumitex provides additional training to workers to equip them with the specific skills needed to produce high-quality products.
Future plans in Mexico
Lumitex will increase its “Made in Mexico” product portfolio in 2024, DeJesús said, noting also that a new cleanroom is currently being built at the Celaya plant.
“Next year, we will begin making surgical lighting that attaches to retractors to minimize surgical incisions,” he told MND, explaining that the product will be made in the soon-to-be-completed cleanroom.
“We will also make phototherapy products for babies with jaundice,” DeJesús added.
After acknowledging that all of the inputs Lumitex currently uses in Celaya come from abroad, he said that the company is seeking to “qualify local suppliers and build a local supply base” to support its Mexico operations as it adds new products to its range.
DeJesús added that Celaya will become the “medical manufacturing center” for Lumitex, which also makes lighting products for sectors other than medical, including the automotive and aerospace industries.
“More products and technology will be transferred to this site and we will expand our current production size, he said.