Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
The newest tenant at Port San Antonio is open for business. Indo-MIM announced the opening of its first advanced manufacturing facility in the United States Tuesday. The India-based company is a global leader in the production of precision component parts using metal injection molding (MIM) technology.
Founded in 1997, Indo-MIM has a global workforce of more than 2,000 employees, with the majority based in Bangalore, India. The company’s global sales are about $115 million annually, and it competes with top manufacturers such as Dynacast and Britt Manufacturing. The global metal injection molding market size is about $1.8 billion and is anticipated to reach $6.5 billion by 2025.
"We think this site will rival the Bangalore site in productivity and appearance," Port San Antonio President and CEO Roland Mower said.
The MIM process combines the design flexibility of plastic injection molding with the strength and integrity of metal, providing cost-effective manufacturing of highly complex parts. Manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, biomedical equipment, defense, and other advanced industries use Indo-MIM's products. The company has more than 70 customers in the U.S., including Black and Decker, Honeywell Transportation Systems, and Intuitive Surgical.
“Indo-MIM makes 13 components for Black and Decker’s Leatherman tool, as well as parts for the da Vinci robots used in robotic surgery,” said company CEO Krishna Chivukula Jr. “The parts we make range from very small, complex articulating prosthetic wrist components to critical components like the inertia locks in seat belts.”
Over the last 18 months Indo-MIM has developed the former Air Force warehouse into a state of the art manufacturing facility. Located on S.W. 36th Street at the Port, the company's newest facility will use about 100,000 square feet of the former military logistics materials processing and distribution facility, which was built in 1973. Indo-MIM is leasing the structure for 20 years with an option to use more of the former warehouse's total of 365,000 square feet of space to expand operations as the business grows.
Indo-MIM is also launching its Mexico operation in Reynosa, a border city in the northern part of Tamaulipas. The facility there has about 50 employees engaged in labor-intensive work to support the MIM parts production in San Antonio for more cost-effective manufacturing.
The company has more large, established medical device companies placing orders for manufacture of components, and Chivukula is already planning to expand the modeling bay in anticipation of future orders.
"This project is a case study of how a community can win a significant project, to include the city, county, and workforce partners that put together a package to attract Indo-MIM," Mower said.
The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) was Indo-MIM’s first local point of contact to identify a location that would allow for a quick startup of operations.
“Indo-MIM first contacted us in late 2013 or early 2014, with their first visit here in July 2014," said Tom Long, SAEDF's executive vice president of business development. "It was almost 24 months from first contact to their decision, which is about average for making such a big decision."
San Antonio’s location and labor pool in advanced manufacturing were deciding factors, as was the building at the Port that fit Indo-MIM’s needs.
“... San Antonio is well positioned to service both the U.S. and Latin American markets,” Long said. “As markets grow globally, more international companies are looking to the U.S. because we are the biggest and best market to sell products anywhere in the world.”
“San Antonio [as] a forward-thinking city that is proactive working with companies as it fulfills its long-term vision on what kind of jobs to grow ... contributed to our decision to open Indo-MIM here,” Chivukula said.
In November 2015, the San Antonio City Council and the Bexar County Commissioners Court approved incentive packages recommended by the City and County economic development departments. These included a personal tax abatement and the City's Economic Development Incentive Fund (EDIF) grant, which focused on the creation of new high-wage skilled jobs.
While Indo-MIM has brought a core team of employees from India to its first manufacturing facility in the U.S., the majority of its workforce will be hired locally. Indo-MIM has a startup workforce of about 40 employees, with plans to grow the local team to at least 300 workers within five years, according to Chivukula.
“We will be growing quickly and probably will reach 150 hires by next year,” Chivukula said.
Some local employees spent time in India to learn firsthand about existing operations, the business, and its culture. San Antonio native Cristol Anaya is a machine maintenance lead who spent one month in Bangalore learning about Indo-MIM’s processes.
“It was a great experience to learn new technologies," Anaya said, "and how they’re used in advanced manufacturing.”