August 13, 2023

Borderlands: Lectra sees more manufacturers leave Asia for the Americas


Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Lectra sees more manufacturers leave Asia for the Americas; steel wire maker opens $22M logistics hub in South Texas; GrubMarket acquires Pharr, Texas-based London Fruit; and chemical logistics provider to open distribution facility in Arizona.

Lectra sees more manufacturers leave Asia for the Americas

As more global manufacturers seek to cut costs and risks in their supply chains, many are seeing locations across the Americas as prime destinations for new or expanding factories.

Large brands that were relying on factories in Asia to manufacture their products are deciding to make their investments closer to their end consumers in North America, said Leonard Marano, president of the Americas for Lectra.

Founded in 1973 in Paris and with 2,500 employees worldwide today, Lectra provides industrial intelligence solutions — software, equipment, data and services — to the fashion, automotive, furniture and aerospace markets.

“Coming out of the pandemic, customers across all of our markets are rethinking their supply chain,” Marano told FreightWaves. “It’s not just the supply side, there’s the production side. We see a very strong desire to get products closer to the consumer, which allows for better control of inventory, better control of quality, reduces lead times and speeds up time to market.”

An example is one of Lectra’s newest customers is Mexico City-based Preslow, a retail apparel manufacturer. The company, which makes uniforms and corporate apparel, chose Lectra to help move manufacturing away from Asia and reshore more production back into Mexico.

Preslow, which counts Walmart as one of its biggest customers, had to rethink its supply chain when the pandemic disrupted workflows around the world.

“We were hit hard in 2020 because orders were being canceled and it was all a mess,” Isaac Presburger, Preslow’s sales manager, said in a news release

Before 2020, around 40% of the outerwear Preslow produced was made overseas; now that number has fallen to about 20%. Preslow is making more of its apparel at its Mexico City factory — an estimated 1 million garments a year — using Lectra’s software and hardware.

Marano said when manufacturers are closer to their customers, it can help save money through production flexibility.

“When you’re close to the end markets, you don’t have to mass produce at the level that you have before. You could do smaller runs, which means the likelihood of you selling more of your product run completely, rather than having to write it off,” Marano said.

“It allows you to have quicker time to market, whether it’s apparel with a new shirt style or a new season coming out, whether it’s a new piece of furniture, or style of furniture that’s on trends, or the latest platform from one of the automotive OEMs. Having closer production to where it’s ultimately going to the consumer, it ends up being more sustainable and more profitable.”

Among Lectra’s client base, Mexico, parts of Central America and locations in the Caribbean have been the main beneficiaries of nearshoring so far, Marano said.

“We see it in Mexico, a lot in furniture and also apparel, as well as very heavily in automotive,” he said. “We also see it in areas like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico; we’ve seen a big increase in Central America, as well.”

To take advantage of the increase in manufacturing across the Americas, Lectra inaugurated its newest production facility in April in Tolland, Connecticut. The 229,000-square-foot facility is part of Lectra’s acquisition of Gerber Technology in 2021.

With the Tolland production facility, Lectra has a strategy of having three manufacturing sites to reach all of its global clients: Tolland for the Americas, Shanghai for Asia and Bordeaux, France, for Europe.

“When you look at our manufacturing strategy, by having manufacturing in those three areas, we get to stay close to our customers as well,” Marano said.

Steel wire maker opens $22M logistics hub in South Texas

Houston-based Mid-Continent Steel and Wire recently opened a 300,000-square-foot distribution hub in Laredo, Texas, according to a news release.

Mid-Continent is one of the largest steel wire manufacturers in North America, with production facilities in Houston, Laredo and Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The company services customers in the industrial and construction markets.

The new hub in Laredo was built with an investment of $22 million and created about 100 jobs.

Mid-Continent Steel and Wire is a division of Monterrey, Mexico-based Deacero Group, a company with 8,000 employees operating three steel mills, 15 steel wire facilities and 21 recycling centers.

GrubMarket acquires Pharr, Texas-based London Fruit

San Francisco-based GrubMarket recently acquired London Fruit, an importer and distributor of avocados, limes, mangos and other tropical fruits.

GrubMarket officials said the acquisition helps to solidify its position in the global food supply chain industry, according to a news release.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

GrubMarket’s acquisition of the Pharr, Texas, company includes a 50,000-square-foot refrigerated cold storage and repacking space. The deal also includes London Fruit’s network of growers and producers across Mexico, Peru and other parts of South America.

Founded in 2014, GrubMarket is a food technology company operating in the food supply chain  and e-commerce markets for both business-to-business customers and consumers.

Chemical logistics provider to open distribution facility in Arizona

NRS Logistics America recently announced plans to build a semiconductor chemical and gas products distribution and storage facility in Casa Grande, Arizona. 

The facility near Phoenix will be built on 40 acres and will include 69,000 square feet to serve semiconductor and electric vehicle battery manufacturers and suppliers, as well as industrial chemical markets. The first phase of the facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2024, creating up to 30 jobs initially and over 90 new jobs once fully operational. 

White Plains, New York-based NRS Logistics America provides transport, storage, distribution and asset leasing services. NRS Logistics America employs 1,000 workers across the globe and operates in more than 100 countries.

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The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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