Canadian Plastics

Ontario automotive supplier to start manufacturing in China

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What drives an Ontario-based Tier 2 automotive supplier to set up a plant halfway around the world? A desire to serve its customers, wherever they are, says Baljit Sierra, president and COO of Hunjan International Inc. "Our customers are now in Ch...

What drives an Ontario-based Tier 2 automotive supplier to set up a plant halfway around the world? A desire to serve its customers, wherever they are, says Baljit Sierra, president and COO of Hunjan International Inc. “Our customers are now in China,” he says. “We look at it as an opportunity to grow our relationships with Tier Ones. As well, the domestic market (for automobiles) in China is expected to explode.”

Hunjan is a fast-growing Tier 2 automotive molder with integrated tool building capability. The company is based in Markham, ON, with additional production sites in Waterloo, ON, and Alabama. Hunjan supplies plastic parts and assemblies for interior, exterior and under-the-hood applications.

“In the past year and a half, the whole purchasing mentality has shifted to global thinking,” says Sierra.

“Sourcing from China has a lot of rewards related to pricing, but it’s not easy. There’s the different culture, a language barrier, and a different business philosophy to deal with.”

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For its entry into China, Hunjan is having a new building outfitted to its specifications in an industrial park located about one hour from Shanghai. The injection molding operation will have machines in a variety of sizes, plus in-house blow molding capability. Sierra expects the plant to be operating by June.

The plant will be equipped with some machinery from local suppliers, but key items will be sourced globally to harmonize with Hunjan’s North American facilities.

In terms of resin supply, Sierra said in late March that meetings with suppliers were underway. “We’ve seen some opportunities to take advantage of Asian pricing, but in other cases it’s not possible. It’s an issue that we have to clarify with our suppliers.”

Because of the distance and time delay, “we’ll have to localize some decision-making capability over there, such as cost estimating and design functions,” says Sierra.

One potential benefit of the 13-hour time difference is the possibility of setting up a “real, true 24-hour” design department, which Sierra says may be considered in the future.

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