The financial crisis of 2008-2010 hit Spain very hard. What did the company do to cope?
We restructured our company by reducing our fixed costs. In 2007, Spain accounted for 31 percent of our revenue. Now it’s less than 20 percent. If you exclude exports from that total, less than 5 percent of our revenue comes from vehicles built and sold in Spain.
Did you have to close plants during the crisis?
No, we didn’t close any plants. We changed what we do at some facilities, such as moving production from a plant in Regensburg, Germany, to the Czech Republic and turning the German plant into a technical center. We also increased our flexibility so we can produce different components with different technologies at the same factories.
What else did you do?
We laid off some temporary staff and reduced investments in things such as new plants, but we didn’t reduce investment in r&d. We sold non-core business, such as a unit that produced seats for trains. We reduced capital expenditures from 9 percent to 5 percent. Two years ago we created our fourth business unit, lighting, after purchasing Ford’s lighting component business.
How much of your business comes from automotive today?
It’s 100 percent.
How has the company changed in your 15 years as vice chairman?
At the beginning I learned a lot from my uncle, Jose Antolin, who at 78 is still our chairman, but he is not as active now as in the past. During the last 10 years the biggest changes have been that we have greatly expanded our product portfolio and we have become much more global.
What is Grupo Antolin’s presence like in Mexico?
We have European, American and Japanese clients because we produce a wide variety of component there including mechanisms, plastics, lighting and headliners. We have been active there for more than 20 years. We have four factories and we’re building a fifth that we expect to be ready this year.
Is that enough?
We’ll probably need one more factory in the area of northern Mexico.
You just opened a new U.S. plant in Missouri to support the Ford Transit. Are more plants planned?
We have more in the plans but nothing to announce yet.
Where else in the world are you expanding?
In China, Morocco, India and Romania. We’re also going to start making doors and A-pillars for the Ford Galaxy at our new facility in Valencia, Spain. It’s the first time we’ve made doors for the Galaxy. We are excited about opening a new factory in our home country.
Could you share more details on your plant in Romania?
We have a small factory but we going to close it and create a bigger, about double the size, a kilometer away. We mostly produce electronics and lighting systems there.
Isn’t there an even greater risk if you supply part to megaplatforms?
Yes, the bigger the platform the bigger the recall will be if there is a problem. That is the bad side of supplying a megaplatform. Fortunately, we don’t produce a lot of products that affect the safety of motorist, but recalls are recalls and they cost a lot of money. Insurance will cover part of it but not all of it.
Does overcapacity at the automakers’ plants in Europe affect suppliers?
Yes, but we try to protect defend against this with our flexible processes and wide reach. If they close a Spanish factory and go to Czech Republic, we have factories in the Czech Republic. If they go to France, we have a factory in France. If they go to Germany, we can supply from there. The trouble comes when you invest in tools and machines at a plant to meet a certain output and then that level is never met. On the other hand, I think it’s a chronic problem in Europe. It used to be big problem in North America. Maybe one day overcapacity will be a problem in Mexico and China. It’s a cycle.
Do you think that enough is being done in Europe to address the overcapacity problem?
No. I mean, the automakers have done a lot, but it’s not over.