(As originally printed in Baja’s local paper La Crónica)
In a recent visit by the President of a company whose corporate headquarters are in Tustin, California, he showed a lot of surprise for what he experienced on the other side of the border. It’s not new – unfortunately – that our northern neighbors feel some reserve about coming to Mexico; the media has taken it upon itself to show an image that goes beyond reality.
Nor is it a matter of covering the sun with a finger, it’s true that in terms of security there is still much work to be done, but there is a great difference between that and feeling afraid of stepping a foot in Mexico.
Before his visit, “Josh” said: “I’m going to wear jeans because I want to go unnoticed, I hope there’s no problem…my driver will drive me to the border but for safety matters, I’ve asked him not to cross the car into Mexico.”
We are used to these protocols.
When he crossed into Mexico for the first time through one of the crossing points in Baja, little by little he relaxed. Who knows, maybe he expected to see a hooded armed man every other corner, or patrol cars chasing the local kingpin.
For someone who has never been here before, the prevailing image is the one you are told about or see in the papers. Unfortunately, the papers do not always convey our best image or give Mexico any credit for the good parts.
During his visit, we took tours of 2 ”maquiladoras”. One builds metal cabinets and the other assembles solar panels, just as examples of two successful companies from the US. Whatever the case, each of the host companies was very friendly and hospitable enough to make the visitor’s experience the best it can be. The questions kept coming: systems, payments, housing, you name it.
It was like a whole new world.
In both production floors, he was able to see that things can be done here. Simple and complex processes, automation systems, application of technology, etc. On the production floor, he saw his fellow Americans and other foreigners doing their thing, getting the job done, just as they would on any the other site. The agenda did not last long (I think he wanted to make it for dinner).
No raids, no horses, much fewer bullets. The guy was happy.
When it was time to cross over to the United States to take him to his car, luck wasn’t on our side as we were selected for a random search and were passed to second revision.
As we stood there for a while, there was nothing else to do but talk, but above all, we listened to his interesting feedback: he confessed to us that he had a very different idea of Northern Mexico. He had some concerns about wearing dress pants because he thought they would attract attention. He didn’t want to cross in a car with American plates because he would be a target for the police, he said. We can’t blame him. The stories he’s been told have probably happened.
The plants we saw had processes very similar to what he had in Los Angeles; clean rooms, security protocols, etc. The City and the people were nice to him; his experience was pleasant. It remains for us to always give that warm image and do the extra for the good image of the City, State and Nation. Now let’s hope that “Josh” will be the one to tell others about his good experience.
By Carlos Cordova
Carlos Cordova is now head for consulting firm Landing Strategy,
We help companies that want to source or do contract manufacturing in Mexico.
For more information go to www.landingstrategy.com