Q&A: Changing Mexico from cheap labor provider to a global engineering powerhouse

alfonso aramburoThe following interview is about Alfonso Arámburo, CEO of Brecher Mfg, a product design company in Tijuana, Mexico that specializes in engineering development and mechatronic prototyping.

Alfonso is an entrepreneur and engineer with 6 years of experience. Alfonso has Bachelors in Mechatronic Engineering, in addition a Masters in Business Administration. Alfonso has worked for companies such as Turbotec, a Caterpillar company, Rockwell Automation, TECO GmbH in the city of Munich, Germany leading projects for companies such as Continental, BMW, Renault, Land Rover and Chrysler.

You can contact Alfonso at a.aramburo@brechermfg.com or on LinkedIn

Tell us the story behind Brecher mfg. Why did you start your business?

All of this goes back when I was a little boy. I was always amazed with technology. I loved to read magazines and books about science and technology. My parents use to buy me books about science experiments, legos, and microscopes. I also vividly remember my father taking me to work. He is a biochemical engineer, for that reason I developed curiosity for breaking the status-quo.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?

For better or for worst I wasn’t feeling accomplished with the work position I was doing. I felt that lot of my capacity was not being used. For example, when I worked in Germany, in the city of Munich I realized the engineering capacity in Mexico, whether it be Tijuana, Mexicali or Tecate (cities where I have worked) is not below international level; but higher, at least the people I used to work with in school projects and companies.

This motivated me to bring all of that knowledge from overseas. Mostly the self confidence that as Mexican Engineers, we have a huge competitive advantage. We must be creative to adjust the budget for every project for the best quality recycling electronics, materials and devices. I told my family and friends that if they had a non working electronic device I would fix it and use it.

I shared my vision to Victor Diaz (who later on would be my coworker) whose vision was the same: that Mexico should not be seen as cheap qualified hand labor; but qualified minds.

What, specifically, have you detected makes Mexicans just as like or more likely to add value to the global economy?

When I was working in Germany I realized that the projects we were developing there can be realized elsewhere using the same methodology to get same results which are quality and reliability with customers; this is what we are in doing in Brecher mfg, is in fact, using Mexican engineers with German methodology.

How do you think we can change the current narrative of Mexico as being about cheap labor towards one where Mexico is just as likely to create global value?

First of all, believing in our engineers, to get advantage of all the knowledge and abilities they have. We can achieve great things if we have determination and perseverance. We need to create more companies that innovate, companies that create new products, companies that believe in the talent around here, companies that let engineers develop their abilities and that really care about their people.

What was your mission at the outset?

My mission was and is to help businesses innovate, grow and bring new ideas to market. We firmly believe that the more the companies we help grow, the more we grow together.

What is unique about your business?

We work with companies that understand the importance of growing thru innovation. For instance, we help them whether to improve a process by creating a custom made machine or bring any new idea/product to market. We do not want to create a great product, we want to create a great experience; the best benefit one can get.

We want to understand why they want it, not just what they want. The insight of competencies from different areas gives our clients more competitive advantage, as I said before, it is not only about the product design, it is more the how, why and what do they want it for. In view of that, we could say we know how to listen to our clients; and even more their clients which we see both of them as our associates. We also firmly believe company values benefit customers, employees, suppliers and the community.

What’s your professional background?

In our diverse team we have Mechatronics engineers, cyber electronic engineers, mechanical engineers, marketers and associates in business. When we started we wanted to assure that a product we created would be easy to sell and useful; and above all, beneficial for the customer.

What kind of culture exists in your organization?

We want visionaries, entrepreneurs, people committed and people that thrive on challenges. In Brecher mfg we give the opportunity that other large companies do not of taking on innovative projects. There’s a huge opportunity for people to develop themselves, and also to get involved as much as they want to. We understand that people are the most important asset in a company.

Have you considered any alliance/partnership?

By now we have a couple of alliances with companies from different specialties, from automation, machining, lean manufacturing, designing, and marketing. We offer services that help us exceed customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is important to us because it provides a key element where satisfaction is high and customer advocates are plenty.

How do you generate new ideas for the products you develop?

We serve to a wide industry in Mechatronic prototyping, from short run production for consumer electronics to custom made machines to improve production or to solve problems; always with an innovative mindset.
First, we do some research of what already exists as well as market research. In addition we find out who their customers are and why are they buying them. Before designing a product or a machine it is very important to us to know which market we are digging in.

Furthermore, we use several techniques for conceptualizing a product/machine such as live brainstorming, online brainstorming, and so on. In this kickoff meeting there has to be a person from every area, so everyone can give their point of view to get to the final idea.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Definitely my parents, both in the business industry. My parents started their ventures from scratch. When I was little I witnessed all the effort they put into starting a business, but mostly to maintain the growth of our family company. They always stick to their values and also to family principles. My parents spent time with my brothers and me, and yet kept growing the business. I owe what I am to them, what I become, without such great parents I would not be speaking to you.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become an entrepreneur?

  • Stick to your idea, knowing it could change.
  • If you want to do something, get together with someone that already has experience in the field. It would be ideal to get a mentor that can support your ideas.
  • Listen to what is out there, there are a lot of opportunities, so there is no room for copying or stealing an idea. Last but not least, always be ethical and professional.