Speaking at the opening of the company's new plasterboard plant in Queretaro, Tussie told the Mexican daily El Universal that the investment would be made within the next year and a half, and that the production could supply the company's U.S. distribution network. Comex officials did not respond to phone calls by Coatings World.
The $50 million Queretaro plant, a joint-venture with France's Lafarge Gypsum, will produce 150 million board units per year and is targeting the $300 million Mexican market for plasterboard, within which the construction industry utilized 60 million square meters last year, the company indicated.
The growth rate for the sector has been at 15% per year for the past several years. Production from the plant, of which 60% is held by Comex, is being marketed in Mexico under the new brand Plaka Comex. Apart from the 3,000 points of sale in Mexico under the Comex brand, the company also plans to open Plaka Comex outlets, the company said.
Comex has increased its investments in the U.S. over the past several years through the acquisition of Professional Paint Inc., of Lonetree, CO for $400 million. PPI's network of regional paint formulators sell under different brands in the U.S. including Color Wheel in Florida, Frazee in California, Kwal Paint in Colorado, Parker Paint in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and General Paint in Canada. Comex's industrial lines of paint, coatings and building products complement PPI's residential and commercial paint lines.
Last year Comex produced an estimated 60 million gallons of paint. Kent Child, the CEO of PPI last year projected that his U.S. operation would produce 42 million gallons, and that combined PPI and Comex sales would amount to $1.4 billion.
Mexico's market for housing materials, which is growing at approximately 4.5% per year, is projected to reach $7.6 billion in 2008, according to a recent U.S. Commerce Department report. There is an estimated shortage of six million homes in Mexico, although state and federal programs are aimed at accelerating housing construction.
Major housing projects are now underway in Mexico City, the state of Mexico, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Merida, Jalapa, Cuernavaca, Queretaro, Pachuca, Toluca, Morelia, Celaya, and Leon, the report noted. Among these the state of Mexico, Toluca and Monterrey will receive the most support from the Mexican federal government.
Mexico's export of housing materials is growing faster, at approximately eight percent per year, than the overall growth of domestic production of housing materials, estimated at approximately four percent, the Commerce report indicated.