DEMING – Compass Manufacturing Services will soon expand its operations into Palomas, Mexico. The maquiladora (factory) will be a welcome addition to the town where over 480 residents currently travel to Juarez daily to work, according to Deming plant manager Carlos Apodaca.
The Deming plant, located at 2400 Atlantic Way in Deming's Industrial Park, manufactures automotive wiring harnesses exclusively. Much of the work they do is small runs of customized components.
The Palomas plant will likely be producing marine products that are more labor intensive than the automotive parts.
As a result, Palomas now has a large, well-trained workforce that Compass is looking to recruit. “We’ve interviewed over 100 people there to assess the workforce. Out of those 100 people, we would probably hire 95 percent of them, Apodaca said. “They have the experience, they’ve worked in a maquiladora, and they’re very familiar with the process that it takes to work in a factory and do the work.”
The new plant will occupy a large building on Calle Obregón that previously housed a gym. The building, including a recently-added warehouse space, covers 37,000 square feet. The opening had been originally planned for the end of February, but now a late March date seems more likely.
In addition to the necessary remodeling, before production begins, the street near the facility needs to be paved in order to reduce dust and protect the machinery and the products inside.
“There were some delays in the road paving, but they’re telling me that it will be done on January 25th. But there will be a delay of twenty days after they lay all the cement before we can get our trucks in,” Apodaca said. “By the end of next week we should have everything for IT and electrical complete. Then we will just be waiting for machinery components so we can start setting up the facility.”
As soon as the building is ready, the company will gradually assemble its workforce.
“We’ll start off very slowly, we’ll probably start off with ten people and then we’ll increase that number monthly until we reach the capacity that we need,” Apodaca said. “We’re thinking that there will be about 90 people a shift. It’s possible that we will add a second shift and then we’ll be able to increase that number.”
One of the challenges the company faces is how it will pay its employees. Although there are a few ATM machines in town, there has not been a bank in Palomas for many years. The company is working with local authorities to entice a bank to open a branch in town and negotiations are currently underway.
But even as Compass puts time, energy and money into starting the Palomas plant, many locals are not convinced that it will materialize.
“There are a lot of skeptical people who say that this has been promised in the past,” Apodaca said, “ I just want to reassure everybody that Compass is really going to Palomas.”