The Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list
Plamex was one of the first companies to begin manufacturing under the maquiladora program in Mexico, and it is still churning out sophisticated electronics after more than four decades. As a subsidiary of Plantronics, Plamex is held to high standards indeed for quality and technological innovation.
Maquiladoras Become the Engine of Mexico’s Manufacturing Sector
Along the border between the U.S. and Mexican border, from San Diego to Brownsville, and from Tijuana to Matamoros, there are factories churning out products on the Mexican side and exporting them to the United States. They are called maquiladoras, and they are an important driver of the Mexican economy. While maquiladoras may be found all over the country, they got their start on the border and are still more prevalent there.
The Mexican government initiated the maquiladora program in 1965 as a measure to address unemployment in the north of the country. As originally conceived, maquiladoras were manufacturing and assembly plants where raw materials and equipment were brought into the country in bond, the products turned into finished goods, then exported. Once the program got going, foreign firms moved entire factories into Mexico and hired locals to make the product. As the program has matured, companies have hired more and more local management, too. The model works because Mexico offers a workforce that is cheaper than in the United States and is closer than China. Over time, devaluations of the peso and changes in the law on both sides of the border affected the way the program operates, but the fundamental model remains the same.
Maquiladoras represent a huge driver for the Mexican economy. By 1985, the program overtook tourism as the second largest source of foreign exchange, and in 1996 it became the second largest industry in Mexico behind petroleum. As of 2014, the program now known as IMMEX is comprised of 6,171 establishments with a total of 2,464,669 employees. About 82% of the businesses are manufacturers, and they represent about half of Mexico’s manufacturing exports.
A California High Tech becomes one of the First Movers
California based Plantronics makes communication devices like headsets and telephones. Plantronics is used by every company in the Fortune 100™, as well as 911 dispatch centers around the country, air traffic control at most airports, and the New York Stock Exchange. The company has always been at the cutting edge of innovation in its systems and products, providing the first lightweight communication gear for NASA, and becoming one of the early movers into the maquiladora program. Its Tijuana facility, called Plamex, has been going strong for more than 40 years.
Quality is all that Matters, everything else Follows
Plantronics, Inc. ships their products to a total of 70 countries worldwide. Plantronics is a boutique firm operating in a market of giants, and it is doing very well. Many of their competitors are significantly larger and have the financial resources to do things Plantronics, Inc. cannot. Plantronics competes successfully because of their reputation for quality. For example, third party reviewers have said the following about Plantronics devices:
“Not for nothing does Plantronics have one of the best reputations for Bluetooth handsfree quality”
SlashGear, June 2014
“Plantronics …. produces some of the most sought after headsets in both the consumer and business sectors. Their products, the Voyager Pro and Discovery 975 are two of the highest rated headsets in the industry based on their excellent call clarity and overall reliability….Plantronics, Inc. has a strong brand reputation. Quality assurance comes standard with all their products and their customer service is superior.”
“Plantronics built its reputation on voice quality, and it shows” PC Mag, 2010“Plantronics has a well-deserved reputation for having excellent sound quality in their headsets.”
“Plantronics has really been pushing into the gaming headset market recently and gamers have benefited from the move. Not only do gamers get a quality headset for a great price but they get the reputation of a company that is known for their sound quality…. As you would expect from any Plantronics headset, the Plantronics RIG sounds great.”
“Plantronics has a reputation for making great headphones”
Tom´s Guide, May, 2015
“Plantronics headsets have a reputation for quality. Unlike many competitive products they can survive years of use and abuse.”
“Plantronics has a reputation for quality headsets.”
Land of Droid, 2012
Quality is its own Reward, but Awards are Nice, Too
Plamex makes audio headsets for Plantronics and is justifiably proud of the reputation for quality that it help maintain for its parent company. As an entity separate from Plantronics, Plamex has won numerous awards already, such as the U.S. Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence, the Asia-Pacific International Quality Award, the Iberoamerican Quality Award, the Century International Quality Era Award, and the Latin American Quality award.
Quality products are the result of quality people, quality systems, and quality facilities. In fact, in 2015 Plamex was recognized for the fifth year in a row as the Best Place to Work in Mexico among large firms by the Great Place to Work Institute, the firm that performs independent evaluations of workplaces around the world, and produce´s Fortune Magazine´s lists of best places to work in the United States. Employees from more than 500 companies participate in the Great Place to Work Institute’s survey that ranks companies based on credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie.
According to Alejandro Bustamante, senior vice president of operations at Plantronics, “The Plamex culture is exemplary, the way we live our values is second to none, and the employee commitment to help deliver great results demonstrates that they are happy with what they do.” Plamex has a weekly meeting where Plamex leaders concentrate solely on creative ways to improve the work environment. In addition, educational support programs at Plamex have helped employees obtain more than 2,300 degrees.
Responsible Corporate Citizenship is Part of Doing Business
The dedication of Plamex to helping its workers live better extends to the community at large. Plamex programs include outreach to orphanages and donations to the community for natural disasters. They support the Children’s Orchestra, the DARE Program and offer medical consultations to family members at their facility.
Finally, the people at Plamex care deeply about the environment. Not only have they led programs for reforestation efforts and education about recycling, but awards received include PROFEPA’s Clean Industry Certificate and the PROFEPA/CNIME Environmental Award (EPA/National Maquiladora Council).
One program that is emblematic of Plamex’ commitment to the environment is that, as of 2014, Plamex became home to the largest, privately owned roof-mounted solar installation in all of Latin America, at 1.16-megawatts. “Being responsible with the environment is not a luxury, it is a commitment,' said César López, director of government relations for Plantronics Tijuana. The system is expected to supply about 70 percent of Plamex' energy needs and save nearly 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide.
It is rare that a company can combine steady long term growth with environmental stewardship and world class quality, but Plamex manages to pull off all three, and justifiably serves as a model for any company that would like to become a reference in their sector.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, Plamex Maquiladora has been selected to receive the BID International Star Award for Quality for 2015 at the convention in Geneva.
About BID and the International Star Award for Quality:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries.
The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level.
Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.