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Bombardier: 17 years in Querétaro, Mexico

In 2007 I had the good fortune to interview Real Gervais, who at that time was the director of Bombardier in Querétaro. I remember very well when I asked him what were the criteria for choosing to settle in Querétaro, to which he replied that one of the most important was the commitment of the local government to create an aerospace park, as well as the Aeronautical University. He added that the quality of life and the security offered by this state were factors that gave them peace of mind when they moved here with their families. Today, 16 years later, we interviewed Martin Dugas, Director of Bombardier Mexico.

Martin Dugas has been with Bombardier for 25 years. He began his career as a fitter-assembler in 1998, and quickly rose through the ranks to Quality agent and then Methods agent. In 2010, he made the jump as a Methods supervisor and in 2012 became Operations manager. 

In 2017, Martin became Director of Manufacturing Center Operations at our manufacturing facility in Saint-Laurent (SLMC). Among other achievements, Martin oversaw the launch of the Global 7500 program operations at SLMC. In addition to SLMC operations, he was also responsible for logistics, program management and completion work at our Toronto site. It was in 2021 that Martin joined the Mexico Leadership team as General Manager of the Mexico Sites.

Seventeen years after your establishment in Querétaro, what were the goals you set at the beginning, and if your expectations were met in terms of production, labor, supply, logistics, government support and quality of life.

As you know, in 2006, we decided to expand our global manufacturing footprint. After evaluating different countries, it was decided that Mexico was the best option for several reasons: it has solid macroeconomic indicators for the future, it is part of the T-MEC, it has a solid infrastructure, industrial experience, operational efficiency, trained human resources, the technical school system that supports the industry, the sustainability of the supply chain, and it is in the same time zone as our headquarters in Canada. 

In terms of expectations, since the start of operations in May 2006, they have been met and, in many cases, exceeded, so we quickly gained the recognition of the entire Bombardier value chain and grew from the manufacture of simple elements to complex components such as the rear fuselages of the entire Global family.

This was possible thanks to the strong support of the federal and state governments for the development of the industry. In addition, the particular case of Querétaro, the specialized educational infrastructure, the stable and quality labor force, the personnel with experience in the introduction of new products and project development, as well as the high technical level of our collaborators for the manufacture of specialized assemblies, have played a critical role in the success of our operations.

As for our employees in Mexico, we are proud of the performance of each and every one of them. The quality of their work has enabled the transfer of such important programs as the rear fuselages and other major components of the Global family of aircraft and, in particular, the flagship Global 7500 aircraft, which is the longest, fastest and highest flying aircraft in the entire category.

On the supply side, in addition to attracting some of our international suppliers to Mexico since 2006, we created a specialized team dedicated to developing local suppliers. We are currently developing Mexican companies that can support us in the development of different components that will be used both in Mexico and Canada.

Thus, throughout these first 17 years, we have maintained an active participation in the sector; from collaboration with the authorities and academia to develop educational programs for aerospace training, to the attraction of international suppliers that, in turn, have strengthened the local supply chain.

Finally, at Bombardier we maintain a very good relationship with the government of the state of Queretaro and with some important institutions such as the Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA), the Aeronautical University of Queretaro (UNAQ) and the Aerocluster of Queretaro. All our projects with them are aimed at the development of the aerospace industry in the state and in Mexico.

What has been the annual growth rate in terms of revenues and production?

Although it is not possible to share that information broken down by market as it is a public company, I can tell you that the successful outcome of the first operations led to new investments and the establishment of other types of production processes. We must remember that in 2006, Bombardier announced an investment of 200 million dollars. To date, we have invested 500 million dollars in the country.

Likewise, I can tell you that last August 2022 we announced that the company is going to maximize aerospace parts manufacturing operations in our Querétaro facilities, a decision that confirms Mexico as a strategic country in our global projects. 

What major challenges and/or obstacles did you have to face and how did you do it?

More than a specific challenge for us, the main challenge we identified in the industry supply chain is related to the process that the different companies interested in becoming aerospace suppliers must go through. This process takes time and is complex. Likewise, there is great room for growth for Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, coming from the needs of other supplier companies established in the entity.

In this sense, and with Bombardier's arrival in Querétaro as an anchor company, part of the strategy was to attract other aerospace industry companies that supply the company at a global level, so that they, in turn, would increase the demand for Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. Currently, in addition to Bombardier, other companies of great importance within the industry operate in Querétaro and have contributed to generate a critical mass. As these companies generate demand for local products, local companies interested in becoming suppliers to the industry can carry out the necessary investments and procedures to obtain industry certifications.

On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, we created a team dedicated to developing local suppliers.

How do you describe the development of your human capital and what factors have influenced this evolution? What was the number of employees at start-up and how many are there now?

One of the reasons why we decided to establish operations in Mexico was the existence of highly trained human resources, as well as the network of technical training institutions that already existed in Querétaro. In addition, in conjunction with federal and state authorities, as well as other companies in the industry, we collaborated in the development of the Aeronautical University in Querétaro (UNAQ), which since its founding in 2009 has been responsible for training most of our employees. 

We are very happy with Bombardier's workforce in Mexico, because we have been able to perform quality work that has made it possible to have high-end aircraft, such as the Global 7500 aircraft, which is the aircraft that flies the farthest, fastest and highest in the entire category.

In 2006, we started operations with 300 employees whose focus was on simple component assemblies. However, the Querétaro site quickly began to receive highly complex work packages such as the rear fuselage of the Global family of aircraft. We currently have a workforce of 1,500 employees; by the end of this year we aim to reach 1,700 employees.

How do you describe your relationship with the Mexican community and what social responsibility actions have you carried out?

We maintain a successful relationship with the communities around us, in particular with the municipality of El Marqués and in general with the state of Querétaro.

Worldwide, Bombardier's Corporate Social Responsibility strategy implements actions in six pillars: Products and Services, Governance, Employees, Operations, Supply Chain and Responsible Citizenship. Our vision is to be the leader in sustainable business aviation with the most advanced and environmentally friendly products and creative, diverse and committed employees.

At Bombardier, commitment to sustainability is more than a program. It has become part of our DNA, to the point that, more than 10 years ago, we created a task force dedicated to scientific research for the development of our aircraft from a full product life cycle perspective. This group is the EcoJet Research Platform. 

The results of this effort have enabled us to become the global leader in the business jet industry in issuing the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). On May 2, our Executive Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, Michel Ouellette, announced the EPD for our Global 5500 and Global 6500 long-range jetliners, which join the Global 7500 and Challenger 3500 as the only business jets to have such a rating globally. 

Our sustainability goals for 2025 are to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, and to this end we have taken decisive actions such as making improvements and efficiencies throughout our manufacturing and maintenance chain to have the smallest possible environmental footprint, improving energy efficiency throughout our operations and processes, migrating to renewable energy sources, and optimizing our manufacturing practices to reduce water consumption and waste generation. 

Since our arrival in Mexico in 2006, we have implemented different initiatives focused on promoting education, entrepreneurship, and environmental protection, making positive contributions to the communities of Querétaro.

One of the most important projects is our support for the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, with whom we have had a collaboration agreement since 2008. Over the years, we have focused on reducing the carbon footprint of our operations. In this regard, the most recent project focuses on mitigating CO2 emissions from our operations in the country, through a carbon offset with the communities of Sierra Gorda.

Similarly, Bombardier, together with the Merced Querétaro Fondation, held the Social Responsibility Award "Dale Alas a tu Proyecto" (Give Wings to your Project), for Education and Entrepreneurship. This award seeks to reward initiatives that contribute to people's access to better levels of social welfare through education and self-employment.

What are your expectations for the next 10 years?

On August 31, 2022, our CEO Éric Martel, announced his determination to maximize aerospace parts manufacturing operations in its Querétaro facilities, a decision that confirms Mexico as a strategic country in its global projects due to the highly qualified workforce, the commitment of all its collaborators, the first class technological capacity that exists in its facilities and the educational ecosystem.

Our plan is to increase Bombardier's footprint in Mexico. For that reason, we began to maximize some aerospace parts manufacturing operations at our Querétaro plant.

We are focused on maintaining our leadership in business aviation and, as the economy recovers, meeting the demand that is expected to continue to grow.

 

Interview: Levy Barragán
General Manager

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