National Geographic : 1996 Aug
MONTERREY Confrontingthe Future Shortcut to prosperity, a glass covered bridge links a hotel to the city's new convention cen ter-main attraction at an international business com plex built on the grounds of a foundry gone bust. A runaway success, the center books big events such as trade shows two years in advance. Free trade, coupled with the domestic slump, has forced companies here to become globally competitive. Vitro glassworks has rebuilt its origi nal 1909 building as a mu seum, but its machines-like this bottle press (below)-are state-of-the-art. "We've mod ernized to keep up with the market, and we intend to con tinue doing that," says spokes man Hiram Pe6n. "We're not going to disappear." Like many manufacturers in Monterrey, Vitro began as an offshoot of another business. In this case the Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery, which produces Dos Equis and other beers, started up a glass fac tory to supply bottles. Today Vitro produces everything from car windows to fine crys tal in factories throughout the hemisphere. The brewery also started a steel plant, Hylsa, to make caps and cans. Hylsa is the only company in the world making ultrathin sheets of steel by hot rolling-quicker and cheaper than the standard cold pro cess. The product cools for 72 hours in the yard (bottom right) before shipment to cli ents. "It has been quite a revo lution from bottle caps to steel sheets, but we've held on," says engineer Victor Trevino. "Now even with the economic crisis we're doing well."