A Guide to Partnering With Shelter Service Companies in Mexico

Expanding into Mexico can be both exciting and daunting, necessitating careful strategic decision-making. Partnering with a shelter services company may help your manufacturing company navigate this new terrain more successfully - these companies specialize in helping foreign companies establish operations in Mexico while handling legal, administrative, and operational tasks for you. This guide explores the advantages such partnerships offer, such as speed to market, risk sharing, economies of scale benefits, and a comprehensive range of services they can provide.

Understanding the Challenges of Expanding into Mexico

Compliance Challenges in Mexico's Business Landscape: Mexico offers an abundant and diverse business environment, yet navigating its regulatory environment may be challenging for companies unfamiliar with local laws and regulations. 

Establishing Operations in a New Country: Starting operations in a foreign country can be complex and demanding, from creating an efficient supply chain to overseeing your workforce and dealing with labor unions. Each step in this journey requires meticulous planning and an in-depth knowledge of its business environment.

Cultural and Language Barriers: Mexico boasts a varied cultural landscape. To successfully enter this market, businesses need to overcome any differences due to language or cultural nuances that might hinder communication or operational efficiency or threaten their success altogether. Misunderstandings caused by language or cultural nuances could significantly hamper operational performance and compromise your company's prospects of success.

Risks Associated with Missteps when Manufacturing in Mexico

Compliance Risks: Navigating Mexico's complex regulatory landscape is essential to creating and running an efficient business. Noncompliance with local regulations poses legal complications and can cause operational delays that damage a company's reputation with partners, authorities, and the community - further emphasizing why having on-the-ground expertise to avoid possible pitfalls is vital for its success.

Operations Inefficiencies: A lack of local expertise can have disastrous results regarding operational efficiency, going far beyond just financial implications. Mismanaging processes or falling behind schedule on production deadlines or quality standards, leading to missed production dates or customer expectations being missed altogether, thus increasing operational costs significantly and endangering sustainability within new markets. 

Cost and Cash Flow Issues: Financial management is essential when expanding internationally; underestimating startup costs and ongoing operational expenditure can seriously compromise a business. Initial investments required to establish operations may be significant, and unexpected costs may surface at any stage. Delays in obtaining necessary licenses or issues with import/export can destabilize operations and lead to cash flow issues for your company. Financial strain can seriously undermine a business's viability and well-being, so accurate budgeting and planning is paramount for its continued viability and health. 

The Advantages Shelter Services Offer

Legal and Regulatory Guidance: Shelter services provide legal and regulatory guidance that ensures compliance, helping your company reduce its legal burden and administrative overhead costs.

Operational Expertise: These companies boast well-developed infrastructure and networks for effective supply chain management and workforce recruitment, creating a smoother functional setup that enables you to focus on the core activities of your business.

Cultural Bridging: With their bilingual staff and understanding of Mexican business environments, shelter services provide effective communication channels and smooth integration into Mexican business environments.

Speed to Market: One of the significant advantages of working with a shelter provider is their ability to expedite market entry. Some shelter service providers, like Tetakawi, can sometimes help businesses become operational in as little as 30 days - an invaluable advantage in today's fast-paced business world.

Partner for Risk Sharing: Joining forces with shelter services companies means sharing the risks associated with expansion. Their experienced teams act as an invaluable safety net by handling many of the inherent hazards involved with starting operations in new countries, making the Mexican market more easily than before. 

Economies of Scale: Shelter services achieve economies of scale by serving multiple clients at once. As such, their average variable costs associated with essential services like hiring workers or handling customs clearance tend to be reduced compared to independent company entry into Mexico - passing these savings along and helping you cut operational expenses and boost competitive edge simultaneously.

Common Functions Performed by Shelter Services Providers in Mexico

Shelter services providers in Mexico specialize in handling important administrative functions essential to business success, but that fall outside their core manufacturing operations, such as:

  • Human Resources and Recruiting
  • Employee Payroll and Benefits Administration
  • Customs Management and Import/Export Administration
  • Tax and Fiscal Compliance Issues
  • Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
  • Purchasing Negotiations and Vendor Relationships
  • Facilities Management and Real Estate

These services allow foreign companies to concentrate on their core competencies, such as engineering, production process improvements, and quality control. It is essential to remember that no two shelter companies are alike, so when exploring this mode of entry, be sure to clearly understand the differences among shelter providers. Read this article here to learn more about the 6 different types of shelter companies in Mexico. 

Shelter Services in Mexico - Division of Labor

Alternatives to Shelter Services

While shelter services offer many advantages, they might not be a solution for all companies. Possible alternatives include setting up a standalone operation, contract manufacturing, or seeking an acquisition - each option with associated risk levels, speed to market, and startup and ongoing operational costs. You can learn more about the different modes of entry for expanding into Mexico, by listening to this podcast:

One thing to consider is that operating within a shelter is not always a perpetual mode of entry into Mexico; many companies begin under one to leverage economies of scale and local expertise before transitioning into independent operations once ready. This stepwise approach can reduce initial risks while simultaneously setting down roots within this market.

Therefore, if you believe that operating under Mexico's shelter program may not be in line with your long-term strategy, it may be an excellent place to start, so it may be worth exploring, especially if you have a fast-ramp up and want to make your startup as smooth as possible. 

FAQ: How Do I Find the Best Shelter Company for My Operation in Mexico?

Selecting a suitable shelter company in Mexico can be a daunting task - here's our step-by-step guide on making informed choices:

Define Your Requirements: Start by outlining what you need from a shelter company. Consider factors like industry expertise, location preferences, and specific services required.

Research Potential Providers: Compile a list of shelter companies in Mexico. Use online resources, industry reports, and recommendations from business networks.

Evaluate Their Services: Compare the services offered by each company. Look for those that align with your specific needs and operational goals.

Visit and Assess: Visit the facilities of these companies. This will give you a firsthand look at their operations and how they manage their facilities.

Understand Their Differences: Each shelter company has its unique strengths. Evaluate how these align with your business goals and strategies.

Check References and Track Record: Request and contact references from each company. Speaking to current or past clients can provide valuable insights into their experiences. Also, review their track record regarding efficiency, compliance, and success in setting up operations for other companies.

Analyze Cost Structures: Understand each company's shelter fees and pricing models. Look at startup, ongoing operation, and pass-through costs to make sure you compare apples to apples. Also, understand who is on your payroll and who is on theirs. If they are helping you select real estate in Mexico, ask them if they are getting a commission from the broker or developer. 

Consult with Your Team: Talk to your executive team, legal advisors, and other stakeholders for their opinions and decide on your direction. 

Negotiate the Contract: Once you've selected a shelter company, negotiate the terms of your agreement. Sometimes, choosing a Mexico-based general counsel to help with the negotiation may be wise.


Selecting an optimal shelter company in Mexico requires careful consideration of many different factors. By following this guide, you can ensure you choose a provider who best matches up with the requirements and objectives of your company and who can have an immense impact on its success in Mexico.

As you make this critical decision, Tetakawi is one of Mexico's premier shelter services providers and can become an invaluable partner in your company's growth into Mexico's market. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve the benefits of manufacturing in Mexico without the burdens and risks. 

ebook: choose a shelter service provider in Mexico



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