Finisar tour shows progress in Sherman facility

Published: Mar. 1, 2018 at 5:36 PM CST
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Tech company Finisar announced its partnership with Apple back in December, which will bring close to 600 jobs to Grayson County.

For the first time, KXII got an exclusive look inside the building and spoke with the man who's kept it up for the last decade--and now holds a new position at Finisar.

"It's an exciting adventure to see the site revitalized, people back in and moving around."

Bruce Armstrong grew up in Grayson County and started working for MEMC back in 1997. It was a bustling factory making silicon wafers then.

"There were a lot of people, and I was learning my way throughout the minefield," Armstrong said. "I enjoyed the environment."

But MEMC was forced to downsize, and then shut down, in 2011. The building had been sitting empty until last year.

"Everything this facility offers is necessary for us," said Curtis Barratt, the VP and General Manager of Finisar Allen. "It's a super set of what's required. It's just a big, strong, versatile building."

Barratt said Finisar had been eyeing the 700,000 square foot MEMC building for a couple of years before purchasing it for $20 million last year. In December, Apple announced it was awarding $390 million to Finisar for production of their high-tech lasers called VCSELS. The technology will be used for facial recognition, Animojis, and Air Pods in the iPhone X.

"We're making Sherman the VCSEL capital of the world," Barratt said. "Everything from self-driving cars, to gesture recognition, to facial recognition, all of these applications are going to make this a very, very important location."

Several managers and engineers have already been hired and are at work with construction personnel. Armstrong is the new facilities manager, and several other former MEMC employees were hired on at Finisar as well.

"We'll be moving some people from Allen, and we'll be hiring from the local workforce, too," Barratt said. "We feel like if MEMC was supported by the local community, certainly Finisar could be."

He added that they've already felt welcomed into the community and are moving quickly to renovate.

"About 90 percent of the equipment is on order, and we’ll bring that in starting in April or May," Barratt said. "We’ll start the line first articles by August and production will get going by October."

"This is a great asset for Sherman," Armstrong said. "There are lots of people, a high end market for technology. This will only benefit Sherman and Grayson County."

There will be a hiring fair held on April 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denison, and Finisar will be there. We've posted a link to all their job listings.