In addition to opening its new Sherman facility in the former MEMC building later this year, Finisar Corp. recently hired a new chief executive officer as it celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018.


Finisar co-founder Jerry Rawls announced his retirement as CEO last month, though he will continue to serve as a director of the company. Finisar announced the appointment of Michael Hurlston as CEO and a director of the company in a press release.


“I’m thrilled that Michael is going to lead Finisar into the future,” Rawls said in the press release. “Michael’s experience, proven technical skills, and leadership abilities will serve Finisar, our customers, employees, and stockholders very well. I am confident that Michael is the right person to lead us to even greater success.”


Finisar Vice President of New Markets Craig Thompson said Rawls was instrumental in the company’s success through its first 30 years.


“It’s been profitable since day one,” Thompson said of Finisar. “It’s been a terrific growth story. Most of that comes from our core business in fiber optic communications. We’re the leader in supplying modules and components into fiber optic links — anything from short reach inside a computer or a data center all the way to thousands of miles of a telecomm cross country link. We supply all sorts of markets.”


In a phone interview with the Herald Democrat last month, Rawls said the company’s recent acquisition of the nearly 700,000-square-foot former MEMC facility in Sherman could help turn the company into Apple’s No. 1 supplier of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers. Rawls said the company is currently Apple’s No. 2 supplier of VCSEL arrays, which help power Apple phone product features such as Face ID, Animoji, portrait mode selfies and proximity-sensing capabilities.


“It is possible, and our goal would be that we would like to be their No. 1 supplier, but today we don’t have the capacity to be their No. 1 supplier,” he said in December, adding that the Sherman facility could help the company reach that goal. “The guy that is their No. 1 supplier does all of his (wafer) fab (fabrication) work in Taiwan.”


Finisar’s products include optical transceivers, optical engines, active optical cables, optical components, optical instrumentation and optical amplifiers. Its optical communications components and subsystems allow high-speed voice, video and data communications for networking, storage and wireless uses.


“Finisar has excellent technology in VCSELs and they have been a fantastic supplier to Apple,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in a phone interview with the Herald Democrat last month. “… And 100 percent of their VCSEL production for Apple will be done in Texas.”


In a financial earnings call last month for the quarter that ended in October, Rawls said Finisar’s overall revenues for the quarter of $332.2 million were a 2.8 percent decrease over the previous quarter. In a news release issued on the financial earnings call, Finisar indicated it expects revenues between $325 million and $345 million for the current quarter.


“This 3-D sensing area is new for us,” Thompson said of the VCSEL technology’s uses. “It’s a hot growth area. I think it will propel our company into new heights going forward.”


Before joining Finisar as its new CEO, Hurlston was as a senior vice president and general manager of the Mobile Connectivity Products/Wireless Communications and Connectivity Division at Broadcom Limited.


“The optical communications and components industry is rapidly advancing and there are many new exciting customer opportunities,” Hurlston said in the news release. “I look forward to getting to work.”


Finisar currently has around 14,000 employees worldwide. Its corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, and product development and manufacturing facilities in California, Pennsylvania and Texas in the U.S. and Australia, China, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore and Sweden around the world.