As work continues on remodeling Finisar Corp.’s new facility in Sherman, the company got a visit from a U.S. representative Friday morning.
John Ratcliffe got a look at Finisar’s progress Friday during a tour that also included Sherman Mayor David Plyler, City Manager Robby Hefton and the staff of the Sherman Economic Development Corp. Finisar Vice President Curt Barratt, who is the general manager of the company’s facility in Allen, said the tour was designed to show the scale of what Finisar is planning to do with the building.
“Basically, (we) wanted him to understand where we are and that we’re still moving full speed ahead and are very committed to this project,” Barratt said.
Finisar announced in December that it would begin producing vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers for Apple at its Sherman facility in the former MEMC building by the third quarter of 2018. VCSELs are small semiconductor devices that emit light vertically and measure the depth at which that light is reflected. That depth-sensing technology helps power Apple product features such as Face ID, Animoji, portrait mode selfies and proximity-sensing capabilities.
“We are trying to make this the VCSEL capital of the world, and I think he sees the significance of that from a technology perspective,” Barratt said. “This is a technology that’s going to have a very long runway, so if Grayson County can be that important to this industry, that’s going to be impactful over the long term. And I think the community and the company are both going to benefit from the mutual operation that this project will bring.”
Ratcliffe called the tour “fantastic” and said it’s clear Finisar is making great progress.
“To bring these high-tech positions here to Grayson County, I think really bodes well, not just for the present but for the future,” Ratcliffe said. “And these are the kinds of jobs and the kinds of production we want to see in this community. That’s a great sign and bodes well for the future.”
Finisar’s work at its new local facility is slated to include investments of between $20 million and $30 million in the building and land and an additional $120 million in manufacturing equipment. The company began remodeling work on the building late last year and expects to have the facility operational for the third quarter of 2018. The company announced it was creating 500 new jobs in Sherman, but its tax abatement application showed it expected 587 employees once the facility is operational.
Barratt said by the time production really ramps up in October and November, Finisar will have between 200 to 300 employees at the Sherman facility.
“Most of the employee head count will be hourly employees, called nonexempt employees, and that hiring won’t begin until we really occupy the building,” Barratt said. “The construction will be finished, the manufacturing assets will be on site to be hooked up and then obviously the hourly employees will have something to do. And that begins late April, early May and will proceed all the way through the summer. And we’ll be hiring throughout the capacity ramp, which goes on through summer of 2019. So it’s a dynamic process.”