Finisar Corp. representatives met with around 400 people hoping for positions with the electronics components manufacturer Friday during a job fair.
Jeff Brown, the general manager of Finisar’s Sherman facility in the former MEMC building, said the company was specifically looking for people to fill equipment maintenance positions, but everyone who has applied for a position with the company through its website was sent a flyer for Friday’s event.
“We have about 16 (equipment maintenance) positions open that we’re a little behind schedule on filling, so I’m hoping to get as many of those filled as we can,” Brown said. “We have a bunch of, what I would call, entry level positions for factory operators. We’re going to open up 60 (of those) positions by the end of June. I think a lot of the folks that we saw today will likely get a shot at those first 60 positions that we open up.”
Brown estimated by the end of April the local Finisar facility would have about 80 employees on staff and probably twice that by the end of June.
“We should be in the neighborhood of 160 folks by the end of June,” Brown said. “That would be when we start to bring in the operating workforce.”
Finisar announced in December that it would begin producing vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers for Apple at its new Sherman facility later this year and eventually hire more than 500 employees for the facility. Finisar’s VCSEL production will provide Apple’s iPhone line with depth-sensing technology that helps power features such as Face ID, Animoji, portrait mode selfies and proximity-sensing capabilities. VCSELs are small semiconductor devices that emit light vertically and measure the depth at which that light is reflected.
Brown called the turnout for Friday’s job fair “overwhelming” and said it was far more people than he had expected to see.
“It was a big rush when we first opened this morning,” Brown said Friday afternoon, explaining some of the first to arrive likely had to wait an hour just to speak with Finisar representatives. “It’s been a great response. We’ve seen a lot of people from Sherman. We’ve seen a lot of people that were former MEMC employees.”
Finisar staff said they’d also spoken with several current employees from other industrial facilities in the area, as well as from out of state. Several people in attendance Friday declined to be interviewed or give their names, including one man from Plano who called Finisar an “exciting” company and said he was told the company would be in contact with him following his meeting at the job fair.
Mike Murillo, who works at a neighboring facility to Finisar’s Allen location, said he drove up to Sherman Friday from his home in Garland for a chance to talk with company representatives.
“I’ve been watching this facility since October of last year, when it got acquired,” Murillo said. “I knew this building was vacant for the longest time. Then I did research on it and when they (Finisar) bought it, I immediately knew who they were and what they were all about. So I’ve been waiting this whole time to see if there was going to be an opportunity.”
Murillo said his meeting with Finisar representatives Friday wasn’t really an interview, but he was pleased with the way things went and was interested to see what happens next.
In addition to an on-site director of employment services, Finisar representatives said the company has three full-time recruiters working on finding new employees. Friday there were about a dozen members of the current Sherman team, as well as five people from the company’s human resources department meeting with the people who came in.
Brown said he’s been really impressed by the support Finisar has received from throughout Texoma since beginning remodeling work at the Sherman facility.
“I can’t express enough how much I appreciate the support we’ve gotten from Grayson County and Sherman, as far as being able to help bring those lights up and get it operational,” Brown said.
Earlier this month, building manager Bruce Armstrong estimated that there are normally around 250 construction employees working on the building. Armstrong said a lot of work being done is to convert space into clean rooms that will allow VCSEL production without the risk of any contaminants like dust or foreign substances.
Finisar Vice President Curt Barratt, who is the general manager of the company’s facility in Allen, said, in early March, that by the time production really ramps up in October and November, Finisar will have a “full complement of employees” at the Sherman facility, noting that will likely be 200 to 300 employees.
Finisar’s work at its new 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 initially announced it was creating 500 new jobs in Sherman, but its tax abatement application with the city showed it expected 587 employees once the facility is operational.