MARCY — Just a few months after a high-tech grand opening that involved a ribbon cutting by an electric vehicle, things are ramping up so fast at Wolfspeed that the company is already ahead of its employment projections.
The 200mm silicon-carbide fabrication facility opened at the Marcy Nanocenter in April. Headquartered in North Carolina, Wolfspeed (NYSE: WOLF) produces silicon-carbide wafers for components used in devices such as electric vehicles, fast chargers, 5G applications, and the renewable energy, aerospace, and defense industries.
At the time of the grand opening, Wolfspeed had 265 employees with the plant running at 10 percent of its full capacity. At the time, the company predicted it would reach 270 employees by early 2023, but it has already reached, and surpassed, that benchmark nearly six months ahead of schedule.
At press time, Adam Milton, VP of the Mohawk Valley Fab facility, confirmed to CNYBJ that Wolfspeed recently hired its 300th employee and is still hiring.
The company has continued to add both equipment and employees since its grand opening as it ramps up to full speed, he says. Currently, Wolfspeed is working on preparing equipment for a process known as qualification, which ensures the equipment produces materials to the correct specifications.
“We have to meet all the customer specifications,” Milton adds. To date, Wolfspeed has announced both General Motors and Lucid Motors as major customers of the silicon-carbide chips produced there.
Milton says he expects them to be the first of many customers as interest in U.S.-produced chips continues to grow, especially after the chip shortage experienced during the pandemic that led to shortages of cars and other products.
Wolfspeed’s silicon-carbide chips provide an efficiency boost of anywhere from 5 to 15 percent over traditional chips. “You can imagine all the main players ... are looking very closely at silicon carbide and working with Wolfspeed,” Milton contends.
Those companies want a domestic chip supplier than can guarantee a steady supply, he says. “It’s a great position to be in right now with this factory coming online.”
As business increases, so will the need for employees, and Ashley Evans, manager of talent acquisition for Wolfspeed, continues to actively recruit new employees.
“I have staffed this thing from the ground up,” she says of the Mohawk Valley Fab. The company is about halfway to its total staffing goal of 600 employees by the end of 2029. “It’s just a testament to the local talent up there and the excitement over Wolfspeed,” Evans says.
The majority of jobs at the plant are technical, including equipment technicians, process technicians, and manufacturing technicians. “We’re also hiring engineers,” Evans adds. In addition, the factory employs IT and facilities workers, as well as other shared-services employees.
Evans is currently recruiting for about 60 open positions, with more jobs added by the day. New York residents fill a majority of the technician positions, while the salaried workforce tends to come from a wider geographic area due to the specialized skillsets required.
Wolfspeed already partners closely with nearby SUNY Polytechnic Institute to provide training for students, whom it hopes to recruit as employees upon graduation.
“We want to hire locally,” Evans stresses. “We want to bring the students in to work right in their backyard.”