A Greenock semiconductor factory that was on the brink of closure just six months ago is enjoying a new lease of life with £30m being invested into the site and employing over 300 staff.
Diodes Incorporated acquired the electronics plant from Texas Instruments (TI) on 1 April 2019, securing the future of the major Inverclyde employer.
The factory was on the verge of shutting down and its highly-skilled workforce was facing redundancy after TI announced in January 2016 it intended to move operations abroad.
A rescue deal saw the plant saved and the new owners are in the process of spending £30m on upgrading the Larkfield Industrial Estate wafer fabrication facility, which specialises in the production of intricate silicon microchips used around the world in everything from mobile phones to cars.
Managing Director and 2019 ICC President Award winner, Dr Gerry McCarthy, who has worked at the Greenock plant for 36 years, said:
“The likelihood was we were going to close – to be where we are now is fantastic.”
Most of the 32 staff who left amid the uncertainty have been replaced, with the workforce now up to approximately 300 and counting.
The Greenock fab’s modern apprenticeship programme, which stopped following the closure announcement, has also resumed.
Six trainees who stayed are now on full-time contracts and seven new apprentices recently started to replace the number that left.
Dr McCarthy said:
“The modern apprenticeship programme is important to us. “It’s not a huge number we’ve taken on but every job counts.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll be looking for a few graduates next summer too.
“We want to make sure we have talent in the area moving forward so we need to work with schools and universities to make that happen.”
Diodes’ investment in new equipment is well underway with the Greenock facility at the centre of the company’s ambitious growth plans.
Dr McCarthy continued:
“We have already made a £30m commitment.
“It’s about bringing technology in that will allow Diodes to generate capacity, more products and platforms, and compete in other markets.
“From an economies-of-scale point of view, we fit in very well with Diodes, especially with such an established and very experienced workforce here.
“The CEO has aggressive growth plans. “The first goal was to become a one-billion-dollar company, which he has done, and the next is to get to $2.5bn and we are critical to that plan.”
The semiconductor plant has been in its present location in one form or another since 1970 after the original building burned down and was completely rebuilt in the early 1970s.
Prior to Diodes taking over, fellow Texas-based firm TI was in charge for eight years and it was National Semiconductor before then.
The closure of the plant would have cost an estimated 572 jobs – directly and indirectly – across Scotland and the economy would have suffered by an estimated £32m annually.
Despite all the recent uncertainty, the MD paid tribute to the unwavering professionalism of the workforce.
Mr McCarthy, who is originally from Port Glasgow and now lives in Gourock, said:
“The performance of the site didn’t suffer one bit and that’s down to the people who said they weren’t going to let that situation define them.
“It’s not assembly here, the operators’ jobs are all very highly-skilled.
“We have an opportunity now that we didn’t have previously with TI or Nat Semi in that we were never set up as the primary fab for development.
“It’s a high performing facility and we need to make sure we’re still on our ‘A’ game to make it a success for Diodes and to showcase the area.”
For more information on Diodes Incorporated, please click here.
Diodes are a key sponsor of Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce. For more details on membership with ICC, click here.
Images and Article courtesy of Greenock Telegraph.