FEATURE December 13, 2017

How Apple and Finisar are transforming the future of this Texas town

Bruce Armstrong at the soon-to-be reopened facility in Sherman, Texas.
Over the last five years, Bruce Armstrong has walked thousands of miles through the corridors of an empty manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, keeping the lights on. Since the plant closed in 2012, he’s been its caretaker, always holding out hope it would come alive again. Thanks to new business from Apple, that hope is about to become a reality.
Finisar is the latest recipient of an award from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers. The $390 million will allow Finisar to increase the production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), which power some of Apple’s most popular new features. Face ID, Portrait mode selfies and Animoji all use VCSEL technology.
The 700,000-square-foot plant expects to begin shipping in the second half of 2018, and its output will make Sherman the VCSEL capital of the US. Finisar will soon start hiring 500 highly skilled workers and Armstrong, born and raised there, is busy getting the building ready.
“It will be great to see people come back through the door,” he says. “This means a lot for the Sherman area.”
The Advanced Manufacturing Fund will help Finisar create positive impact in Sherman, Texas.
Finisar is a company committed to creating jobs and has a long history of championing its people and their communities — something machine operator Jerrod Wright knows firsthand. Before Wright was hired in 2014, he was homeless, sleeping inside a car wash at night. During his last four years at Finisar, Wright has married and bought a home.
Jerrod Wright credits Finisar for turning around his life.
“This company changed my life,” he says. The new Apple business is something he’s proud of. “Finisar is like a family so this means a lot.”
One hundred percent of the VCSELs sold to Apple from Finisar will be made in Texas. Consistent with Apple’s commitment to the environment, the company intends to procure enough renewable energy to cover all of its Apple manufacturing in the US.
Sherman, Texas will see an influx of 500 new jobs.
Cicely Brown has lived in North Texas for decades and was the first female technician Finisar hired in the state, in 1998. Over twenty years she’s seen the company grow and become more diverse — and thinks the relationship with Apple will only add to that.
She has some advice for young women who want to go into science and technology: “Keep your head up. Stay strong. Learn as much as you can. Take it all in and then grow from it.”
Cicely Brown was the first female technician Finisar hired in Texas.
Bruce Armstrong thinks this growth with Apple will mark a new beginning and a better future for his hometown. “Down the road, we used to have Johnson & Johnson — we were the dental floss capital of the world. But that’s since closed. What defines Sherman now? This new facility. It’s just that significant.”
He won’t be walking those corridors alone for long. And that suits him just fine.

Media

Images of Finisar employees

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