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Semiconductor giant celebrates 10 years of growth in Gresham.



CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: ON SEMICONDUCTOR - ON Semiconductor Chief Executive Officer Keith Jackson addresses an audience that gathered on Friday, May 20, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Gresham wafer fabrication facility. If you think the products being developed and manufactured beyond the manicured entrance of ON Semiconductor’s Gresham facility on Glisan Street are meant for rocket ships, U.S. government supercomputers and other esoteric technologies, you’d be correct.

At the same time, it’s likely an ON-related product played a part in the text message you sent this morning or even the vehicle that got you to work.

It may not be obvious to the naked eye, but ON Semiconductor technology is all around us.

That ubiquity is key to what’s kept the Phoenix-based company moving onward and upward through the highly competitive and ever-changing landscape of digital component manufacturing.

Company leaders and invited guests marked Gresham’s role in ON’s success for the past 10 years with an anniversary celebration on Friday, May 20, on the 80-acre campus at 23400 N.E. Glisan St.

More than 150 guests were on hand, including Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-District 25; Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-District 49; Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick; representatives from the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce; and the cities of Gresham and Troutdale. ON leaders, including Chief Executive Officer Keith Jackson, spoke of the company’s successes, challenges and long-term commitment to growing its East Multnomah County digital wafer-fabrication facility, ON’s largest and most advanced factory.

“We are in virtually every electronic device you can imagine,” Jackson said in his remarks, noting $817 million in revenue from the first quarter of 2016. “Our applications are diverse and many.” (see sidebar below for more of Jackson's commentary)

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - One of the many displays during the 10th anniversary celebration of ON Semiconductors Gresham manufacturing facility laid out the digital wafer-making process, from a hunk of silicon to the flat discs  that play a role in a vast array of semiconductor products used in everything from cellphones to cars to U.S. military defense technology. While ON’s role in the computing market has diminished, the company’s diversification efforts and export-dominated markets led to the introduction of 1,162 products at the sprawling, three-building campus, including those related to LED lighting, power adapters, and components for automotive safety, medical devices and the defense industry.

“Most of our product innovations are produced in this factory,” said Mark Goranson, ON’s senior vice president of manufacturing operations. “It’s been quite amazing to see the growth here.”

Founded in 1999 as a spinoff of Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector, ON Semiconductor acquired LSI Logic’s Oregon Design & Manufacturing Facility — built in 1998 — on May 15, 2006. Since then, company officials say $290 million has been invested at the Gresham plant, which currently employs 741 workers.

ON Application Products General Manager Bob Klosterboer spoke on the importance of the Gresham factory to U.S. defense interests.

“We do products I can’t even know what’s in them,” he quipped. “These are very critical programs to us. It’s critical to be able to build these products on shore (for) the security of the country.”

Following the presentations, Jarvez Hall, president of the East Metro Economic Alliance, noted that ON’s continued growth demonstrates the value of East Multnomah County’s resources and growing potential.

“The biggest thing this says is how a thriving, successful enterprise can come out of the east metro region with access to good employees,” he said. “ON’s presence shows how this is a great place to establish a vital, successful business.”

ON CEO Keith Jackson stresses crucial role of Gresham plant

PMG PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - ON Semiconductor CEO Keith Jackson ON Semiconductor Chief Executive Officer Keith Jackson visited Gresham on Friday, May 20, to participate in the 10th anniversary of ON’s wafer fabrication facility on Northeast Glisan Street. In between addressing visitors and greeting employees, Jackson talked with The Outlook about the company’s role and future in East Multnomah County. Here is what he had to share:

Outlook: How does it feel to be at ON Semiconductor’s Gresham facility to recognize 10 years of operations?

Keith Jackson: It’s actually really exciting for the whole company. We made the decision to locate here in Gresham a decade ago before we needed the (full) capability of the site. We were planning for the future and hoping for success. It worked out better than expected.

Outlook: With some of ON’s rivals downsizing, to what do you attribute the continued growth of the company and the Gresham facility?

Jackson: The industry is changing. There are a couple of key factors in our long-term success. We continuously expand the markets we serve. This gives us access to fast-growing markets, and those things change all the time. Sometimes other companies are too mired in (non-dynamic) markets. We continue to acquire technology to differentiate us on an energy-efficiency basis. That resonates with customers and allows us to gain market share.

Outlook: What was the attraction to Gresham when ON purchased the former LSI Technologies facility?

Jackson: Gresham was important to us, quite frankly, because of the strong and established infrastructure in place a decade ago. The workforce is excellent, well trained and do a very good job. It has good people and technological infrastructure. And I do believe the city of Gresham has been very supportive of manufacturing industries. It’s a very good combination of things.

Outlook: With the bulk of ON’s customer base being outside the U.S., what keeps the company competitive in the global marketplace?

Jackson: The U.S. continues to be a very competitive place for us to locate our manufacturing. We continue to invest (including) $300 million expanding this factory in the last decade. (Exports) have no impact on what we do. Customers have to have service wherever they are. We provide the infrastructure to make this happen. We are a huge exporter. Virtually nothing we make here in Gresham is sold here in the U.S. There are some, such as in the military and aerospace (sectors) ... I think the American workforce is quite competitive. We’ve been pleased with our ability to expand here.

Outlook: What might surprise the average Gresham resident regarding the role ON’s products play in their daily lives?

Jackson: For one, cellphones. People like to have phones that are quite durable, sound good and take a good picture. You basically can’t do that without ON. Automobiles have (on average) 247 ON (manufactured) components. Cars have motors everywhere ... and they all take power sources and controls. Front LED headlights. ON basically is a lesser-known contributor, but we’re not lesser known in the engineering world.

I think we’ve provided a lot of ‘wow’ to society, when you think about what we’ve done for communications (including) mobile devices.

Outlook: How do you view the next 10 years for ON’s Gresham facility? Does the need for an increasingly skilled and trained workforce pose a challenge for the future?

Jackson: One of the great things about Gresham is it has a great tech-trained workforce. We’ve (recently) spent a quarter million dollars training our workforce to make them more skilled. We are able to train into the next decade. You really have to have an education to be in (modern) manufacturing. We’re happy to say both the state-sponsored education (programs) plus our specific investments make us feel very good about the workforce in Gresham.

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