By Adam Lansdell
Improving Lives at Home and Around the Globe
You likely don’t realize it, but you are probably the owner of technology built with materials made right here in Michigan by Hemlock Semiconductor Operations (HSC). The company is one of five on the planet capable of producing a little-known material that serves as the building block for all electronic devices: ultra-pure polysilicon. HSC is the nation’s largest producer of ultra-pure polysilicon used in semiconductors and solar panels, and the only one headquartered in the United States.
Known in the lab as polycrystalline silicon, polysilicon is vital to the functionality of the electronics and personal devices we use each day. If you’re reading this article in its digital format from a mobile device, tablet or computer, it’s likely that the ultra-pure material produced by HSC is making this possible. The material is a key component of circuits and chips that are the brains of all electronics and essential for transmitting data that enables electronic devices to function.
Historically the company has primarily contributed to the development of traditional consumer electronics, but in recent years HSC’s materials have gone on to become a fundamental part of solar energy technology. As conversations have evolved around the need for alternative energy sources, HSC has become a committed partner for manufacturers of solar energy technologies. A sustainable company itself, HSC recognizes that its products enable renewable and clean solar energy production, which combats climate change, reduces dependence on fossil fuels, preserves natural resources, protects the environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
HSC proudly works to improve the lives of those around the world through the innovations it powers and the customers who produce electronics and solar panels. But while HSC’s global reach is long, it focuses just as much on the role the company plays in the lives of its employees through its workplace culture.
“We’re trying to create a company with a very employee-centric, family oriented culture. Ultimately, we recognize our employees as key stakeholders, alongside owners, customers and our local community,” said HSC Chairman and CEO Mark Bassett. “Over the past few years, we’ve made it a point to keep them in consideration in all decisions we make. We want to instill that we’re all a part of a winning team where they are rewarded and recognized for jobs well done and provide access to ways for all to develop professionally and personally.”
It takes a strong, dedicated team to make global change possible, and HSC is adamant that its success is made possible only by its people. The company is staffed by over 1,500 employees and contractors at its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Hemlock. Many HSC employees contribute their time and talents to community organizations in the Great Lakes Bay Region, and HSC works hard to contribute to the region’s culture and well-being beyond providing job opportunities.
HSC works alongside and supports a number of local organizations to provide the community with growth opportunities, including involvement with United Way; local job training programs; schools in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties; scholarships for local high school students to attend Michigan Technological University’s engineering program; job fairs at Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College; and more.
“We do a number of things that encourage education and talent development,” said Brooke Beebe, HSC vice president of external affairs. “We offer education opportunities, such as site tours, to school groups and anyone that’s interested in learning more about the types of careers that can be had here in this region and within engineering. We’re really focused on making sure that we’re out and present in our community.”
In addition to being a pillar of support for growth and education, HSC is focused on working alongside local agencies to improve public safety. HSC invites firefighters from the region to participate in live fire training exercises and hazardous materials scenarios, which are extremely valuable teaching opportunities. It also strongly emphasizes safety in its manufacturing process and recycles nearly all the chemicals and byproducts at the plant.
“Upward of 30 of our employees are volunteer firefighters around the region. We’ve got a significant connection to several of the fire departments in the region because our employees are engaged in that way,” explained Andy Ault, HSC vice president of manufacturing. “We utilize our internal resources to partner extensively with the Thomas and Richland Township fire departments, the Saginaw County Fire Academy and the Michigan State Police HAZMAT Training Center.”
With dependence on electronic devices – including future autonomous vehicles – steadily increasing and a growing demand for solar cells and panels, HSC is in an excellent position to continue being a major manufacturer in the Great Lakes Bay Region, contributing jobs and supporting organizations and activities that make our area a great place to be.
Learn more about Hemlock Semiconductor by visiting hscpoly.com.