The additional hires will equate to roughly a 10 percent staffing increase here for Honeywell, whichwith the equivalent of about 600 full-time employees at two locationsis one of Spokane Countys largest manufacturers. The anticipated hires also represent a potential employment turnabout for the manufacturing operation, which had employed more than 800 people in the county several years ago, under different ownership, before the sharp economic downturn forced cutbacks.
I could conceivably see us hiring 100 people over the course of the consolidation, says Ezra Eckhardt, site manager for Honeywells main plant here at 15128 E. Euclid and a satellite facility in Cheney. Eckhardt says the net employment gain, though, would be less than 100, due to internal restructuring.
Honeywell Electronic Materials, a unit of New Jersey-based giant Honeywell, is closing three of its 14 manufacturing sites around the world and is consolidating those processes here, Eckhardt says. The facilities that its closing collectively employ about 110 people and are located in San Diego, England, and Japan, he says. The unit will close at least one and possibly additional manufacturing sites over the next year as part of the consolidation, Eckhardt says.
A handful of Honeywell employees already are in the process of transferring to Spokane from San Diego and, England, but most of the jobs added here will be new hires, he says.
Eckhardt became Honeywells site manager here about four months ago.
Honeywell makes a range of materials at its Spokane Valley and Cheney plants that its customers, such as Intel, Motorola, IBM, and Samsung, use to make semiconductors.
Some of the materials produced in the Spokane-area plants are used in ever-smaller and thinner connective and resistive layers in integrated circuits. Others, called thermal interface materials, are designed specifically to dissipate the substantial heat created collectively by the huge number of resistors on each chip.
As microprocessors steadily have become smaller and faster, Eckhardt says, the need for better electricity-conducting and heat-dissipating materials has spawned a whole new generation of technology.
Among the changes has been an emerging transition toward the use of copper and a relatively rare substance called tantalum, mined only in the Congo and Australia, in place of aluminum and titanium in semiconductors because of superior conductive qualities, he says.
Noting that Honeywell has a sizable research-and-development staff here, in addition to those employees assigned to manufacturing-related tasks, he says, Our fate rests on our ability to win (orders for) new products and to develop new and unique product offerings for the market.
Honeywell Electronic Materials operates under parent Honeywells $3.5-billion a year Specialty Materials business unit, one of four main operating groups within the $24-billion-a-year, technology-and-manufacturing company.
Honeywell Electronic Materials accounts for about 10 percent of the Specialty Materials business units annual revenues.
Eckhardt says Honeywell anticipates revenues of about $100 million from its operations here this year. Thats up from about $90 million last year, and down from a peak of about $150 million in 2000, but still well above earlier typical levels of $70 million to $80 million, he says.
Honeywell, employs about 115,000 people in 95 countries, and is a pro-vider of aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes, and industry; automotive products; power-generating systems; and specialty chemicals, fibers, plastics, and advanced materials.
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