After purchasing the former Shopko building in Evergreen that sat vacant for four years, Applied Materials will begin full semiconductor-plating manufacturing production in the 100,000-square-foot building next month to meet the demand of the growing industry.
As the third Applied Materials location in the Flathead Valley, the new facility will bring 200 new jobs to the region. Job positions range from manufacturers to engineers to managers and the company already employs 600 people in the Flathead Valley alone. The expansion will bring the total square footage to 350,000 among three buildings.
The semiconductor-plating manufacturer has seen significant growth over the last two years, adding thousands of employees to all branches, which includes facilities in Austin, Texas and Singapore.
“The demand has never been greater (for microchips),” Dennis McHaffie, the vice president of business operations for Applied Materials said at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Evergreen on May 4. “We can’t ship them fast enough – we’re having all of the right problems.”
Applied Materials’ expansion will bring hundreds of more jobs to the valley and the company’s officials have already been busy recruiting employees for their other locations.
Montana Site General Manager Brian Aegerter says there are currently 50 job openings for Kalispell’s two established campuses, and recruitment teams will phase in 200 more for the new location in Evergreen over the next year and a half.
Aegerter says the company has been hosting weekly job fairs and recruitment efforts have been gaining strides in the last few weeks.
Most job openings are for manufacturing positions, Aegerter said, which include benefits and range from $17 per hour to almost $30 per hour, depending on experience.
While the valley continues to struggle to recruit and retain employees, Kalispell Mayor Mark Johnson spoke at the ceremony and reassured the audience that local government agencies are doing what they can to bring more housing to the region for potential employees, which remains a recruitment challenge.
“As we grow as a community, we have a lot of challenges,” Johnson said. “We have to hire 200 new people for this building and that is the next challenge. We are doing what we can to deliver housing.”
In addition to staffing shortages, Applied Materials also continues to struggle with supply chain constraints as shutdowns in China and the war in Ukraine disrupt production.
“Supply chain issues are getting worse actually,” Aegerter said. “The interdependency on the supply chain has become a problem. When one area has a problem, the ripple effect is amplified.”
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