Apple to repurpose Mesa, Ariz. sapphire plant after GT Advanced vacates

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2014
Adding background to Apple's vow to keep as many jobs as possible at its Mesa, Ariz., sapphire plant leased to GT Advanced, a new report says the facility will be repurposed, suggesting some current employees may be able to continue work at the location.

Arizona


Since Apple sapphire partner GT Advanced filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, there has been no clear sign as to what Apple plans to do with its Mesa, Ariz., plant or its local staff once current operations cease.

On Tuesday, Mesa City manager Christopher Brady shed some light on the matter, at least as it pertains to the 1.3 million-square-foot structure, reports Bloomberg.

"They've indicated their commitment to us: They want to repurpose that building and use it again," Brady said about Apple's plans.

Built off of a former solar panel factory, Apple's Mesa plant was announced last year by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who touted Apple's presence as a major economic driver for the state. The company finished the build this summer, complete with renewable energy power supply agreements and its own eco-friendly power station.

AppleInsider reported in March that Apple was planning to expand beyond the existing structure and into an adjacent building and plot of land, though plans have expectedly been put on hold. The area is ripe for investment, however, especially given the up to 70 percent property tax break allowed thanks to its designation as a foreign trade zone.

Mesa Mayor John Giles also voiced support for Apple's continued interest in Arizona, saying he plans to visit the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., in the near future.

"Apple could've invested in a facility literally anywhere in the world," Mayor Giles said. "There's a reason they came here, and none of those reasons have changed."

Apple leased the facility to GT Advanced as part of a $578 million contract for sapphire material manufacturing. The deal went sour after GT was unable to meet what it characterized as "oppressive and burdensome" demands.

Shortly after its bankruptcy announcement, GT said it would axe more than 700 jobs from the Mesa project. Apple subsequently issued a public statement saying it is "focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT's surprising decision" and plans to "work with state and local officials" during the transition period. So far, there have been no official notices as to how Apple intends to handle the situation.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    This is decency.

    What goes around comes around.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    This is decency.

    What goes around comes around.

    Tim is a very decent human being. One of the reasons I respect him.




    They could make it into the worlds largest Apple Store! /s

    I'm sure there's something they could do. Not sure how close it is to Sky Harbor, that would likely affect purposes.

    Of course, it's posible they could get someone else making sapphire there too.
  • Reply 3 of 14
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Where "oppressive and burdensome" demands means "high quality sapphire and lots of it."
    Oh, and also "on time."
  • Reply 4 of 14
    sockrolid wrote: »
    Where "oppressive and burdensome" demands means "high quality sapphire and lots of it."
    Oh, and also "on time."

    But GTAT's website says they are industry leaders in advanced sapphire manufacturing.
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Love the sign in the photo:

    NO SEMI DELIVERIES

    Driver: Apple? We've got a delivery for you. Well, sort of. Let me just go back to my van and think about it. Hmm. Perhaps I could give you part of this package.

    Apple: Didn't you read the sign? No semi deliveries!

    No doubt, Apple have had a big problem with philosophical delivery drivers. I guess that's what comes from being at the intersection of the liberal arts and technology.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Surely the sapphire furnaces are still in the plant and the 700 staff are ready to work ?

    Bring in some people to run it (perhaps foreign ) that have an ethic to work hard and honour contracts and they are good to go.
  • Reply 7 of 14

    1- "There is a reason and and none of those reasons have changed."  --> there is, or there are? I thought politicians knew one thing well, which is how to express themselves.

     

    2- "thanks to its designation as a foreign trade zone" --> makes perfect sense, since Apple is a foreign... company... uh, what?

  • Reply 8 of 14
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by amoradala View Post



    Surely the sapphire furnaces are still in the plant and the 700 staff are ready to work ?

    Bring in some people to run it (perhaps foreign ) that have an ethic to work hard and honour contracts and they are good to go.

    I'm sure Apple would like to get that sapphire made. However, your suggestion is not likely to help, because, I suspect, producing sapphire is different than flipping hotcakes. Apple would need to identify and retain the key technical people, and assemble a competent management team. And then it is possible that Apple would face the same quality issues that GTAT faced, which may be linked to the furnaces rather than a mere tweak in processing. And I really don't think it is a matter of lazy staff, so an "ethic to work hard" is also not going to help. You can't get blood from a stone, as they say, and perhaps there are fundamental flaws in the furnaces or science behind sapphire production that were unanticipated by the engineers in the first place. No doubt they can produce something, but will it ever be of the quality and in the quantity requisitioned by Apple?  Probably not. Not by GTAT, and not by anyone else trying to use the same facility.

     

    Or, maybe the sapphire production was never the issue. Maybe the executives were just thieving fraudsters and they didn't allocate the right number of staff to the job to get it done on time, because they bought fancy cars and vacations instead. Or just incompetent.  Seems unlikely though.

  • Reply 9 of 14
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

    2- "thanks to its designation as a foreign trade zone" --> makes perfect sense, since Apple is a foreign... company... uh, what?

    Probably to do with sending all the finished sapphire to China for assembly into the final product, doncha think?  

  • Reply 10 of 14
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Probably to do with sending all the finished sapphire to China for assembly into the final product, doncha think?  


    Might be, I don't actually think i've ever been a lawyer specialised in Arkansas law ^^I do wonder though, because while it would make sense if FoxConn did that (they are foreign), "shipping to foreign" should not, logically, make you "a foreign company". Anyway, it doesn't matter, what does matter is that Apple gets tax rebates, which enable them to hire people, which is good.

  • Reply 11 of 14
    1- "There is a reason and and none of those reasons have changed."  --> there is, or there are? I thought politicians knew one thing well, which is how to express themselves.

    2- "thanks to its designation as a foreign trade zone" --> makes perfect sense, since Apple is a foreign... company... uh, what?

    It's probably a designated "special economic zone", similar to what has been done in China. See the Wikipedia definition.
  • Reply 12 of 14



    One word: > …….…. drumroll ……...<   Gigafactory2!

  • Reply 13 of 14
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,997member
    Tim is a very decent human being. One of the reasons I respect him.




    They could make it into the worlds largest Apple Store! /s

    I'm sure there's something they could do. Not sure how close it is to Sky Harbor, that would likely affect purposes.

    Of course, it's posible they could get someone else making sapphire there too.

    Well said.
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