Just over a year ago, component manufacturer Finisar was awarded $390 million from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund. To expand production of a critical part of the TrueDepth camera system, introduced with iPhone X, Finisar turned an unoccupied building in Sherman, Texas into a bustling operation full of people who will supply that future business.
Johnny Jackson, a 59-year-old machine operator, is one of the company’s new employees. After almost 30 years in the shipping industry, he moved to Sherman and was hired at Finisar.
“You take an old guy like me that’s been doing one job for 27 years, and now I’m learning something new every day,” says Jackson. “The training here is tremendous — you’ll be good because you’ve been trained by people who are good.”
In 2018, Apple spent $60 billion with 9,000 American component suppliers and companies, an increase of more than 10 percent from the year before, supporting more than 450,000 jobs.
Jackson’s new job is one of 500 being created as Finisar brings the Sherman facility back online. The plant will produce vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers — or VCSELs — for Apple, powering breakthrough features of the latest iPhones and iPads, including Face ID and Animoji. VCSEL wafers are nearly as thin as a human hair and contain hundreds of layers measuring only a few atoms in thickness. They require a highly advanced and precise manufacturing operation, as well as skilled technicians with specialized training.