If you want to know just how pure the hyper-pure polysilicon is that Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation (HSC) produces, you need to go straight to the man who knows best: Quality Manager Rob Kain.
“We call it poly crystalline silicon and we produce it up to 99.999999999% purity,” confirms Kain.
And that’s nine nines after the decimal point for those counting.
There are only a handful of companies in the world that produce hyper-pure polysilicon. For this reason, you’ll find HSC material in a third of all electronic devices in the world. A pretty heady stat for a family-oriented company that remains firmly rooted in the small-town community of Hemlock in mid-Michigan. HSC’s polysilicon enables customers to produce high-tech electronics and solar energy, and their efficient manufacturing process delivers products with an ultra-low-carbon footprint.
“Being a strong, contributing member of our community is just part of our core,” explains Brooke Beebe, Vice President of External Affairs. “It starts with our people. Our people don’t just work at HSC, they live in the Great Lakes Bay Region and their friends and families do, too. So, for us, it’s essential to maintain that connection to the place where we all live and work.”
The dam breaches in Midland County in May 2020 illustrated the giving nature of HSC’s employees. Dozens of HSC workers were directly affected, and in addition to HSC creating an Employee Emergency Fund available their coworkers took it upon themselves to raise an additional $4,500 out of their own pockets to help.
“It was really heartwarming,” says Beebe. “It shows that we’re truly one team here. Our people show a great deal of care for each other.”
As the COVID-19 Pandemic impacted all of us, HSC responded to community needs as well. “We donated equipment to local non-profits in the area,” added Kain. “We donated PPE to local hospitals and nursing homes. We also purchased gift cards from local businesses and gave them to our employees to help inject money back into our local stores and restaurants.”
Kain also mentioned that many HSC employees turned around and gave those gift cards to others who were in need.
And HSC’s community engagement doesn’t end there. HSC also engages with area schools in a variety of ways. The company donates time, resources and, recently, increased financial support for First Robotics. Plus, each year, in addition to co-op and internship programs, HSC provides 30 students scholarships to attend Michigan Technological University’s summer youth program — an initiative that draws from every school district in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Promoting regional STEM-related activities is also a big HSC priority.
“We have people who are engaged with students at all levels,” says Andy Ault, Vice President of Manufacturing. “We have also invested in partnership with Hemlock Public Schools to build a regional STEM center where kids K through12 can participate in STEM-related programs — an investment that will benefit multiple school districts.”
Kristen Opperman, HSC Communications Liaison, understands that if she can help spark passion for STEM-related careers among local kids, it can help put them on a path to developing the skills needed to work at HSC.
“Putting students in a position to stay in the area and contribute to companies like ours is hands-down amazing,” Opperman says. “It also helps provide a valuable workforce for us in the future.”
Speaking of the future, everyone at HSC is very focused on creating a more sustainable future — for everyone. Low carbon manufacturing will play a huge role moving forward, so they’re constantly looking for new ways to reduce emissions, use less energy and produce more products that will make the world a better place.
Looking ahead, HSC intends to remain a civic minded leader in the Great Lakes Bay region. In fact, winning this year’s MFG Community Impact Award only affirms their efforts and strengthens their resolve. And because their ability to give back is predicated on their ability to grow and succeed, they also intend to become the premier provider of poly crystalline silicon in the world, and a core contributor to an American supply chain that extends beyond polysilicon to other technologies.
It’s for these and many other reasons that Beebe and her colleagues feel at home at HSC. They know they’re doing important work for the future.
“We’re providing the fundamental raw material for two of the most important industries of the future: semiconductors and solar energy,” says Beebe. “Working at a company that has some of the best technology and people in the world is very motivating.”