“I was one of the lucky ones to get a job in something that I actually feel passionate about,” Beed said. “Now I feel even more drive.”
Beed is one of 1,250 SolarWorld employees in the northwest United States. The company announced on Thursday that it has reached its growth goals—1,000 workers in four plants, according to a press release.
“Our goals here were straightforward,” Managing director Bob Beisner was quoted in the press release, “to tool up annual production capacity to 500 megawatts at the U.S. sites and hire 1,000 workers in Hillsboro by 2011. We have done just exactly that on the very schedule we laid out.”
The story is a rare one in this time of mass layoffs and budget shortfalls.
But the company vowed when it established a presence in the United States a little more than a decade ago that it would be manufacturing 500 megawatts of silicon crystal, solar wafers, photovoltaic cells and solar panels.
“And SolarWorld was in a position to make that happen,” said Ben Santarris, spokesman for the company.
The company bought its Hillsborough, Ore., facility in 2007 and made the announcement that it would expand to 1,000 workers and the capacity to produce 500 megawatts a year.
“Building a factory isn’t just like turning on a switch though,” Santarris said.
While the company has all of its manufacturing facilities ready and functioning and all of the employees in place, it’s not yet producing anywhere near the desired 500 megawatts, Santarris said. Getting to that point will be a process.
“We’ve finished the ‘getting up and running phase,’” Santarris said. “Now we have to start working on the optimization phase.”
In addition to the expected 1,000 workers needed to create and manufacture solar photovoltaic components, SolarWorld has hired an extra 250 staff for sales and marketing in California and Oregon.
“We do have room to grow,” Santarris said. “We only occupy about half of our site right now. In effect, it never ends.”
Image courtesy of SolarWorld.