Wolfspeed opens supply chain for $5 billion plant

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CHATHAM COUNTY – Wolfspeed has begun the process of selecting suppliers for its 5 billion dollars Silicon Carbide Wafer Plant in Chatham County.

The Durham-headquartered company held a series of events in the Siler City today, the first of several vendor days the firm will host in the coming months.

“Our focus is primarily on our construction industries and the necessary suppliers to support them,” said Leslie Buckheit, Wolfspeed’s director of indirect procurement, in an interview with the publication WRAL News. “To really promote local business growth and bring small and diverse businesses into our supply chain.”

Buckheit noted that the company it is planned to hire 1,800 workers over the next five years, but many steps need to be taken to get the facility ready.

“We need transport teams. Qualified workforce of electricians, construction specialists is needed. We also need suppliers who can provide different types of materials,” noted Buckheit. “We know we have a big challenge ahead of us, and the only way we know we can achieve that goal is to reach out to the community and ask vendors and groups in the community to come and participate in this project with us.”

Wolfspeed’s existing facility in Durham will be one-tenth the size of the planned manufacturing facility in Chatham County and will be the largest silicon carbide plant in the world, replacing the company’s Mohawk Valley, N.Y., facility that previously announced in 2019and then completed last August.

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Building supply chains

“We want our suppliers to be close enough to us that we can go on time, so we’ll have availability in that region as well,” Buckheit said. “We expect that as we expand, many of our partners will expand in this area with us.”

One such company can be Dillon Supply Companya Raleigh-based company that has been in the region since 1914.

“We provide all these good, good people with tools, steel and everything they need to do their jobs,” Andy Daughtry, director of key accounts at Dillon Supply Company, told WRAL News Wednesday.

Daughtry attended the Wolfspeed event to learn more about the scope and scale of the project, he said. “Really what they’re going to need to succeed. And that’s where we come in,” Daughtry said. “You’re talking about over a billion dollars in needs, so the pipes and the steel and all that. The jobs they’ll need are welders, pipe fitters, truck drivers, warehouse workers.’

Those, Daughtry said, are needs the company can provide.

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Economic growth of the region

And that could mean big things, not just for Wolfspeed or for Dillon, but for the entire region.

“When you want to create economic diversity with job creation and success, it’s really kind of a continuous tidal wave,” Daughtry said. “You have a tremendous amount of people coming into the community to create a project. They are going to eat. They cut their hair. They need dry cleaning. All these things. So you see that ripple effect pretty quickly.”

The site is already underway and Wolfspeed can begin laying the groundwork for a production facility very soon.

That could begin in April, according to Buckheit. The first phase of construction is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will cost approximately $1.3 billion.

~ WRAL TechWire reporter Jason Parker contributed to this report



Wolfspeed opens supply chain for $5 billion plant

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