Schott North America of Southbridge celebrates renovation, capital investment

BY: Brian Lee, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, March 28, 2018

State Sen. Ryan C. Fattman, R-Webster, joined by state Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer, congratulated the company for its renovation and success.

SOUTHBRIDGE – A local congressman on Wednesday praised Schott North America on Charlton Street as an example of how an increasingly global economy can benefit the region.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, visited the international technology business to celebrate a $750,000 renovation to its lighting and imaging division office in Southbridge.

The office is still named Building 51, which is what it was called under the former American Optical, said Jim Gareau, Schott North America vice president and general manager.

Schott North America has been in Southbridge since 1986 when it acquired the former American Optical Fiber Optics Division. Schott’s lighting and imaging division makes fiber optic components for medical and defense industries. It also has an electronic packaging unit.

The optic components assist in night vision products that help soldiers see better, and help doctors provide better clinical outcomes for patients, Mr. Gareau told dozens of employees who had gathered in the parking lot to meet with the congressman, state and local dignitaries, and Greg Wolters, president of Schott North America.

Mr. Wolters called the Southbridge employees a great and skilled team, and he said it is nice to be part of a community that supports it.

The company president said the renovated modern facility should be a nice motivating factor for future job candidates.

Meanwhile, Schott Electronic Packaging North America was established in 2009 and makes electronic components used in batteries, nuclear power plants, and other industries.

Jointly, the two sites are looking to fill 23 new positions.

Demand for lighting and imaging components is strong and growing, and so the company aims to invest an additional $2 million to its Southbridge divisions in the next two year, according to the company.

The investment aims to help the company improve production capabilities.

Schott plans to purchase equipment that will help streamline employee training and more closely align with machines used in technical colleges and trade schools, the company said.

The congressman told Schott employees they are in demand.

Mr. Neal said he visited with Scott North America officials in Southbridge a few months ago, and was told by its management team that the company had problems filling open jobs.

To that end, Mr. Neal said he called the president of Springfield Technical Community College so that school officials could meet with Schott’s leadership team. STCC has since visited Schott, and vice versa, Mr. Neal said, adding he’s hopeful the relationship could spur a good workforce.

Officials from Worcester-based Quinsigamond Community College, which offers classes in Southbridge, also attended in hopes that its graduates can fill some of that void.

“This is where the opportunities are going to come from,” Mr. Neal’s said of Schott. “And the idea that this is going to go away is just not going to happen. Indeed, if anything the supply chain is going to continue to grow internationally.”

Mr. Neal noted that the U.S. Department of Labor indicates there are 6.2 million jobs in America that have gone unanswered, and in New England, 18,000 precision manufacturing jobs are unfilled.

State Sen. Ryan C. Fattman, R-Webster, joined by state Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer, congratulated the company for its renovation and success.


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