Lifelong Bay Cityan – with deep roots in the community – finds his forever job at SK Siltron CSS

This is the fifth in a series of articles about SK Siltron CSS and what its investment in Bay County means for the Great Lakes Bay Region. On April 27, Route Bay City concludes the series with an article highlighting Tiffany Kukla, Human Resources Manager.

Bryan Draves had every terrible job in the world before landing in the silicon carbide industry.

And the Bay City native has no plans for leaving.

“Over the years at Dow Corning, I went from being a production operator to eventually becoming a research and development technician. I’m still working in that role today with SK Siltron CSS and I love it,” says Draves, 62.

SK Siltron CSS is a U.S. subsidiary of SK Siltron, which in 2019 acquired the silicon carbide wafer unit in Williams Township for $450 million. That site is now used for SK Siltron CSS research and development, along with wafer manufacturing.

To meet the unprecedented global demand for silicon carbide wafers used to make semiconductor chips, SK Siltron CSS in the last year doubled its Bay County workforce to 240 employees and constructed a second manufacturing facility in Monitor Township’s Valley Center Technology Park.

Graphic courtesy of SK Ciltron CSSThat investment in Bay County will have a big impact on area residents for years to come, says Trevor Keyes, Bay Future President and CEO.

Draves knows how good jobs can make a big difference for families and a community. His father and grandfather worked for decades as an electrical engineer and welder, respectively, at what’s now called General Motors Powertrain.

But good jobs can be hard to find, he says.

“I know people who have driven two hours each way for a good job. Having SK Siltron CSS right here is a tremendous opportunity for the young people and families in the area,” he says.

Draves and his wife, Jeri McAfee, raised their own family in Bay City. His parents, Patricia and Robert Draves, still live here, and his 105-year-old grandmother, Jennie Cron, lives in Midland.

He’s proud to be part of such cutting-edge technology at SK Siltron CSS.

“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to be gainfully employed in the area,” he says.

Silicon carbide chips are considered the future of the electric vehicle industry because they help reduce charging time and extend driving range by 5% to 10%, the company says.

“The reason silicon carbide is so sought after for a wafer material is it will take more heat and is better for high-powered applications like electric cars,” Draves says.

As a research and development technician, Draves works with scientists to prepare single crystal silicon carbide growth packages. Once grown, the material is shaped into ingots, sliced into 6-inch diameter wafers, and polished.

A single wafer manufactured by SK Siltron CSS can be used by other companies to make 450 chips — enough to support the power systems of up to eight electric vehicles.

The good news for the Great Lakes Bay Region is the company plans to continue growing its workforce and doubling its capacity year over year to keep up with the demand for semiconductor chips powered by silicon carbide wafers.

There will be many career opportunities for anyone interested in the coming years, company officials said.

“Our technology is rooted in this area and has plenty of room to grow,” Draves says.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.