Employee happiness is serious business at SK Siltron CSS in Bay County

This is the final article in a six-part series about SK Siltron CSS and what its investment in Bay County means for the Great Lakes Bay Region.

“Employee well-being is actually a foundational value of our whole organization,” says Tiffany Kukla, Human Resources Manager for SK Siltron CSS.

And it seems to be paying off.

SK Siltron CSS, a growing semiconductor wafer manufacturer in Bay County, received its first Great Place to Work certification in 2022. The assessment is based on employee feedback on factors including pay, benefits, and work-life balance.

“We’re very honored to have earned this recognition because we want to be known as an employer of choice in the Great Lakes Bay area,” Kukla says.

To meet an unprecedented global demand for high-quality semiconductor chips, its South Korean parent company, SK Siltron, in 2019 acquired DuPont’s silicon carbide wafer unit in Williams Township for $450 million. It’s since invested another $300 million in a second manufacturing facility in Monitor Township.

It’s also nearly quadrupled its local workforce to 240 employees since starting production just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shuttered much of Michigan.

Kukla, a Bay City native, has been there every step of the way.

“While most organizations were struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic or shutting down, we were growing,” Kukla says. “It was certainly a challenging time trying to build policies and HR practices from scratch all while trying to navigate around the pandemic. But we did it.”

Kukla graduated from Bay City Western High School where she met her husband, Bryan Kukla. The pair have a 19-year-old daughter, Laney, and 17-year-old son, Brayden, who also attended Western.

Kukla earned business and human resource management degrees from Davenport University and Central Michigan University, respectively. She later worked in Human Resources at Dow Corning and 1st State Bank before joining SK Siltron CSS.

“It’s absolutely my favorite job of my career so far. It’s very challenging, but that challenge is very rewarding,” she says.

Kukla says she’s taken part in every single interview since the company started, helping to hire everyone from scientists and engineers to operators and accountants.

“The majority of the people we have hired are local to Michigan in one way, shape or form,” she says.

The company selected Michigan for its new facility over competing states because of its skilled regional workforce and proximity to leading automakers, says CEO Jianwei Dong. It plans to increase production capacity sixteenfold by 2025 and expand its employee base to support the proliferation of electric vehicles — and the semiconductor chips that power them.

A single, 6-inch diameter 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.

Kukla says she and the rest of the company look forward to continued growth, greater involvement in the Great Lakes Bay community and ensuring their employees are engaged and happy.

“I always take personal pride in making sure all our employees are happy, feel taken care of, and are able to bring their best selves to work,” she says.

Other articles in this series include:
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