Ulster workforce 'key to Seagate success story'
The boss of one of the largest US firms based here has paid tribute to his workforce as the company celebrates 20 years in Northern Ireland.
Dr Brian Burns, vice president of computer parts manufacturer Seagate's operation at Springtown in Londonderry, was speaking at an event in the city to mark one our longest-standing inward investment projects.
A world-leading technology powerhouse founded in 1979, Seagate came to Northern Ireland in 1993, building its Springtown plant in just nine months.
Former SDLP leader and Derry native John Hume was instrumental in persuading Seagate's management team to visit, set up and invest in his home city at a time when few international companies were prepared even to consider opening premises here.
The factory is still an integral part of Seagate's global supply chain and continues to supply over a million read-write heads every day for Seagate disc drives.
The company's products are used to help people to store, share and protect their digital content, from the videos, music and documents shared on social networks, to servers forming the backbone of cloud-based computing and our personal desktop and notebook computers.
Dr Burns said that initially the firm's projected final headcount back in 1993 was 500 people.
"Today, we employ more than 1,300 – that speaks volumes about the level of Seagate's confidence not only in the Springtown operation, but also in the wealth of talent in Northern Ireland and their ability to deliver in an advanced manufacturing environment," he said.
"The expertise, hard work and commitment of our workforce have been key to our success and I would like to thank them for their unfailing support.
"We are extremely proud that we have become so much more than a volume manufacturing site.
"Over the years, we have steadily increased our research and development capabilities and play an integral role in the development of future generations of recording head technology.
"That increased research and development charter means Springtown now takes products through from inception and design to volume manufacture.
"That know-how and expertise is in Springtown and will continue to be in Springtown.
"We are also indebted to government for the role they have played in our success story.
"That role has been a critical one, not only through the grants that provided a wide range of support for construction, fit-out, training and the establishment of our research and development group, but also as a proactive, supportive and encouraging partner – a relationship which we still enjoy today with Invest Northern Ireland.
"And, of course, it goes without saying that the Seagate Corporation has supported us every step of the way, providing us with a world-class facility, equipped with state-of-the-art machinery, and demonstrating their belief in Springtown and its people by continuing to invest in our facility over the years.
"And as we reflect on our own history, I know I speak for all my Seagate colleagues when I say that we also take great pride in how far Derry/Londonderry has come since we established our plant here in 1993.
"This vibrant and exciting city has undergone a transformation in recent years.
"Its rejuvenation has put it on the map as a wonderful place to live and work.
"We're thrilled with the happy coincidence that sees us support our 20th anniversary in the same year that the city celebrates its year as the first ever UK City of Culture.
"And we firmly believe that the city will continue along this path towards a brighter future," he said.
1979 Seagate is founded in California
1993 Seagate opens in Northern Ireland
2006 Seagate named 2006 Company of the Year by Forbes Magazine
2008 Seagate first to ship one billion hard drives, aiming for next billion within five years
2008 Seagate shuts its Limavady plant with the loss of up to 1,000 jobs
2010 Seagate delivers world's fastest hard drive for laptop computers
2011 Seagate completes acquisition of Samsung's hard disk drive business