A $1.2 billion microprocessor factory from the American giant IBM, which has 1,000 employees and manufactures 100,000 modules out of sight every week in Bromont, celebrated its 50th anniversary yesterday.
"IBM's processes are very robust in mitigating these threats," replies tit for tat to the Journal Stéphane Tremblay, chief director of the plant, when asked if the plant attracts the attention of foreign powers. .
“We have a hundred patents, which have been developed here over the past ten years,” adds the man who has climbed the ladder one by one for 31 years.
Yesterday, the multinational IBM invited dignitaries and media to a carefully orchestrated visit to mark the 50th anniversary of the factory.
Five times more employees
Opened in 1972 with 200 employees, the Bromont plant initially manufactured integrated circuits.
It has quintupled since its number of employees and manages to assemble some 20,000 semiconductors per day in Estrie.
“It is the Gaulois factory in a global context where microprocessors and chips are largely manufactured in Europe, even in Asia”, illustrated to the Journal, François Bonnardel, deputy for Granby and Minister of Transport.
As the shortage of microprocessors slows down sectors like the automotive industry, the United States is scrambling to revive the industry at home rather than depending on Asia.
At the beginning of the year, the American president, Joe Biden, announced with Intel an investment of 20 billion dollars to make electronic chips in the country.
Last year, Joe Biden even met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to get the two countries to reduce their dependence on the Chinese.
For the United States, the Quebec plant of IBM is therefore strategic.
When you walk through its corridors, nothing is left to chance.
Employees work around the clock in a highly controlled environment.
“Employees wear a mask because even a postilion can be enough to damage the room. We want to be very careful, ”explains to visitors Fréderic Tracey, director of human resources.
In some rooms, the floor is raised to keep space below the machines to be able to cool them continuously.
Air and light are measured. The parts are handled with the greatest care when they come out of the ultra-sophisticated machines.
But in the midst of a labor shortage, the plant is no exception and needs about forty more employees to pick up the pace.
To attract them, IBM offers bonuses, a gym and good work-family conditions. Drawings by the children of employees adorn the hallways.
“In the operation, we start at 22 dollars an hour, plus the bonuses which are advantageous”, breathes Fréderic Tracey.
Crossed during the visit, Manon Brodeur, operator for 37 years, had only good words for the company. "It's a lot in French," she replies when asked what the working language is.
A stone's throw from her, Luc Alain, team leader, at the plant for 29 years, agrees. “Everything happens in French here,” he concludes.
Since 2001, Investissement Québec has granted more than $8.2 million in non-repayable financial contributions to IBM Canada.