With a recent acquisition complete, a Lehigh County manufacturer is seeing the results of stronger growth prospects, including the need to hire more workers.
This year, Naura Microelectronics Equipment Co., based in Beijing, China, acquired Akrion Systems, a manufacturer in Upper Macungie Township that creates equipment for the semiconductor market.
Akrion started marketing itself for a sale in 2016 and went through the process all last year, said Michael Ioannou, president and CEO of Naura Akrion. The closing occurred in mid-January after receiving approval from the federal Committee on Foreign Investment.
With the acquisition approved by committee and Chinese regulators, the company is continuing to expand.
“It saves a lot of positions, a lot of jobs; it provides us a means to expand into China as well as other markets we are already in,” Ioannou said.
The company’s products are in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.
10-PLUS NEW HIRES SO FAR
The company has about 120 employees, 95 at its Hedgewood Drive site, where it has been for more than 25 years. The remaining 25 employees are global distributors.
Just before the closing of the acquisition, the company had local employment in the low 80s.
Naura Akrion has been hiring for positions in engineering, mechanical, electrical, software, accounting, purchasing, production, field service and other areas.
Ioannou, who was president and CEO of Akrion Systems, said there were several reasons for the company’s search for a buyer.
“One of the things that’s critical is the Chinese semiconductor industry is expanding at a rapid rate,” he said. “From that point of view, we were able to get them into the market right away.”
Since Akrion makes equipment for the semiconductor industry, it can provide tools that are already capable of performing in that industry, Ioannou said.
THE PLACE TO BE
The company makes wet-processing equipment to make silicon wafers for the semiconductor market.
Over the next five years, 75 percent of the semiconductor growth in the industry will be in China, Ioannou said.
This was important in Naura’s decision to the buy Akrion, he said.
“By the same token, Naura gave us a strategic buyer to enter the market,” Ioannou said.
By having access to the Chinese market, Akrion will have a longer-term focus on research and development.
“It was an important aspect for why we wanted to go with them,” Ioannou said.
He listed other benefits of the acquisition, including the longevity of Naura and enhancing stability.
“Business has grown significantly,” Ioannou said. “Our sales have gone up as we predicted would go up. Business has been on the upswing.”
When the company was going through the acquisition, it received help from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. and its business outreach program.
Through the LVEDC program, Ioannou said, his company got support in advertising and hiring after the closing.
LVEDC received early notice of Naura’s interest in acquiring Akrion, said Matthew Tuerk, vice president of economic development and marketing for LVEDC.
“In this case, we made ourselves available and to see what we could do,” Tuerk said. “We will continue to stay engaged with them.”
Melody Bradford, director of business development at LVEDC, was the point of contact for the outreach effort, connecting the company to resources.
Tuerk said LVEDC focuses specifically on reaching out to companies from China, Germany and France to have them consider establishing sites in the Lehigh Valley.
LVEDC will continue doing what it can to make the region attractive to companies from those countries, he said.