US semiconductor equipment designer and manufacturer, Randy Crockett, is relocating to New Zealand and opening a new division of his business here. But on the eve of his New Zealand based venture kicking off, he has a message for New Zealand that is already well known: “If New Zealand is serious about a high-tech future, the country needs to develop its infrastructure so that talented Kiwi engineers stay here. In my opinion, New Zealand is producing some of the best trained engineers in the world, but they have to head off shore to find good high-tech jobs. It is a terrible waste of a valuable resource.”
Randy owns and operates Trion Technology Inc, which has bases in Tempe, Arizona (research) and Tampa, Florida (manufacturing). Trion Technology has been designing and manufacturing custom plasma equipment for laboratories and production equipment for power semiconductors (used in mobile phones, etc.) for twenty two years. Randy’s New Zealand operation will be known as “Trion Thermal Technologies Limited”, and will be New Zealand’s first semiconductor equipment manufacturing company, constructing high temperature automated furnaces for production semiconductor houses. These large machines are made almost entirely of stainless steel, a material that New Zealand specialises in producing. These systems typically sell for $NZ 1 million and will be almost exclusively for export.
“One engineering job creates seven other jobs. Every time we lose one engineer, we lose eight jobs. Hopefully Trion Thermal is the start of that trend reversing. We will employ quality engineers and build quality equipment for export,” said Randy. Despite the lack of qualified engineers, Randy applauds the New Zealand Government’s initiative to increase its focus on a high-tech future based upon science and engineering. This is one of the reasons for his move to New Zealand. Also playing a hand in Randy’s decision to move part of his business down under, is the decline in the US high-tech arena, due to many businesses relocating overseas and a diminishing number of American universities training American engineers.
Randy believes that New Zealand can learn from Taiwan. “Taiwan has a larger electronics industry than the entire New Zealand economy. It was once a peasant economy but the Taiwanese government recognised that engineers create opportunities; and therefore jobs and wealth. So they invested in high-tech industry and have subsequently transformed the entire world economy in just a couple of decades. Now it is New Zealand’s turn to step up and become a major player. The New Zealand economy depends on it.”