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Brewer Science’s expansion is complete, ready for more manufacturing

A production room at Brewer Science's facility in Vichy, north of Rolla. An expansion of the site will allow the company to add more rooms similar to this one.
Brewer Science
A production room at Brewer Science's facility in Vichy, north of Rolla. An expansion of the site will allow the company to add rooms similar to this one.

One of the biggest employers in the Rolla area has finished an expansion of its manufacturing facilities.

Brewer Science makes chemicals that are used in the manufacturing of computer chips. The Rolla-based company built a production facility north of the city at the Rolla Airport in 2014. It is 50% bigger after the expansion that was finished this summer.

“Our industry has grown 4-5% over the past decade, but the expected growth is 8-10% in the coming years,” said Srikanth Kommu, chief operating officer at Brewer Science. “We are getting ready to support this industry growth.”

The semiconductor industry is most often associated with Silicon Valley and Southeast Asia.

“Many material suppliers have moved to Asia because of low costs. But we have been steadfast in increasing manufacturing capacity in the U.S. when other people are fleeing,” Kommu said. “We maintained a culture and we proved to the world that through sincerity, hard work and the focus on technology and taking care of people, you can make a very profitable business in Rolla.”

The timing of the expansion may not be ideal. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group, worldwide semiconductor sales were down more than 20% over the past year. But the group is also projecting a 12% increase in the coming year.

Brewer Science is choosing to focus on that rebound prediction.

“This is a cyclical industry, and currently we are in a trough,” Kommu said. “Expanding the physical space is the long, slow part, and that is done. When the demand increases, we will be ready to meet it.”

Meeting that demand includes adding “clean rooms,” and the company says it has developed a new way to add the space quickly and efficiently in a modular format.

Brewer Science is a privately held company and does not disclose the size of its workforce, or how many new jobs the expansion will create, or when they will come online.

“We are ready to expand when the demand is there, and we expect that to happen,” Kommu said. “How many new jobs? Ask me next year.”

Despite the lack of specifics, the expansion is viewed as a positive step for the Rolla area economy.

“This is tremendously important,” said Dale Martin, director of the Rolla Regional Economic Commission. “This is the type of company that we want to grow in our region. I look forward to the next four or five years, maybe we’ll see other expansions of this facility.”

Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.