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April 30. 2014 8:13PM

Expansion OK’d at GT Advanced Technologies in Merrimack

MERRIMACK — Five months after GT Advanced Technologies announced its new agreement with Apple Inc., plans have now been approved for a two-story addition at the company’s headquarters in Merrimack.

The Merrimack Planning Board recently authorized a 46,000-square-foot expansion to the GT facility along the Daniel Webster Highway, along with a secondary parking lot and utility upgrades.

The plans, developed by Highpoint Engineering Inc. of Massachusetts, come just a few months after GT announced that it entered into a multi-year supply agreement with Apple Inc. to provide sapphire material.

“They are currently undergoing some significant changes,” said Tim Thompson, Merrimack’s community development director. The locally based technology company develops equipment for the solar, LED and electronics industry.

The expansion was necessary, in part, because of the company’s shift from research and development to sapphire manufacturing, Thompson said recently when the plans were approved by town officials.

During that meeting, plans were unveiled that included the two-story addition to the front of the existing building at 243 Daniel Webster Highway, a new parking lot with 128 spaces, a pedestrian walkway, two new inert gas tanks, landscaping improvements and utility upgrades with up to six transformers and one or two cooling towers.

Since the building addition will eliminate about 30 parking spaces, a secondary parking lot at the front of the property near the roadway was included in the site plans, according to Mike Fabbiano of Highpoint.

Separate interior work is already underway at the company, said Fabbiano, explaining the new addition will accommodate office administrative employees that have been displaced because of the ongoing infrastructure improvements at the facility.

Jeff Nestel-Patt, media spokesman for GT Advanced Technologies, did not return a phone call and email seeking comment on the expansion.

It is unclear whether the addition is connected to the new agreement with Apple. In a recent press release, company officials said the arrangement to supply sapphire materials to Apple is progressing well.

“We are pleased to have Apple as a sapphire customer, and to be in a position to leverage our proprietary know-how to enable the supply of this versatile material,” Tom Gutierrez, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. ” ... Our aim is to position GT not only as an exceptional sapphire supplier to Apple, but also as an unparalleled world-class supplier of sapphire material and equipment to a variety of customers.”

Gutierrez stressed that GT’s entry into sapphire materials may enable the company to expand further into other materials segments, included LED, power electronics and advanced solar.

In addition to its recent agreement with Apple Inc., GT Advanced Technologies recently acquired substantially all of Thermal Technology LLC of Santa Rosa, Calif.

Thermal Technology develops and sells high temperature thermal and vacuum products used in the fabrication of advanced materials that are deployed across multiple industries including smartphones and touch screens, medical devices and more.

Furthermore, GT Crystal Systems, a subsidiary of GT Advanced Technologies, announced recently that it has partnered with Motorola Solutions to be the exclusive supplier of sapphire screens for Motorola’s new MP6000 multi-plane bioptic imager.

khoughton@newstote.com



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