Linton Crystal Technologies is a parts manufacturer that puts people first. The upstate New York company builds and supplies critical components in the solar and semiconductor industries and equipment used in manufacturing silicon wafers. Read on to learn more about Linton Crystal Technologies’ vision for American industry.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company.
I’m Todd Barnum, President and Chief Operating Officer for Linton Crystal Technologies, the US division of Linton Technologies Group. We build furnaces that are a critical component in the solar and semiconductor industries, as well as all the associated equipment used in manufacturing silicon wafers. As a former Marine Corps diesel mechanic-turned engineer, it’s fascinating to be involved in a highly technical part of these two large industries.
How has your service in the military guided your leadership style?
The main principle of leadership that I carry with me from the Marine Corps is servant leadership. This is a style in which you work for your people, not the other way around. By caring for their well-being and advancement and giving them the lead, you help them improve their skills, and the whole team becomes stronger. The Marines also influenced my belief that as a leader you give praise and take the blame.
What impact is your company making in your industry?
LCT focuses on the furnaces that turn silicon rocks into an ingot, a long tubular single crystal metal that gets sliced into wafers. Our primary impact is through the intelligence and controls that go into operating a furnace. Turning silicon into a single crystal tube is quite complex and it requires years of experience to get the process just right. We also have developed AI and vision systems for highly intelligent, automated machines, which has a significant impact on crystal quality and growth productivity. At LCT, we are really the last US arm of solar and semiconductor ingot to wafer equipment manufacturing.
I believe our biggest impact in the United States, however, has been the work we have done with government and industry associations to help incentivize bringing some of the manufacturing back to the US. On the solar side, we have weighed in on matters with the DOE and NREL to help push the solar provisions in the IRA. We also have worked with the DoC and the White House on the risks in the semiconductor supply chain and subsequent CHIPS act.
Is there a specific project or recent success you’re particularly proud of that you would like to share?
Really, it’s the passage of the solar provisions in the IRA and the CHIPs act supporting semiconductor manufacturing that we are most proud of. These will help bring more manufacturing jobs and a key part of two supply chains back here to the US.
Why do you do the work you do?
My first job is to make sure my people have jobs. Yes, we have to make money and the industries and products are fun to work with, but at the end of the day my job is to work for my people and grow the company and add jobs. I have a great team and I work for them.
Are there shared goals and values that drive the successful relationship between you and Nixon Peabody?
First, I came to Nixon through Kevin Saunders, who I served in the military with more than 30 years ago. I trust Kevin and he has introduced me to a host of lawyers at Nixon for international law, HR and employment issues, import export controls, visas and immigration, intellectual property and patent law, and almost anything that a smaller operation like Linton Crystal would need playing in a huge international marketplace. I have people at Nixon that pick up when I call, give me the right advice or point me to someone else who knows. It feels like a team and that’s how I like to work.
What do you see as a major opportunity or challenge for the solar and semiconductor markets in the year ahead?
Right now, there are a lot of geopolitical forces in play. The market for our machines is predominantly in China and LTG is based in China; our company is a subsidiary. We are trying to balance the US and China relationship and grow internationally as the solar market in India is set to boom as well. For LCT, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of our US manufacturing knowledge and key service and support abilities to help bring some of the ingot-to-wafer manufacturing back to the United States.