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Ann Arbor Spark

April 30, 2018

Dexter native returns home, bringing a little of Silicon Valley with him

This month, the City of Dexter welcomes SiTime Corporation, a Silicon Valley-headquartered industry-leader in MEMS timing solutions. The new Michigan office is SiTime’s first North American office outside of Silicon Valley. SiTime produces microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) – based timing solutions that provide the heartbeat in electronics and ensure correct, robust, and reliable operation. The company has shipped over one billion units that are used in a variety of products, from mobile phones to self-driving vehicles.

Opening an office in Michigan was first proposed by Carl Arft, a Dexter native who, after graduating from Michigan Tech, landed in California for graduate school. After completing his PhD in Electrical Engineering, he taught at the University of California for two years and then joined SiTime in 2006, one year after the company was founded. Now, Carl returns to his childhood home while simultaneously expanding the Ann Arbor region’s portfolio of California-based tech companies.

During a family visit to Dexter in 2015, Carl began viewing the region with a new perspective. “I started appreciating it differently than before, seeing all that it has to offer — including the high quality of life, the great schools and Universities, and an amazing pool of talent.” It was then that an idea started to take shape.

SiTime had already hired a significant number of engineers from Midwestern universities, including the University of Michigan and Michigan State. “The talent from those schools is top notch.” Access to talented engineers continues to remain a top priority for SiTime, to ensure that they maintain their leadership in innovation and technology.

Approaching SiTime’s CEO, Rajesh Vashist, about opening an office in Michigan, Carl related the two-fold strategic advantage for SiTime. First, locating an office in Southeastern Michigan allows SiTime to collaborate more closely with automotive companies that are driving the growth of automated and connected vehicle innovations. Second, the company can recruit top talent from the region’s universities and provide graduates with the ability to do cutting-edge technology development while enjoying the Midwestern quality of life.

Carl also noted that job seekers from outside the area will value the region’s thriving tech culture. With Ann Arbor at the epicenter, a rich and robust tech ecosystem has taken root which provides job security and growth to potential candidates. In fact, there are already a few SiTime employees that are relocating from Silicon Valley to SiTime’s Michigan office.

With interest from Rajesh, Carl arranged a visit. “Once our CEO experienced firsthand the diversity of things to do, and met the great people, he was immediately convinced.”

After Rajesh gave the green light to move forward, Carl reached out to Ann Arbor SPARK for help finding a site. “Phil Santer connected me with a local real estate broker who did an excellent job identifying a list of potential sites what would meet our requirements. After evaluating all of the options, we decided to locate in Dexter, in a space that could be finished to meet our specific needs. The new office is close to downtown Dexter, the Border-to-Border trail and the wellness center, and near highly-rated schools.”

Carl sees Dexter as providing a landing area for a growing Ann Arbor tech community. “I definitely got the impression that Dexter is going to be the next big thing. High tech companies appreciate its proximity to Ann Arbor and are starting to move into the area. And employees who choose to live in and around Dexter can be close to a major technology hub while enjoying the Midwestern quality of life.”

“The City of Dexter is proud that SiTime has invested its talent, energy, and tech innovation in our community,” said Dexter mayor Shawn Keough. “We welcome them to Dexter and are excited that they bring another high tech opportunity to our region. I am sure they will fit in very well and look forward to watching them thrive.”

Looking forward, Carl expects rapid growth at SiTime’s Dexter office and expects SiTime Michigan to become a key contributor to the company’s future success.