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Varian expanding, bringing Utah high-paying jobs

Published August 28, 2014 2:21 pm

Technology • Company looking to add 1,000 positions as its X-ray business grows globally.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With its new addition, Varian Medical Systems expects to play a larger role than ever in supplying X-ray products to medical, scientific and industrial facilities worldwide.

That will translate into almost 1,000 new jobs over the next 20 years, jobs paying 180 percent of the Salt Lake County average.

"This is the type of company we love to see in Utah," said a beaming Val Hale, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED), at Wednesday's groundbreaking for Varian's expanded manufacturing facilities at 1678 S. Pioneer Road (2700 West) in Salt Lake City.

And Varian loves being in Utah, said Dow Wilson, CEO, from the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

Noting that Varian has seven sites (four in the U.S., three elsewhere) where X-ray imaging components are created, Wilson said, "This was the only place we could envision such an expansion. GOED has been terrific getting us here today."

In January, GOED's board signed off on a post-performance tax incentive that will return $7.1 million of the estimated $35 million in new state and local taxes generated by the company's expansion.

Besides Varian's $40 million investment to add 135,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space to the existing 341,000-square-foot building, the wages of people working there will be close to $400 million.

"I brag about you all over the country," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told a roomful of Varian employees teaming with platoons of company executives, local and state government officials, architects and contractors on hand to break ground with golden shovels.

"We're lucky to have you here in Utah and you're lucky to be here," Hatch added, making note of Varian's 45-year presence in the state.

Sunny Sanyal, the Varian senior vice president who runs the Salt Lake City operation, agreed wholeheartedly.

Utah is clearly business-friendly, he said, but the state also provides a company like Varian with the skilled workforce it needs, from "factory workers to Ph.D.s in math and electrical engineering," Sanyal said. "And when we can't find someone here, it's easy to find someone to move here."

He said the X-ray market is changing rapidly, with the technological switch from film to digital recording. It's also growing as health care improves in more emerging countries, meaning Varian's position as one of Utah's leading exporters is likely to keep growing for years to come.

This new facility will make that possible, Sanyal said.

It will provide manufacturing space for Varian to develop its flat-panel image detector and other X-ray tube product lines. The building also will house research and development laboratories and administrative offices.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg