Google chairman coming to Fort Worth to mark opening of Moto X plant

Posted Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and the CEOs of Motorola Mobility and Flextronics will be in Fort Worth on Sept. 10 for a grand opening ceremony at the new Moto X smartphone plant in north Fort Worth.

The executives will be joined by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to mark the opening of the first U.S. smartphone manufacturing facility in the U.S., according to an invitation sent to the media. The Moto X, which was recently released, is the first phone developed by Google since the technology giant bought Motorola Mobility last year. Flextronics, the Singapore-based contract electronics manufacturer, operates the plant.

The building, at 5650 Alliance Gateway Freeway and owned by Alliance developer Hillwood Properties, was originally occupied by the another cellphone maker, Nokia, until it moved its production offshore. Flextronics said it expects to employ 2,000 workers there by late summer, and said last week that it’s still hiring.

The plant provides final assembly and customization for the new smartphone. Google is offering 18 different back covers on the Moto X ranging in color from “spearmint” to “cabernet,” a choice of black or white fronts and seven different metallic accents for details like the volume button. Using the Fort Worth plant, Google can ship a customized phone to consumers within four days.

The event will provide our first glimpse inside. While labor costs in the U.S. are generally higher than in Asia, where most smartphones are made, the cost of producing the Moto X in America isn’t much more than others, according to a research report released last week.

That’s because the Fort Worth plant will mainly handle final assembly and packaging, while most of the phone’s high-tech guts still come from Asia.

— Steve Kaskovich

Fort Worth roots

When Fort Worth-based Cash America International announced plans to buy the Georgia-based PawnMart chain last week, the name might have sounded just a little familiar to some.

That’s because PawnMart started life in Fort Worth, way back in 1994. By 1998, it had gone public, operating 20 pawnshops, mostly in the Southeast, and planned to open hundreds more.

Under the leadership of a former Bombay Co. exec, PawnMart aimed to bring a more retail-oriented approach to the traditionally loan-oriented business. Pawnshops make high-interest loans on merchandise pawned by customers, then sell the goods those borrowers don’t redeem.

Cash America’s founder, Jack Daugherty, questioned the strategy at the time, telling the Star-Telegram that he had tried running a pawnshop as a retail store. “It just didn’t work,” he said in 1998, when PawnMart was making the switch.

And it didn’t this time, either. PawnMart lost money consistently as it pursued aggressive growth plans, and in July 2001 it filed for bankruptcy. Two years later, the reorganized company changed its name to Xponential Inc. and continued to operate stores in Georgia and North Carolina.

Apparently, the company eventually recovered. Cash America agreed to pay $62 million in cash for its 31 stores. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Aegis job fair

Aegis, which bills itself as a leading outsourcing services provider, says it plans to fill 1,000 positions beginning with a job fair Wednesday in Irving.

The company says it will be hiring customer service specialists and sales representatives who will support healthcare clients at Aegis call centers in Irving. It says some positions are permanent with full benefits, and some are temporary.

The job fair will be held at the Embassy Suites D/FW South, 4650 W. Airport Freeway, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Applicants can also go to an Aegis call center at 8001 Bent Branch Drive in Irving or apply online at www.aegiscareersusa.com/AegisUSHR.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 sabaker@star-telegram.com Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 jfuquay@star-telegram.com Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 barry@star-telegram.co

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