Cree Reviews | Glassdoor

Cree Reviews

Updated May 22, 2017
97 reviews

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Cree Chairman, President, and CEO Chuck Swoboda
Chuck Swoboda
70 Ratings

97 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • The reason I liked working for this company was good people to work for, good benefits and there was plenty room to advance to (in 19 reviews)

  • Great people that work along side you (in 15 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance is compromised (in 52 reviews)

  • too many overworked people, no work-life balance, not much development of their emplyees (in 20 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (7)

    "Cree - Please figure out your real priorities. Have a plan/strategy/vision."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Process Development Engineer in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Process Development Engineer in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Cree full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    1. Some of the most smart, dedicated, and passionate folks I have met.

    Cons

    1. Management - An example of what not to do
    2. Vision/Strategy - A history of flip-flopping and poor decision making
    3. Culture - Titled the Cree Way, one of the more often quotes directives within the Cree Way is 'Speed and Flexibility are weapons for Success'. The reality is 'Lack of Thought/Planning and sequential knee-jerk reactions are weapons of mass destruction of morale, and employees'

    Advice to Management

    1. Good decision firing the CEO - 2/3 years later than ideal.
    2. Get away from Lighting. It is not your strength.
    3. Run the place like a business ad not like a series of grad school pet projects.
    4. Get non-engineer/outsiders as senior managers/directors/VPs. Current management chain is borderline incestuous; its the same 'not-so-successful' faces in different roles.
    5. You are on the threshold of losing some of the most talented folks you have. Some have already quit. What are you going to do to reverse the trend? Throwing money is not the answer.

    Cree Response

    Jun 1, 2017 – Human Resources

    At Cree, we value the input we get from current and former employees. Cree exists in a dynamic and rapidly-changing environment, as a technology leader, and we continually seek opportunities to ... More


  2. Helpful (6)

    "Work Environment"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Cree full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Decent compensation package and benefits.

    Cons

    No proper structure within the IT Organization. Employees not getting any good directions with regards to their careers. With the recent management change, there is more chaos than anything else. Work environment not flexible. Work life balance is compromised.


  3. Helpful (15)

    "Avoid this Hell Hole"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Finance in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Finance in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The gym and cafe. Every other company in the area has those however, and this is not unique to Cree. The pay was okay.

    Cons

    Incompetent leadership. Management is like wolf in sheep's clothing. Smile in your face, and talk bad about you behind your back. Frequent inter-departmental backstabbing. No career development. Forget about it. Management doesn't care about you or your career growth. Pure evil. All leadership needs to be replaced. I have seen people do their best and still end up getting fired. They obviously don't care about their knowledge base going out the door. Oh well! The company will get bought out by GE or someone else big enough to invest.

    As for the culture, it is downright terrible. No work-life balance. Management ridicules you for not staying late when you have family plans. They don't care about you or your family life. If you set boundaries opposing their views, you will be PIP'd.

    As for the management, seriously, you need to grow up. You are snotty little children in 40-50 year old bodies. No one values you because you don't value them.

    Advice to Management

    Go to church and pray for your sins. Hell awaits those who don't repent for evil deeds.


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Get In. Get Experience. Get Paid. Get Out!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Private in Racine, WI
    Current Employee - Private in Racine, WI
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Cree full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The experience that I am getting right now is very valuable and will help me grow. They are also paying for some much-needed training that my previous employer wouldn't pay for.

    Cons

    I've only been here for a few months but plan on leaving after I hit a year. I don't fit in with the culture in my specific department because it's too much like high school and I am sick of it. I value the separation of my work and personal life and the people here don't.

    Also, there is little to no career growth and that is frustrating because I am very career-driven. Turnover is very high even with senior management.

    Cree is an okay company but it's really a pit stop. Not long term.

    No love for this company.

    Advice to Management

    Offer actual career growth! Develop a career path that is realistic and motivates employees.

    Cree Response

    Apr 24, 2017 – Human Resources

    Thank you for your service to our organization and we encourage all of our employees to speak with their HR representative about any concerns they might have. We are actively monitoring this channel ... More


  5. Helpful (18)

    "A complete blight on my life, my career and my psyche."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Enterprise Programmer Analyst in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Enterprise Programmer Analyst in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Cree full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits, none better anywhere I have been. A bunch of good people, unfortunately working under directionless leadership, a vindictive and discriminatory management team with little to no chance to advance.

    Cons

    Leadership is a joke. Work life balance is a joke. If you are not pre-ordained to walk on the yellow brick road you might as well quit and go elsewhere. You will never advance in your career at Cree

    Advice to Management

    Get your head out of your butt. To truly manage people and expect them to work hard for you, you have to first gain their trust. All I was ever sure of for 8 years was that you would stab me in the back someday, and you did.

    Cree Response

    Mar 24, 2017 – Human Resources

    Thank you for your feedback and thank you also for your more than eight years of service with our organization. We agree that our total rewards package is very competitive and we also agree that we ... More


  6. Helpful (15)

    "Perfect... If you enjoy being just a number!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Applications Engineer in Racine, WI
    Former Employee - Applications Engineer in Racine, WI
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Cree full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    After ten years of employment with Cree, I would say the only true benefit I earned was overall experience in the lighting industry. The department in charge of office employee training in Racine, did an excellent job training the science of lighting and products.

    Cons

    Open door policy is a complete joke, along with the humorous "Cree Way" values. "See something stupid, fix it", "Sand bagging will not be tolerated", and "The companies goals are more important than personal goals" are a couple I remember. The others are all based around share holders and failing fast. There is absolutely nothing embracing the employees and customer satisfaction. That is probably why employee moral is at a all time low at Cree, why you can't walk to the restroom without overhearing a negative conversation about the company, or why more and more employees are jumping a sinking ship.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the good, dedicated, and experienced employees you have left; before they are gone and it becomes too late. Quit worrying about being the most innovative lighting manufacture and focus on fixing the problems senior management has created within the walls of Cree. However kepp true to what Cree is known for, by remaining innovative in LED technology and semiconductor research.Take part of the $7.5 million CEO Chuck Swabota pocketed last year and put it into employee relations and focus on employee growth. Develop systems that allow customers to actually know where their orders are and how far into the shipping process their order is. If other companies can stock and locate millions of SKU's in thousands of locations, ship items in stock within days of purchase, provide emails regarding progress, and have a customer based web site allowing customers to track progress on their own. Cree should be able to at least let a customer know if a order is going to be late, shipment is delayed for any reason, or their order was damaged in freight and has been re-manufactured. If Cree were to just take 25% of the effort they put into innovation and use that effort for customer service, amazing things would happen for their customer base. It wouldn't be shrinking nearly as quick as it is!!! Managers need to quick walking around like they know everything and there is no other way to do things. Upper management is why this company is failing, shares are low, and future narrows for all the good people that ACTUALLY DO WORK at Cree. My favorite is how Cree makes numbers at the end of each month by splitting orders to push all finished product out the door, in turn making the numbers look good in the books. However, splitting a order for a customer generally turns out bad for the customer. In short, to make numbers Cree will ship items assembled and ready to ship, while other parts of the order are still waiting to be assembled. Nothing like getting poles with no light fixtures, or maybe receiving the entire order with no mounting brackets. So my advice is not to ship the car without tires, it is completely pointless and inconvenient for all parties.

    Cree Response

    Feb 7, 2017 – Human Resources

    Thank you for your feedback and perspective. Our company values have propelled us to being an industry leader in LED lighting technology and we believe they will allow us to maintain that position ... More


  7. Helpful (7)

    "A culture that undermine the work force."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Manufacturing Operator in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Manufacturing Operator in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great people to work with. People work hard and it is a great environment to learn if you have ability to self teach. Co worker are great to work with and support you if you are down. and will help you to succeed.

    Cons

    All the things I said in Pros is undermined by the upper management. I can only speak for the dept. I have worked in but it seems that it is infested with the same virus all around the company. The place is more secure than fort knox. There is no adequate training that can help a new worker. The culture is created to undermine the operators and everyone who is not a manager and as far as supervisors to some point. The management is very partial and will go to other side of the world to set things right for the people they care but at the same time ignore the hard working people. The upper management is only concern about their quarterly goals at any cost.

     Operators are treated worse than a red headed step child. Operators are to follow orders and if they have something good to say they are never heard. Management doesn't believe in training as they have no clear training matrix. There is no clear matrix to how an employee can move up. It is different for each and every employee not based on their ability to perform a task but how much the employee is liked and promoted by upper management.

    Moral is so low in the company that it can be seen throughout the company. Everyone except the upper management can see it. They can can't see it because they want to run the company from the conference rooms and via email. They play blame game than finding a solution so it doesn't happen again. The employees are way under paid and way over worked. Cree is a leader in LED but a follower when it comes time to reward the people who make the company a leader (the little people).

    Advice to Management

    Learn how the machines works in your area and appreciate people who are working for you. Operators are also people with real feelings and family, it is good to introduce yourself when walking the floor. Listen to what they have to say some of these operators are more intelligent than you give them credit for. Change starts from you, start changing for the success of the company.

    Cree Response

    Jan 26, 2017 – Human Resources

    Thank you for your review. We are actively reviewing and value the feedback received on this platform. Your input is valuable as we continually seek opportunities to improve. Our employees are indeed ... More


  8. Helpful (7)

    "Cree"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Cree full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Good benefits and a good work schedule unfortunately are outweighed by poor management and limited vision.

    Cons

    Poor management and no vision. Employees are treated as tools and not assets. Very little opportunity for personal or professional growth.

    Advice to Management

    Learn to treat your folks like the assets that they could be. You are missing out on a ton of potential benefits due to your short sighted approach.


  9. Helpful (17)

    "Engineers Get Shafted"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Process Engineer in Durham, NC
    Former Employee - Process Engineer in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Cree full-time

    Pros

    Really the only pro is that a weird work schedule allows you to run errands on days when nobody else is doing the same. That and I guess the pay was good for fresh out of college.

    Cons

    Let's run down the ratings list:

    Career Opportunities, 2 stars - There were two people in my group (entry-level engineers) that got "promoted", which basically meant that they worked days (8am-6pm) instead of nights (2pm-midnight) and had more responsibility. I also saw at least three or four people leave the company during my time, and one of my coworkers was explicitly told that he would still be on nightshift after 5 years of work.

    Compensation & Benefits, 4 stars - listed above as a "pro", but I want to mention here that it does not make up for all the other terrible things about this job.

    Work/Life Balance, 1 star - this has to be the absolute worst; wish I could give it zero or negative stars. As mentioned in "Career Opportunities", entry level engineers start on nightshift, which is 2pm-midnight, but wait there's more! You also either work a Sunday-Thursday shift or a Tuesday-Saturday. I was stuck with working 2pm-midnight on Tue-Sat for 19 months and I was having suicidal thoughts toward the end. I made no friends outside of work (was new to the area) because I was working when normal people were out. The company also doesn't believe in holidays (although working one gives you an extra PTO day), and if you want to take time off you have to find someone to cover for you. Worst experience of my life.

    Senior Management, 1 star - I never had a good face-to-face interaction with any of my bosses. They treat you like a cog in the machine that never stops running.

    Culture and Values, 1 star - You will work all. the. time. The company has a need to run continuously, 24/7/365, which means that if you didn't specifically ask for vacation time, you can be called at any time while not at work to come in and fix something. The mindset is work, work, work. Forget about friends, forget about family, forget about mental health, your job is to add value to the company. I'd never felt worse in my life. I dreaded going in to work at least twice a week, sometimes every day. Some days I just wanted to die.

    Also, they fired me to cut costs in the department, and their stock price has been consistently at least 15% lower than when I left (a year and a half ago), which gives me great pleasure. They run their employees into the ground, so their company should go down in flames.

    Advice to Management

    ENGINEERS ARE NOT OPERATORS, PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE LIVES OUTSIDE OF WORK


  10. Helpful (20)

    "The Dumbest Company I've Ever Seen"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Wafer Fab Operator in Durham, NC
    Current Employee - Wafer Fab Operator in Durham, NC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Cree full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I like the people that I work with, and the gym. Unfortunately, that’s ALL I like about this job. Then there's the rest...

    Cons

    1) PAY—While every company in our general industry in this area starts between $15--$21 per hour, Cree starts at $11.55. The starting pay has only gone up $0.55 an hour in a decade and a half. The management team constantly tells us in quarterly meetings how they “compare us to other companies in our industry in the area”, but they don’t.

    2) HIRING TEMP TO PERMANENT—Most companies hire in 90 days or less, or straight out of the gate. Cree takes 6-9 months, or longer. The only reason that Cree does this is to avoid paying benefits for as long as possible, and to keep pay rates at a minimum.

    3) THE CREE WAY—Cree has two sets of rules—one for the supervisor level on up, and one for the rest of us. There is no uniformity from top to bottom in the organization.

    4) THEY INTENTIONALLY HARM PEOPLE—They have intentionally harmed me, not once but several times. Back, knees, shoulder, neck—all have been made worse or created due to them. Despite multiple doctor’s notes, x-rays, MRI’s and even disability paperwork, both supervisors and managers ignored everything and continued to send me back to the same areas that hurt me, and still do. I have needed multiple cortisone shots for these issues, and have been out of work 10 months out of the 3+ years I have worked there. They also fired a pregnant woman because she couldn’t do a job where she was on her feet for 12 hours a day.

    5) CREE PLAYS FAVORITES—Different supervisors, even on the same shift, progress people through their level-up system at different rates, despite actual performance. One person might move someone up quickly who does nothing, while another leaves a hard worker at the bottom level. The same applies to evaluations, which are a joke. They are encouraged to mark people down in certain categories, to avoid giving them a paltry raise. Worse yet, they copy and paste the same comments from one employee’s evaluation to another! I have experienced a person putting their hands on me in a violent way, who has done the same to other employees before me, and they are still working there...while another person targeted by management for speaking up before was fired for a first offense.

    6) THEY TARGET PEOPLE—Cree is very underhanded and vindictive. If you speak up in quarterly meetings, call them on their lies, question anything at all, you get a target painted on your back that never goes away. From that point on, they do one of two things, or both—either actively find ways to get rid of you, or spend their time making you so miserable that you quit.

    7) THEY MAKE STUPID DECISIONS, THEN EXPECT LOW-LEVEL EMPLOYEES TO MAKE UP THE SLACK—They built a brand-new building that was supposed to be better-organized and more efficient than the disorganized mess we have now. However, they just sold part of their business to a German company, and part of the deal was the new building, which they never finished. So what was the point of building it? They never share any of the company’s profits with the employees. I heard before working here that Cree was one of the few companies with zero debt...now I know WHY. They froze their pay scales back in the late 90’s, took away every perk that made Cree worth working for, have constant turnover (most of which they themselves create), which keeps new people circulating in making the bare minimum pay scale and no benefits, keep equipment long past its usable life, never update anything, never replace anything that’s broken.
    8) THEY ALWAYS RAISE DEMANDS WHILE STAGNATING PAY AND PERKS—Every time we hit a goal, no matter how high it already is, Cree raises it. EVERY TIME. We can never keep up, because they’re always demanding more while paying us the same amount. And their reward for hitting these goals? A box lunch or an extra 20 minutes for lunch once a quarter. If we’re really good, we get pizza. Not a pay raise, which would ACTUALLY be helpful.

    9) THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT REAL INCENTIVES ARE—Their version of incentivizing employees is giving out movie gift cards (when 80% of the employees don’t even go to movies), having a box lunch once a quarter, giving us an extra 20 minutes at lunch once a quarter, or—the most common one—demanding more production.

    10) CREE EVENTS ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR ALL EMPLOYEES—Cree has several annual events. Unfortunately, they are only designed for Mon-Fri employees, not the rest of us on 12-hour shifts. They don’t give us any extra time off, or shut down, so that we can go. Therefore, of the thousands of employees who show up, only a handful come from the nearly 1,000 employees who work in the Fab. This also goes for the cafeteria, which is only open limited hours during the day during the week (when there are more employees who work nights and weekends than don’t), the gym (which is available to salaried employees during their shift, but closes soon after the day shift leaves), and everything else.

    11) THEY HAVE ZERO SYMPATHY—They act like your entire life should revolve around Cree. They don’t care about any circumstances going on in your life—marriage, kids, being sick or hurt, having surgery, nothing. They treat us like robots with no lives.

    12) THEY PIGEONHOLE YOU INTO ONE AREA AND WON’T LET YOU OUT—Once you are assigned to an area, you are stuck there as long as you work at Cree. Any attempts to change areas is met with rebuffs, excuses, and lies.

    13) PAY RAISES ARE MINIMAL OR NON-EXISTENT—I have been at Cree more than three years, and yet my pay hasn’t even gone up $1.00 an hour from the starting $11.55 rate. In a similar time frame, a good friend of mine—who works at a different company in the same general industry—started 4 months before I did at $15.50 per hour, and with regular decent raises and a change in position, she is now making over $19.00 an hour.

    14) ALL POSITIONS ARE IDENTICAL TO THEM—I have never seen a company that pays everyone the exact same pay rate, no matter how easy or complicated the job is, no matter how dangerous it is, no matter how long it takes to learn. No matter what you do, you still start out at the same $11.55 an hour. I worked at another company years ago that did very similar work to what Cree does, and back then (1990’s), the people in the clean room made between $12 and $16 an hour...20 YEARS AGO. Cree doesn’t even pay that NOW, in 2016.

    15) YOU CAN’T ADVANCE—One of the things they tell prospective employees, both in the interview and in orientation, is “There’s always room to move up at Cree”. What they don’t tell you is that unless you have either maintenance or technician experience or education, there is nowhere “up” for you to go. Every job outside of those two in the Fab pays the same amount, and they won’t let you leave.

    16) ATTRITION RATE IS HORRENDOUS—I have watched hundreds of employees go out the door in my short time at Cree. Many quit in frustration. Others were fired, mostly for stupid offenses that other companies wouldn’t even bother with. I watched over 100 people go out the door in 6 months to the same competing company because their starting pay rates were between $15-$18 per hour. You would think that all of these qualified operators going out the door would wake Cree up to the fact that they’re not treating their employees right, but they don’t even blink an eye.

    17) THEY HAVE AN UNDESERVED REPUTATION—Cree built a reputation back when they first started of being one of the best places in the Triangle to work for. However, they got complacent, and as they got larger, they completely lost touch with the lower levels. Now, they don’t even pretend to care what goes on outside of their ivory towers. Many new people who don’t know what Cree is like get excited when they hear about Cree, because they think they’re the same company that their reputation from 20 years ago suggests, but they’re not. Second, because of that unearned reputation, Cree has a ton of people lined up waiting to get in the door, so they don’t care about losing good operators. It’s a win-win for them, because they get rid of people who might question them or raise concerns, and replace them with new people who don’t know any better, and get paid less, and who are still temps that they don’t have to give benefits to.

    18) THEY IGNORE ALL EMPLOYEE CONCERNS—At every quarterly meeting, all concerns are brushed under the rug without a second’s hesitation. It got so bad that two employees tried advocating for a union. Prior to that, we were working double mandatory overtime, pay was stagnant and had been for years, and employees were being treated like slaves. All of a sudden, the overtime is canceled, and they form a “S.W.A.T. Team”, to address employee concerns (Pay was #1 by a mile). It was a puppet group, controlled by the higher-ups. Their list had Pay at #4. Then they listed the 4 concerns they were going to work on, and Pay had mysteriously disappeared off the list.

    19) H.R. IS A MANAGEMENT PUPPET GROUP—Even when you manage to find a person there who shares your concerns, their recommendations or directives are overruled by managers, who are technically supposed to be under their control.

    Overall, Cree is by far the worst job that I have ever had in my life, and this is after nearly 3 decades in the workforce and nearly 4 dozen different permanent and temporary jobs. The only employees not actively trying to get away from them are either new people who don’t know better yet, or employees who have been there long enough to be making a decent wage and don’t want to lose it. I only know a handful of people out of nearly 1,000 who actually like working there.

    Advice to Management

    Address everything listed above. You know about all of it, and have known for years. Stop lying to your employees about how “you’re comparing us to other companies in our industry”—we all know that you’re full of it. Stop demanding more and more out of us every time we turn around if you’re not willing to compensate us. Your Cree Way says “Every employee is valued and critical to our success”—PROVE IT. If we’re valued, show it by paying us what we’re worth. When you have people certified on 5-10 different tool sets, they should be paid more than an employee who only knows one. We don’t care about the shareholders, because you don’t PAY us enough to care. Richard Branson said it best—“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”


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