Oregon IT company looks to Indian Country for growth

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MISSION, Ore. — More than six years ago, a start-up company opened in a triple-wide trailer in Mission with 22 employees.

The three bedrooms served as the business office, a recruiting and interview room, and a boardroom made use of the kitchen table. The living room was the site for training classes.

Cayuse Technologies has been on an upward trend since it was founded on Jan. 2, 2007. It currently employs 298 people.

“We operated out of that facility and continued to grow,” said general manager Mary McCord. “Our first 100 people came through the triple-wide.”

Cayuse’s model was unique: outsourcing rurally, rather than going to India or other offshore locations. ”It used the talent pool from the area while being strategically located, for tax purposes, on a reservation.

“Back in 2005, there were so many companies that were pushing work offshore,” McCord said. “Outsourcing was at a peak.”

Randy Willis — McCord’s former boss and the managing director of Accenture Ltd. — had been researching the idea of rural outsourcing. He looked at American Indian tribes across the country.

The Confederated Tribes of Umatilla County Indian Reservation and Willis came to a five-year agreement. Cayuse Technologies opened business three weeks later.

It went from 22 employees to 98 by the end of the first year. The company still worked out of that trailer for more than a year until the new facility was built. The state-of-the-art building — off Canyon Road near Wildhorse Resort & Casino — has the capacity for 410 employees.

Cayuse has come a long way. “I don’t think the atmosphere is much different now than it was then because everyone is so friendly,” said Karol Moore, an executive assistant from Athena who has worked at Cayuse for more than five years. “Of course, it was a lot smaller. We had a lot more parking spots.”

McCord said the company was methodical in its planning. They anticipated rapid growth, but wanted to make it a stable progression, never adding more than 70 employees in a year.

“We’ve sustained at a level that is good for the business,” McCord said. “Grow too fast, then you end up with a bunch of people sitting around with nothing to do.”

The distinctiveness of Cayuse isn’t the international clients it serves, but rather the employees it hires. Rural outsourcing was a new concept when Cayuse was being formed. Rather than sending informational technology services overseas on the cheap, the idea is to recruit and hire employees from a local and rural area.

It has gained momentum in the past five years. The wage gap between domestic outsourcing and offshore outsourcing has significantly narrowed. Companies’ intentions to switch back to domestic manufacturing sources has increased by 10 percent since 2011, according to The Economist.

Cayuse’s goal is to continue to grow — and do it with local employees.“I don’t see us slowing down at all,” Brigham said.

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