Consumer Direct dedicated to Missoula despite hiring challenges

Mike Ogg, chief compliance officer with Consumer Direct, and marketing director Cynthia Rademacher, said the company is dedicated to Missoula despite hiring challenges. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

It was back in August 2015 when Consumer Direct Care Network announced it was building a headquarters building off North Reserve Street in Missoula’s burgeoning office district.

What the company didn’t say at the time was the pressure it was under to place the $23 million facility and the jobs that come with it in Boise or Denver – places with access to Spanish-speaking employees and a tech-savvy workforce.

This week, Mike Ogg, the company’s chief compliance officer and marketing director Cynthia Rademacher, attributed the company’s decision to grow in Missoula to this city’s support, corporate dedication to the community, and grant opportunities offered by the Montana Department of Commerce and the Big Sky Trust Fund.

“For us, we could really put our headquarters anywhere,” said Ogg. “The economic drivers played a factor in us putting our resources here.”

Founded in 1996, Consumer Direct provides the essentials of home health care, including skilled nursing, behavioral health, fiscal management and personal care, among others.

The family of companies currently serves 16,000 clients nationwide with 25,000 direct support workers. Sister companies are located across 13 states, though its headquarters is now rooted in Missoula.

“In Missoula itself, we have 250 administrative staff,” said Ogg. “We run human resources, payroll and billing for all those different companies. Any time we pick up a contract, large or small, we drive those jobs back to Missoula.”

The company received roughly $630,000 from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency to extend Howard Raser Drive in the city’s new office complex and bring utilities and water to the building site.

Consumer Direct also received support from the Big Sky Trust Fund to complete a feasibility study, provide job training and job creation. The latest grant was good for 40 new jobs and 24 have been filled within the first year.

The Consumer Direct building, pictured last year, is near finished in the North Reserve sub-district. (MRA)

“We’re continuing to drive that growth and bring jobs back to Missoula,” said Ogg. “Obviously there are challenges, but we’re doing our very best to make it work.”

When the company was exploring its options, Ogg said, offers poured in from competing cities. Questions lingered whether the workforce could be found in Missoula, including Spanish-speaking employees and the technology support.

While hiring Spanish speakers has been challenging, Ogg said, the biggest struggle has been on the tech side. It’s something the University of Montana and the Missoula Economic Partnership are working to correct as they look to fill the needs of area businesses.

“We really struggle hiring on the tech side,” said Ogg. “We compete on a national level for IT talent. It really drives up wages and makes it really challenging to retain employees. People are quick to move to Seattle, so for us, our primary challenge is structure and management when it comes to keeping employees.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com