Cascade Natural Gas call center in Sunnyside to be phased out

Dave Goodin, president and CEO of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Great Plains Natural Gas Co., Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Intermountain Gas Company, announced this week that the utility group will go through an integration plan that will result in the streamlining of processes, elimination of some existing programs and subsequently, a reduction of work force.

"We announced a plan to best position our utility group for the future by pursuing best practices and employing technological advances while addressing the current economic uncertainties that affect our business and those around us," Goodin said.

Cascade Natural Gas in Sunnyside is part of the above group and the city is home to one of five call centers. The company will consolidate the five call centers into two, one in Boise, Idaho and one in Bismark, N.D.

"We estimate it will take about two years to phase out the call center in Sunnyside," said Larry Rosok, vice president of human resources at Cascade Natural Gas Corp. "There is a lot of work to do to get ready to make the transition, such as building new facilities and infrastructure."

Rosok said the closure of the Sunnyside call center is in response to the economic downturn the country is currently facing.

"We want to be prepared to position our company for the long-term," he added.

The call center in Sunnyside mainly deals with new customers at Cascade Natural Gas Corp. The center currently has five employees and Rosok said the decision to move the manpower to Boise or to buy them out has yet to be decided.

"We anticipate severance plans if they couldn't relocate," Rosok said.

"The goal of the integration is to help make us an efficient, stream lined organization that continues to provide outstanding customer service at the least cost possible," Goodin said.

The downsizing will not only affect the five employees in Sunnyside, but an estimated 125 employees across the utility group in eight states over the next nine months.


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