Cayuse Tech expanding. Tribal company buys businesses in Utah

May 2017, CUJ

By Miranda Vega Rector of the CUJ

MISSION - Cayuse Technologies (CT) has expanded past the Umatilla Indian Reservation into Salt Lake City, Utah.

“About six months after I started I got my team together and we put together a strategy to grow,” said Billy Nerenberg, Executive Director of Cayuse Technologies. “That strategy included expanding past Pendleton to find pockets of people all around the country that live in rural areas that could perform things that we couldn’t perform here.”

As part of that strategy, CT purchased Informatech - a recruitment and staffing company, and Ergonomux – a business that works in high end usability software design. Cayuse Tech also won a deal with Cisco Systems, Inc. by building a team of twelve who could manage Cisco’s Utah partners. Cisco Systems is a billion dollar company that develops, manufactures, and sells high end technology services and products. All three are housed in one office located in Salt Lake City.

Since CT is owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) that also means the Tribe is the owner of the Utah office. Recruiter and CTUIR Tribal member David Filkins said that Cayuse Tech will continue to go by the same Native American hiring preference as they do in the Mission headquarters.

“If there’s an A1 Tribal member down there, they’re always going to take precedence. We want to take care of our Tribal people first. That’s what we do,” said Filkins. “As long as they stack up equal, we always take the Tribal member.”

In an effort to hire more Tribal members and Pendleton residents, and to gain partnerships with surrounding collegiate education systems, CT recently held an Open House with Filkins as the lead. There were roughly 60 participants, including prospective employees and representatives from Eastern Oregon University and Blue Mountain Community College. According to Filkins, CT plans to host more outreach events to recruit more locals.

Nerenberg gave three reasons why CT wants to expand beyond Mission:

  • There are a limited number of people in the Mission and Pendleton area with a technology background.
  • The minimum wage increase in Oregon causes CT to no longer be competitive on prices. Because they obtain much of their business through contracts that require entry level employees, Cayuse Tech needs to hire lower-wage employees.
  • To grow faster, acquiring a similar business is essential. That way they can increase their revenue while also growing their current employees by pairing them with the new employees who have advanced skillsets and experience.

To explain the third reason, Nerenberg used Filkins, who he refers to as “the face of the company,” as an example. When Filkins first started at CT he had an entry level position and since then has worked his way up as the main recruiter for Mission. His personal success has become his inspiration in recruitment. However, the work load eventually started to pile up for Filkins and he needed help. That’s where the acquisition of Informatech has been beneficial.

After CT acquired Informatech, Filkins began working under the supervision of Joe Marvullo, who was the Vice President of Recruitment at Informatech. Marvullo now works as the Director of Recruitment for the Utah Office. Because he’s being mentored by Marvullo - who has more training and experience in the area of recruiting - Filkins is able to advance his skills and apply them locally.

“Joe has helped me grow a lot in a short amount of time,” said Filkins.

The Mission community benefits from the acquisition because those working in the Utah offices bring skills back to share with co-workers at Cayuse Technologies. In addition, the revenue from the Utah office goes into the business as a whole. Cayuse Tech has also acquired new clients, such as Nike, because Ergonomux has the shoe and apparel giant as a client.

As the Utah office brings on more clientele and projects, it may mean more work for people with the required skillset. That’s when Informatech will begin searching for workers through job hiring sources such as indeed.com or monster.com, or they could recruit with open houses.

“The way I do recruiting is I don’t just park job postings some place and expect people to respond,” Marvullo said. “We proactively ‘hunt’ for specific individuals based on their skillsets and we’re able to do that with some of these tools like Indeed, Dice, LinkedIn … and the key is that you can easily find someone that has the skillset but the problem is that our product that we’re selling to people is an actual human being ... and you can find the right person with the right skillset but there’s a million other things that can prevent them from getting that job.”

Nerenberg said that in the short amount of time since they acquired the businesses, CT has already seen a profit. However, he explained that before CT can generate enough profit to contribute to the Tribes’ general fund, they have to pay expenses such as the cost of the building, their property taxes, and their CT Board of Directors fees of $15,000. He explained that at the end of 2015 they had a $600,000 loss and by the end of 2016 they grew by one million dollars and had $400,000 in gain. As the years continue they plan on reinvesting most of their profit back into the company to grow quickly. In the next five years Nerenberg is expecting the company to be at the hundred million dollar mark and at that point they could give “several millions of dollars” to the Tribal general fund.

“The fastest way for any business to grow is through acquisition,” said Nerenberg. And because of that, he plans for CT to continue purchasing other businesses outside of Mission.


 

An image of the Lead Staffing Recruiter, standing outside of the building.

Standing outside the Mission Cayuse Technologies building is David Filkins, Lead Staffing Recruiter. Filkins, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, is one of the only employees who consistently wears a tie to work because he is considered “the face of the company,” according to Executive Director Billy Nerenberg.

image of the Director of Cayuse Technologies.

Billy Nerenberg, Executive Director at Cayuse Technologies (CT) speaks at the CT Open House during the first session. Two representatives of Eastern Oregon University were in attendance.

Image of a group of people on a guided tour.

David Filkins, far right in purple, gives a tour to potential applicants of Cayuse Technologies (CT) during the Open House held in April. From left is Christine Hansen, Johnny Bohnenkamp, CT Chief of Staff Preston Eagleheart, Dillan Beers, Austin Okaly, and Scott Herburger.

This story originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.