Silke Communications technician Dave Camphouse works in his office in Green on Thursday. Camphouse was one of the benefactors when the Springfield-based company announced earlier this month it was switching to an employee-owned business model.

A Springfield company welcomed its employees, including the small storefront in Roseburg, into ownership as the newest Employee Stock Ownership Plan company.

Silke Communications based in Springfield transferred from private ownership to employee ownership on April 1, an option used by about 7,000 companies in the United States according to the National Center for Employee Ownership.

The Silke family started the communications business in the 1960s and opened expanded first into the Roseburg market in 2012 then opened five other locations from Washington to California.

Shannon Pickett was one of the two people who opened the Roseburg location and wears many hats in a day of work. She said the change has been good despite her initial nervousness.

“I’m excited about the change,” Pickett said. “I appreciate that the president of the company was thinking long-term for his employees.”

She said employees were able to ask questions during a webinar with experts on the ownership type but they day-to-day operations didn’t change.

The company used the transfer to formally recognize the value of each employee’s full commitment and long-term dedication to the company according to a press release.

Roseburg became an important market for Silke with the need for radio communications in the forests and rural areas for emergency service providers including firefighters during wildfire season and day-to-day work for timber companies and transportation.

“I know Roseburg is no longer just a timber town, but there is certainly a lot of work that happens in that category,” Hamilton said. “If you think about the work that is happening out in the woods, people are working and doing fairly dangerous work in an area where there is no communication except for radio.”

Marketing Director Cathy Hamilton said the transition was fairly seamless because it was mostly legal work behind the scenes.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans are companies owned by the employees with stocks typically held in retirement funds. They provide flexibility for shareholders, tax advantages for the company and business owners as well as an opportunity for employees to grow retirement assets.

“One thing that (the owners) wanted to insure is the level of investment in terms of how people do their jobs continues and a lot of that really does spring from that idea that you own it,” Hamilton said. “Ultimately, you are in charge of the company’s success.”

News-Review business reporter Janelle Polcyn can be reached at jpolcyn@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is a reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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