family biz

Cascade Centers offers invaluable services to public, private employers

In an increasingly competitive business environment, preserving and enriching human capital is a top priority of many companies across a wide range of industries. To retain talented, skilled and knowledgeable workers, employers provide tools and resources for their employees to be happy, healthy and productive, on and off the job.

Cascade Centers Inc., a local family-owned business, is at the forefront in offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), working with public agencies and privately held firms across the state and throughout the country.

Cascade Centers staff members, pictured with Anthony Brown (third from left)
and Jerry Brown, founder, (sixth from left

An EAP is a counseling service for employees and their eligible dependents who may be experiencing personal or workplace problems, according to Anthony Brown, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Cascade Centers Inc. Services are provided by qualified professionals, and in some cases, referrals are made to professional providers in the community.

In 1975, Cascade Centers was founded as a company that worked primarily with employers on drug and alcohol abuse policy development. Today, Cascade Centers Inc. is family-owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Jerry Brown and Gale Castillo, executive director of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber.

Cascade Centers has grown to 20 staff members, many of whom are based in the company’s Portland headquarters. Cascade Centers’ EAP consultants are professional licensed social workers and/or counselors who work with many school districts, counties, as well as industrial and manufacturing firms across Oregon.

"The company started out offering alcohol and drug assistance programs, to help get employees back on track. Employers find that it’s cheaper to get their employees the help they need than to hire and train new people. That evolved to include stress management and depression, because these challenges also hinder people from being productive,” said Brown, who is responsible for business development and account management.

Over the last few years, EAP offerings have evolved to include services that address work-life balance. “We offer help with marital and family issues, legal issues, financial advice, child and elder care, and even concierge service,” Brown said.

Health care promotion has been a primary focus in the last year. In an effort to highlight the importance of physical health, many firms and agencies are championing wellness programs for their employees. “We’re one of the few companies that offer a wellness program as a core component of our EAP offerings. Our wellness program includes assistance with many health and fitness issues: weight loss, smoking cessation, and managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes.”

Success of an EAP implementation often is measured by the degree of utilization among employees. Brown said what sets Cascade Centers apart from other EAP service providers is its “high-touch” approach.

"Our goal is to help our (employer) groups get the maximum value out of our programs. Other larger organizations aren’t able to give attention and the detail that our groups demand. To make sure that our groups are using the program, we work hard at being a partner in figuring out the best fit for our clients,” said Brown.

The crux of any employee assistance program is confidentiality. To measure utilization, employers have access to generic demographic information about program offerings. The identity of callers is kept strictly confidential.

By looking at utilization reports, Cascade Centers can identify issues or areas of concern. “For example, if we see high utilization of advice on identity theft, that could be an opportunity for us to host a seminar or a brown bag about that topic. We collaborate closely with out groups to establish a specific plan. Promotion strategies work different for each group and they differ in every company and industry -- we need to have right game plan. The more we know about how best to be involved, the better we can serve our clients’ needs.”

According to Brown, he enjoys all aspects of working with employer groups and designing EAP offerings tailored for specific employer needs. Managing Cascade Centers with his parents also has been a great experience, he said.

"It seems that I’ve been involved with the family business from the very beginning. Even when I was young, my parents would talk about the business on the dinner table,” he said. “I like how the day is never the same, and I like the sales and account management process: being able to go out and talk to my groups. Working with my family is great – we think alike and work off each other really well. Even though we may disagree on some things, we still collaborate very well.”

Fall 2006

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Cascade Centers

Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber

"We’re one of the few companies that offer a wellness program as a core component of our EAP offerings," says Anthony Brown, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

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