Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Staff shrinks at Ketchum-based ESS

Some positions being cut or transferred to Califonia


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer

Eyewear Safety Systems is one of the primary providers of protective eyewear to the U.S. military. Photo by courtesy photo

California-based eyewear company Oakley is absorbing and eliminating some jobs at Ketchum-based Eyewear Safety Systems, which Oakley bought in 2007.

Steve Dondero, marketing vice president of ESS, said the company—which once had a local staff of more than 20 people—will likely maintain a group of about seven employees at its Ketchum office. Oakley representatives would not state how many jobs were being cut or moved to California.

ESS founder John Dondero, Steve Dondero’s father, said he is unhappy with the decision to move jobs out of Ketchum, where the eyewear company was established in 1998.

“It’s … based on large corporate decision-making and a lack of understanding of our potential operation,” he said.

John Dondero, who is now retired, described the process as a slow attrition of individuals in which jobs have been eliminated.

ESS is a primary supplier of protective eyewear to the U.S. military and is the sole authorized issuer of eyewear to the U.S. Marine Corps. It sells its products in more than 100 countries.

In 2007, ESS was sold to Oakley Inc. for $110 million. But recently, John Dondero said, the recession prompted Oakley to consolidate positions.

“When sequestration cut federal spending, ESS sales dropped,” he said. “The knee-jerk corporate reaction was to make a change.”

Steve Dondero said his position will be absorbed into Oakley’s California offices in November.
“There continues to be a sales force and some customer service here in Ketchum,” he said. “The long-term plan is to have those jobs stay in the (Wood River) Valley. Now, a lot of functions that used to be performed here are now being performed out of the Oakley-headquartered office.”
Steve Dondero said he plans to continue to live in the Wood River Valley.

In a statement released by Oakley, the company said, “ESS has maintained its position as market share leader in federal contract sales to the military. However, 2013 has proven to be a challenging year. To adapt to a changing market environment and build a foundation to grow and prosper in the future, the Oakley defense division is centralizing operations out of Oakley’s Foothill Ranch, Calif., headquarters. However, ESS is maintaining a domestic sales office in Sun Valley.”

The statement also said employees have been offered a chance to relocate to California to take a shared service role. For those who are unable to relocate or have had their positions eliminated, Oakley will provide “a robust transition plan that offers outside career assistance,” the company said.
Despite the cuts, John Dondero said he remains appreciative of the relationship ESS has had with Oakley.

“There are a lot of great capabilities we have and we have a great relationship with Oakley,” he said.
Steve Dondero concurred.

“The plan is to have ESS continue as an industry leader, just with some positions moved to California,” he said.

Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.