This archived article was written by: Kellie Henderson
Sorenson Communications, a relay service for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, opened its new facility in Price this October. In 2007, Sorenson IP Relay (SIPRelay) was temporarily located in the old Division of Wildlife building, but relocated to 600 West and 200 South in order to increase space to hold more employees.
According to siprelay.com, “SIPRelay © is a free service enabling deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to place and receive text-based relay calls from their personal computer (PC) and/or mobile device to any standard telephone user in the US and its territories.” This message is then relayed to a communications assistant, who reads it to the hearing user and the communication continues. The service is used for personal or business contacts and is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
SIPRelay has one other site in Salt Lake, and found Price to be an ideal choice for a second center. According to Beverly Draughon, the Price SIPRelay Call Center manager, “Probably one of the foremost reasons was because of the college, because the college students bring us a base of employees that … have technical experience and they’re able to work different shifts that will fit into us.”
Jason Dunn, vice president of operations for Sorenson Communications, was also a key factor in building this facility. A Price native, Dunn saw a great opportunities for this business, “You have a … service community. You have the coal miners that serve to give us electricity … Since it’s such a service oriented community, this would be a great opportunity for Sorenson communications to come down and serve the deaf and hard of hearing market throughout the United States … Because of that, because of the work ethic here, the friends that I had, the family that I do have here, it was just special to me.”
Dunn also attended CEU, first as a member of the baseball and basketball teams majoring in pre-med, but a business class and an influential instructor changed his mind. “I had Mr. [Gary] Cox and it was his first year there. He was just an intriguing individual and he just had some interesting ways of teaching and just got my mind interested in business, seeing what the opportunities were. When you grow up in a small town you don’t really think a business avenue, you think of the doctor, the lawyer, physicians, things of that nature. It really wasn’t on my radar to go that route into business.”
The Sorenson Center in Price employs 80 people, but hopes to extend that to 120, and are currently seeking full-time and part-time employers. Draughon remarks, “We just encourage those at the college that want to have a good job that they don’t go home smelling like fried hamburger, that they can do meaningful work to help a community that sometimes you don’t even realize is out there until you’re involved in it and what a difference we make in the lives of the deaf community.”