PARKERSBURG -Highmark Inc.'s CEO said the company's outsourcing of jobs are short-term sacrifices for long-term gains, and he reaffirmed the company's commitment to Parkersburg and the state.
Dr. Kenneth Melani, president and CEO of Highmark, said the company's outsourcing of jobs was a concern, but Highmark remains committed to its employees and job growth. Melani was in Parkersburg Tuesday for the ceremony marking Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield's name change to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia.
The day marked Melani's first visit to Highmark West Virginia's new downtown headquarters. And he used the backdrop of the new building to reinforce Highmark's commitment to the area and job growth.
Highmark CEO Kenneth Melani discusses outsourhing jobs
"The right answer is we will do everything we can to maintain the physical presence we have here and the employment we have in the markets we serve, and we will do everything we can to grow those jobs."
In November, Highmark West Virginia president Fred Earley disclosed that Highmark Inc. was considering outsourcing some of its Parkersburg jobs overseas.
In August, Highmark Inc. notified its Pittsburgh-area employees it would begin off-shoring some of its technology work to India. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has also started outsourcing some IT jobs to India as well. The review in Parkersburg is part of the same analysis by Highmark.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Dr. Kenneth Melani, president and CEO of Highmark, addresses officials and guests announcing Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield’s name change to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia. Melani also discussed the company’s outsourcing of jobs and its commitment to Parkersburg and the state.
Melani defended the company's maneuvers while acknowledging employee concerns.
"It should be a concern," he said. "Any time you have a situation where there is some change in the employee mix, you need to be concerned about the long-term intent."
Highmark West Virginia has about 700 employees in Parkersburg, about 320 of whom are employees of Highmark Inc.
- Dr. Kenneth Melani, president and CEO of Highmark, said the company's outsourcing of jobs was a concern, but Highmark remains committed to its employees and job growth.
- In November, Highmark West Virginia president Fred Earley disclosed that Highmark Inc. was considering outsourcing some of its Parkersburg jobs overseas.
- Highmark West Virginia has about 700 employees in Parkersburg, about 320 of whom are employees of Highmark Inc.
Statewide, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia has more than 900 employees.
Melani said Highmark is making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. According to Melani, Highmark's outsourcing has created new jobs and opportunities within the company. He also pointed to Highmark's growth.
"When we first came together (with Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield) we had 6,000 positions. We are now 19,000 nationwide. We made cuts back then too. ... It is painful to do, but it is something we had to do to remain competitive. "
Melani said he couldn't predict if Highmark West Virginia will see more outsourcing of jobs, but he reiterated Highmark's commitment to area and the state.
"You can never predict what is going to happen in the business."
West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette, who attended Tuesday's announcement, said he was optimistic Highmark was committed to the state and Parkersburg.
"We will work with Highmark to minimize (outsourcing) where we can and maximize the work opportunities. Highmark has made a very substantial commitment to jobs in Parkersburg and works to maintain that commitment."
Burdette is the former head of the Wood County Economic Development Authority and president of the Burdette Group, a company whose clients include Highmark West Virginia.
"I have no reason to think there is some master plan to minimize jobs," he added. "When things are said and done Highmark will realize ... we can be a competitive environment."