Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Area Chair Jack Johnson, left, presents a Patriot Award to Norco Manager Erik Gilstrap. Norco employee Alex Palmer, a soldier with the Oregon National Guard’s 3rd battalion, 116th Cavalry, nominated Gilstrap for the award. (Bill Rautenstrauch / For WesCom News Service)
Erik Gilstrap of Norco, Inc. recently received a Patriot Award from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Gilstrap, manager of the Norco branch at 3102 Island Avenue, was nominated for the award by Alex Palmer, a soldier in the Oregon National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry.
Palmer, a member of Det. 1, Alpha Company in Hermiston, has served in the Guard the last four and a half years. He said Gilstrap has gone “above and beyond” the call of duty in making sure he has the time off he needs to participate in military training.
“When I go to training, it isn’t a problem,” Palmer said during an award presentation at the Norco store in July. “Hearing some guys in the Guard talk, it’s a fight to get time off.”
ESGR is a Department of Defense organization formed in 1972 to promote understanding and cooperation between National Guard and Reserve members and their employers. ESGR also helps resolve conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitments.
The Patriot Award recognizes individual supervisors or bosses nominated by an employee serving in the Guard or Reserve for support provided directly to the nominating service member. ESGR says the Patriot Award reflects efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after employment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.
Norco is the nation’s largest privately owned welding, safety and medical gas supplier, with over 50 branches in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Utah and Wyoming.
Gilstrap has headed up operations in La Grande the last four years. He said that as a company, Norco makes every effort to employ and support Guard and Reserve soldiers.
“Pretty much in every branch store we’ve got someone who’s in the National Guard,” he said. “I like having people with a military background. They listen better as far as training goes.”
The award was presented by Jack Johnson of Cove, who serves as chairman of ESGR’s Area 6.