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The Boise State/Norco pipeline

When Brent Christensen has an opening to hire a respiratory therapist, he doesn’t have to look very far.

“In my phone, I have Lonny Ashworth and Jeff Anderson as speed dial numbers,” Christensen said.

Christensen is the store manager of Norco’s Meridian branch; Ashworth and Anderson are professors in Boise State’s respiratory therapy program. The Kissler family, long associated with Norco, have been major contributors to the university. The university, in turn, has been an important talent pool for the local medical equipment and industrial supplier, with graduates often beginning their careers with the company before graduating.

That was Christensen’s experience. Originally he aspired to follow his brother into optometry, but an instructor recruited him into respiratory therapy. By the time he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1997, he’d been at Norco for two years.

Student practicing a respiratory procedure
Cammie Bailey , ’20, practices a respiratory procedure at Boise State.

Norco works with patients, hospitals and insurance companies in seven western states to ensure people have the medical equipment and care they need, often within hours of a hospital discharge. Troy Johnson, regional vice president, is responsible for 23 branches in Idaho, Oregon and part of Washington. A recipient of the Norco Respiratory Care Scholarship at Boise State, he took a job after meeting a company representative during his first year in the respiratory therapy program 27 years ago, setting him up for a career and future graduate studies.

A lot of Broncos come through Norco’s doors, and he applauds them for being well-rounded therapists practicing in the home setting where Norco does much of its business. He has a unique view of the connection shared by the company and the university, as he sits on the respiratory therapy program’s advisory board.

Troy Johnson standing outside Norco building
Troy Johnson, Regional Vice President-NORCO, photo by Priscilla Grover

“When you hire a respiratory therapist from the program at Boise State, you know you are getting one of the best clinicians in the country,” Johnson said.

Norco and the Kissler family have supported Boise State students and programs for more than 35 years, making them stalwart Loyal Broncos – donors who consistently give for more than five years. Indeed, the School of Nursing is housed in the Norco Building on campus. Nicole Kissler, Norco’s vice president of talent development, said shared values and good business sense have cemented the bond with the university.

“We’ve had so many successes – we just know Boise State’s a great organization, so much incredible talent.” Kissler said. “They’re preparing their students for that life after graduation, and we’re getting them right back out into the community.”