Utah tech company scrambles to support employees in Ukraine

Mar 1, 2022, 7:56 AM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:53 pm
A residential building damaged by a missile on Feb. 25, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Yesterday, Russia b...
A residential building damaged by a missile on Feb. 25, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Yesterday, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with Russian troops invading the country from the north, east and south, accompanied by air strikes and shelling. The Ukrainian president said that at least 137 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by the end of the first day. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
(Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Dale Richards usually spends his time helping companies craft a vision for new apps and finding the right software developers for the job. Now, he’s trying to make sure his staff is safe from artillery fire and has enough to eat.

When he goes days at a time without hearing from his three remote employees in Ukraine, panic sets in.

“They’re nowhere on the radar. You can’t reach them. You have no idea if they’re alive,” said Richards, CEO of AppCreative in Lehi. “It’s really disturbing.”

There’s no shortage of talented developers in Ukraine, and many play an important but lesser-known role in Utah’s tech industry, said Richards, founder and CEO of AppCreative in Lehi. The company is one of a handful in Utah employing computer scientists from the nation now under attack by Russia — and seeking to help them get to safety.

Hundreds gather at Utah Capitol for ‘Stand With Ukraine’ rally

Richards said he is paying them early, checking in on them often and offering help charting paths to Poland or other neighboring countries. His trio of employees lives in the capital, Kiyv, as well as the cities of Lviv and Zaporizhzhia.

His overseas staff was hunkering down in underground metro stations and other places Monday, and wasn’t available to speak with KSL TV, Richards said. He keeps tabs on them as best he can with short video calls and messages.

He’s also working to support 15 employees in Russia.

Dale Richards, founder and CEO of AppCreative in Lehi. (Tanner Siegworth/KSL TV)

The company has been able to keep paying them despite U.S. sanctions on certain banks, but he’s worried that possible heftier sanctions may force him to take them off his payroll within days. And as many American companies move to cut ties with Russia, he’s evaluating whether it’s moral to stay put, he said.

“I haven’t had to have the conversation yet saying, ‘I can no longer employ you. But I’m worried that I probably will have to have that within the next like four or five business days,” he said. “Should we even continue to employ Russian developers? I don’t know that I really have an answer yet.”

He’s one of several tech executives who have tapped the World Trade Center Utah for help navigating the effects of the Russian attacks. The organization is putting them in touch with experts on sanctions and security, said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah.

“This is something that relatively few companies are dealing with,” Hansen said. “But for those that are, this is a crisis moment, and we’re stepping up to provide support to them.”

Miles Hansen, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, which seeks to attract business to Utah and increase the state’s exports. (Tanner Siegworth/KSL TV)

He noted that many Ukrainians, including those employed by Utah tech companies, have decided to stay and fight to defend their country if need be, “which is absolutely harrowing and inspiring, all at the same time.”

While Richards and Hansen said the wellbeing of Ukrainian employees is their top concern, the disruption is also affecting businesses who relied on their expertise to roll out new online products or update their digital services, causing delays.

“Suddenly, having this chunk of an organization not functioning has an impact on the companies here,” Richards said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

A stream of water sprays over the building that is engulfed in flames....
Brooke Williams

Two-alarm fire at commercial building early Saturday under investigation

Two alarm fire at paving company is still being investigated.
12 hours ago
Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

3 vacant house fires spark in one week in SLC’s Ballpark neighborhood

Community frustrated after three fires broke out at the same row of vacant homes in Salt Lake City's Ballpark neighborhood in just the past week.
2 days ago
Shara Park

Memorial set up for woman killed in Provo hit and run

Yellow ribbons lined a Holladay neighborhood Friday in support of a family who lost a loved one in a hit and run crash in Provo.
2 days ago
Michael Locklear

With so many kids sick, some Utah pharmacies run out of liquid Tylenol, ibuprofen

As parents deal with sick children, some are also facing another challenge. Some common medications can be hard to find, including liquid Tylenol and ibuprofen.
2 days ago
Mike Anderson

Hardware WMA sleigh rides return after two-year hiatus

For the first time in two years, sleigh rides up the Blacksmith Fork Canyon are back — where families can see herds of elk and get a winter meal.
2 days ago
Shop small to support local businesses...
Tamara Vaifanua

How shopping small this holiday season makes a big impact at local stores

There’s a big push this holiday season to shop small, as in small business. The locally owned, Tutoring Toy, right off Foothill Boulevard in Salt Lake City, has a lot to offer.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Utah tech company scrambles to support employees in Ukraine