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The Register Guard: Firstsource Opening New Call Center in Early April

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Publication: The Register Guard

Firstsource Solutions said Wednesday that it will open its north Eugene call center the first week in April, initially hiring about 250 employees and potentially almost doubling that number over time.

Firstsource, which has its headquarters in Mumbai, India, has been looking at Lane County for some time. Company representatives checked out a site in Springfield about 10 months ago, for example, before settling on space in the Chambers Media Center building at 2975 Chad Drive.

All the positions the company is currently filling are full time and offer healthcare, a 401(k) plan and paid
time off, according to site director Chris Autre.

“Entry-level customer care representatives will start at $10 an hour,” Autre said. “Higher-level management positions that require more experience will have higher salary opportunities depending on education level and relevant experience.”

Autre said the company mostly promotes from within, “so even if you’re starting (at) entry-level, there is
opportunity for training and promotion to move up within the organization.”

A key difference between the positions at the Eugene call center, which will serve the telecommunications industry, and many other call centers, Autre said, “is that these are all live chat positions….Customer representatives will be interacting with customers through Web chat online rather than handling those inquiries through the phone.”

A major reason why Firstsource chose Eugene for its call center is that it offers the skilled workforce the company needs to expand and to provide “top-notch service,” Autre said. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy said, “We welcome Firstsource to our community and the employment opportunities they will provide for many who live here.”

Piercy said Firstsource did not receive any incentives from the city. Lane County spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis said the company also did not receive any incentives from the county. Coffee shop prepares for more foot traffic. The news that Firstsource’s opening is imminent led one nearby business owner to speed up plans to expand service.

Randy Stark bought Vectors Espresso at 2866 Crescent Ave. seven years ago — “right before the

Over the next few years, he watched helplessly as nearby businesses that had supplied him with customers either slashed staff or packed up and left. “We lost about 500 jobs in this area out here,” Stark said. To make matters worse, the customers who remained weren’t spending as much. Last year, things started to pick up again, he said. Businesses that had cut staff during the recession began to add back employees. New employers moved into the neighborhood. And customers who had cut discretionary spending during the recession resumed their pre-recession coffee habit.

“Last year, we had really strong growth with the (improving) economy,” Stark said. “People who had been coming in once or twice a week started coming in three or four times a week.” As a bonus, the price of gas plunged, which, he said, “means more pocket money for people. It’s a really nice influence for the coffee business.”

Stark started to make plans to expand service, including opening on Sundays. “We haven’t done that in six years,” he said. “Being open seven days a week is a big step for us.” In addition, he said, “We had to look really carefully at what products we provide and what ones we don’t, how much space do we have.”

He started talking to his manager about when the time would be right to add another employee to make sure service didn’t slip.

“What’s fun for me is having relationships with all kinds of people,” Stark said. “I don’t want to say, ‘Hey, we’re busy, we don’t have time to talk to people about the dog show they’re going to, or that they’re pregnant with their third child.’ That’s not how we’re run. Those relationships are important to me, it’s not just a business decision.”

But he wasn’t ready to pull the trigger yet for two reasons — an apartment complex under construction on Crescent and a large VA clinic being built on Chad Drive are not yet completed. Vectors sits between the two projects, which will bring hundreds of new potential coffee drinkers into the area, Stark said.

His expansion plans are tied to their expected completion dates, which he’s been tracking closely. Stark estimates he will need to ramp up production by 15 percent to 20 percent when the projects are finished. But, he said, “The apartments won’t be ready until fall, or Christmas. The veterans clinic won’t be open until next year.”

Then, he found out Wednesday that the call center plans to open in about two weeks. “I’m on my way to order signs that say ‘Open on Sunday,’” he said Wednesday afternoon, “We’re going to be getting some business.”

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