News : Asurion Will Close Downtown Call Center in August
Great Falls, MO, USA, May 7, 2015 -- Asurion, located in Great Falls, will close in August. The call center has 348 employees.
The Nashville-based company made the announcement Thursday morning.
The company will offer some employees the opportunity to work from home, said Brett Doney, president of the Great Falls Development Center.
"Our first concern is helping the employees who will be separating from the company," Doney said.
The company, which provides warranty service for other businesses, originally opened a call center in Great Falls in the former U.S. West building at 401 1st Ave. N. in the late 1990s. Then named N.E.W., the company expanded with a second call center at 321 Central Ave. in downtown Great Falls in 2000. That building was originally a department store. The last retail occupant, The Bon Marche, closed in 1997.
Dozens of Asurion employees filtered out of the building about noon after hearing the closure announcement from company executives, each carrying a manila envelope.
Most of the employees, men and women of all ages who do their jobs over the phone, were casually dressed in jeans, T-shirts or sweatshirts. Many wore baseball caps and tennis shoes.
Several gathered in the alleyway to have a cigarette and talk things over.
None agreed to talk to a reporter, with one woman saying, "We aren't allowed to speak and were told to refer reporters to public relations."
"I don't want to talk at the moment," another woman said. "We're a little stressed out."
A large display near the front entrance of the building features pictures of eight smiling workers with phone headsets and two promotional recruiting messages on either side.
"We'll work with the building owners to recover our loan funds and market the attractive facility to new employers," Doney said.
The building has great telecommunications access and will be marketed to site selectors as a turnkey operation, he said.
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Asurion will provide severance packages and job search assistance to employees who will lose their jobs because of the closure, according to an news release from Asurion.
Employees who work in the company's Asurion@Home program receive $500 to set up a fully connected home office and will retain their current benefits. Asurion has more than 2,500 employees in the program in North America. Employees in that program have a higher rate of job satisfaction and a lower turnover rate, according to the company.
"We encourage all employees to keep their jobs and transition to an Asurion@Home position, and we hope that many of the employees will do so, keeping Asurion as an area employer, just without a physical building," the company's new release statement says. "The decision to close the Great Falls call center was based on strategic considerations, including enhancing operating and infrastructure efficiencies."
N.E.W. adopted the Asurion name in Great Falls in June 2013. At times the company employed more than 500 people in Great Falls during the past decade.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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