News : Sykes Recommits to Milton-Freewater
Milton-Freewater, OR, USA, Feb 20, 2015 -- A celebration ceremony at the Sykes Enterprises Inc. customer call center had a familiar ring Tuesday.
"Almost 17 years ago to the day we stood here on this hillside," Milton-Freewater City Manager Linda Hall told an estimated crowd of 50 people outside the front door of the notoriously secure call center.
Back then the gathering was a commemoration of the promise of a new employer and new jobs. This time around it was a party to celebrate keeping it.
Just six months ago Sykes announced it would close its physical call center and transition employees to work-from-home positions with the corporation.
But a contract with a new financial services client that prefers the traditional call center model prevented the closure and the tough loss of the community’s third largest employer. Now the business that was on the verge of closing is taking applications. Another 40 to 50 additional positions are expected with the credit card client.
"What do we have to look forward to? We’re hiring," said Robert Duncan, the Denver-based senior vice president of operations responsible for the company’s North America operations.
"We wouldn’t be here without the hard work that we all put in here," he told the crowd.
The presence of senior executives, such as Duncan, for the grand reopening, which included lunch for guests and employees, was a symbol of Sykes’ commitment, officials said.
Among the local speakers were College Place City Administrator Patrick Reay and Walla Walla Mayor Jerry Cummins. Both emphasized the significance of Sykes as an employer for the entire Valley.
"Jobs are very, very important, and Sykes has done a great job providing those jobs in our community," Cummins said.
This wasn’t the first time Sykes has faced closure in the face of expiring contracts with clients. In the early 2000s a similar scare hit the community. The business is nothing if not resilient. It’s a quality on which Milton-Freewater officials have come somewhat accustomed, Hall said.
"Our city has believed in Sykes from the very beginning," Hall said.
"While I’m very pleased to be attending this happy day, I can’t say I’m surprised."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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