New call center hires first 100 employees

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chris Buehrle doesn't have any worries about Cape Girardeau's work force. Not anymore.

"The quality and quantity of the work force has been exceptional," said Buehrle, president and founder of National Asset Recovery Service Inc. "No concerns here."

The St. Louis-based company recently announced it was opening a domestic call center in Cape Girardeau, which eventually could bring as many as 500 jobs. But Buehrle, a Cape Girardeau native, was reticent at first, wondering if enough qualified people were available to fill that many slots.

"We are very impressed with the level of experience and enthusiasm expressed by the newest members of the NARS family," Buehrle said.

Those new NARS employees, 100 strong, have been hired after the company's first round of formal interviews, Buehrle said Wednesday while in Cape Girardeau. The company originally interviewed 150 applicants, after receiving more than 850 resumes following a local job fair that "overwhelmed" Buehrle.

Starting Monday, those 100 workers will occupy workstations on the fourth floor of Auburn Park Place, a temporary workplace until remodeling work is completed on 40,000 square feet of the Sears building. The Auburn Park Place offices, near West Park Mall on William Street, has 150 workstations set up and corporate offices on the building's third floor.

The employees will be in training for much of December, a month when Buehrle expects to hire 50 more employees. They plan to "go live" the first week of January, Buehrle said. Training is client specific, Buehrle said.

"We teach them what to expect of a NARS employee, but we also teach them what the client expects," he said.

The company plans to move into the new facilities in April. The Sears site will be remodeled with 400 workstations and the potential for 500 jobs, Buehrle said. The company is also considering adding a day care, a fitness area and a deli.

Mayor Jay Knudtson, who has been given much credit by Buehrle for helping facilitate the deal, said he believes Buehrle is pleased with his decision.

"I think they have gone through that phase one process, and all indications to me are that he is extremely happy with the quality of the work force," Knudtson said. "But this was a big decision. He just wanted to be sure."

The new employees are made up of 85 agents, 10 supervisors and five managers, Buehrle said. Agents are the people who staff the phones, supervisors oversee the agents and managers are head of the supervisors.

Until the company moves to the new facility, the workers at Auburn Park Place will only work for one client -- Charter Communications. Charter will use the center for overflow calls to its St. Louis call center for its new telephone service, said Paul Berra, Charter's senior director for government affairs.

Then in April, other NARS work will be done at the new center. Once the company moves into the new facility, Buehrle expects to hire 50 employees a month for several months.

Buehrle also wanted people who have applied but haven't been contacted not to worry.

"If we haven't called yet, it doesn't mean they're not getting work," he said. "We've got quite a bit more hiring to do. We'll get to them."

The company will pay $8.50 an hour plus benefits for entry-level positions. Supervisors will earn from $22,000 to $32,000 annually, and top-level managers will be paid between $30,000 and $50,000 a year.

For those interested in applying, visit www.narsnet.com.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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