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Cape Girardeau call center to close; 400 jobs likely lost

Friday, July 12, 2013

(Photo)
National Asset Recovery Services, 2102 William St., Thursday, July 11. Employees were told that the call center would be closing in September if another client was not found.
(Adam Vogler) [Order this photo]
About 400 full-time employees at Integrity Solution Services' local office face unemployment now that Charter Communications has decided to end its business relationship with Integrity, company representatives confirmed Thursday.

Stacy Spradling, vice president of human resources for Integrity Solution Services, formerly known as National Asset Recovery Services, said the company decided to close its office at 2102 William St. in Cape Girardeau after losing a major client.

"Basically, we have one client that operates in Cape Girardeau, and that client -- we've done a great job for them ... but the client no longer requires our support from an outsourcing perspective," Spradling said.

Spradling said the client decided to consolidate its customer service and call center operations and move them in-house.

She would not identify the company, citing contractual obligations, but Charter Communications spokeswoman Debbie Johnson confirmed that Charter is the client in question.

Johnson said Charter had "no problem at all" with Integrity.

"It was just a simple business decision," she said.

Spradling said Integrity is looking for a new client that would enable it to keep the office open, but the odds of finding such a client on short notice are slim.

"We are still trying very hard to bring a new client into this building," she said. "If we can do that between now and the time we're scheduled to close ... then hopefully we'll have some good news."

In the meantime, Integrity is working with employees to help them find new jobs, Spradling said.

Integrity employees earn an average of $10 to $13 an hour plus benefits, including medical, dental and vision insurance and 401K retirement plans, she said.

Current employees will be given preference for any available openings at the company's other offices, Spradling said.

"None would be considered a commutable distance from here, but certainly if employees decide they want to relocate and transfer to one of those jobs, they will be given first consideration," she said.

According to its website, Integrity, which has corporate offices in St. Charles, Mo., has eight domestic locations and facilities in Jamaica and Panama.

Integrity also is opening its doors to any local employers who would like to hold job fairs in the building and is bringing in outplacement services such as resume-writing and mock interview training to help employees find jobs, Spradling said. The company already has received inquiries about the building, Spradling said.

The company also will allow employees to take time off to look for other work if necessary, she said.

"As employees come to us with different needs, different requests for time off, for whatever reason ... we'll be very flexible," Spradling said.

John Mehner, president of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is ready and willing to help Integrity find another client, or -- failing that -- market its building to another company that might be interested in coming into the community.

"There are call center projects that happen around the country regularly," Mehner said. "Obviously call center workforces and call center buildings are marketable. We'll do everything we possibly can. There's no doubt about that -- we'll do everything we possibly can."

He said the chamber also would be willing to assist with job fairs or efforts to find resources for displaced employees seeking new positions.

Johnson could not say whether Charter will add positions as it shifts from outsourcing to in-house services, but she said former Integrity employees are welcome to apply for any available openings with Charter.

"It's not clear what our plans are at this point," she said. " ... I can say the employees who are impacted are welcome to apply for jobs with Charter."

Johnson said Charter has a few job openings in its Cape Girardeau office, but she did not know how many.

The closure of Integrity's local office comes just a year after it announced the expansion of its local staff, and six months after it changed its name from National Asset Recovery Services to Integrity Solution Services.

In July 2012, Integrity added more than 100 full- and part-time positions, bringing its total Cape Girardeau workforce to about 700 employees, the Southeast Missourian reported at the time.

That number represented a fifth of the 3,500-person workforce for the company and its affiliates, Pinnacle Financial Group and Integrity Financial Partners.

It was not clear when the number of employees dropped to 400. Spradling said she was not with the company at the time and was not aware of the previous numbers.

Cape Girardeau native Chris Buehrle started NARS in 1993 in Chesterfield, Mo. NARS opened its Cape Girardeau office in December 2006 in the former Sears building at Town Plaza shopping center.

In 2007, Buehrle -- then president and CEO of the company -- said expanding into Cape Girardeau was a decision he based more on business considerations than on his personal ties to the area.

"My heart is in Cape Girardeau, but when you have 2,500 employees, and you are responsible for not only their employment but their families' well-being, well, I have never opened up and subsequently closed a call center. When I make a decision to open a call center, I don't take that lightly," Buehrle told the Southeast Missourian at the time.

Buehrle could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The company's expansion into Cape Girardeau came after the city offered a property tax abatement for building improvements and a Community Improvement District for the shopping center that increased the retail sales tax.

Overwhelming turnout at a job fair -- where more than 850 prospective employees showed up to vie for about 350 anticipated positions -- helped seal the deal, the Southeast Missourian reported at the time.

Reprise Management Group, an affiliate of Miami-based HIG Capital, acquired NARS in December 2009. At the time, the company reported no employees would lose their jobs as a result of the deal.

In addition to insurance and retirement benefits, the company offered its local employees an on-site day care center, restaurant and fitness center.

NARS began as a collection agency but later expanded its services to include customer service, billing and other business processes.

Spradling said its clients include companies in the medical, telecommunications, banking and financial services industries.

"It really does run the gamut," she said.

epriddy@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

2102 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO


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Sad to hear that for the employees that will be out of work. That has to be scary for them.

-- Posted by CapeRes on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 1:50 PM

As a friend suggested, Nars could put some of those workers in a home office to provide support for the clients that hadn't been serviced by the Cape location in order to keep the jobs within the Southeast Missouri community.

-- Posted by sloomas on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 2:06 PM

The city should be ashamed of itself. They have given this employer far more in financial help than they have given local businesses who have been here for years and employ people without lay offs or intent of closing. Does anyone have to pay the tax payers back?

Any company that puts all their eggs in one basket has to know this is a very real possibility from day one. But the big wigs don't care, they get to leave and never look back.

To those of you losing your jobs, I am very sorry. Good luck, there are lots of dependable employers out there.

-- Posted by simple_enough on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 2:20 PM

Whats the surprise? This was coming down sooner or later as company had already collected the vast majority of the monetary incentives and tax credits for relocating here. Even without losing a big contract they would have almost certainly been looking around for a new town full of rubes willing to give them a fresher deal.

-- Posted by Nil on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 2:52 PM

We need Job Training and Full Time Person looking for company wanting to expand to Cape Girardeau MO City Council are you reading Full Time Person working to bringing work Here.

-- Posted by falcon2412 on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 3:31 PM

Two women are suing Integrity Solution Services, Inc., after they claim it engaged in illegal debt collection and caused them to suffer damages.

Integrity Solution Services, Inc. is doing business as National Asset Recovery Services, Inc.

In November 2008, the defendant began contacting Sheila D. Allen and Heather Allen in attempts to collect alleged debt, according to two complaints filed Jan. 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The women claim during the phone calls, the defendant was told to stop contacting them, but it failed to do so.

The defendant was informed that the plaintiffs were represented by an attorney and was given the attorney's contact information, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim the defendant's conduct constituted harassment, abuse, oppression, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience.

-- Posted by johnlaw484c on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 3:52 PM

The client leaving is Charter. Sprint left several months ago.

-- Posted by nObama on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 4:18 PM

JohnLaw: what does your entirely irrelevant comment have to do with this situation. Companies get involved in lawsuit all the time, especially those that deal with consumers directly. That issue certainly doesn't cause a closing. Now, on the other hand, sad for Cape, but the handwriting was on the wall with this company.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 4:28 PM

No surprise at all. At the time oh man we would jump over the rainbow. Cape needs to attract skilled labor jobs that pay good surely there is somebody out there across this country they could try to recruit, these low end paying jobs they come in here and there out of here.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 4:34 PM

Maybe these displaced workers could get jobs with Credit Card Services. They call me two or three times a week and I'm getting tired of Rachel and Ann.

Seriously though, I hate to see this outfit go. Any area of the country needs lower end jobs just as much as they need high end jobs. I hope these folks can find something before the bear eats them.

-- Posted by malan on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 5:21 PM

So, let's see. T

he city should be ashamed of itself for generating jobs. Ya had to know this was coming because the incentives were gone. The company has a lawsuit so its a good thing this bad company is leaving. We didn't need this company because we need to have skilled labor jobs. Come on folks, NARS was a good company for the time we had it. I hope that they can resurrect themselves to avoid closure.

-- Posted by JungleJim on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 5:28 PM

The writing was on the wall when NARS first came to town. This company milked local, county, state and federal monies.

Cape Transit put on a third route just for NARS. Town plaza has an extra sales tax due to NARS.

Yes, shame on Cape for allowing a company such as this take advantage of local tax payers.

-- Posted by existentialist on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 6:00 PM

I keep hearing that Cape needs those "highly skilled" jobs. Cape has no highly skilled workers, so who is going to fill those jobs. Mgmt at NARS says that they had trouble finding enough skilled employees for their minimally skilled level jobs. Not only that, but the work ethic in the area is poor. Just talk to some of the local companies. Trying to get employees to come to work on a regular basis is a chore.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 7:34 PM

Why is this considered a "lower end job" by so many of you? I would consider "lower end" to be minimum wage. The people working there have gone through specific training and for this area, $13 is decent (not great by any means, but certainly not "low"). Your comments sound a little demeaning to these people who's livelihood depended on the income they made from working there. Just my opinion. Moving off that topic, I can't help but wonder how long that building will now set vacant once they close the doors. I fear it will be quite some time.

-- Posted by CapeRes on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 8:45 PM

How did NARS take advantage of local taxpayers? Was it paying their employees a wage, where upon the employees went out and spent those wages on goods and services, thereby benefiting the business's that provided those goods and servives? Maybe it was the health insurance and retirement benefits that took advantage of the local taxpayers. Or maybe they took advantage of the local taxpayers by taking a vacant building producing zero revenue, occupying that building and began producing revenue.

May these job producing advantage takers rot in hell. If not for NARS taking taking advantage of local taxpayers, Cape Girardeau would be the states biggest boom city.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 10:55 PM

FreedomFadingFast, Do a little research. NARS owner milked taxpayers at every level for millions of dollars before he sold the company in 2009. IMO It is not taxpayer's responsibility to afford a private company dollars to hire and pay employees.

-- Posted by existentialist on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 6:06 AM

Is Charter moving their business to the Philipines?Just wondering.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 6:13 AM

Many companies are taking advantage of tax breaks and incentives and moving to an area promising long term jobs only to move out within a few years to somewhere the grass is greener, Harmann Becker did this in Washington Mo only 5 years after locating there and receiving substantial tax breaks they moved on .

-- Posted by rockman54 on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 6:28 AM

So much for sweetheart deals.

-- Posted by thewonder on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 8:16 AM

It was funny watching the City, Chamber and that Regional Development group fall over each other when NARS came to town.

My immediate thought is. What about the business that have been here for decades. What do they have to do get noticed by any of these groups.

-- Posted by Capeman20002002 on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 8:56 AM

The controversy with NARS was its dependencies on subsidies. The controversy with the town's ability to recruit professional paying jobs in town is several-fold. There has been a long history of both the town and the college making decisions that basically eliminated the town from consideration for being a destination city for commerce and tourism. Now, we are in a situation with an aging long-term population as kids from teh 1960s and 1970s grew up and moved away to where jobs are. With poverty in the surrounding area, changes to the education system, the gravy train of local students attending SEMO for an education degree has all but left as a greater percentage of college eligible students from the St. Louis area opt to pursue their education degrees elsewhwere, such as Truman State, or SMS. This eventually will catch up to SEMO as enrollment flattens out and starts to decline, which in turn will further affect commerce in our small town. Much of the money in town is "old money" that will be inherited away from town over the next few generations and the medical industry will be unable to save the town as obummer-care takes hold. With a single highway running north and south, potential is limited even for transit and warehouse companies. Cape drew a bad hand on that one as much of southern IL is a national forest, so any east-west highway will likely bypass the town, probably 30 miles south of town. The loss of 400 jobs is significant for a workforce our size, at any pay rate. The chances for the call center to land another client is basically nil because my hunch is that they will use this as an opportunity to sort of mainstream and consolidate offices anyway. Their decisions to assign additional workload to their urban offices reflect this sad reality. You really can't run a successful business based on one client anyway. That is just a bad business model. The Chamber of Commerce patted themselves on the back for the past 7 years without any consideration of the vulnerability of basing jobs on a decision by one person.

-- Posted by Beaker on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 9:06 AM

Cape needs to look down the road to Jonesboro, Arkansas for some decent ideas about growth.

-- Posted by Pops90 on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 9:09 AM

I'm am so sick of all the complaining about the way our city does things. Look around guys! There are many hands at work to give you the wonderful town you currently have. How about a thank you?!!!

So, this didn't work out like we would have wanted, but for the time being, a large number of people had jobs and spent the money they earned from those jobs right here in our little town. If the tax incentives had not been used here, then they would have been used some other place. It's not like we get that money if the business doesn't. It's available money for a specific purpose.

From all the complaining, it seems like some of you would rather our town not even try to generate new business. Would that please you more, or are you just impossible to please?

-- Posted by wuzthinking on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 9:21 AM

Bringing Nars to town and giving them some incentives was not a mistake - in fact was brilliant. Let's get over the small town mentality - everyone else is providing those incentives and we need to do it to attract and keep business. They provided many many jobs for many people with limited skills. They brought employees to Cape who shopped and ate and rented apartments. And they had a good run. THE mistake was having the entire economic development group sit on their hands for the next seven years and do nothing to bring in substantial new business. We now have the economic development people integrated with the Chamber of Commerce (where they can do just as little, but their lack of results won't be so widely noticed). The politicians and agencies patted themselves on the back for "recruiting" NARS to Cape. What crap! NARS came here because the president (Buerhle) was born here, grew up here, has family here, has a house here, etc, etc. He has often said that Cape was a no brainer for him because of his roots here. Hardly think it was a big effort from Cape that "pulled" him here.

We need to find another NARS - give them any incentives that make sense. If someone can bring 500 jobs to town - employees who shop, buy gas, eat at restaurants - then it is worth it. If they last seven years in today's business environment that would be just great - but we should have had someone waiting in the wings or already in place.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 9:37 AM

Earlier simple_enough made the best point. "Paying back the taxpayers". Not being an accountant maybe I'm a bit simple in my opinion. Doesn't a company or city in this case base an investment on long term return? A new truck,more employees a new structure? What will my investment return? When NARS came to town was the investment by the city made with,say,a 20 year period to return it. Tax abatements,400 employees spending X amount,sales taxes on those purchases,etc etc. it adds up to XXX$'s. If that's how it's done then why didn't the city look into NARS business plan and see they only had 6-7 years left on their biggest account? If the city knew this and went ahead without a long term contract shame on them. I don't hold NARS harmless here,but Cape is now holding the bag for bad city planning.

-- Posted by bothedog on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 9:53 AM

Let me get this straight -- it would have been better to have never had the 400+ jobs here, than to have them here for 7 years?

-- Posted by gomer on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 10:13 AM

Gomer,not sure who you directed the comment to but my point was more of a question- Did the cost equal the benefit?

-- Posted by bothedog on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 10:33 AM

I hear First Student is hiring school bus drivers.

-- Posted by ucme on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 11:01 AM

ParkerDaws: "We need to find another NARS - give them any incentives that make sense. If someone can bring 500 jobs to town - employees who shop, buy gas, eat at restaurants - then it is worth it."

The problem is are 50+ other desperate communities are also throwing every incentives they can for the sake of adding jobs. If our city uses rational estimates of the positive return (in other words we make an offer that "makes sense") our offer will always be trumped by some other city making an irrationally high offer. It is a "winners curse" auction scenario where smart companies can force dozens of communities that are playing with other people money and are using vague best guesses about the value of those jobs to their communities to bid against one another.

The best plan is to invest in business owners that already live and work in this community. Attracting out of town companies to come here and make a positive impact on our community is like having affairs with already married men & women in the hopes of finding a good spouse. It occasionally works out, the long term odds are pretty low. If our cities economic developers & area MAGNET would go around to dozens of local 5-10 employee business and ask them how they can help them grow to 15-25 employee business(which sometimes could be as simply as pointing them to the right loan programs or helping them navigate the process of get permits or qualifying for state/federal credits) they would add far more jobs than hunting for the white whale of a a big out of town company that will bring us hundreds of jobs in one go. Real stable job growth happens by companies growing slowly and steadily. Unfortunately politicians and city officials cannot obviously take all the credit for lots of growing small & medium sized business adding a couple workers every month.

-- Posted by Nil on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 12:06 PM

I'm a little guy. The whole staff of my little company. And a whole lot of business in Cape Girardeau isn't much larger. How about programs to nurture and grow business that already exists, rather than trying to snare these whales which snap the lines so soon after they swallow the bait?

From my perspective, not to mention the city of Cape Girardeau's, there's little efficacy to selling the farm to hook these big companies for a short-term gain. Whether it's subsidizing jobs for a couple of hundred folks to manufacture suits or make collection calls, putting all your eggs in these baskets doesn't seem to pay off in the long run. Big Incentives to bring in Big Business seems to end up with Big Losses once the subsidies, well, subside.

How about this idea -- stop throwing big incentives at a company to bring hundreds of jobs to Cape and suffer the same boom/bust cycle once subsidies are used up. Put that money into business incubator programs, targeted job training programs and infrastructure improvements to encourage small businesses to start and grow in Cape Girardeau.

If you're determined to subsidize businesses, do it with micro-loans of thousands of dollars to dozens of companies, instead of offering millions to one big one. Even if some do fail, you've spread the risk and stand a much better chance for longer net gains to the local economy than you get from what's being done now.

While you do lose the opportunity to slap each others' backs and glad-hand at big ribbon-cutting ceremonies, you'll probably gain more jobs, from more sources, and develop a much stronger and diversified area economy.

-- Posted by jrhmobile on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 1:18 PM

Alot of the recent comments make alot of sense. However I would rather not have a boom/bust cycle as others speak of here. What happens in the long run is that you end up burning bridges and losing future opportunities. The Jonesboro growth overall was influenced by their university. The problem with Cape, though, is growth in terms of population is non-existent for the past 40 years. Commerce hasn't grown all that much either once you look past the surface. The old town area met its demise with the mall out by the highway, and some even argue the Town Plaza helped hastened the end of old town. Personally I think Cape could have supported both a Town Plaza and a Main Street. However, we substituted corporate out-of-town chain stores for home-grown stores rooted by a local stakeholder. What we ended up with is a retail base with no local ties and no day to day stability with their presence here in town. Many of the corporations that run chain stores are scaling back their rural store presence, not necessarily because the stores aren't turning profits, but because getting goods distributed to outlying areas such as Cape, costs more. All it takes is for a corporation that owns several of the mall stores come in one morning and decide, "you know, we need to cut costs to boost our stock prices. Let's leave the tertiary markets and focus on the major metropolitan areas".

-- Posted by Beaker on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 2:07 PM

I predict the casino will soon follow suit.

-- Posted by persnickety on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 2:22 PM

Trying to stay on topic, but I have a simple question, if the people on this website are so unhappy here, in our nice community, and I say this will all sincerity, I was born and raised here, why do you stay? Move away, go to another town and talk about them. I like Cape, government is government and is everywhere. The whole "good ole boy" mentality is an excuse for not getting involved in areas where you can make a difference.

-- Posted by tracy868 on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 3:01 PM

Lets see....They have other offices but the Cape office is the only one affected. Hmmmm.......

-- Posted by drummz54 on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 3:25 PM

So tracy868, in what capacity are you involved that could make a difference? I will agree that Cape is a great place to exist. However, I fail to see what this situation with NARS has to do with that assertion. Personally, I would have to agree with Beaker when he say's,"The problem with Cape, though, is growth in terms of population is non-existent for the past 40 years. Commerce hasn't grown all that much either once you look past the surface".

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 3:48 PM

Naboo

NARS milked the taxpayers? Bull. NARS did what the Cape Gir city government allowed them to do, as would any smart business entity. Attend a city council meeting and take it up with your elected officials.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 4:08 PM

I see we are caught in the provincial minded thinking of Nil and others who want to grow jobs 1 slow job at a time. Subsidize the local guy to add a job or two. Yep, that will benefit the community. This could be a very attractive place for companies to locate, but the economic development group has failed to capitalize on it. Why? Maybe because every group in this city is filled with small-minded locals who are afraid that someone might relocate here who doesn't have one of the 10 preferred Cape surnames.

Get a real economic development person, get a real city planner, get a real city manager, get a real mayor, get a real chamber of commerce, get a real tourist development person, get a real public relations person. See what happens then.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 5:38 PM

I think companies like NARS find "Cape Metro" attractive because of the lack of jobs that pay a decent wage or salary and a lack of highly skilled workers. They know that rural areas have a population of people that will kill for a chance to work for them. They give them a crappy but still higher than the normal wage and some benefits. Then, they never have a shortage of people who will line up when job openings are announced.

Someone making $13 an hour at NARS or a company like it is only making $27k a year, gross. After taxes, that's less than $2k a month. Good luck living on that. Should NARS pay more? I don't think so. I think that $13 an hour just to answer phones is too high. It's just enough to keep someone there but not enough for someone to live on. When I say live, I don't mean just exist. I'm talking about paying a mortgage/rent, all the bills, saving for a rainy day, and retirement investing.

I think the city needs to either start recruiting companies that offer "professional" jobs or companies that make stuff. The schools should heavily promote college or a trade school. Maybe they do, I don't know. I don't live in the area anymore so I could be way wrong on everything I've said. It's just my opinion anyway so take it as just that.

When I grew up there, the same kinds of problems existed then as now. No real jobs that offer anything much in the way of growth and income and companies that do just what NARS has done - come in and hire a bunch of people with no real prospect of anything more than what NARS offers. It's sad but it's true.

The problem will only be fixed when those with no better prospects than NARS finally wake up and want more than what companies like NARS can offer. I guess we will always have living among us those who are not ambitious and will settle for a NARS-like employer but if they choose to remain that way, then they will reap their reward - a near-poverty income earned from a miserable place to work.

-- Posted by RubberTiresAreRubber on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 7:51 PM

No surprise at all. At the time oh man we would jump over the rainbow. Cape needs to attract skilled labor jobs that pay good surely there is somebody out there across this country they could try to recruit, these low end paying jobs they come in here and there out of here.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 4:34 PM

Ditto.

-- Posted by RubberTiresAreRubber on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 7:52 PM

I keep hearing that Cape needs those "highly skilled" jobs. Cape has no highly skilled workers, so who is going to fill those jobs. Mgmt at NARS says that they had trouble finding enough skilled employees for their minimally skilled level jobs. Not only that, but the work ethic in the area is poor. Just talk to some of the local companies. Trying to get employees to come to work on a regular basis is a chore.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 7:34 PM

Good point. It's which came first? The chicken or the egg? Hard to solve the problem.

-- Posted by RubberTiresAreRubber on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 7:56 PM

Why is this considered a "lower end job" by so many of you? I would consider "lower end" to be minimum wage. The people working there have gone through specific training and for this area, $13 is decent (not great by any means, but certainly not "low"). Your comments sound a little demeaning to these people who's livelihood depended on the income they made from working there. Just my opinion. Moving off that topic, I can't help but wonder how long that building will now set vacant once they close the doors. I fear it will be quite some time.

-- Posted by CapeRes on Thu, Jul 11, 2013, at 8:45 PM

Cape Res, $13 an hour for non-skilled labor is a huge score for someone willing to slave away doing customer service work. It's not bad for that position and the kind of work that the position requires. In my opinion, $13 an hour is too much to pay for a position that doesn't require any skill. Just my opinion though.

-- Posted by RubberTiresAreRubber on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 8:03 PM

Parker Daws,

Over 60% of businesses in the US have fewer than 10 employees, and IIRC they employ over 40 million people. They are much less likely to relocate.

What seems silly to me are state relocation actions like KS offering Teva millions of dollars to move 8 miles from Lee's Summit, MO into KS. Business relocations do not create job growth, they create job movement.

Nil and jrhmobile:

If you have or know a small business which needs help growing or navigating issues, you/they can contact their local Missouri SBTDC and talk with a business counselor. Business counseling is offered at no charge.

Link is: http://www.missouribusiness.net/

-- Posted by rh3a on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 9:56 PM

They had a high turn over rate in labor I wonder why?

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Fri, Jul 12, 2013, at 10:31 PM

Rubber claims "$13 an hour is too much to pay for a position that doesn't require any skill."

Rubber, You obviously have never done that kind of work. Over half your calls start with rude customers using the F-bomb. $13 an hour is too low.

I worked for a union (customer service and sales) company, contractually we made in excess of $60k with commission or the individual was walked to the door. Over 75% of the work force was on anti-depressants, several like myself decided the money was not enough and found more pleasant careers.

-- Posted by numero-uno on Sat, Jul 13, 2013, at 5:09 AM

June bug, I've worked in customer service/sales for a unionized company, too. Back then I was paid a wage higher than minimum and earned commissions as well. It wasn't a bad gig but I worked there while in college so I didn't have to work there full time. I guess I was lucky and didn't have to deal with the kind of stress you are talking about.

I don't know the job description for a csr at NARS but I still don't think it's a job that requires $13 an hour plus benefits. I'm glad that the csrs are getting paid that much and I don't think the position requires that high of a wage.

The BLS said that the median wage for a csr is $13.13 an hour. So, out of all the csrs in the country, half are lower than $13.13 an hour and half are higher. That doesn't support your position that the job is worth $13 an hour nor does it refute it. It would depend on what their responsibilities are. If it's a job where there's a lot of emotional stress, like the one you had, then maybe it's a good wage or requires more. I don't know.

It sucks that they are losing their jobs. It really does. If the decision to close the location was based strictly on business, then why not close it? If it is cheaper for the company to keep that work in-house rather than outsource it, why not do that? Businesses are not welfare centers. They exist for the purpose of creating shareholder wealth, not employ people with little to no skill just so those people can have a job. That's the reality of it all. I would rather the company keep the jobs local but if they can't it sure beats having all those jobs sent overseas or south of the border. Don't you think?

Back to your comment about never doing that kind of work. I've been in sales all my adult life. With sales, customer service is a top priority and sometimes you have to deal with people who aren't so nice and blame you for things you have no control over. It's a fact of that kind of work. With that kind of job, there's going to be stress. Some people just don't want to deal with it and I don' blame them.

I feel bad that people are losing their jobs but if those people want to get another job they'll either go find one, or two, or they'll make their own job and go to work for themselves doing something that consumers are willing to pay for. I hope that they do remain productive and not sit back and coast on your dollar and mine.

In the world according to rubber, everyone would be responsible for their own production and not rely on big brother for handouts. They'd see a csr job as just a stepping stone to bigger and better paying positions, not as a career making $13 an hour and struggling to make ends meet. I wish everyone would see themselves as entrepreneurs and not as employees. Even if they're employed and not a business owner. If people would have the mindset of an entrepreneur, they would never be out of a job and would always be in demand. If I had an employee who always looked for inefficiencies in my business and was presenting ways to cut costs and improve service, etc. I'd keep that person on as long as I could and would reward them with more money, benefits, or whatever. They'd be a valuable asset and not just an employee. Problem is, most people look at their employer as a someone that owes them a job or more money just because they bother to show up on a daily basis. That person would be the first to go if I had to cut employees.

Ok, I'm done rambling.

-- Posted by RubberTiresAreRubber on Sat, Jul 13, 2013, at 6:27 PM

Might as well put in a mini Wal-mart in the place of this call center. I might have a chance of getting a job at Wal-mart, if not, it's the only place I can afford to shop at.

-- Posted by cuincr on Sat, Jul 13, 2013, at 6:36 PM

so nars paid around 13.00 a hour,

hmm that is about the same wages that are paid at mondi (nordenia) not to easy to raise a family on that.

They call themselves one of the better places in cape county to work..

-- Posted by bagman75 on Sat, Jul 13, 2013, at 7:53 PM

Spoke with some Integrity/Nars employees yesterday. It appears there are about 25 people making $13 per hour. Everyone else starts at $8 and progresses slowly. With their turnover, a lot of employees are new. I don't know the exact cost of the medical and other insurance, but they say it is so costly most cannot afford it.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sun, Jul 14, 2013, at 6:56 AM

Finding skilled labor - Cape needs to partner with the region and approach this from a regional perspective. Let candidate firms know that there are alternatives available for neighborhoods and school districts other than the Cape Public School System. Cape needs to fix its school district to make it a desirable place to send your kids. Very heartbreaking to see my friends who I graduated with, turn around and send their kids to private schools here in town. A regional and commerce development approach needs to include SEMO, which turns out skilled labor every year. In the 1960s and early 1970s, this town had a healthy town and gown relationship. Cape was making itself known with the new P&G plant, new schools, new neighborhoods. The 1980s brought a different mindset as many of the baby-boomers had already left town and corporations decided they can just move down the highway from the downtown areas to the suburbs instead of rural areas to achieve their cost targets. There is also truth by one poster who earlier suggested leaders did not seek out individuals without one of the few surnames in town. I would suggest that we even ran people with diverse backgrounds out of town. Careless decisions have brought an end to old town Cape, which could have been a viable district, perhaps even a tourist attraction even today. Sad to see NARs leaving, but while their other locations are picking up new business causing their employees to work overtime, one can't help but think that the local decision is a direct slap in the face for this town and a reflection of their opinion of this area.

-- Posted by Beaker on Sun, Jul 14, 2013, at 1:43 PM

Was it better to have 400+ jobs for a few years than nothing at all?

Ask the people who are getting laid off that have made financial commitments because they counted on having that job. Although $13/hr may not be the highest wage, it was enough to get a lease on an apartment, a loan on a car, and the option for medical insurance is huge.

I have known lots, and I mean lots, of people who have worked at NARS, it actually seemed like a revolving door for employees, so I too would think most of them were in the $10 range.

I feel badly for the people who are losing thier jobs because an employer put their eggs in one basket. Wouldn't it be interesting to know how much notice NARS was given from Charter and then to see how much time NARS really had to find a replacement customer? And what actions they have taken since that notice to find a way to keep our city in their portfolio.

Why not close one of the non-American Call Centers and bring that work here? Their priorities (like many other companies who outsource overseas) do not seem focused on America, unless there are tax breaks in their future.

-- Posted by simple_enough on Mon, Jul 15, 2013, at 10:10 PM


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