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[ Leyte ] US call center to proceed with provincial opening

Vol. XXII, No. 126 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

PALO, LEYTE — NASDAQ-listed business process outsourcing firm APAC Customer Services, Inc. is proceeding with the opening of its first provincial site despite the slowing global economy.

APAC kicked off this week its first round of training for 80 agents who will start taking calls when the office opens on March 2.

"It’s going to be a really big opening. We’ve invited President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some local officials. Our president and Chief Executive Officer Michael Marrow will be here as well," said Doug Almond, APAC vice-president for international operations.

He said the production area was almost complete. APAC converted the 3,000-square meter gymnasium at the Leyte Information and Communication Technology Park into a P200-million call center site.

The facility houses a call area, conference room, training rooms, administrative office, board room, cafeteria and lobby.

Nizette Navia, APAC administrative service director, said the Leyte site has the same amenities as APAC offices in Alabang, Muntinlupa and Cubao, Quezon City.

It will take five weeks to complete two sets of training. Including the second and third batches, the site will be manned by 200 customer service representatives.

"Of the 200 agents we hired, around 100 came from Leyte. The rest came from a combination of Cebu and Samar areas," Ms. Navia said.

Training on basic skills and specific products were being undertaken by 17 members of the management team from Metro Manila and the US.

Mr. Almond said they planned to hire up to 1,000 workers by yearend.

"The expansion will go for the rest of the year. You’ll see incremental growth all the way through December. We are very excited," he added. Mr. Almond said he was confident that the Leyte operations would succeed.

After the opening, APAC will launch a near-hire program for students to establish a manpower pool for expansion.

"When we did the first job fair, we got almost 2,000 applicants and we’ve hired roughly 200 of those. After completing near-hire training, we will have around 400 to 600 agents," he said.

APAC provides customer care services and solutions to companies in health care, finance, publishing, communications, travel and entertainment.

It is headquartered in Deer-field, Illinois and has operations in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New York, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and the Philippines. — Sarwell Q. Meniano


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