Company officials say the Mahoning Valley is a good area in which to grow.
YOUNGSTOWN -- InfoCision is rapidly expanding, and downtown Youngstown is a catalyst to that growth.
Its 23rd call center is in 20 Federal Place, the former Phar-Mor building, and eventually it is expected to bring a total of 250 jobs to the downtown structure.
Akron-based InfoCision is the world's third-largest privately held teleservice company, employing 2,900 people with 1,000 of that number in call centers in Austintown, Boardman, New Castle, Pa., and the new downtown location.
Steve Brubaker, senior vice president of corporate affairs, said InfoCision has found a good area to grow in the Mahoning Valley and especially in downtown Youngstown.
"It reinforces our commitment to the community and it gives a great facility in which to grow," he said. "We have had an excellent employee base and have recorded more success here than in other areas we serve."
Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey noted the city shares a vision with the company.
"It's not difficult for me to see the day that this building is filled with InfoCision employees," McKelvey said.
InfoCision found it attractive to come downtown after the city and the state provided incentives including tax abatements and job creation tax credits. In return, the company must occupy the downtown location for 14 years.
The company was established in 1982 by Gary Taylor, who is president and CEO, after a career as director of marketing for the Rex Humbard Ministries. Through that experience, he realized that there were opportunities to use the telephone to communicate with donors of religious and nonprofit organizations.
InfoCision has not veered far from those roots. It continues to do fund-raising for Christian charities, such as the Christian Coalition and the National Right to Life organization, said Brubaker.
InfoCision also provides service to national nonprofit organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society not only for fund-raising purposes but also for the recruitment of volunteers.
"We represent virtually the who's who of the nation's leading charities. We're working with most of the national groups that are using the phone today," noted Brubaker.
During a recent NBC telethon to raise money for the tsunami victims in Southeast Asia, the Austintown call center was used to take calls from donors who wanted to contribute through the Red Cross and other relief agencies.
Meanwhile, a call center strictly for volunteer recruitment is being completed, also on the fourth floor of the downtown location, and is expected to open this week or next.
Brubaker also said call centers provide a two-way interaction. "Not only are we calling out to our clients' customers but they're calling us and we're representing our clients from what we call inbound customer care."
He added that a team of 20 communicators with bilingual skills -- English and Spanish -- has been hired to work at the new call center. They have been hired to address the needs of InfoCision clients who want to reach the Hispanic population, which is the fastest growing demographic group in the United States.
The company's Political Division is yet another important and profitable division of the teleservice company. Brubaker said 2004 was a very active political year, especially with the presidential election. He said InfoCision prefers to represent one side of the political spectrum, so it represents conservative issues and candidates.
Carl Albright, president of InfoCision, added, "We create programs and make investments so our clients can rest easy knowing that their campaigns follow the letter of the law."
Last year the company established a political action committee to allow its employees to make political contributions to individuals in "order to make our voice heard as a group," said Brubaker.
He said that the company routinely meets with local, state and federal legislators to discuss a wide range of issues affecting the teleservice industry in the United States, which employs 6 million people, representing an important economic force.
The Commercial Division of the company serves Fortune 1000 companies and continues to grow, according to Brubaker.
InfoCision's sales figures are expected to see significant growth this year. Brubaker said projected sales could go as high as $150 million. In 2004, sales hit $127 million.
Competition is an issue, which is really all about jobs, stressed Brubaker. "It's not easy to compete with countries such as China, South Africa and India, where you can hire someone for $1-2 per hour."
He said InfoCision's model is different because quality is important to the company and its customers.
"We're not going to be the cheapest, but we're going to be the best and give a competitive price," he said. "We think clients are willing to invest a few more pennies because there's a return on that investment."
Brubaker adds that customer service is vital to its operations. "When our customers call in for service, they get it. Our average wait time is 9 seconds or less."