Leaders of Pearson Government Solutions' call center operations in Lawrence are poised to celebrate the company's first decade in town with an eye toward the future.
Starting with a peek up the hill.
"There are other buildings, including one right up the street from us that's been vacant since it was built, that could be used for expansion," said Terry Kroshus, who leads Pearson's sprawling 195,000-square-foot operations center in the East Hills Business Park. "We're pretty full now. We'd look at options to expand for any other contracts we would win."
Pearson Government Solutions -- a division of Pearson, a London-based media conglomerate -- is competing for four more government contracts that could add to a workload that already supports 1,832 employees in Lawrence.
Pearson Government Solutions operates four other centers in addition to the Lawrence location, which is the division's largest call center.
This week, the company is celebrating the Lawrence call center's 10 years of operations -- traced to Dec. 1, 1994, when National Computer Systems set up 60 employees in rented space in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America building in west Lawrence.
Today, more than four years after Pearson purchased NCS, the center handles more than 30 projects, ranging from taking calls about immigration processes to fielding questions about Medicare and Medicaid.
The center manages inquiries for the federal student financial aid program, answering more than 9 million calls and 200,000 written inquiries a year. The center also processes retirement benefit plans data from more than 1 million filings a year on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Kroshus doesn't expect the work to slow down, not with the government solutions division expecting to boost revenues from $400 million to $1 billion by 2008.
"We're on a pipeline for growth," he said, noting that the Lawrence center likely would play a part in the expansion.
On Thursday, 82 officials from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission visited the center to check progress on a two-year, $4.9 million contract granted in September. The call center is poised to provide information on commission enforcement, regulations and other matters through incoming and outgoing calls, e-mails, faxes, written letters and Web text.
"Growth is not the only indicator of success," said Kroshus, Pearson's Lawrence site manager for the past four years. "To watch the passion of the work force in our facility makes me proud of each and every person providing excellent customer service to a variety of customers.
"It is truly rewarding to see our core values working every day."