Archive for Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Call center to come under new ownership

Pearson Government Solutions sale may mean additional work

December 12, 2006

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Lawrence's largest private-sector employer is getting a new owner as part of a $600 million deal designed to speed the company's existing plans for growth.

Pearson Government Solutions, which has call-center and data-processing operations in the East Hills Business Park, is being sold to Veritas Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm.

Veritas announced Monday that it would pay $600 million for the company, which has more than 5,500 employees in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. The Lawrence center has 1,600 of those employees, ranking it among the company's two largest operations.

The deal, which awaits regulatory approval, is expected to close Feb. 15.

Mark Andrews, Pearson's site manager and human resources manager in Lawrence, said the sale would not change any employee's benefits, job status or anything else - other than the possibility that more work might soon be on the way.

"It's the same thing today as it was yesterday: We just have to keep doing a better job," Andrews said, of the prospects for change in Lawrence. "We think it's great. It's a tremendous opportunity for our company."

Pearson Government Solutions last year posted revenues of $530 million, a number that grows with the securing of each additional government contract. The company has plans to reach $1 billion in annual sales within two years, spokesman Eileen Rivera said.

"Our new owners are 100 percent committed to our growth plans and our vision," she said. "Our employees have an even greater opportunity to participate in the growth of our company, including the employees in Lawrence."

Pearson's Lawrence operations opened in 1994 as National Computer Systems, with a handful of employees working out of a leased office in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America building near Wakarusa Drive and what was then 15th Street.

Today - six years after London-based Pearson Plc bought the company and two years after forming Pearson Government Solutions - the Lawrence operation spans two buildings containing 195,000 square feet at East Hills. Its jobs range from fielding millions of calls from Medicare beneficiaries to processing millions of applications regarding student loans to handling millions of inquiries about potential workplace discrimination.

With assistance from Veritas, the company will be able to focus on adding more commercial clients. Robert McKeon, president and founder of Veritas, said in a statement that such plans include expansion both geographically and "in vertical, high-potential markets, such as health care and business process outsourcing."

Pearson Government Solutions is a division of Pearson Plc, the London-based media company that owns the Financial Times Group and Penguin, the pervasive book publisher. Pearson will retain a 10 percent stake in Pearson Government Solutions, which will be getting a new name early next year.

How soon the East Hills center gets a new sign remains to be seen, but whatever it ends up being won't been unknown for long.

"There's going to be a real aggressive branding effort," said Andrews, the site manager.

Comments

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

wow they plan to post 530 million and the only job they went into details on is that they field medicare phone calls??? How do you brand a call center.

countrygirl 8 years, 5 months ago

Umm, did you miss the part about processing federal student loans and complaints about harassment in the work place? The Medicare contract is the one that employs the largest number of people, but certainly not the only contract.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

Seems to be alot of money taking phone calls concerning compliants and questions on very complex subjects. How do you promote the brand name of a call center?? I wonder if they make any of the tele marketer calls that I get every day

countrygirl 8 years, 5 months ago

No telemarkerters. Pearson is mostly inbound, answering questions about things like Medicare and Student aid. Even outbound is restricted to stuff related to the government contracts that they handle. The company is well respected in the government contract circles--they've been handling the student aid contract for over 20 years.

Kat Christian 8 years, 5 months ago

You'd think with a company making so much money they could afford to provide medical benefits for their employees. Instead all they offer them are temporary positions. What a joke. People need jobs they can rely on and jobs that are secure with a future for them - not so much all for the "company" It makes sick how they are earning all this money on the backs of hard working (working poor) individuals.

countrygirl 8 years, 5 months ago

They pay a lot better than minimum wage in fact. Most temps make anywhere from $8.50 to $12.00 an hour. Temp help is used because most of the departments need more help during busy seasons and then lay off during down times. Most of the new government contracts coming in either require insurance to be offered or a stipend paid to make up for not having insurance. How many other places in Lawrence offer wages like that and aren't in manufacturing?

hockmano 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't sugarcoat it!

The wages are decent but working at Pearson is a very stressful job. Especially in the medicare department.They pay good wages if you are the kind of person that can put up with people crying and yelling at you.

Someone who works at Bert Nash told me that they treat alot of Pearson employees. Listening to people's troubles all day can wear a person out.

Personally, I'd rather do manufacturing anyday.

I commend the ones who can do this job. They earn every penny.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

Seems as thought working at bert nash would be a high stress job to.

Nate Poell 8 years, 5 months ago

Everybody panic! Don your tinfoil hats to protect us from THE CORPORATE MONO-CULTURE OF THE MIND !

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 5 months ago

I worked for Pearson in the now-defunct USCIS project. That project was about the most disorganized mess I have ever seen, typical of anything related to the U.S. Government. It was the most stressful job I have ever had. You had to read answers to callers from a pre-written script, if you did not, and were being monitored. you received "Quality Control Points" against you. Their "quality control" system was terrible, nothing there coincided with the usual quality control systems I am familiar with. You could not answer with anything but the "script". You had breaks and lunch periods, but if you only worked part of a shift, they would not let you go to lunch. If you used too much of their "personal time" alloted to each employee, you got harrassed about it. The training classes are simplistic at best. It was the most frustrating job I have ever had. I would never go back there.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like making big money answering questions by reading a script is hard work. Wow, no wonder there is so much money in this business. I am curious as to how this company would have all the answers concerning the programs they work with.

If I had a question about medicare, I would be inclined to call the medicare office.

When I am at work, I have aloted time to take breaks and each lunch. My personal time is seperate from work and I have to take days off or make personal time prior to or after work. Sounds like an ordinary job to me

lacoov 8 years, 4 months ago

budwhysir-unless you worked for USCIS/Pearson you don't have a clue on what you're talking about. It was far from ordinary.

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