Archive for Friday, July 14, 2006

Affinitas adding 200 jobs

Booming cable market brings business to call center

July 14, 2006

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A downtown call center is busy training 100 new customer-service representatives to keep up with a growing list of calls and clients.

And more are on the way.

Affinitas, located on the lower level of the Riverfront Plaza at Sixth and New Hampshire streets, has added 100 full-time employees during the last four weeks and has plans for hiring another 100 within the next six weeks.

The reason: National cable companies are expanding into new markets and taking on new customers, which means more calls coming into Affinitas with questions about how to hook up cable boxes and use cable modems for Internet access.

"We represent all the major cable companies in the United States right now," said Denny Dillon, vice president of call center operations, who said contract terms prevented him from identifying specific clients. "And we're bringing on new clients. For one of them we signed a five-year contract, which is almost unheard of in this business."

Affinitas should have 450 employees in Lawrence by fall, he said, boosting the Omaha, Neb.-based company's total employment past 1,000. The company has another call center in Mesa, Ariz., and smaller offices elsewhere in the country to handle direct-mail operations.

The Lawrence center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Dillon said. Employees work full-time, with annual salaries starting at $19,000 for customer-service representatives and $21,000 to $22,000 for high-speed technology representatives.

Recently hired employees - 100 of them - are in training classes this week as they prepare to start answering calls that show no signs of letting up. Dillon figures that the center could accommodate a total of 500 employees before expansion would be necessary.

For now, though, he's just trying to keep up with demand.

"We're busy," Dillon said.

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