Sitel Call Center in Covington County Set to Close after 15 Years

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The Sitel call center came to Covington County nearly 15 years ago and employs more than 500 people from around South Alabama.

The Sitel Company announced the closing of its Covington County call center earlier this week. The call center came to the county nearly 15 years ago and employs more than 500 people from around South Alabama. Sitel officials say the center will stay open until the end of March, and employees will have to have a new job by the first of April.

The closing of the call center shocked Andalusia and Opp Mayors, Earl Johnson and Becky Bracke.
“We understood that they were employing more people, that they were looking for about a hundred employees within this last year, and the parking lot was always full,” says Bracke. “So we thought they were doing really good.”
Johnson says the company leaving the county isn’t what upsets him. He says the way the company went about leaving and the timing leaves a sour taste in his mouth.
“To come in ten days before Christmas and say, ‘Oh by the way, come April one none of you will have a job,'” he says. “You know, if it was a business decision, if it had to happen, they could’ve made that decision just as easily after Christmas as they did before. So it shows that they had nobody’s feelings in mind when they made their decision.”
Sitel Head of Global Marketing and Communications Shirley Loebsack issued a statement about the call center’s closing:

“Sitel has had the honor of working in the Andalusia area for 15 successful years. Unfortunately, our business model does not allow for us to remain in this market after April 1st, 2017.  Our decision to make this announcement to associates and to the community at this time of year was two-fold, 1) we wanted to provide our associates more than the legal 60-day notice requirement in order to provide as much time and resources as possible to assist them with career options and 2) we have numerous Sitel Work-at-Home employment opportunities for these agents and an early announcement allows additional time for associates to be Work-at-Home ready. All associates are able to apply for other positions within the company, including Work@Home opportunities. Sitel leadership also intends to proactively partner with local resources and other area employers to identify potential employment opportunities for impacted associates.

Sitel will provide an official WARN letter to each associate and to the State of Alabama as required by law and additional details will be provided at that time and in that letter. This is expected to take place in January 2017.

This has been a very difficult decision with the 15 years of service that has been provided to this community by our Sitel associates. Sitel Andalusia leadership is working to provide as much open and proactive communication as possible to ensure the most efficient transition for clients, associates and the community.”

Both mayors say they were also told the company was having issues finding qualified, available employees in the area. But they also said no one with the company had come to them asking for help.

“If their real issue is employees, we can help! We can cure that for them! All they had to do was ask us,” adds Johnson.
“Economic development is not just about getting new businesses in, it’s also about helping businesses that are already established,” says Bracke. “And so we wish that we had known to see what we could’ve done.”
Bracke and Johnson say if Sitel corporate has a change of heart, they will do whatever is necessary to keep the company and jobs in Covington County.

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