CallCenter Services Inc. has announced plans for an expansion of its telemarketing operation in Salisbury that is expected to create up to 450 new jobs by the fall of 1994.
The Cresskill, N.J., company has acquired the indoor arena of the former Winter Place Farm, the once spectacular home for pampered show horses that went out of business in the 1970s, and next week it will begin an extensive renovation to transform it into a phone room for processing retail catalog orders.
CallCenter handles catalog telephone orders for retailers and institutions, including Macy's, Ann Taylor, Frederick's of Hollywood, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Sharper Image, Chadwick's of Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
While most retailers still run their own catalog sales operations, Douglas Comfort, CallCenter's executive vice president, said the trend is to outsourcing.
Robert J. Rudolph, CallCenter's 44-year-old president, said that when construction is completed this fall, the company will begin hiring new workers. Employment is expected to total about 550 workers by the end of the year and to between 700 and 800 by the fall of 1994, he said.
Currently CallCenter has about 350 phone room operators, or telephone representatives, as the company classifies the workers, at two locations in Salisbury.
CallCenter opened its first telemarketing center at a former Ponderosa Steak House on South Salisbury Boulevard in 1990. It now has 250 workers. A second facility was added on Naylor Mill Road, about two miles away, in August, 1991 that employs 150 workers.
The company anticipates that half of the positions will be full time with a starting wage of about $6 an hour with benefits.
Mr. Rudolph said the Naylor Mill Road complex will be closed once the expansion is completed, but no decision had been made on the future of the Salisbury Boulevard site.
A work force of 800 would put CallCenter among the top five largest employers in Wicomico County, Robert L. Kiley, the country economic development director, said yesterday. If things as planned, Mr. Kiley said CallCenter's employment could rise to 1,000 in three or four years. That would still be about half the level of Perdue Farms Inc., the county's largest private employer.
"It's great for us," Mr. Rudolph said, referring to the arena.
"The high ceiling and the large open area make it well suited for our type of business," he said, explaining that vastness of the arena can absorb the sound of 400 people talking on telephones at the same time.
Mr. Comfort said that the region's "super high-tech phone facilities" was a major attraction in luring its operation to the Eastern Shore from White Plains, N.Y.
He described Salisbury as a "POP city" -- "point of presence" location where MCI and AT&T; both have drop-off centers for their long distance telephone networks.
Being close to such phone facilities can mean big savings for companies like CallCenter, which expects to handle nearly 7 million calls this year.
Mr. Comfort said that a phone circuit from White Plains to a telephone "POP" center in Monticello, N.Y. cost the company about $2,800 a month. In Salisbury, he said, the cost is "a little less than $700."