Call center could create 75 jobs

Bremerton may become the call-center capital of Puget Sound.

The Gilmore Research Group, a 50-year-old market research company based in Seattle, just opened new offices on Fourth Street.

It’s the third call center to move into the greater Bremerton area this year.

American Financial Solutions leased the old Montgomery Wards catalog center at 263 Fourth St. in January. The non-profit company started with a dozen locally hired “credit counselors” to staff phones and has been slowly hiring more ever since. Managers say they want to double their staff. Nextel opened it’s customer service center in East Bremerton — just outside the city limits — in July and plans to employ up to 500 people by the first quarter of 2002.

Gilmore has about 23 “interviewers” to staff phones. Management plans to boost this to between 60 and 75.

“Our new offices in Bremerton will become our main location,” said Susan Sanders, field operations manager. She said the office in Seattle will be “scaled back.” The company had an office in Portland which has since closed.

She said the reason Bremerton will become the company’s headquarters is simple: “It’s cheaper to rent office space here.”

“Bremerton does seem to be a really good fit for call centers,” said Andrea Olson, new business recruitment and retention manager for the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council. “We have a very high quality labor force and well developed telecommunications infrastructure.”

The KREDC was instrumental in bringing Gilmore to Bremerton.

Gilmore’s offices at 530 Fourth occupy about 6,000 square feet. The space was formerly occupied by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard engineers. This was one of the reasons Gilmore leased the spot.

“The office space has plenty of phone hook-ups, and cable hook-ups for our computers,” said Sanders.

The company contracts with private industry and public agencies to conduct surveys on customer satisfaction, said Sanders.

“We’re not telemarketers,” she said. “We don’t sell anything. We collect the thoughts and opinions of the public for public utilities, health providers and government agencies.”

She said the company also does polls on advertisement awareness.

Because the company specializes in polling the public, it’s hours of operation are evenings and weekends — 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

The entry level positions pay $7 per hour, she said, plus “production” bonuses. Positions are part-time.

Those interested in staffing a phone for the research company should call 616-8949.

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