"Nextel hires VP, ready to start training"

"Nextel Communications Inc., a leading wireless communications services provider, has put recruitment efforts for its new Bremerton call center into full swing. The first four-week round of employee training is scheduled to start Monday, June 25.We hope to occupy the building early in July and take our first call July 23, said Colleen Williams, Nextel's recently hired vice president for the Bremerton call center. The 60,200 square foot center currently is under construction on a 7.2-acre site at the corner of McWilliams Road and State Route 303.The second 50-employee training session will begin July 9, with training conducted at Olympic College until the call center is completed. Starting wage for customer care representatives is $10 an hour, according to Williams, with an immediately-effective benefits package. The firm is giving employment preference to the unemployed, according to Tanea Stephens, a Nextel spokeswoman. The international company, which employs 16,000, is seeking employees with a strong work ethic who are comfortable talking on the phone. They also need to be multi-task oriented so they can talk on the phone while looking up research from a database, Stephens said.Unlike AT&T and Sprint, which serve mostly residential customers, Nextel's clients are primarily businesses.These customer care representatives will be taking more calls from business owners than from soccer moms, Stephens said.She said the firm's target market group is businesses with mobile workers, such as construction, truck and bus companies, because of a feature on the phones similar to a two-way radio.It's like a walkie talkie on steroids, Stephens said. But walkie talkies have a short range, and Nextel's Direct Connect plan allows employees from the same company to talk to one another across long distances using a four-number code.All Nextel employees carry cellular phones with Direct Connect, she added.The Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council (KREDC) worked for two years to land the Nextel call center.Some of the factors which ultimately lead to locating the call center in Bremerton were affordable cost of living, a readily available labor pool and high quality of life, Stephens said.Our folks felt there were a lot of under-utilized high-quality workers in the area. We want people to come aboard and see Nextel as a career. Nextel is very good about hiring from within and there will be many opportunities to rise to the top, Stephens said. "

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