Week of March 11, 2002
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Area's Paucity of Centers a Plus
AdvancePCS Picks Knoxville, Tenn., for 400-Employee Call CenterBy JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
After weighing options for a year in its search for an area not already awash with call centers, AdvancePCS (www.advanceparadigm.com) has picked Knoxville, Tenn. (www.knoxdevelopment.org), for a 400-seat facility.
The new call center will be located in the 150-acre (60-hectare) Pellissippi Corporate Center in western Knox County. The Irving, Texas-based company, which provides pharmacy and health management services for health plans, has signed an 11-year lease valued at more than $10 million, according to officials who worked on the project.
The call center in East Tennessee will be the fourth for AdvancePCS, ranked by Fortune as No. 33 in the magazine's annual rankings of "the 100 Fastest-Growing Public U.S. Companies." The Knoxville facility, however, will be the first that the company has set up east of the Mississippi River.
"Everything that we wanted was in Knoxville - a good educational base, a friendly business community and a good economic base." AdvancePCS Senior Vice President of Pharmacy and Service Operations Phil Pearce said at the project announcement.
Low Call-Center Density
That strategy reflects the fall from grace of many onetime call center meccas. The very success of those erstwhile site selection darlings has turned them into problem locations. Their overabundance of call centers has spurred the sort of rampant job-hopping that's turned many local operations' personnel offices into veritable revolving doors.
Knoxville, on the other hand, fit the call center density profile for which AdvancePCS was looking.
"We knew Knoxville has a few," said Pearce, "but we want to establish ourselves as the call center people want to work for in this area."
The company's chosen location provides ease of access for potential employees in the area. Pellissippi Corporate Center is located less than three miles (4.8 kilometers) north of the intersection of I-40 and I-75.
The 7.9-acre (3.16-hectare) site for the call center offers another significant recruiting plus: The tract is located directly across from the 8,000-student Pellissippi State Technical Community College.
East Coast Business BuildingAdvancePCS has customer-care centers already in place in Richardson, Texas; Sacramento, Calif.; and Scottsdale, Ariz.
But another center on the East Coast was needed, the company decided, after AdvancePCS recently signed several major contracts and renewed a number of others. The newest contract is a multi-year agreement that AdvancePCS inked with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (BCBSNJ). The contract with BCBSNJ, which provides health plan coverage to more than 2.5 million people, goes into effect in July.
"This expansion strengthens our presence in the eastern United States, where we have an increasing number of clients and members, and enables AdvancePCS to provide the high-quality service they need and expect," said AdvancePCS Chairman and CEO David Halbert.
AdvancePCS's growing eastern U.S. presence was underscored at the press conference at which the new call center was announced. During the conference, Knox County Executive Tommy Schumpert decided to take a look at his insurance card. The number to call listed on his card connected to an AdvancePCS facility, Schumpert reported.
Spec Building Will Facilitate
The company is hiring over the next two months for the new operation, which will be capable of handling 350,000 calls per month. Operators at the facility will field calls from health plan members, pharmacists and other pharmacy benefit plan administrators.
AdvancePCS also chose Knoxville because of the immediate availability of space that met its call center needs, company officials explained. The new operation will be located in a single-story 60,000-sq.-ft. (5,400-sq.-m.) "e-business contact center." Norcross, Ga.-based Adevco built as a speculative development. The Staubach Company represented AdvancePCS in the lease transaction for the Adevco space.
The 400 employees at AdvancePCS's latest call center will continue the company's rapid expansion of its work force, which now totals 5,300. Created by Advance Paradigm's 2000 acquisition of PCS Health Systems, the company registered a whopping 230.9 percent increase in total employment during 2001. The company now provides services for health plans that cover more than 75 million members.
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