Bend call center Ibex to hire 450 by fall

New employees would more than double center’s workforce

By Rachael Rees / The Bulletin

Published May 21, 2014 at 12:01AM

How to apply

Those interested in jobs with Ibex Global Bend may apply online atwww.ibexglobal.com/joinus.html, pick up an application at Ibex or contact recruiter Heidi Simila at 541-647-6744.

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Ibex Global, a Bend call center at the edge of the Old Mill District, plans to more than double its workforce by hiring 450 employees by summer’s end.

“This year will be the biggest we’ve ever been in Bend,” said Alec Campbell, vice president of client services for Ibex, formerly TRG Customer Solutions.

The company, headquartered in Washington, D.C., employs more than 9,000 in 18 call centers in five countries, according to its website. The Bend call center, on Southwest Hill Street near Wilson Avenue, currently employs about 400, Campbell said.

The first training class starts June 8, and the company plans to recruit until September, Campbell said.

Heidi Simila, recruiting manager for Ibex Global Bend, said she started hiring about a month ago. By the end of the week, she expects to have about 75 new employees. She said the openings are in customer service technical support positions. Pay starts at $10.50 an hour during training and increases to $12 an hour after workers complete training. Employees also are eligible for benefits after 30 days.

Ibex was the sixth-largest private employer in Central Oregon, according to Economic Development for Central Oregon’s most recent survey, wrote Roger Lee, EDCO executive director, in an email.

“The news about the Ibex expansion is both exciting and very significant for the region,” Lee wrote.

Lee said EDCO worked with a company called Sky Alland and Old Mill District developer William Smith Properties in 1999 to establish a call center in the building, which was originally constructed for Tektronix. About the time the company expanded to Bend in 2000, the name changed to iSky.

Since then, the company has undergone three name changes. As of February it became Ibex Global. Over the years, it has handled customer service phone work for a variety of businesses, including American Express, BMW, Honda, Owens Corning and Sotheby’s. In 2009, TRG representatives said the company was handling product and technical support for Apple Inc., according to The Bulletin’s archives.

Call centers in Deschutes County shed about 670 jobs between 2008 and 2012, Damon Runberg, regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department, wrote in an email. T-Mobile laid off more than 350 employees when it closed its Redmond call center in June 2012, according to the newspaper archives.

But last year, he said, call centers in the county showed strong growth, adding back nearly 150 of those lost jobs. If Ibex added 400 workers, he said, the industry as a whole would account for about 2 percent of total nonfarm employment in Deschutes County.

“It’s likely that many of the call center workers who lost a job in the recession either found a new call center job or found work in another industry,” he wrote in an email. “However, there are still potentially hundreds of experienced call center workers who are either unemployed or underemployed. Ibex’s plan to expand is great news for those still looking for … work.”

Ibex has not been the only call center hiring. Consumer Cellular, which took over the Redmond call center vacated by T-Mobile, said earlier this year that it planned to hire 200 employees, bringing its workforce to about 600.

Ibex offers an entry-level job with training in consumer electronics, said Campbell.

“It can be viewed as a stepping stone for young people looking to establish a career, either at Ibex or another company,” he wrote in an email. “We also hire people who have been laid off from manufacturing or other declining industries and help them re-establish themselves.”

Darren Cooper, who came from the trucking and manufacturing industry, just celebrated his two-year anniversary as a telephone technical support specialist for Ibex.

“The employment market was pretty bad, and I decided to take a chance,” he said. “As a male in my mid-40s, I found myself working in an environment I had never been in before, one that was very diverse and full of opportunities.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, rrees@bendbulletin.com