By David Benda, Redding Record Searchlight, November 2013
A Washington, D.C. based market research company whose clients include political campaigns, consumer organizations and federal and state agencies will open a call center in Redding.
American Directions Group has signed a lease for he former Butte Community Bank building in the Four Corners shopping center at Churn Creek and Cypress, Haedrich & Co. announced this week.
Bob Schleifer, American Directions Group chief operating officer, said the company looked at 162 other cities before choosing Redding for its “accent neutrality,” high unemployment rate and lack of other call centers in the area.
Most of the jobs in Redding will be part time, Schleifer said. The call center could employ from 40 to 300 people at any one time because of the seasonal nature of the business. Starting wages will be $8 an hour, he said.
“The higher producers will move up the pay scale quicker,” Schleifer said.
The company will occupy 6,000 square feet in the 2951 Churn Creek Road building, which housed two other call centers in the late 1990s and early 2000s before it was split. The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop today occupies the other
half of the building.
This will be American Directions Group largest call center and first in California. The company also has call centers in Spokane, WA, El Paso, TX and Lakeland, FL.
American Directions Group has signed a five-year lease in Redding and hopes to be fully operational by late January.
“We’d don’t like to move,” Schleifer said. “We have been in our Florida office 10 years and have been in the Spokane office 13 years.” The El Paso call center opened last year.
Schleifer said the busy seasons are fall and winter because of elections.
“People always want to know what other people think,” Schleifer said. “You name it, we have asked some crazy questions.”
Like what kind of toilet paper do you use and do you fold it or crinkle it – “Seriously, we have asked that,” Schleifer said.
The call center in Redding will be an afternoon and evening operation.
“We start dialing nationwide at 2 p.m. local time and go until 9,” Schleifer said.
Schleifer said market research firms like American Directions Group are exempt from the National Do Not Call Registry so the regulation hasn’t affected business.
“It just increases the number of complaints,” he said.
“People think we need to comply and we have to train our people on he phone” to explain the exemption.
On a slow night, American Directions Group will make 250,000 calls across the company and roughly 1 million calls on a busy night, Schleifer said. He declined to say how many calls a night employees in Redding will make.
Years ago, the 2951 Churn Creek Road building was a Sprouse Reitz.
In the late 1999, ACI Telecentrics Inc. opened a call center there that employed up to 150 before it closed in 2003. NationsMortgage then operated a call center in the location for a short time.
ACI’s arrival helped spur an effort by the city of Redding to attract more call centers. The city at one point approved a $1.3 million incentive package that included discounts on developer fees and utility bills.
The city also offers incentives tied to jobs and wages through its economic development program.
Pat Keener, the city’s economic development liaison, said American Directions Group has not contacted him for help.
“We have not offered them any incentives,” Keener said.
However, Keener said he did work with Haedrich & Co. to help identify locations for American Directions Group.