2010-02-24 / Front Page

Call center may mean 70 jobs

by CAROL SEIFFERLEIN, features editor

Jim Rutkowski Jim Rutkowski An Oakland County businessman is expanding into Sanilac County and plans to bring up to 70 jobs to Port Sanilac this spring.

Last week the Sanilac Economic Alliance approved a $125,000 Revolving Loan Fund loan to Excell Group to open a call center in the village. The next step is for the county commissioners to authorize the loan.

SEA Executive Board Co- Chairman and Commissioner Jamie Daws planned to put the loan on the commission’s Feb. 23 agenda.

Brann will use the loan to pay for equipment and furniture, and to help manage initial cash flow.

Excell CEO L. William Brann said the company plans to hire 50-70 people over the next 90 days for their Port Sanilac operation, but that he is still in negotiations to lease building space.

“I feel this will be a great opportunity not only for Port Sanilac, but for the county. It begins a great possibility for expansion with further call centers,” stated SEA Director Jim Rutkowski.

This will be the first call center for Brann’s human resources company, but his son’s sister company has hired over 100 people in the past two years for call centers in Caro and Cass City, and also owns one in Coldwater. Brann started his business in Lathrup Village, which is his headquarters.

The call center will be a customer service contact center for various companies across the nation, Brann stated. He said big companies are starting to bring their call centers back to the United States because it is most cost-effective to have the calls handled correctly and in a more timely manner by people who speak the same language.

He contracts with companies such as hospitals, phone companies and insurance companies, which train a team of his employees to handle their customer service using on-line data, he explained.

Why did he bring his business to Sanilac County?

“I love the work force here, they have a great work ethic. They are excited to have jobs so the turnover is lower,” Brann said. He must pay to train new employees after the ones trained by his customers quit.

“The quality of workers is better than down state. I chose Port Sanilac because of the people,” despite being courted by other states, he added.

Brann emphasized that a big attraction for any company looking to open or expand is an economic development organization that is prepared to work with employers.

“Jim (Rutkowski) has been outstanding. He worked very hard to attract us...It is because of Jim that we are here,” he stated.

Brann said he has been working on this project for a year trying to raise funds to expand because banks are not making loans to small businesses.

“There were a lot of road blocks before I met Jim,” Brann said, explained that Rutkowski told him about the state-backed revolving loan fund Brann could use to expand his business.

“I applaud Sanilac County for doing this. There will be more expansions in Sanilac County,” he added.

It wasn’t just the financial assistance that impressed Brann.

“He put me in his car and drove me around the county. He made me feel welcome... He packaged it and sold it. You do not get that in Metro Detroit. He can use me as a story for other employers.”

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