Utah County will get "a tremendous economic shot in the arm" with the new Sears and Roebuck Co. Telecatalog Center coming to Provo, Gov. Norm Bangerter said Friday.
"Utah County is really on the move," he said. "Businesses are being created and expanding. Things are on the upswing. I'm gratified to see a company like Sears choose Utah as a location. They will be pleased with their decision to locate in Utah."Bangerter's comments came after a press conference announcement by Sears officials that Provo's telephone-catalog center will be part of a network of similar facilities in Roanoke, Va.; San Antonio, Texas; Greensboro, N.C.; Mobile, Ala.; and Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Provo center, a 50,000 square-foot facility, will be located at East Bay Business Center.
Provo was one of 170 cities in the Western United States being considered as possible sites for the center, said Jim Rohrer, national manager of Sears Telecatalog Centers.
Provo was chosen over other communities, including Salt Lake City, because "it was a smaller community that seemed a little tighter knit," he said. "We felt like maybe it would do a little better here."
Raylene Ireland, executive assistant to Mayor Joe Jenkins, read a prepared statement by the vacationing mayor, saying, "It is a very prestigious situation for Provo City to be paired with the Sears Corporation in a major business venture. There is a strength and optimism in this city that will make us an able partner."
Sears plans to open the Provo center March 21. They will employ 800 people and up to 1,600 during peak hours. Hiring will begin around Feb. 20.
"No experience is necessary, we just want to hire nice people," Rohrer said. "We realize that we aren't the only people in the catalog business. If we want to continue to grow, we need to set ourselves apart from the others. We have decided that being the best in terms of customer service is the way to do that."
The company will also be looking to hire people who desire shorter work periods - people like students, homemakers and retirees, he said. Employees can basically choose their own three-, four- or five-hour shift that best fits in their schedule.
Employees will be paid competitive wages with benefit packages available, he said. If employees do not need benefits, that amount will fold into their starting pay.
"The opening of the Sears catalog center will bring a major change in Provo's part-time employment opportunities," Jenkins said. "The center will not only offer very attractive part-time wages but will also feature flexible hours and flexible benefits."
A side benefit to the center is that it will free up part-time employment for high school-age youth that was previously taken by college students, he said.
The center will be open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week. While the Provo center is closed, calls will be routed to another center so customers have services available 24 hours.
All telephone orders from catalog customers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii will come to the center. A new computerized ordering system, called ACES (Advanced Catalog Entry System), will provide customers with timely merchandise in-stock information when they place an order, Rohrer said.
"The center is an important step in a national program to provide more convenient service to Sears catalog customers who order merchandise by telephone.
"Provo will be a perfect location for us. It will give us great accessibility to the considerable population of homemakers, retirees and college students that we are seeking."
Gary Golightly, Provo City economic development director, said, "We are committed to Sears and will live up to their expectations. This Provo Telecatolog Center will be the best and biggest center in the U.S. Thank you Sears for your great decision."