Service Zone still growing
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2002
An economic development project that is an example of leaders from throughout the county coming together has put people to work and is providing job diversification.
"Service Zone is the fruition of two years of work," said Greg White, county commission chairman. "Several of us visited Ada, Okla., in the summer of 2000 to meet with another company, Sykes, to see their facility there and discuss with them locating an office in Covington County."
That initial visit lead to a contact with a different company, Service Zone, which provided the same type services as Sykes. Service Zone provides inbound telephone support for Fortune 500 companies, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
"Over time, the Service Zone need came to our attention, and they were on a faster track than Sykes," White said. "They had the same needs, but put less demands on local government.
So, we changed gears and attracted Service Zone."
In September the company was in the process of hiring and training employees at its facility located in Sanford. At that time there were already about 60 people at work, and company officials said they hope to eventually have 600 employees at the facility.
Al Mahnke, vice president of Service Zone, is pleased with how things are going at the Covington County facility.
"It's going well," he said. "We are settling in finally. We've got quite a few employees working and we are doing a lot of training."
Jobs and training for employees, White said, are economic development goals.
"Service Zone gives us diversification and it will help attract and employ some of our younger people," White said. "They will help us keep some of our younger citizens in Covington County."
There are still employment opportunities available at Service Zone, and Mahnke said, there will be more in the future.
"We still have jobs available and we are still having people stop in and fill out applications," he said. "We definitely want to fill up all the seats in the building and there are 600 of them. We don't exactly how quickly or when that will happen."
In addition to the employment opportunities it provides, Service Zone also brings people to this area.
"They will bring in customers who tend to be new visitors to this area," White said. "This gives us a chance to make a positive impression on them and possibly attract them to our area."
Another benefit of the Service Zone project is that it helped spotlight the need for improvements in technological infrastructure.
"The communication needs of Service Zone, and their volume of communication traffic, helps justify bringing advanced communication and high tech services to this area that might otherwise be years coming," White said.
Bringing Service Zone to Covington County was a joint effort that involved all of the communities in the county and leaders of those communities.
"This is a great example of the county working across city lines to benefit the entire county," White said. "Economic development in the future will need to be approached this way. We will even be supporting efforts across county and state lines in order to benefit the citizens in Covington County."
Mahnke said he will be working at Service Zone's Covington County location for a while and he is enjoying being here.
It's been a lot fun," he said.
To learn more about Service Zone and job opportunities at the Andalusia facility, the company's website, servicezone.com, has jobs descriptions and information about the company.