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Advance Auto to Close Roanoke Call Center

September 23, 2008
The announcement of the closing of a call center is never viewed as good news, especially when the jobs are being outsourced. If this outsourcing in staying in the U.S., it at least contributes to sustaining the domestic industry, even if morale within the effected company is diminished.

Advance Auto Parts has announced that it plans to close its call center in Roanoke. This move will eliminate 90 jobs as this retailer of automotive parts and accessories plans to outsource its call center operations to IBM (News - Alert).

The Roanoke Times reported that this closing comes just two months after the company announced it will ship 40 inventory and merchandising jobs from Roanoke to a new regional office in Minnesota.

This closing in due in large part to Advance’s efforts to advance and improve its customer service offerings without making significant investments in outdated systems in the Roanoke office. The company has noted that IBM will improve service, decrease dropped calls and increase productivity.

The Roanoke Times noted that Darren Jackson, Advance's chief executive officer and president, has said the company is in a "turnaround mode." Officials are working to improve the company's financial performance.

Jackson himself plans to work primarily from Advance Auto’s new sixth regional office in Minneapolis-St.Paul. The company claims that its corporate headquarters will remain in Roanoke where it was founded in 1932. 

This move is set to advance in stages, with the first stage of Advance call center jobs, many of them full-time positions, ending in December. The elimination process is expected to continue for six months beyond that. It is still unclear how many jobs will be lost in the first stage.

While the company is moving the majority of jobs to IBM, not all call center jobs will make the change. There are roughly 10 positions that require a higher level of expertise and internal company knowledge that will stay with Advance Auto.

Those losing their jobs may apply for other available positions within the company and Advance has stated its commitment to help employees find jobs at other local call centers.

Wachovia, Verizon (News - Alert), EchoStar and HSN still operate call centers in the Roanoke and New River valleys. The building that houses Advance Auto's call center, located near its headquarters at Crossroads Mall, is expected to remain open as its information technology department is based there, and there are no plans to make such a change.  

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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