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Stopping flow of Stream, Convergys to create jobs after taking command of Watertown call center

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Convergys Corp., which took over the Watertown call center previously owned by Stream Global Services this week, could have up to 1,000 employees by the end of the year, according to company executives.

The call center now has about 700 employees, but that number is expected to climb rapidly this year under the new company brand, Human Resources Manager Michael J. Hill said. The center has room for up to 1,000 employees, thanks to a $4.2 million expansion project finished in December.

“We’re optimistic the space is going to be filled soon,” Mr. Hill said. “We really believe that by the end of the year we’ll have 1,000 employees.”

New signs showcasing the Stream logo, installed last fall outside the Arsenal Street call center, will come down soon.

Convergys, the largest customer-management services provider in the country, took over the center Monday after closing on its $820 million purchase of Stream. Former Stream employees were given Convergys identification cards this week, and interior signage with the new brand was put up throughout the building. Exterior signs will be replaced this spring.

But no jarring changes are expected from the massive buyout by the Cincinnati-based company that was announced in January.

Executives at the Watertown center said they believe the switch to Convergys will expand its client portfolio and create jobs.

The move comes after Stream decided roughly a year ago to invest in a $4.2 million expansion project, which was completed in December.

The call center’s seating capacity grew from 700 to 1,000 employees, and it received new computers, an expanded office area, a renovated lobby and cafeteria and recreational lounges.

Hiring plans are already brewing at Convergys, Mr. Hill said. The company will expand its staff to 800 by the end of March, thanks to an expansion made by one of its clients in the telecommunications industry.

The center now provides customer service for five clients in the entertainment, financial services and telecommunications industries.

The former Stream center will offer a wider range of customer services under the Convergys brand, including technology support, end-to-end selling and debt collection, Mr. Hill said.

Employees also will have the option to work remotely from home, which was not offered by Stream.

“Based on our perspective, large clients are looking to work with a single customer service provider for all of their services locally,” Mr. Hill said. “And since now there’s no direct competition here locally, we’re the cream of the crop.”

Convergys Corp. reported that with the acquisition of Stream, it expects annual revenue to be about $3 billion. Convergys’s customers include AT&T, Comcast Corp. and DirecTV.

Clients it acquired from Stream include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Salesforce.com Inc., Western Digital Corp. and Nike Inc.

Convergys hired about 40,000 former Stream employees, bringing its total to about 125,000 nationwide.

Bryan M. Black, Watertown site director, said that Convergys will have the ability to aggressively pursue clients because of its wider range of services.

“If anything, I think this will help us going forward,” Mr. Black said. “We’re a stronger company, and that’s going to allow us to be more aggressive and recruit more clients. And our refreshed facility allows our sales employees to create a better impression with clients and will help us with the growth of the business.”

Mr. Black, who has been employed at Stream for nine years, said he believes the leadership structure of Convergys will operate with a mission similar to Stream’s. On Monday, the former chief operating officer of Stream, Brian J. Delaney, was named COO of Convergys.

Stream moved into the renovated former F.W. Woolworth department store in January 2003 after receiving a 10-year tax break from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

BY THE NUMBERS
Following its takeover of Stream Global Services, Convergys is expected to lead a hiring boom at the Watertown call center this year:
• Convergys will increase its staff size from 700 to about 800 employees by the end of March.
• By the end of the year, 200 more employees are expected to be hired.
• That growth was made possible by Stream’s $4.2 million expansion.
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