Business Feature: Call center changing location

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks American Medical Alert Corp. Operations Manager Nichelle Davidson oversees an operator training session Monday afternoon with Christina Ortiz, left, and Omar Molette.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

It’s easy to see how American Medical Alert Corp. would get missed in the shuffle of Clovis businesses. It’s currently borrowing office space, and nobody in Clovis would have a reason to use its services.

But the call center was a business opportunity the city couldn’t miss, and its planned growth only reinforces the notion.

With 36 employees housed in the upstairs of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, the local American Medical Alert branch is primarily an answering service for doctor’s offices in New York.

It is one of nine in-bound call centers across the country for American Medical Alert, which was named in the October issue of Forbes magazine as No. 129 in its list of the 200 best small companies.

The New York-based company also provides health care support services including personal emergency response systems, emergency response monitoring, electronic medication reminder devices and disease management monitoring appliances.

The Clovis Industrial Development Corp. saw American Medical Alert as a natural partner, and Executive Director Chase Gentry figured it was worth giving the business 3,000 square feet of temporary office space and utilities to help it grow into the community.

“We acquired the building (at 105 Grand Ave.) so it could be a business incubator,” Gentry said. “It’s been a very easy partnership. They’re very low maintenance.”

The partnership has helped the call center get off the ground in Clovis while it has sought a bigger location to operate. Leah Jackson, the director of service provision, said the incubator probably gave the call center a head start of a few months. Jackson added company officials have been pleased with the Clovis location’s progress so far.

“For us, it’s been phenomenal,” Jackson said. “We’ve been able to get our staff going, start the training, tweak our network to make sure everything is ready to go.”

The business is looking to increase its employee base five-fold as it takes new residence in the Hilltop Plaza, in 10,000 square feet that used to be part of the now closed Ben Franklin crafts store.

“That will be where our permanent location will be,” Jackson said. “We’re hoping to have 150 operators within the next 18 months.”

The progress will be gradual, as Jackson doesn’t expect to hire more than 10 people in any given month. But she said the business is optimistic to move to its permanent location, as it’s maxed out the incubator area the CIDC granted it.

“We’re thrilled,” Jackson said. “We can’t wait.”