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Thunder Bay will have almost 200 more people looking for work after StarTek announced Wednesday it will close its doors at the end of March.
By March 31, all 192 employees will be let go and the company’s Victoriaville Centre-based facility will cease operations. StarTek director Susan Padley said the news came as a surprise to her and her staff.
"We were all in shock for a bit and then we got past that and realized we have to rely on each other," Padley said. "No one’s happy about it… it was a tough, tough day but they’re tough people."
Padley said the reason for the closure is a lack of clients at the contact centre. While Padley couldn’t say much about what the centre does specifically for clients, she said they offer inbound customer service.
"It’s all client driven and we won’t have the work at the and of March therefore we can’t do business here."
The business let go 20 probationary positions Wednesday while the remaining positions, almost all full-time, will face reduced hours.
Padley hopes employees can benefit from the company’s offer to help with interviewing skills and resume building so they will have new jobs before the centre closes.
Padley said she’s proud of her employees. Some have been with the company since it opened in Thunder Bay four years ago.
"It’s our second family here. Work is your second family so our family is going through quite the ordeal today," Padley said. "It’s just an unfortunate business decision."
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Harold Wilson said he’s disappointed to see such a large chamber member like Startek leave the city. News of the closure caught him by surprise as well Wilson said.
"It is unfortunate, we just got the news like everybody else did," said Wilson. "It is something that is happening quite a lot right now (around Ontario)."
Wilson hopes that the large newly-renovated space that StarTek is leaving will attract other businesses to the city.
"I’m quite positive that we can have a phoenix rise from the ashes," Wilson said. "I’m really hopeful that these employees in the short term can find something else but that it does provide an opportunity for a possibility to attract another contact centre or more."
StarTek Inc is a publicly traded company based in Denver. They have 20 centres in North America, Costa Rica and the Philippines.
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