WILTON — “When you have a problem with your credit card as Senator Collins described, you want a Mainer on the other end of the phone — you don’t want someone shifty from New Jersey,” quipped U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Barclaycard call center on Tuesday.

Poliquin, R-2nd District, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, and Barclaycard U.S. Chief Executive Officer Curt Hess were on hand to celebrate the completion of the four-month, $5 million renovation to the call center that will allow the credit card company to expand its workforce of 380 by another 100-150 jobs.

The Maine theme at the Wilmington, Delaware-based company’s call center was prominent both in the building’s decor and the remarks of the politicians and executives at Tuesday’s event, which celebrated an expansion of the call center that opened at the 128 Weld Road site in 2008.

Inside the call center, work spaces are lined with sound-absorbing walls to cut down on excess noise. Varying Maine motifs decorate work spaces, conference rooms and hallways. Photo montages of blueberries and whitetail deer are mounted beneath a running scape of mountains and rolling hills at the ceiling.

Some of the walls were built of white board material, and employees were encouraged to write and draw on them with dry erase markers.

One of the operation’s leads in customer care, Brian MacLeod was quick to point out the $5 million investment was not simply intended to make the building pretty. Besides aesthetics, upgrades were made in the technology and training equipment used, as well as heating and cooling systems and building security.

“We are providing customer care and fraud detection services for the Barclaycard U.S. portfolio,” MacLeod said. “We service a number of our premier partners including L.L. Bean, which is obviously a big one for us in the state of Maine. Our goal is to deliver world class service to our customers and protect their account and provide them the highest level of security.”

MacLeod said that much like its partner L.L. Bean, the service center operates around the clock year round. “This building does not close.We are always open.”

Asked if the community could keep up with company growth, MacLeod said, “What I’ve found in my time here is that our workforce in this area is wonderful.

“There’s a thirst and a hunger for good jobs in this community, and we’re proud to be able to provide that for one of the biggest banks in the world and in an area where we have a tremendous workforce.”

MacLeod pointed out that the basement level had been unfinished six months ago, a space affectionately referred to as the dungeon.

The space now boasts a full break room with complimentary coffee and a “micromarket” where employees can choose break items and pay via touch screen. Areas for playing table tennis or watching television line the walls for workers to spend a little down time.

Director of Business Strategy Doug Villone grew up in Monson and attended the University of Maine Farmington before taking a job with MBNA and then leaving eight years ago to join Barclaycard.

“As we were growing our business, we acquired a relationship with L.L. Bean and we opened a contact center here,” Villone said. The center opened with 40 employees in 2008 and grew to 150 by 2013, a growth that continued with the center’s success.

Villone said, “Having grown up here and knowing how important the jobs are here, it’s something I feel really wonderful about.” Villone said the Wilton center sees some of its highest customer engagement scores and employee engagement scores in the company.

“We’re really proud of being named one of the best places to work in Maine several years running, and there was no question about why we would want to invest here,” Villone said.

Collins, who toured the center, shaking hands and talking with workers about their time at Barclaycard, said she had her own personal story regarding the fraud protection Barclaycard offers.

She said she has a Barclay’s L.L. Bean card “and last year I got pick-pocketed in Washington and it was stolen along with another credit card. And before I even knew that it was stolen, I had a call from one of the people out there telling me, ‘Did you buy $200 worth of merchandise from Target in upper Marlboro, Maryland?’ I said no.’What about $60 worth of gas?’ I said I drive a Ford Focus — you couldn’t put $60 worth in that car.”

She said the company instantly put a freeze on the account, and she received her new card within a week.

“They even transferred my L.L. Bean points, which was very important.”

Collins said centers like the one in Wilton are important in combating fraud. “Barclay’s has been a real leader in helping seniors who are frequently targeted for financial scams,” she said.

When Collins later addressed the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, she recalled visiting the site when there were only 50 workers.

Collins said, “It doesn’t surprise me at all to know that this Wilton center ranks as the company’s top-rated service center. That’s a credit to Franklin County and brings distinction to our state.

“The hard work and dedication and skill of those who work today are creating the opportunity for so many others in the future.

“In addition to their commitment to excellence, Barclay’s, L.L. Bean and the people of the Wilton center share a commitment to serving others,” she said. “From mentoring students to supporting the food pantry and the homeless shelter, the employees here in Wilton have contributed more than 7,000 volunteer hours last year.”

Collins said the employees are outstanding ambassadors not only for Maine’s work ethic, but also for the “caring spirit of our people.”

Poliquin spoke to the crowd about his childhood in Oakland and Waterville and how at the time, the region was dotted with mills that are no longer in business.

“So when we have an opportunity to give rise to a new employer with 380 jobs, I just want to let you know how appreciative, how grateful we are,” he said.

He said Mainers are known for their hard work, integrity, honesty and customer service. He told Hess and Villone that the Maine delegation in Washington is “customer friendly” and will do “everything humanly possible to help you grow, keep the government off your back and let you folks become more successful and expand because then you will hire more of our Mainers.”

He told them that any time they pick up the phone, “we will answer that phone and we will bend over backwards to help you any way we can.”

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, represented by Board President Glenn Kapiloff and Executive Director Penny Meservier, presented Barclaycard with a plaque for “bolstering our economy, creating jobs and helping with the economic prosperity of the area.”

The ribbon-cutting took place on the front steps, with Poloquin holding the ribbon while Collins and Hess cut it with an oversized pair of scissors.

Douglas McIntire — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @CD_McIntire

 

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.