FROM ANTONIO SANCHEZ | OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
Safelite AutoGlass, a nationwide provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, will open a customer contact center in the former Sprint building in Enchanted Hills, creating more than 900 jobs.
Gov. Susana Martinez and Mayor Gregg Hull made the announcement Thursday afternoon at City Hall.
The company plans open houses for prospective employees in September and to begin hiring in the last quarter of the year. The center will open in early January.
Martinez said thanks to the state’s business incentives, the deal with Safelite “was a no-brainer.”
“Safelite CEO Tom Feeney told me just the other day how blown away he was of the work force, by how compassionate and welcoming and hardworking New Mexicans are,” she said. “Now, those are New Mexican values.”
Matt Geisel, City of Rio Rancho economic development and business relations manager, said the center will have an estimated annual $22.5 million payroll. He said Safelite is expected to reach its goal of 900 employees within four years.
In addition to the full-time employees, Safelite will consider adding additional part-time positions, he said.
Geisel said the deal was managed with two employees with CBRE, a commercial business real estate organization, and involved talks with Safelite between Eric CdeBaca, vice president of business development with New Mexico Partnership, and himself.
Safelite will receive $3 million in state LEDA funds, Geisel said, as well as pursue additional funds through the state’s job training incentive program and rapid workforce development fund.
Brian O’Mara, Safelite AutoGlass vice president of client service delivery, said the company anticipates outgrowing the Sprint site in three years. The Sprint call center closed in February.
The news comes amid concerns about reductions at Intel, but on the heels of the announcement earlier this month that California-based PCM will open a call and sales center in the Hewlett-Packard building in City Center that will eventually employ 224 people.
Safelite AutoGlass, which is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, employs more than 12,000 people across the United States, according to the company’s website.
After the announcement, Hull said Rio Rancho’s quality of living was a factor in Safelite’s decision.
“Quality workforce, available infrastructure and a high level of quality life — when I talk about quality of life, looking at the school systems, looking at the public safety rating, all of these things are contributing factors when a company makes a decision to move into a community,” Hull said. “I think all of that added together gives a strong recipe for success.”