Tech support center eager to open downtown

The owners of the Des Moines-based company set to open in the Max Building said although their company fields phone traffic, it is not a call center in connotative sense of the phrase.

“We look at our self as a tech outsourcing company, a specialized IT help desk,” said Rick Grewell, president of Caleris.

Caleris does not do telemarketing or even make outbound calls, he added.

With the approval of the Marshalltown City Council, Caleris is set to open its operation in Marshalltown within the next week. The company has four other locations in Iowa, including centers in Newton and Johnston.

Caleris is an inbound technical support center that provides customer service to help companies troubleshoot problems with modems, Wi-Fi routers and DSL connections.

Sheldon Ohringer, CEO of Caleris, said Caleris aims to bring back some of the friendliness of tech support by highlighting what Iowa is known for best: hard work.

“What we are looking for is a progressive community,” he said. “We really believed there is a niche we could fill by having a good work ethic.”

Caleris’s motto is “outsource to Iowa, not India.”

Now that the council has approved the agreement with the company and a $95,000 loan to install 25 work stations and a backup generator, Caleris is looking to hit the ground running.

The center will provide 50 jobs upon its opening, but Ohringer and Grewell said the company could easily be at capacity – about 100 employees – within four months. Starting pay is $11.50 an hour with the median pay around $14.50 an hour. The company requires employees have a high school diploma or GED but is mainly looking for people with a friendly demeanor and good communication skills. Bilingual employees are in high demand. All the training is on the job.

“Our employees are our asset,” Grewell said. “The community is very important to us. They support us. We try to support them.”

Caleris will have a booth at the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce’s job fair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the Fisher Community Center, 709 S. Center St. The company is looking to start hiring within a week of the job fair.

Tom Deimerly, president of Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee (MEDIC), said Caleris was a good match for Marshalltown because of the nature of the jobs.

The company is also committed to working with area businesses, which he said is always a plus. The roughly $2.9 million in salaries the company will generate will have a trickle-down effect, injecting money into the economy.

Grewell said several employees at the Newton center are from Marshalltown and will likely transfer to the Marshalltown office when it is up and running.