Former head of company that shuttered Brunswick operations plans to open new call center

Heather Blease, chief executive officer and founder of EnvisioNet, talks with Steven Levesque, Maine commissioner of Economic and Community Development, after announcing plans for an Internet support center in Orono in 2000.
Cy Jariz Cyr | BDN
Heather Blease, chief executive officer and founder of EnvisioNet, talks with Steven Levesque, Maine commissioner of Economic and Community Development, after announcing plans for an Internet support center in Orono in 2000.
By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff
Posted March 14, 2013, at 7:26 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — The former CEO of Brunswick-based EnvisioNet, plans to bring a call center — and 80 to 100 jobs — to the former Brunswick Naval Air Station by the end of May.

Heather Blease, former head of the company once touted by former Gov. and now-U.S. Sen. Angus King as “probably the greatest entrepreneurial success story in recent Maine history” just a year before it filed for bankruptcy, is now CEO of SaviLinx.

SaviLinx will provide “business process outsourcing solutions focusing on customer contact, technical support and help desk services,” according to a release from the company.

Companies have begun to move outsourced business processing services back to the United States, and “SaviLinx is poised to capture a share of this emerging market,” Blease said in a statement.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, confirmed that Blease will open the call center in building 250, the former site of the Navy’s base headquarters.

Levesque said he expects 50 jobs will be filled by the time the company opens in May.

From 1995 to 2001, Blease was CEO of EnvisioNet, which provided customer service and tech support for such companies as Dell Computer Corp. and Microsoft Corp., The New York Times reported.

At one point, the company employed 2,200 people and reported annual revenues of more than $30 million.

In 1999, Blease was named economic developer of the year by the Maine Development Foundation.

But in May 2001, EnvisioNet eliminated 700 jobs after it lost a contract with Microsoft, and closed its Brunswick headquarters. The company subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In August of that year, Blease stepped aside after EnvisioNet was purchased by Microdyne Outsourcing Inc. of Torrance, Calif., for $10.7 million.

Levesque said he’s confident of Blease’s experience in running a call center — one of the industries targeted for redevelopment by the MRRA.

He said he’s also familiar with EnvisioNet, having served as commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development when the company was in business.

Levesque said EnvisioNet failed because it lost the Microsoft account to an overseas company and “It wasn’t based on mismanagement.”

“We reviewed [Savi’s] business plan,” he said. “Obviously, having a company that has done it before is a lot less risky. Every business has risks, and not every business is going to succeed. But Heather knows how to create jobs, and she knows the business.”

Calls to Blease on Thursday were not immediately returned.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/14/business/former-ceo-of-company-that-filed-for-bankruptcy-to-open-call-center-at-brunswick-landing/ printed on July 29, 2014