BANGOR, Maine — Online home furnishings retail giant Wayfair started training its first group of employees this week at its new Bangor call center.
The company officially took over occupancy of the city-owned building at the corner of Maine Avenue and Godfrey Boulevard on Wednesday. Wayfair expects to ultimately hire 450 people to work out of the Bangor location, and it is still accepting applications.
On Friday, about 70 Wayfair workers learned the ins and outs of the computer and call systems. They sat behind computers with dual monitors in one of the facility’s training rooms. The company sent staffers from facilities in Utah and Texas to help prepare the newcomers.
Peter Boudreaux, director of sales and service for the new Bangor center, said more groups of trainees will be brought in after this one finishes its initial training and goes out to work on the main floor. Boudreaux started working for Wayfair about two months ago after leading the North American operations team for Uber. He also has worked for Amazon.
Kim Perreault, 31, of Kenduskeag was among the trainees. She is a Maine native but moved away for about a decade. She said she has worked in several call centers in the past.
“I find it really comfortable in places like this,” she said. “I can’t wait for the opportunities I’ll have here.”
The 30,000-square-foot building used to be home to an L.L. Bean call center. L.L. Bean moved out at the end of March to make way for Wayfair. The iconic Maine company had announced plans two years ago to close the call center in order to reduce its facilities’ overhead costs.
“A majority of the people we’ve hired to this point used to work here for L.L. Bean,” Boudreaux said.
One of those hires is Kirk Thompson, 49, who worked as a customer service representative for L.L Bean for more than 10 years. L.L. Bean offered him the chance to work from home, but he turned it down.
“It just didn’t work for me, I like being around people,” Thompson said.
He’ll be around a lot of people, with work stations set up for about 350 employees in the service center.
The company declined to reveal how many employees it had hired to this point, but Boudreaux said they were “on track” with their goals.
Before Wayfair started to move in, the city invested $1 million in the facility, replacing the roof and aging sewer pipes under the building, as well as repairing the parking lot.
Wayfair is making investments of its own, repainting, replacing the floor, updating the look, and installing its own equipment, including about 350 work spaces. The renovated call center will feature a break room with free snacks for employees, a ping pong table and video game system to help them unwind during breaks. Boudreaux said construction should wrap up by the end of the month.
Under the terms of its seven-year lease, Wayfair will pay the city $16,250 per month in rent, increasing to $17,725 after 60 months. The lease includes two options for five-year extensions.
In addition to accepting applications for customer service positions, Wayfair is looking for people who are bilingual in English and French to help French-Canadian customers, and others to fill management positions. Starting pay for customer service positions is $14 per hour, Boudreaux said. The job comes with benefits, including health insurance, dental, a 401k and more.
For more information, visit http://www.wayfair.com/careers.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.