More than 300 full-time jobs to be created

The Sarnia Observer (January 15, 2014) -- Montreal-based Atelka said Wednesday it plans to hire more than 300 full-time customer service agents for a call centre its opening in March at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.

"This announcement is great news for both Atelka and for Sarnia," company CEO George Karam said.

He said the company was attracted to Sarnia as the site for its eighth contact centre in Canada by the location at the research park, as well as the community's "good, experienced workforce."

Karam said he plans to be in Sarnia to greet job seekers when the company holds a job fair at the research park Jan. 31, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Feb. 1., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"We will be conducting interviews on site, and answering any questions they have."

Job candidates are being encouraged to attend with a resum, even if they don't have call centre experience, he said.

"If they have any customer service experience, and good communication skills, they are welcome to apply, too."

Applications may also be submitted online at

Karam said the company has a tight schedule to have the centre up and operating, and its first employee training classes are scheduled for early March.

"Probably, by April, May, we will be at full capacity," Karam said. "We're going to be very aggressive in our recruiting."

The Sarnia centre will provide English language customer services for a large Canadian company, Karam said.

"They basically will be answering calls to help clients with different aspects of customer service, from billing, to questions about invoices, questions about services, and so on."

Wage levels for the Sarnia centre haven't been finalized yet, but will be competitive, he said.

Sarnia will be Atelka's second Ontario location. It's also has a site in Cornwall.

"Being in good places like Sarnia, where the workforce has a experience in customer service, is definitely an advantage to our clients," Karam said.

Karam estimated the Sarnia workforce will include 25 to 30 supervisory and support jobs.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley gave credit for Wednesday's announcement to George Mallay, general manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, and Tom Strifler, executive director of the research park.

"There was just this determination after NCO left," Bradley said.

That company closed its Sarnia call centre in 2012, putting 500 people out of work and left the research park without one of its major tenants.

The research park on Modeland road, owned by Lambton County through a community development corporation, said Atelka has signed a 10-year lease for up to 28,000 square feet of office space, as of March 1.

That will take the research park to 87% occupancy, Bradley said.

"We were below 70% just a year ago, after we lost NCO."

Bradley said Atelka's announcement is a good way for the community to start 2014.

"With the Nova announcement, with Shell investing money and BioAmber under construction," he added, "it helps strength the foundation of the economy."

Atelka was founded in 2003 by two Montreal entrepreneurs and employs more than 2,000 people at sites in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

- Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer