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Call center plans expansion in Colorado Springs

By: WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com
November 20, 2013 Updated: November 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm
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StarTek Inc., a Denver-based call center operator, announced plans Wednesday to expand its health division into a northwest Colorado Springs building that one company official said could eventually accommodate "hundreds" of employees.

StarTek came to Colorado Springs in July by acquiring RNs on Call, a Springs-based service that employs 30 nurses to take after-hours patient calls for about 1,000 physician offices, medical clinics and other medical offices.

The company plans to move that operation next year to the larger space at 4455 ArrowsWest Drive, and expand it to take calls from insurers, medical providers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers, said Rosemary Hanratty, StarTek's marketing director. While the new offices have room for hundreds of employees, she could not say exactly how many people would be hired or on what schedule.

StarTek has leased 28,000 square feet in the ArrowsWest Drive building, which previously housed a call center for Wells Fargo & Co.'s mortgage operations. RNs on Call currently operates in a 1,800-square-foot office in the Satellite Hotel.

The company looked at five other locations in northern Colorado Springs in its hunt for offices to house its expanded call center, said David White, chief business development officer for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

"Colorado Springs is ideal for expanding our current healthcare services," StarTek CEO Chad Carlson said Wednesday in a press release on the move. "In addition to our existing operations, the community has an educated, experienced workforce and we have found the city to be very welcoming."

StarTek's health division handles enrollment, after-hours care, admissions and pre-authorization for medical services; remote monitoring of patients; sales; technical support; and management of incoming orders, according to its website.

StarTek now takes calls for healthcare clients at its 14 call centers in Denver, Greeley, Grand Junction, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras and the Philippines, but it's been seeking another location where it could expand its health care operations, Hanratty said.

Joe Raso, CEO of the business alliance, said StarTek's announced fits in with the "continuing expansion" of the region's health sector, which is considered a "primary target" for the organization's business recruiting efforts. The nonprofit business group used a team of volunteers - headed by Lynne VanArsdale of the Colorado Business Group on Health, Lynne Jones of Colorado Springs Health Partners and Dirk Hobbs of Medical Voyce - to help persuade StarTek to expand in the Springs.

RNs on Call was started in 1997 by seven former Penrose-St. Francis Health Services nurses to answer patient calls for southern Colorado physician offices after hours, said Diana Lantz, a cofounder and now site director of StarTek's local operations. She and remaining co-founder LouAnne Benson put the company up for sale earlier this year through a broker, with plans to eventually retire, but they nearly took the business off the market before StarTek agreed to buy it.

StarTek started as StarPak, a small product packaging and fulfillment company whose clients later included corporate giants who became clients of its first call center in Greeley. The company lost $5.39 million, or 35 cents a share, on revenue totaling $167.8 million in the first three quarters of the year. Nearly three fourths of StarTek's revenue comes from cell phone giants AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA as well as cable giant Comcast Corp., according to a report the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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