The Globalization of Cagayan de Oro’s newest call center
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Two homegrown Pinoys, A Fil-Am who traces his roots to this city and nearby Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, his two Pakistani-American friends, an Indian Business Manager based in New Delhi and clients in the US, United Kingdom and Australia lend a truly global flavor to the newest call center in this Next Wave City for Pinoy BPOs.
FBC Solutions Corp. celebrated its first anniversary January 28th, a brainchild of cousins Niño Mae V. Duran and Nathan John V. Yap and family friend Noelle Noreen A. Juarez. Far-fetched as it seems, the venture arose from a confluence of unlikely events: Nathan visited Cagayan de Oro from his hometown in Houston, Texas in 2007 with two Pakistani-American friends who wanted to import copper concentrates from Mati for export to China.
However, when that fell through, the partners instead turned to exporting local delicacies from Iligan City to a growing Pasalubong market in the US thru FBC Worldwide, LLC, an import-export firm based in Houston and registered under US Laws.
Then, when Ms. Juarez’s in-laws began having second thoughts about continuing their CU Call Center in October, 2010, the local partners thought it a great idea to help the call center agents keep their jobs through a new venture that would also address the need for some of Mr. Yap’s American friends for offshore customer services.
When the CU Call Center finally closed down in December, 2010, FBC Solutions was already ready to accommodate its former employees and clients barely a month later.
Today, FBC has its first call center in Gusa just opposite the CU Medical City and inaugurated a new annex at the site of the former CU Call Center.
“FBC’s niche is to be the default call center and outsourcer for small businesses,” noted Mr. Yap, FBC CEO. “There is a huge gap in the market serving this demographic — large centers don’t want to deal with small projects, and most smaller centers are not adequately funded nor do they have the infrastructure required to minimize downtime.”
Its clients are mostly small to medium sized companies for which it provides customer inbound services such as virtual assistant, live chat (voice/non-voice) and sales (investments, insurance), surveys, appointment setting, lead generation for outbound services.
“Our bread and butter is supporting entrepreneurs scale and grow their businesses, creating much-needed jobs both in the Philippines and the United States in the process,” Mr. Yap adds.
The firm’s business manager Ron Dutta, is an Indian national charged with recruiting new business for the company. He used to work for a Canadian call center but opted out when he started his own consultancy business. Today, he is a full-time employee of FBC Solutions working online from his base in New Delhi, India.
And top this: young as the firm is, it has already helped set up a separate company named E-confluence, a partner firm owned by some former CU Call Center employees which provides business, medicine and legal transcription services to clients in the US and Australia.
This, despite the young firm’s initial difficulties in recruiting call center agents due to intense competition from local and Cebu-based call centers. Besides FBC Solutions, there are four other call centers based in Cagayan de Oro, two in Iligan and one start-up in Bukidnon.
Just last week, the company had difficulty processing all the walk-in applicants who wanted to join them.
“That’s because we always tell our staff they will grow with, and not for the company,” said Mr. Duran, the firm’s managing director for Asia. “Provided our employee is qualified for a promotion, he will always get it because we prioritize internal over external recruitment. We believe that starting with the right culture and environment has helped us keep our employee turnover quite low.”
Ms. Juarez, the firm’s vice president for operations, believes management style also plays its part. “We manage our operations hands-on and have a 1:12 team leader/member ratio unlike other call centers where the usual ratio is 1:20. So our relationships with our employees are on a personal basis, one-on-one, and we encourage them to think of their workplace as their second home.”
Besides offering higher salaries than other local call centers, FBS also offers allowances for communications and transportation, free life insurance for regulars, and free juice, water and coffee for everyone.
The FBC (for Filipino Buying Corp) group of companies so far include FBC Worldwide, FBC Solutions Corp. and FBC Trust Corp.