Sykes adding 200 jobs at Fort Smith call center

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,317 views 

Sykes Enterprises is adding 200 jobs to its Fort Smith call center, which should boost total employment to near 700 jobs, the Tampa, Fla-based company announced Thursday (Feb. 28). Sykes opened the Fort Smith call center in early 2011.

“Since the start of locating operations in Fort Smith, the city and the Chamber of Commerce have been tremendously supportive of our investments and business. Their support and the high quality of the workforce here in the area provide our company opportunities for continued growth and ensure the highest service possible to our clients,” Abbie Littleton, site director for Sykes Fort Smith, noted in the press release.

The company operates 79 call centers in 21 countries, with 28 of those in the U.S., and 23 in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Sykes has more than 55,000 employees worldwide, including around 4,900 at-home customer engagement agents handling technical and customer support inquiries, 6,300 in management, administration, information technology, finance, sales and marketing roles, 25 in enterprise support services and 100 in fulfillment.

Sykes was primarily recruited to Fort Smith by FSM Redevelopment Partners, the company that purchased the more than 35-acre former Phoenix Village mall property in January 2009. Lance Beaty, a partner in FSM Redevelopment, said in January 2011 that FSM Redevelopment would invest about $2 million in interior improvement costs to the 40,000 square feet that once housed Home World. At the time, Beaty said Sykes intended to employ up to 600 with annual payroll estimated between $10 million and $12 million. FSM Redevelopment expanded the Sykes facility in 2013 with an additional 20,000 square feet.

Beaty said he finds it hard to believe it has been almost 10 years since Sykes first opened in Fort Smith.

“They’ve been a consistent, positive impact on the community. They occupy about 60,000 square feet in that location, and based on my knowledge, they have the capacity to add those (200) jobs without any work on our part,” Beaty told Talk Business & Politics.

Littleton said in the press release that “economic stability and potential talent pool of our local workforce” are reasons Sykes added the jobs in Fort Smith.

“This announcement underscores that Fort Smith is a great city from which to run a business and it is a testament to Fort Smith’s diverse economy,” Tim Allen, president and CEO Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in the statement. “This announcement is not only great news for Sykes, but for Fort Smith and the many people who will enjoy employment as a result of this continued growth.”

Fort Smith metro employment has declined in recent years. The number of employed in December was an estimated 112,121, down from 113,141 in December 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The employment is down 13,305 jobs from peak employment of 125,426 in June 2006, a drop of 10.6%.

Sykes posted 2018 net income of $48.926 million, up 51.8% compared to $32.216 million in 2017. Total revenue for the year was $1.625 billion, ahead of the $1.586 billion in 2017. Sykes shares (NYSE: SYKE) closed Thursday at $29.59, up 7 cents. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from $31.54 to $22.67.