Agency still looking to hire additional 265 people

2013-09-17 18:05:11


A year after opening a call center in Yuma in a temporary location, Convey Health Solutions showed off its new home in the former Target that has been transformed into a beautiful work place for its hundreds of current employees and the hundreds more it is looking to hire.

But to describe Convey as a call center is a misnomer. It’s really an outsourced service center where licensed health insurance agents take phone calls from customers of nationwide health insurance companies, whether they’re enrolling, seeking help with an issue or an answer to a question.

“This was a significant win for the state,” said Keith Watkins, senior vice president for economic and rural development for the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Especially for a rural community like Yuma.”

And it’s significant for such local residents as 20-year-old Maxael Jauregui of Somerton who had been working at Taco Bell in the Foothills, a very long commute. He said a friend told him about Convey. An hour after applying online for a job, he got a phone call for an interview. Two weeks later he started the five-day Health Insurance U offered free by Convey to prepare him to take the state health insurance licensing examination. He successfully passed the exam on Friday and soon will startĀ training as an agent.

Asked what attracted him to Convey, Jauregui’s first answer was the pay, the second the warm, welcoming reception he received. It helped that he had some experience in customer service as a shift leader at Taco Bell so he knows the satisfaction of making someone happy.

Others have already found opportunities for advancement with the company. Dalillah Lagunas came in and just wanted a job. She started as a reception, worked her way up to executive assistant to site manager Jeff Martin and now is with human resources. Stephanie Burke was among the first to be hired as an advocate. With her outstanding phone skills, she soon was serving as a mentor to others, then a supervisor and was just named operations manager – all in one year.

Currently Convey has 450 employees in Yuma between the new facility at 725 W. 32nd St. and its original location at 3150 S. Winsor Ave., said Yvonne Daugherty, senior vice president of marketing for the Florida-based company.

“And we’re trying to fill another 265 spots,” she said.

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Whether both locations remain open depends on the number of employees Convey is able to hire, Daugherty said, noting that the Yuma center is highly thought of by the company’s clients.

“The agents here are performing so well,” she said. “The bilingual factor is huge.”

She noted that the Yuma center is focused primarily on Medicare, the fastest growing segment of health insurance. “It takes people with patience and empathy to handle these kinds of calls. The caller could be their parent or grandparent and that really shows through here. That’s one reason we’re growing so quickly.”

Daugherty stressed that Convey agents aren’t telemarketers. “Well over 90 percent of the calls are people calling us. If they’re outgoing calls, that’s because the customer wanted a call back or it’s a call to remind them of a benefit.”

Stephen Farrell, chief executive officer, expressed his appreciation to the many people and organizations in Yuma that helped make the center a reality, including Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation, the city of Yuma, Arizona Western College, Yuma Private Industry Council, TSI, Pilkington Commercial Co. and Yuma Regional Medical Center, which purchased the building to house Convey and uses the back of the store for warehousing.

The state also lent a hand. Watkins noted that in response to a frantic call for assistance in helping get Convey’s first employees tested for the state licensing exam, the Arizona Department of Insurance sent staff and secured computers to Yuma on a weekend to provide the exam.

That helped get Convey open quickly in time for the fall open enrollment, Watkins said. The state also provided a grant to help fund the renovation of the former store.

“A day like this brings out smiles,” observed City Administrator Greg Wilkinson at Tuesday’s grand opening. “It’s a tribute to how we do business in Yuma with all partners involved.”

Concluded Julie Engel, chief executive officer of GYEDC: “This was a wonderful project. We’ve brought people to Yuma and jobs for Yumans.”