Sutherland does not hang up on Sault

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The Sutherland Global Services buzzing call center is now empty.

The company is making the transition from brick and mortar to a home-based work force in Sault Ste. Marie.

No cuts were made during the transition, said Mark Harrietha, vice president and director of Sutherland Canada.

Business would have risen in Sutherland during the US tax season, which guaranteed seasonal employment. Harrietha would not have elaborated. In the end, there were about 100 Sutherland employees who made the move to work from home, he told Sault Star.

"No one has given direction to any employee to say nothing about this transition. We want to make sure that the narrative is consistent regardless of personal feeling," said Harrietha, despite the challenge of finding information on the updated business plan.

A small group of people were angry about the transition, he said.

Several factors played into the decision to go remote, including the building's lease, current customers and the opportunity for Sutherland to bring in new customers. "All these things have come together to allow us to make the transition now," Harrietha said.

Actual job descriptions have not changed for employees, and Sault management employees will still be in town.

"They did a phenomenal job," he said of the members who completed the training. "They are already exceeding the performance of permanent employees". Some are still training remotely.

"Without having to maintain the property, there is an opportunity for us to provide a bigger salary," said Harrietha. Most workers received an increase following the transition

Windsor, the only other subsidiary of Sutherland in the country, intends to remain in a centralized position. Globally, many other branches are switching to remote operation.

"I love Sault Ste. Maire, and I love how we were able to go far," said Harrietha, "it's a potential for us to grow and give people more job opportunities."

Sutherland will still be involved in the community, he said. "The impact on the community is a huge part of what we are and it's nice to have a larger group working in the same city," Harrietha said.

The now empty 30,000 square foot e-commerce center, formerly belonging to the Economic Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie, is sold.

The building was built in 2004 on 3.73 hectares of land at 71 Old Garden River Rd. Most of the interior is completely open, making it a flexible space that can easily be converted for many other uses.

James Caicco, record broker for Century 21 Choice Realty Inc. has listed for $ 2.85 million. The information regarding the sale has not yet been disclosed.

"The building has certainly achieved its purpose," said Dan Hollingsworth, executive director of Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, in a statement. "Our e-commerce center offered significant job opportunities in the city. This project proved to be a great investment for our community and we are looking forward to finding a new partner to continue using the space", he has declared.

"We are confident that there will be some news during the summer regarding the future use of the property".

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