$2M renovation turns bowling alley into office
By BRAD HARPER
Jul. 25, 2017
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — There's still a bowling logo on the automatic doors, but they pull aside to reveal a modern office lobby and the smell of fresh wood from craftsman furniture. Round a corner and the clunk and clatter of the alleys have been replaced by chatter from sea of cubicles staffed by hundreds of customer support workers.
On the other side of the building, another cavernous room roughly the same size waits for hundreds more employees that are still being hired.
"We've already added staff," ASK president Rick Burley said. "The plan is to hire and train about 20 every other week for the foreseeable future."
The 38,000-square-foot building sat empty for about five years after Brunswick moved its bowling business from Carmichael Road. But it was full of potential for Burley, whose family-owned company was stuck in a cramped spot a few doors down while its business took off.
They moved into the former bowling alley earlier this month after an exhaustive, $2 million renovation. Now that they've now got plenty of space the company has already gone from just over 300 employees to about 500. And they're not done.
"The plan is to hire and train about 20 every other week for the foreseeable future," Burley said.
Those workers handle everything from online chats, to email support, to always-open phone service for major companies across the nation. Business was already growing before last year's election, but Burley said it's grown even faster since then.
"What we're finding is that with the current political climate a lot of companies keep saying they're bringing jobs back," he said. "They'll say, 'Oh, we're bringing 5,000 jobs back.' Well, they're bringing back 5,000 call center(-type) jobs.
"The jobs that are quickly and easily bring-able are call center-type jobs. Most of the large companies outsource those jobs. Some of those jobs are coming to Alabama, but they're going all over the country."
Burley took a break to field a phone call from a client who wanted them to take on more business. He reassured them that ASK is ready to do it.
His family's company uses Express Employment Professionals and Workforce Walker Personnel to screen employees. Salaries start at about $9 an hour and ramp up to about $14 an hour within the first year.
"You take some tests online. If your scores are good, we bring you in for an interview," Burley said. "We're looking for lots of (workers)."