MCALLEN, Texas – Keith Patridge, president of McAllen Economic Development Corporation, has praised one of his staff members for her role in bringing a new office and 300 jobs to the city.
Janie Cavazos is vice president of business recruitment for McAllen EDC and usually handles company relocations and expansions on the U.S. side of the border. The company Cavazos worked with to land the new jobs is Kemper.
With nearly $14.1 billion in assets, Kemper Corporation is one of the nation’s leading specialized insurers in the fields of auto, personal, life and health. The company was recently named one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Fortune magazine.
Kemper opened its Laurel Boulevard, McAllen, building in 2008. Its life insurance division operates a Kemper Life agency in the Nolana Tower Shopping Center in McAllen. Currently, more than 400 employees serve in its local Kemper Auto and Kemper Life operations.
Kemper recently announced plans to build a LEED-certified, two-story, 70,000 square-foot facility located on 7.2 acres, adjacent to Kemper’s existing 35,000 square-foot office at 900 E. Laurel Blvd in McAllen.
After the completion of the new building, Kemper’s presence in McAllen will include three facilities and its local workforce will eventually total more than 700 employees.
Construction of the new building is expected to take 22 months, with initial occupancy planned for December 2022. The facility will house claims and customer service for the company’s Kemper Auto business.
“Janie has been working very diligently on the Kemper project for a long time. It has been very tedious with putting the project together because the company is very detailed in making sure everything is exactly perfect,” Patridge told the Rio Grande Guardian.
“That can be a little challenging when you have COVID to deal with, and a lot of the discussions have be done via Zoom and conference calls. Janie has done an excellent jobs of putting this together.”
Cavazos said some projects to bring major new businesses to McAllen can take two years or more.
“Every company takes 24 months before they give a commitment. I have been working with Kemper for, I would say, about three years now. We keep in constant contact.”
Cavazos explained the challenges associated with the Kemper project.
“Kemper, back in 2020, were ready to open a 34,000 square feet temporary facility, while they were negotiating on the land they purchased on 495 and McColl. It initially stopped because of COVID but eventually they went ahead and opened a temporary space on Nolana. Luckily we were able to continue working with them. The current McAllen call center has been such a success to Kemper. We were competing against Arizona. They do have a presence in Arizona as well. But McAllen has been their No. 1 performer.”
Cavazos explained why McAllen is a preferred location for Kemper.
“McAllen continues to be their preferred location because of the Spanish speaking population. That is one of the key things. Plus the turnover rate. I do not have the current attrition rate but it is the lowest of all the call centers in this region. That is something to brag about because it tells us the employees are happy. The wages are great for the employees and they have really good benefits. They also offer tuition reimbursement. They work 24/7 with different shifts. The employees really like that as well.”
Cavazos said it helps that the site director for Kemper has been in the region for decades.
“The site director locally is one of the original employees when Convergis located here back in the late 1990s. He has a lot of experience. He has been with Kemper, when it was Infinity at first. He has been with them for about ten years. He brought some of his co-workers he could count on, recruiters, directors, lead managers. Retention there is very high. They really look at the employee background. That their credit is good. That is something to brag about.”
Patridge, MEDC’s president, reiterated his praise for Cavazos.
“I am really proud of Janie and all the work she did with Kemper, keeping with them during COVID. They are a very detailed company. They want to make sure everything is exactly right. It took a lot of work and a lot of follow up to put everything together. She did a great job on that,” Patridge said.
“But it also reflects on how well we do as a team in following up with our companies because while this is a brand new facility and a brand new group (of workers) that is coming in, Kemper has an automotive insurance claim department here, so it not the traditional call center. It is more the back office type operation where they are handling insurance claims and adjustments. I think it speaks highly of the work that my team is doing here on follow up and taking care of our existing companies. It is very important.”
Duane Sanders is president of Kemper’s property and casualty division. He said: “Kemper Auto’s goal to be the leading provider of specialty auto insurance is supported by robust growth plans. We believe McAllen is a great community with an excellent talent pool that complements our growth strategy. Kemper is extremely proud to be part of the local economy, and this new facility and the jobs it will create are evidence of our long-term commitment to the McAllen area.”
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said of Kemper’s expansion in his city: “McAllen is very proud of our first-class workforce and we are very thankful to Kemper for its continued confidence in our City as evidenced by this new additional facility. This new 70,000 square-foot LEED certified office building will further enhance the first-class customer service provided by Kemper in McAllen. We support Kemper’s continued success and look forward to celebrate the opening of this new facility.”
Information about available positions, upcoming job fairs and benefits information is listed on the Kemper Careers website: https://careers.kemper.com/global/en/
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