Lowe’s plans Indianapolis CSC
Lowe’s revealed its plans Tuesday to build a new Customer Support Center in Indianapolis, which is expected to reach completion by 2016.
The announcment was made with Lowe’s officials in the company of Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.
"Indiana provides national companies like Lowe’s with the perfect building blocks for success," said Pence. "We have taken all the parts required—a central location, low taxes and a skilled workforce—and assembled them perfectly here in Indiana. Indiana is a state that works for business because we have built the business climate companies like Lowe’s need for growth and success."
The project, which comes at a $20.5 million price tag, involves the purchase and renovation of an existing 140,000-sq.-ft. facility located at Intech Park 12, 6620 Network Way, in Northwest Indianapolis.
"We chose Indianapolis because of the talented and experienced workforce who we believe can provide outstanding service to our customers," said Don Easterling, Lowe’s VP contact center. "Indianapolis adds a strategic Midwest location to our network of Customer Support Centers located in North Carolina and New Mexico. We appreciate the support of both state and local officials that helped make this a win-win project."
Indiana is also looking to offer Lowe’s some assistance to achieve these goals. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is offering $5.5 million in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants to Lowe’s, depending on how many locals it hires.
In its finished state, the new CSC will work closely with the existing CSCs in Wilkesboro, North Carolina and Albuquerque, New Mexico, adding up to 1,000 new jobs involved in the support of Lowe’s stores and internet sales, delivery services and repair services for Lowe’s customers. It’s expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2015.
Chicago Faucet VP tackles media confusion
When a local television station in Chicago broke a story earlier this month about workers picketing over a company’s bathroom policy, John Fitzgerald, VP marketing at Chicago Faucets found the story interesting.
“The company was the WaterSaver Faucet Co.,” Fitzgerald said. “We compete with them in a niche area of faucets, and I’m always interested in what my competitors are doing. I had no idea that a few days later, our own company would mistakenly become the subject of that story.”
Fitzgerald says that like all reporting, as a story unfolds, people edit. “It’s natural,” he explains. “There are space requirements … deadlines … the world of reporting is intense. But so is accuracy. And that’s what happened: the accuracy of who the subject company was in the original story got lost. I’m sure it was unintentional, but the consequences for us were stunning. It is amazing what impact a simple editing decision can have. We got buried in phone calls.”
The original story on Chicago CBS carried the wording this way: “Employees of a River West faucet-making company staged a protest before work on Wednesday, saying they’ve been disciplined over the length of their bathroom breaks” and went on to cover the story of how workers “filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the company has begun writing up employees for spending too much time in the bathroom during work hours.”
According to Fitzgerald, several media outlets picked it up and many edited it, but kept the context of the subject company as WaterSaver.
“Then the story began to condense,” Fitzgerald says. “‘Workers at a company in Chicago say going to the bathroom has become a race against the clock’ was a version, and that became ‘Employees of a Chicago faucet-making company reportedly staged a protest…’ That’s when it started to unravel. Many of the media outlets simply didn’t know there is a company — our company — called Chicago Faucets.”
Fitzgerald said it was like a wildfire. “We started getting phone calls, and then other media outlets — including major ones and even international outlets — started duplicating the inaccuracy with ‘That is the rule at this Chicago faucet company’ or ‘A Chicago faucet company is disciplining employees who spend more than six minutes.’ We even experienced backlash on our social media outlets.”
The good news, according to Fitzgerald, is that many of the errors were immediately fixed when contacted. “What is refreshing is that the majority of the media outlets responded in a positive way and corrected their versions, especially online,” he said. “And like all stories, as time passes, it slowly dies out.”
“I think mistakes will always happen,” he added, “but because of the digital disruptive environment we all play in now, those mistakes are compounded exponentially. Too bad it takes longer to correct them. After all, unless you refresh with F5, the mistake will keep showing up on your screen.”
Existing-home sales climb 2.6% in June
Existing-home sales broke the 5-million benchmark in June, rising 2.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million units sold, according to the National Association of Realtors.
June’s figure is in comparison to an upwardly revised 4.91 million unit rate in May, reaching their highest pace since October 2013. However, they’re still 2.3% below last year’s number.
Additionally, a rising supply of housing is helping curb price growth and ultimately allow more homebuyers into the market. Total housing inventory rose 2.2% to 2.30 million existing homes for sale, representing a 5.5-month supply; the median existing-home price was $223,300 in June, up 4.3% since last year.
The jump in sales is mostly attributed to activity in the Midwest, where home sales rose 6.2%.
"Inventories are at their highest level in over a year and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels in many parts of the country," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "This bodes well for rising home sales in the upcoming months as consumers are provided with more choices."
Yun added that the market won’t be fully balanced unless new home construction rises by at least 50%, however. Additionally, he said a lack of wage growth is holding the sales pace back.
“Hiring has been a bright spot in the economy this year, adding an average of 230,000 jobs each month,” he said. “However, the lack of wage increases is leaving a large pool of potential homebuyers on the sidelines who otherwise would be taking advantage of low interest rates. Income growth below price appreciation will hurt affordability.”
Single-family home sales fared slightly worse than the total, rising 2.5% to a rate of 4.43 million in June. This is 2.9% below last year’s pace.