Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined other officials in Pittsfield today to mark the opening of Wayfair’s corporate call center.
Several state leaders gathered at the Clock Tower building where online home furnishing giant Wayfair plans to bring more than 300 jobs.
Wayfair’s billionaire CEO Niraj Shah is a Pittsfield native.
“When we transformed the way that we advance business development in Pittsfield, we were preparing ourselves for just this moment," said Mayor Linda Tyer. As the first term Democrat runs for re-election, she has touted Wayfair’s arrival. “We rolled out the red carpet, and when Wayfair came to visit, our team spent days preparing because we knew that we were competing with other Western Massachusetts communities and other communities around the country.”
“For Niraj, this was personal," said Governor Charlie Baker. “I know you think you had to work for this one, mayor, but I’m telling you – we kind of had him at hello on this. He really wanted to be here.”
“Contrary to what the governor feels, it was a lot of work," said Wayfair Head of Service Pete Boudreaux. “We were needing to expand our customer service operations, and we met with Niraj and said, here’s what we’re looking for, and we kind of outlined things in the community – and he said, that’s Pittsfield. And so we came out here, did a quick meeting with the team, toured the community, and said he’s right – this is where we belong.”
Also at the ribbon cutting was Republican Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and Democrats including Congressman Richard Neal, State Senator Adam Hinds, and State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier.
The company was awarded some $31 million in tax credits from the Baker-Polito Administration and the Commonwealth’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council as part of its Economic Development Incentive Program in 2018. It pledged to make a $33.9 million private investment as it hires 3,300 new employees in its expansion both at its headquarters in Boston and the new call center in Pittsfield.
“Wayfair made pretty clear as part of these conversations that they want to have a relationship with the education community, which could mean the high school, could mean the voc tech school, could mean the community college," said Baker. "They also talk about wanting to have relationships with other businesses in the area. And the best part of having a global company in your network is that they talk to other global companies like them.”
Wayfair employs around 14,500 worldwide, and has corporate locations in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. According to Yahoo Finance, its corporate governance QualityScore from Institutional Shareholder Services is a 10 – the highest possible ranking for risk. Reuters estimates its revenues in 2019 at just over $9 billion, but pegs its earnings per share at around minus $6.57 this year.
Shah told reporters that the first round of hiring brought more than 30 people to the building, with an additional 25 coming within the next two weeks.
“We basically add 20 to 25 people every month, and so there’s kind of a training period, ramp up period, and then we get to the next class," he said. "It’s like a four week onboarding.”
He said Wayfair should hit the promised 300 jobs mark in 2020. The majority of hourly workers will start at $16 an hour.
“I don’t know the exact rate of pay – there’s a whole range from the opening jobs and then the supervisors, managers, site directors, so – and then there’s talent team, technology team, so there’s a wide variety of jobs,” said the CEO.
Shah declined to answer questions about his company’s decision to sell furnishings to government detention centers on the Southern border – a move that led some Wayfair employees to walk off the job over the summer.
“We have a wide range of customers at Wayfair, and we really focus on taking care of our customers and being supportive of our customers," said Shah. "And we have a wide range of employees at Wayfair and we really have a great team and we try to do a lot to make sure that the team, broadly knows that we want to be a collaborative company and figure out what makes sense. So I think one of the reasons we’ve been successful is actually the team we have and the caliber of our team, and that’s continued to be why we succeed.”
When asked by WAMC if he would make that kind of sale again, Shah walked away from reporters saying “okay, thank you.”