OXFORD — More than 60 people lost their jobs Wednesday when CCS Global Holdings closed its Oxford branch without advance warning.
Gino Sanchez, a human resources manager at the Newton, Mass.-based company, said the closing was a “business decision.” He said he couldn't elaborate. The company's other locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were not affected, he said.
Sixty-four people were employed at the call center, which made collections for credit card companies, Sanchez said.
CCS, which stands for Credit Collection Services, opened its Oxford operation in the summer of 2003. It was at 891 Main St. in a building owned by developer John Schiavi. On Thursday, its sign on Route 26, which is Main Street, still read: “Help wanted.”
Employees said they weren't notified beforehand; the mass layoff was a complete surprise.
“It was a total shock to everybody who worked there,” said one former employee who asked not to be identified.
Former employee Darcelle Semetauskis of Mechanic Falls said she had the day off Wednesday and learned by phone. At around noon Thursday, she was at her former workplace gathering her belongings from her desk.
Semetauskis said she wasn't angry over losing her job as a customer service representative. It was the second time she'd been laid off in the past three years, and she said CSS had been a great place to work.
“They were very gracious about it,” she said of the layoffs.
She said employees were told the closing wasn't connected to employee performance and that they were welcome to relocate to the company's other branches.
CCS has operations in Salem, N.H., Portsmouth, N.H., and Andover, Mass.
For Semetauskis, who just signed a yearlong lease for her Mechanic Falls apartment, that wasn't an option. Instead, she's been updating her resume and looking for a new job in Portland.
She said she was better off than her co-workers who had children and mortgages.
Semetauskis said she talked every day, as part of her job, to people who had lost their jobs and had credit card debt.
On Thursday, workers were clearing office furniture from the building, and a truck from Security Shredding of Greene was backed up to the building.
Town Manager Michael Chammings said he hadn't heard about the closing until Thursday morning, but he was confident that economic development in town would make up for the call center's loss “tenfold.” He pointed out that the Oxford Casino on Route 26 is holding a job fair Saturday.
Call centers “haven't been the most stable source of jobs in the state of Maine,” Chammings said.
Adam Fisher, spokesman for the Department of Labor, said the state would contact employees who lost their jobs at CCS to answer questions about unemployment and other benefits that may be available to them.