Pet Pantry franchise owner concerned about overseas telemarketing move

Pet Pantry franchise owner Nathan Bird said he's concerned about the corporation's decision to move a portion of its Carson City business, the telemarketing sector, to the Phillipines.

He said the move might affect his ability to do business.

"The decisions of the corporation are the decisions of the corporation," he said. "But do I want someone with a Phillipine accent talking to my customers?"

As a franchise owner, Bird pays the company for the franchise area and telemarketing services. The latter are optional.

"At this time, I've made the decision not to use the Manila (Phillipines) telemarketing," he said. "We will be using other sources, like shows and our own contacts."

Pet Pantry International Inc., a Carson City-based pet food company, closed that sector of its business on North Carson Street on Tuesday, leaving 70 employees without jobs.

Company officials said escalating costs of the business, due primarily to state and federal legislation, have made it increasingly difficult to operate call centers in the United States at a competitive level.

Those employees were not notified ahead of time and Bird said franchise owners did not know about the decision until after the operation was shut down.

"The people who were laid off were my friends," Bird said. "Many were my customers."

Donna Asher, 66, is one of those ex-employees. She said the $100 bonus they received with their last paycheck won't go far and this kind of thing has happened to her before, with a group called Teleperformance

"I can't pay the rent and I have no money to move," she said. "Hopefully, with God's help, things will work out. I pray a lot, but there aren't a lot of people who will hire 66-year-olds."

Pet Pantry was founded in Carson City in 1995.

Bird said his local franchise was the first and it extends from Gardnerville and Lake Tahoe through Carson City and into Reno and Sparks. He's owned the franchise for a year and is now moving into the Fernley and Fallon markets.

The business is a family affair. Wife Pamela handles the books and paperwork and his 21-year-old son, Craig, does the warehousing.

A salesman for more than 25 years, Nathan Bird said he works between 70 and 80 hours per week.

"It's by choice," he said. "Business is excellent. On average, companies are pleased to grow 12-20 percent a year. We grew 600 percent in our first year and we expect to double that in the second year. We're doing very well."


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