A visually stunning grand opening for Xplornet
After two years of planning as well as a year of renovations and working out of temporary offices, the new call centre inside the Cotton Mills building finally had its grand opening on Thursday morning.
The call centre is run by Xplornet, an internet service provider that focuses on providing highspeed internet to rural areas. The Cornwall location is the company ’s third call centre and the first outside of New Brunswick.
Like most of the offices and retail spaces inside the Cotton Mills, the new Xplornet call centre is visually impressive with a great amount of the original industrial architecture preserved and incorporated into the design. Wooden beams line the ceiling, the walls made of exposed brick and the refinished original wood floor still covered with visible scrapes and burns from long-removed machinery.
Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy couldn’t help but praise the space’s visual appeal.
“I would love to have a home that looked like this. It’s so warm, bright and cheery,” said the mayor. “As a matter of fact, I’ve picked the new location for the mayor’s office, and it’s right back there.”
Jokes aside, the opening of the call centre marks Xplornet’s emergence as a new large employer for Cornwall. The space has room for 140 desks, but with a seat-sharing system in places, the company believes they will be able to employ 180 to 200 employees at the call centre. Currently, they employ 130 people; almost all of whom were hired from the Cornwall area over the past several months.
Xplornet CEO Allison Lenehan hinted that the company might consider expanding its operations in Cornwall even further.
“We’re at 130 people, and we’re already running out of space, so that’s a pretty good indicator. I’ll have to talk to the mayor about having more jobs brought to the area in the near future,” said Lenehan.
The internet service provider began exploring its options for a new location about two years ago. The company wanted a site outside of New Brunswick so they could improve their “geographic diversity.”
The practical effect of this is if there is a winter storm or a widespread power outage in New Brunswick — like the one that province suffered last year — then the Ontario location would be unaffected and vice versa.
“It’s not good from a call centre perspective to have all your eggs in one basket,” explained Cathy MacDonald, vice-president of information technology.
Xplornet began looking for locations in Eastern Ontario and also toured the Nav Centre in Cornwall before as well, but chose to set up inside the Cotton Mills. MacDonald said she and the other executives touring potential locations “fell in love” with the building.
“We immediately began developing the vision and the business case for what we thought was the ideal location for Xplornet’s regional office and call centre.
Cornwall’s other advantages, such as a large workforce with a high prevalence of bilingualism, said MacDonald, was what cinched the deal.
A panoramic view of one of the main rooms of the new Xplornet call centre during its grand opening on Thursday.