Auto insurer Progressive hiring 390 in Riverview

Jan 25, 2012

The following article was published in the Tampa Bay Times on January 25, 2012:

Auto insurer Progressive hiring 390 in Riverview

By Jeff Harrington

Auto insurer Progressive is hiring up to 390 workers at its Riverview call center, the latest and among the biggest in a string of call center expansions throughout the bay area.

“It’s certainly the largest (hiring push) for us in the last five years, both in Tampa Bay and companywide,” said John Hoppe, Progressive’s national employment director, in an interview Tuesday.

The new hires, partially tied to replacing lost workers, will bring Progressive to nearly 3,400 employees throughout Florida, with 2,300 in Riverview alone.

Most of the new jobs — with average hourly pay in the $12 to $15 range — will be in sales, service and processing claims. Beyond base pay, workers are eligible for a performance bonus plus access to on-site medical facilities and a fitness center.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to make it even easier for employees to grow and succeed,” Progressive recruiting director Katie Koch said.

Progressive has been hiring scores of workers annually at its Riverview complex, including up to 130 last fall, but nothing of this size, Hoppe said. In addition to the Tampa Bay hires, the insurer is simultaneously adding workers at Colorado Springs, Colo.; Austin, Texas; Cleveland and Phoenix.

In terms of sheer number of hires, Tampa is first, followed by Cleveland.

“We continue to find Tampa a great place for us to find fantastic talent,” Hoppe said. “As we’ve grown in the past, we’ve always been able to hire out of the Tampa Bay workforce.”

Competition is heating up, however, for that ample pool of workers trained in call center expertise and etiquette.

Lawn care giant TruGreen and insurers Humana and USAA are among national employers who are expanding call center operations in the bay area.

Progressive, based in suburban Cleveland, is the fourth-largest auto insurer in the country. Hoppe, who oversees a national workforce of about 25,000, said the jobs growth has been driven largely by the company taking a greater share of the insurance pie.

Hoppe hesitated to link the growth to an improving economy. “There are some out there who say auto insurance is a leading indicator for the economy,” he said. “I’m not sure. I’m hopeful, but it’s too difficult to say. … We’re able to continue growing in a down economy or an up economy.”

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