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Help wanted: Tyler, Wayfair and SaviLinx searching for 1,700 workers

BY James McCarthy

5/30/2016
Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Christopher Hepburn, president of Tyler Technologies' Enterprise Resource Planning and School Division, left, with Robert Sansone, vice president of human resources, at the construction site for expansion of the public sector software company's Yarmouth office.

Tyler Technologies Inc.

1 Tyler Drive, Yarmouth Other Maine offices are located in Bangor and Falmouth; headquarters are in Plano, Texas


Founded: 1966


President and CEO: John S. Marr Jr.


Products: Software for the public sector to manage payroll, fund accounting, court administration, 911 dispatch, utility billing, property valuation, tax collections, student information, school bus routing, public records management, permitting, licensing, land management and other essential functions.


Employees: 3,600 nationwide, 600 in Maine


Revenue: $591 million in 2015, up 20%


Contact: 1-800-772-2260 www.tylertech.com

The prospect of hiring up to 550 new workers over the next decade, including dozens of highly coveted software developers and IT specialists, isn't keeping Tyler Technologies' Christopher Hepburn and Robert Sansone up at nights. Even though it will nearly double the number of employees the company will have in Maine, both have worked for the company long enough to know there's nothing like success to bring talented and ambitious workers to your front door.

“It's not daunting,” says Sansone, vice president of human resources. “It's actually become easier over the years. We've developed such a track record for hiring and growing on such a regular basis, it's become the norm that we now have people seeking us out.”

“I came here when we were just 28 employees,” adds Hepburn, president of Tyler Technologies' Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and School Division, noting his Maine-based division now has half of its 1,200 employees working out of offices in Bangor, Yarmouth and Falmouth. The remainder work outside of Maine in nine offices across the country. Overall, Plano, Texas-based Tyler Technologies has 3,600 employees.

To make room for Tyler's burgeoning Maine workforce and meet the demand for its software products, it is spending $27 million to add 94,500 square feet to its Yarmouth location. Its new, four-story building is scheduled to open in early 2018.

Tyler's expansion coincides with two other significant hiring initiatives in Maine: Wayfair, a Boston-based e-commerce retailer, plans to hire 950 workers for new sites in Bangor and Brunswick and SaviLinx is recruiting 200 additional workers for its call center at Brunswick Landing.

All told, that's at least 1,700 new jobs in the pipeline. The common denominator is that all three companies are growing rapidly and have made strategic decisions to locate those jobs in Maine.

For Peter DelGreco, president and CEO of Maine & Co., a nonprofit that helps companies expand or locate in Maine, an important back story is how Tyler Technologies' success in Maine contributed to Boston-based Wayfair's decision to bring its 950 new jobs here as well.

“Success breeds success,” he says. “Our mission is to go out and tell companies how they can be successful in this state. The workforce is a part of any discussion to grow or locate here. They need to hire the right people to make their project succeed. The ability to bring in people like Tyler Technologies' Bob Sansone to sit across the table and show them what can be done in Maine and the quality of the workforce that's here is really important in helping them make that decision.”

Tyler Technologies combines traditional recruitment tools such as job fairs and college career days with social media, such as Facebook, Sansone says. Job openings for sites nationwide are also posted on the Tyler website. To find potential employees, Tyler offers paid summer internships for college students. To encourage high school students to consider careers in computer science and technology, the company sponsors the Maine App Challenge, offering $10,000 in scholarships.

“It's got to be a multi-approach strategy,” Sansone says. “You need different media to reach different [demographic] groups. Our company website is a critical piece of our recruiting process. All of the advertising we do is intended to drive prospective job applicants to the website.”

Even a quick visit to Tyler's website proves his point: The home page offers easy navigation for prospects to find out what jobs are available and where, with a prominently displayed “careers” tab opening up to links that give a quick overview of the company's financials and products. Employment opportunities can be searched according to office locations or by various job functions. There are also listings for internship opportunities, a calendar of upcoming job fairs, detailed info on staff benefits and career FAQs that include a step-by-step description of the application process.

“Most people search by location,” Sansone says, noting that job-seekers typically have either family or some personal connection to the city or region of the Tyler Technologies office where they hope to work.

On the company's website there's also a “working at Tyler” link featuring a five-minute video of employees at various locations across the country describing what it's like to work for the company.

“It's hard to articulate what your corporate culture is,” Sansone says. “We thought it would help if our employees were to express it in their own words why they like working at Tyler: Their own testimonials were the best stories we could share with someone who's thinking about working here.”

In Maine, Tyler Technologies plans to create 550 jobs in a range of areas: IT and software development and research, sales and marketing, software support and professional services. Hepburn says the company's interview process pays close attention to an applicant's personality and personal goals and motivations and how those attributes might fit in with the company's customer-oriented software products and culture.

“We don't attract just one type of employee,” Hepburn says. “We could have three vastly different people, each with a different skillset and personality, and all three would be a perfect fit for what we do at Tyler. If an applicant's personality fits one of the jobs we need to fill, we're going to invest in them and give them the skills they need in order to perform well in the job they were hired to do.”

Hepburn says the company has cultivated strong working relationships with Maine colleges and universities to make sure they're aware of the job possibilities for their graduates at Tyler.

“We hire a ton of University of Maine graduates,” he says. “It's an excellent school and those graduates are very talented. We hire a lot of software developers from the University of Southern Maine … We attract kids from University of New Hampshire, the Boston colleges, University of New England. We are very pleased with the quality of applicants we're getting here in Maine.”

He adds that Tyler's paid internships often lead to full-time jobs. Interns are treated from Day 1 as part of the professional team, he says, noting that they get opportunities to work through all phases of the software development life cycle, modify and test existing programs to meet new or revised specifications, as well as work with teams on special projects.

“We'll also tell them, 'We have an employee golf team. Sign up, if you're interested. We have a fitness center, sign up,'” he says. The basic message: You can have a career in Maine that allows you to have a balanced life.

It certainly doesn't hurt recruitment efforts that Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL), the largest software company in North America focused solely on the public sector, is growing rapidly — with 2015's $591 million in revenues being 20% higher than 2014's $493.1 million and almost double 2011's $309.4 million. Forbes magazine has named Tyler to its “America's Best Small Companies” list eight times.

Even with a backlog of orders and its No. 1 position in the public sector market, Hepburn says Tyler still has a “wide and long runway” for even greater sales of its products in one of the largest and most decentralized information technology markets in the United States — the public sector, with 50 states, 3,000-plus counties, 36,000 cities and towns, 13,900 school districts and 37,000 special agencies needing software to help them serve their citizens efficiently and effectively. With a 98% client retention rate as a solid foundation, the company has set its sights on significantly expanding the 30%–35% market share it now enjoys.

The takeaway for prospective employees, he says, is that there will be ample personal and professional development opportunities for them if they choose to work at Tyler.

“Over 90% of the managers we have in this division had their first job at Tyler,” Hepburn says. “Our No. 1 asset is our employees. If you hire really good people and they are loyal to you, our philosophy is that you give them the opportunity here to develop their skills and advance. We have so many people with that kind of drive. You have to give them their opportunity to grow. Our growth as a company is the key to that.”

Sansone adds that Tyler's turnover rate is extremely low for the software development industry, especially in Maine where the average employee's tenure is more than eight years and more than a third of the employees have worked for the company “well over 10 years.” Both influenced the corporate decision to expand in Maine, rather than in other parts of the country.

“We have an easier time here filling positions because there's not as much competition here compared to some of our other locations,” adds Sansone. “We are a bigger fish in a smaller pond.”

Maine & Co.'s DelGreco says Wayfair's announcement in mid-February that it would create 950 jobs in Maine — 450 to work in customer service at the former L.L.Bean call center in Bangor and 500 to focus on inside sales and fielding customer requests of assistance at Brunswick Landing — was preceded by more than six months of discussions with his organization. In addition to Tyler Technologies, he says, L.L.Bean “played a huge role,” as did the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, in helping the online home furnishings and décor retailer select Maine as a site for expansion.

“It's a great company,” he says. “They are growing rapidly. They were looking, frankly, all over the country at possible sites for expansion. So we were part of a nationwide search.”

Like Tyler Technologies, Wayfair (NYSE: W) is experiencing explosive sales growth. Last year, it had sales of $2.25 billion, up from $1.3 billion the prior year. A week after announcing its Maine plans, Wayfair said it would create a customer service center in Texas, creating 450 jobs. In all, it is expected to have 4,600 workers at locations across the globe.

Positions being filled include customer service and sales reps, training managers, help desk analysts, IT support engineers, talent acquisition leaders, order fraud processing analysts, account managers, operations data specialists, among others.

A month after Wayfair's announcement, SaviLinx, a call center located at Brunswick Landing, announced it would hire an additional 200 employees to meet the needs of new clients, bringing the three-year-old company's total workforce to 500. Approximately 200 of those employees work from home.

“We anticipate hiring more workers down the road,” says SaviLinx founder and CEO Heather Blease, noting that like Tyler Technologies she's employing an “all of the above” recruitment strategy to find the right people to fill jobs in quality assurance, team leaders, customer service agents and subject matter experts. She's not overly worried the Brunswick-Bath region's labor market will be unable to meet her company's needs on top of Wayfair.

“I think it is very positive news for the midcoast area economy that Wayfair and SaviLinx are hiring hundreds of employees in Brunswick,” she says. “Together, we form a hub of contact center activity and can leverage our close proximity to help bring employees to our companies. I also believe that SaviLinx jobs, which are more customer service and support, are different from the Wayfair jobs, which I hear are more sales-oriented and therefore are attracting different types of individuals.”