For the third time in 15 years, Claudia B. Timbo has started a new call-center company in Blue Bell. This time it's CompanyVoice, based in a former information technology building at Aetna's office campus.
Timbo has opened her doors, with business partner Eric Raymond, former head of employer health insurance consultant Corporate Strategies Group Inc., four years after she and her investors sold her previous company, Corporate Call Center, to Radnor-based Guardian Capital Partners for something north of $10 million. Raymond retired from Corporate Strategies in 2008.
Timbo says she has signed up clients including Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, which handles housing claims for the City of Philadelphia; Continental Bank's Vision Mortgage division; and trucking companies cold-calling for leads. To win city business it helps to be a "woman-owned firm," Timbo notes.
How big is she planning to make CompanyVoice? "We have room for 125 on the first floor, plus two training rooms that accomodate 50," Timbo told me. "And we have options for the other three floors in this building." Room to grow.
Corporate Call was best known for handling Medicare calls for Independence Blue Cross, Wellpoint-Anthem, Highmark and other Blue Cross-based insurers. The firm, now under Guardian partners Peter Habestaad, Hugh Kenworthy and Scott Evans, employs up to 1,000 in its peak fall period, down to a few hundred during the winter.
Timbo has agreed not to go after health insurance clients -- at least until June 2013. After that she says she's free to compete with her former company.
It's her third call center start-up. Timbo opened Procall Teleservices as a branch of Progress Bank back in 1997, back when then-Progress boss Kirk Wycoff was trying to focus that bank on tech services. Procall was purchased by California-based Product Development Corp. in 2000; llike Corporate Call, it's still in business, Timbo says.
"She is very effective in the outbound call, customer service and lead generation businesses," Wycoff, now a partner in Ira Lubert-backed bank investor Patriot Financial Partners, told me. "She has had very good business partners and investors in each venture, including us at Progress in late 90's."