Ireland is becoming the ‘back office’ for Allstate Sales Group (ASG) with the introduction of software development and CAD support centres in Waterford and Sligo where the American company is expanding.
Up to 200 people over the next three years will be employed in the Irish centres, with over ten recruited so far and “multiple interviews” taking place, says president of ASG,.
During the initial start-up phase, ASG is operating from WorkLab Waterford and IT Sligo Campus Innovation Centre with permanent office options being looked into.
ASG — founded in 2008 with its headquarters in New Jersey, USA — is a provider of turnkey engineering and construction services to the telecommunications industry.
It has operations in eight US locations, employing some 700 people. The Irish operation is the first outside of America.
Services provided by ASG include planning, designing, mapping and building the pathways that telecom service providers require to connect new voice and data customers.
“If there’s a growing population in a certain area, the telecommunications providers require more cabling or more holes or more equipment.
"We provide all kinds of services to provide the end user with a form of data connection.”
There are, says Tepedino, “millions of people” working for these providers.
“It’s quite a large undertaking, especially ‘stateside. We provide all of the steps needed. There’s a lot of moving pieces to it and of course, everything is on a timeline. You have so many weeks or months to get the work done.
“Then there’s the return on investment (ROI) from the provider’s point of view. The provider pays for all the infrastructural build on an ongoing basis so the ROI becomes very important.”
Where does Ireland fit into the ASG picture?
“Ireland has become a very interesting part of the company. We’re very busy ‘stateside but sometimes you need an out-of-body experience, if you will, and Ireland has become that.”
The 200 new roles which ASG is providing in Ireland include a range of technical staff and office professionals, including software developers, CAD ARC-GIS technicians, management, administrative, support staff and HR staff.
Ireland is “a great country in which to do business,” says Tepedino.
“I’ve been travelling back and forth due to some client relations. The country became part of my daily business routine.
"There’s a great climate there in terms of what’s going on with the Irish education system producing a wealth of great people. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
In terms of developments in telecommunications here, the country “has some really big initiatives on a government level and on a private level”.
Tepedino cites “the broadband initiative, bringing 4g and 5g to the whole country. Ireland is very progressive.
"There are a lot of opportunities there. Also, you have a lot of the major US players there on the data side.”
ASG’s investment in Ireland is supported by the Irish Government through the IDA.
“The IDA became very instrumental in our vision (for Ireland.) We spent a good six months travelling around the country. I’ve seen more of Ireland than anywhere else in the world.
"Sligo and Waterford present us with some really unique opportunities, based on their institutes of technology. We’re drawing some really great people out of them.”
Great work-life balance
Tepedino also cites the work/life balance in Ireland as being attractive.
“People don’t want to travel to Dublin or other big cities as much as they used to. They’d rather stay and work from where they live.
"So we’re finding a small geographic area with opportunities for quite a few people. The opportunity to hire people has presented itself to us, quite nicely.”
Half of the staff at ASG work from home.
“That applies to our Irish staff as well. It’s really up to the individual to discipline themselves if they want to work from home. Some individuals need an office.
“I’m one of them. I had trouble working in a home environment. I need to interact with people. Everybody has their own way of doing things.”
The work/life balance is encouraged in business in the US through having gyms in the work premises.
We’re not there yet but there are a number of different things you can do in the work environment. In the States, we have a lot of meetings where we try and put people together to talk about things other than their work. They have meetings to talk about movies or books.
"We’re bringing that attitude to Ireland. As the staff gets bigger, these opportunities will become more available.”
Tepedino and his colleagues “are really excited about our Irish operation. We’re moving as fast as we can to get to 200 staff. But it’s hard.
"You have State and legislative requirements that have to be met. So far, we’re doing a really good job in achieving our goals.
"There is a plan but the best plans change now and then.
"We see Ireland as our entry into the EU where we’ll develop the same services that we have ‘stateside.”