West Des Moines-based Iowa Network Services has purchased a neighboring company that operates an I-T call center. INS president and CEO Ron Keller says his company has purchased Caleris as part of its ongoing diversification plan. “It just fits into the profile of the type of thing that Iowa Network Services has been attempting to do for a number of years,” Keller says.
INS was founded in 1989 and is privately owned by a group of 122 Iowa independent telecommunications companies. The company began expanding beyond phone and internet to provide other services and Keller says the purchase of Caleris continues that effort. “Trying to find things that we can do that are essentially back office operations that we can specialize in and take the burden off them for performing those functions and allow them to focus on the things that they are really good at,” Keller says. “So, by adding on top of telecommunications, the I-T, the HR — and now kind of the whole customer support service — it really does broaden those offerings that we can bring to the table in terms of our shareholders and current customers.”
Caleris was founded in 2003 by native Iowans, Rick Grewell and Sheldon Ohringer. They plan to remain in their leadership roles with the company, and Ohringer says they hope to expand their workforce. “We kind of see minimum growth this next year of 100 people. That’ll put us at 500 people for the Caleris side of things by year’s end,” Ohringer says. “You know we obviously hope to do better than that.”
While the Caleris headquarters is right up the street from INS, Ohringer says the heart of the business is spread out in centers around the state.
“Manning Iowa has a center of about 50 people. We have a center in Jefferson that has a maximum seat capacity — I think 90 people,” according to Ohring. “We have a center in Newton. We were actually the first company to go into some of the former Maytag buildings after Whirpool bought them. We have center there that has seats for about 280 and we have probably close to 200 people there. And then our newest center is in Marshalltown.”
He says they have around 175 people in Marshalltown. Keller says the acquisition will result in the loss of some positions at INS headquarters. Keller says Caleris will keep its name for now and they are looking at a longer-term strategy and whether they will call their operations something other than the INS family of companies.