NCR moving 300 jobs to West Columbia

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NCR moving 300 jobs to West Columbia
Consolidation also will cost plant about 100 positions

By JOE GUY COLLIER Staff Writer

NCR Corp. plans to nearly double within a year its employee base in West
Columbia, where the company has 330 positions.
As part of a company move to consolidate operations, NCR, a Dayton, Ohio,-based
technology firm, will be moving 100 jobs out of West Columbia in one division
and moving in more than 300 in another division.
The jobs leaving West Columbia will be largely product developers in NCR's
Teradata Division, which focuses on helping companies manage large amounts of
information.
The jobs moving into West Columbia primarily will be customer support engineers
in the Retail and Financial Group, providing technical assistance for products.
Jobs at customer service centers in Atlanta and St. Paul, Minn., are expected
to be transferred to West Columbia. Overall, NCR plans to cut 600 to 700
employees in its 14,000-person customer service division as it consolidates
operations.
The timetable for expansion isn't set, but NCR spokesman John Hourigan said the
company expects to have about 600 employees in West Columbia within a year. The
expansion would be a combination of new jobs and jobs moved from other
locations, he said.
The move represents the company's commitment to maintain a strong presence in
the Midlands, he said. NCR first put a facility here in 1974.
"We've been here for more than 25 years," Hourigan said. "Columbia continues to
play an important role in the company's operations."
Al Quick, a former general manager for NCR's West Columbia operations, said
he's glad to see the company adding jobs, but the move does create a loss for
the area.
Quick, now president and chief executive officer of West Columbia-based
KryoTech, was one of NCR's first employees in West Columbia and oversaw the
site from 1984 to 1987.
NCR hit its height in the Midlands in the late 1980s and early 1990s with more
than 1,000 employees and has been on the decline ever since.
The West Columbia operations distinguished itself in the 1980s by developing
advanced computers and systems, Quick said.
Many of these developers went on to start their own technology firms in the
Columbia area. KryoTech, Conita, Renaissance, MicroStaff, VC3 and the iVista
Group were all started by former NCR software or hardware developers.
The last remnants of the development side will be leaving with the
consolidation. The 100 positions in the Teradata Division will be moved to
either El Segundo or San Diego, Calif.
"It's bad from a technology standpoint," Quick said. "I think all they'll be
doing now (in West Columbia) is answering telephone calls. They won't be
developing new products."
But David Dunn, a former NCR employee and president and chief executive officer
of Columbia-based VC3, said the news was positive.
The employees at NCR's customer support still require a high-level of technical
skill and may even be a more reliable source of employment, he said.
Products, and their product development teams, can get cut, Dunn said. Product
support doesn't go away, he said.
"I view the news as a long-term commitment to Columbia," Dunn said. "It should
be a good, stable place for talent."
While not developers, Hourigan said the positions to be added will be technical
jobs. NCR's customer support is not a typical call center, he said.
The support personnel, for example, may be called on to fix a complex computer
system for Wal-Mart, Hourigan said.
The Worldwide Customer Services division, which is headed by Senior Vice
President Gerry Gagliardi in Dayton, provides a range of information technology
services: supporting and maintaining NCR software and hardware, designing,
installing and maintaining computer networks and maintaining computer equipment
made by other companies.
The expansion in West Columbia also may come in other areas in the Retail and
Financial Group, which includes NCR's automated teller machine, point of scale
scanner and system media units.
The 100 employees being moved to California also may fit into some of the new
positions, Hourigan said.
Joe Guy Collier covers technology, telecommunications and utilities. He can be
reached at (803) 771-8307 or by fax at (803) 771-8480 or e-mail,
[email protected].

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