View Full Version : Dell's selection of OKC

08-09-2004, 10:12 PM
I thought this was a great article detailing just how hard the state fought for Dell. In the end, it was the quality of our workforce that was the deciding factor. That's great news for our state, because so often I hear companies turn down OKC because they say our workforce is uneducated. I'm also glad to see Francis Tuttle stepping up to the plate to train the new Dell Workers. I also find it interesting that one of our key selling points was Francis Tuttle. That vo-tech become quite a campus.
I'm glad the meeting in February with Dell officials was held at the Research Park. What a great place to try to sell our city......the growing research park. It definitely shows the direction our city is moving in and I think Dell took notice. We're finally beginning to move high tech and into the 21st century.

Here's the article:

Insider's story: How we overcame Dell's reluctance & won a sales center
by Janice Francis-Smith
The Journal Record

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission had to win over Dell executives not once, not twice, but multiple times during a six-month period before the computer systems company committed to build its sixth U.S. sales center in Oklahoma. Each time, the quality of the local work force was the key factor that weighed in Oklahoma's favor.
"We look at the work force - the quality of the work force, the available work force," said Michele Blood, spokesperson for Dell. "We look at the training partners and our other partners, like the OESC. For a call center, it's probably not so much the logistics."

"Let's face it - they're the world's biggest computer company. They know what they're doing," said Jim McGuinness, director of business and industry services at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City. "They've got a good solid idea of what they want to do here, so our role is one of affirmation." The first class of 30 students to be trained by Francis Tuttle for work at the new sales center is scheduled to begin today.

Last week, Richard Gilbertson, director of employment service, and Lisa Graven, Oklahoma City metro area manager, provided the OESC with a blow-by-blow account of how a carefully orchestrated effort of several partners - including the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the CareerTech system, and others - successfully lured Dell to Oklahoma.

The process began in November 2002, said Gilbertson, when he received a call from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Together with Charles Kimbrough from Commerce, Gilbertson and his staff put together wage surveys, labor availability data and other information a company considering a location in Oklahoma might want to know.

"This is the first contact we had," said Gilbertson. "It's usually a very brief overview of this, because we don't really know the jobs particularly" sought by the company, he said. One aspect that made the Dell effort unusual - and more stressful - was the fact that right from the beginning, key personnel knew the inquiry came from Dell. "But it's top secret," said Gilbertson. "If you let the word get out, they'll just pack up and go home."

Executives from Dell came to visit in February. A large meeting was held at the Presbyterian Health Foundation's Research Park in Oklahoma City, where representatives from the Regents, Commerce and others made presentations of what they had to offer. "That gets a little more serious," said Gilbertson. "You just can't miss this - this is a one-time shot."

Dell wanted an idea of roughly how many people would apply for a job with the proposed call center. The team placed a blind ad in the newspaper, which proved an ineffective way of attracting qualified applicants, said Gilbertson. However, the Oklahoma Job Link's database contained information on a number of applicants whose skill sets met those sought by Dell, and those applicants were encouraged to visit a Web page set up by OESC.

"This turned out to be a very smart move," said Gilbertson, generating about 1,500 resumes from qualified applicants.

In March, the team met again with Dell executives. "It was a very intense meeting where they asked some very pointed questions," he said. In the meantime, OESC's partners were working to provide Dell with information on Oklahoma's tax incentive programs, real estate sites and pricing, and more.

"The state of Oklahoma has two major economic incentives that are involved, and one of them is the Training for Industry Program," which provides free training to companies hiring new employees, said McGuinness. The other incentive is the Quality Jobs Program, which provides tax breaks for companies hiring new employees.

In April, a group of Dell's vice presidents visited Francis Tuttle Technology Center. "We were told ahead of time that this was a very important piece, because labor is something they're very concerned with,' said Gilbertson. "Charles (Kimbrough) and I had worked quite a bit on how to impress them." They decided to present the Dell executives with a thick stack of the 1,500 resumes they had collected. "Apparently, that had some impact, because they've talked about that since."

In June, the team was invited to spend three days at Dell's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.

"Dell provided a complete agenda for us," said Graven. During a walking tour of about nine buildings in the compound, the team was able to see Dell's corporate culture in practice and observe just what Dell's employees are expected to do. The experience helped the recruiters better explain the job to applicants, she said. The team also attended a sales recognition event and learned more about the company's best practices.

"We did a phone conversation (on) best practices from their recruiting person in Twin Falls Idaho," said Graven. "Frankly, we had technology that was a little bit greater than what Twin Falls had."

"While we were down there, we had a couple vice presidents come in and sit with us," said Gilbertson. "I found out later that this was really the event that sealed the deal. They were so impressed with our team, their dedication to what was going on, that that weighed very heavily on their decision."

"After we returned from this recruiting visit, we immediately started twice a week phone conference calls with Dell," said Graven. Dell's human resources professionals provided scripts and processes for how to handle the recruitment and testing processes.

Before applicants are allowed to proceed very far into the recruitment process, they are required to take a sales assessment test. Of the first 500 applicants OESC tested, just over 67 percent were selected to proceed on to the next round of interviews. "Which is exactly where Dell wants it," she said. "We're not screening too tightly or too loosely."

The new hires that are receiving the most intensive training are the computer sales associates, said McGuinness. "The way that works, by the way, the trainers are Dell employees that we're hiring," he said. "That gives them their own experts, and gives them the fiscal advantage of the state's offer."

The sales center is expected to begin operation Sept. 1 from Dell's temporary location in the Hertz Financial Center on Northwest Expressway. "We've actually rented a floor there to support their activity," said McGuiness.

"Dell officials stated that it was the best startup they had ever participated in," said Graven.

Dell is currently looking for a site in the metro area to build a permanent sales center next year.

08-11-2004, 05:47 PM
With Dell being based in our arch enemy, I wonder what Oklahoma did right this time... Of course, it could be that it is a call center... Again.

We need to do this more often with other corporations, regardless of their expansion or relocation plans. PLANT THE SEED!

We also need to develop our major league sports franchises, repeal the state income tax, expand Will Rogers (a real expansion and not this stupid idea of expansion), and get the negitivity out of the typical Oklahoman. Corporations do not like pessimism. We need to be optomistic. :o :confused: :mad:

08-14-2004, 10:11 PM
This story was great, showing how the pieces came together for Dell's location in the OKC metro. Now we know more about this (sort of) phase II of the courtship of Dell: the proposed site, on the intersection of I-44 and SW 15th:

At first I thought a site as close to downtown would be ideal. But this site makes great sense: easy access with I-44, close to dining/lodging/business service options on Meridian (thus close to the airport) and quick access to downtown. They'll have a decent view of downtown (made better once I-40 is torn down). It'll also be close to the Meridian loading dock for the water taxis. Good choice!!

But it also reminds me that we really need to clean and beautify Meridian!

08-15-2004, 02:56 AM
I know floater listed the link, but I've listed the article below in case the link doesn't work later and you want to come back to it.

I agree, I was a little disappointed at first too, that the site wasn't closer to downtown. But this site does have some pluses. First off, it's right behind the May Avenue dam so water level will always be high. Second, it's filling some land that may not otherwise be developed.....afterall, it's not so ripe for residential use as the neighborhood around it isn't that great. I forget thename of the apartments over there off of SW 15th just west of I-44....the section 8 housing the state owns.....but that really brings down that area! Dell's presence may actually lift up the area. Then again, the crummy location my stir Dell towards choosing Norman instead of OKC as well.
Third, the land is right off the interstate with a good view from both I-40 and I-44, so it gives the Dell facility good sight from the highway.
Fourth, it's close to the fair grounds. Hopefully, Dell and an improved fairgrounds will really help out that part of town!
Oh, and I'm sure once Dell is built on that site, Water Taxi will probably have a loading dock there at the Dell site. How cool would it be to live in Deep Deuce and ride a river boat down the Oklahoma River to work!!!!

Like floater says, the location seems to be right in the middle of everything...close to Meridian, close to the airport, close to the fairgrounds, and close to downtown.

And what the heck, it's across the highway from one of Oklahoma City's most successful businesses: Mathis Brothers Furniture!

Here's the article:

"Abandoned park may become home to Dell call center

By Steve Lackmeyer
Staff Writer

An abandoned park at Interstate 44 and SW 15 could be declared surplus next week to make way for a possible new Dell computers sales center. The 68-acre property along the restored Oklahoma River is a five-minute drive from downtown and the Meridian Avenue hotel and restaurant corridor.

The Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority will vote Tuesday whether to declare the park surplus -- a decision that also will need approval by parks commissioners and the Oklahoma City Council. Pat Downes, the riverfront authority's development director, said the property offered everything being sought by Dell.

"We could not have selected a more strategically perfect location for a project of the magnitude Dell has proposed," Downes said. "You've got a wonderful view there being right on top of the river with the downtown skyline to the east."

Dell officials declined to comment Friday on when a site will be chosen for the call center, which could employ up to 3,000 people.

Both Downes and City Manager Jim Couch emphasized Dell has yet to decide between their Oklahoma City site and ones offered by Norman.

Don Wood, executive director of the Norman Economic Development Coalition, declined to comment on any effort his city might be making to lure Dell to a site along Interstate 35 or to the former home of Saxon Publishing.
While Oklahoma City Council members have met twice in executive session about possible incentives, no such items have appeared on Norman City Council agendas.

Preparations being made
Couch said he is trying to ensure Oklahoma City takes care of every detail possible to allow Dell to quickly build a sales center on the river site if it's chosen.

"They've not made a decision yet, but once they do, they're going to be in a hurry," Couch said. "These are preparatory things we're doing to meet their time frame."

Downes said the proposed Oklahoma City site hasn't been used as a park in about 20 years because of settlement problems related to the area's history as a landfill.

The proposed Dell site was bought in 1954 with proceeds from a 1950 bond issue approved by voters to straighten the river and end chronic flooding. In its early years, the park once had a baseball field and concession building.

The site last was used as a horse stable -- the "equestrian pearl" of the city's "String of Pearls" redevelopment of what then was known as the North Canadian River. That early 1980s plan failed because of a lack of funding.

The waterway since has been restored as part of the city's Metropolitan Area Projects. But Downes said the city still will have to do dirt compaction to end landfill-related settlement, and also provide utility and other infrastructure improvements, if the park site is chosen.

"This is the kind of economic development project river trustees and those planning these improvements years before have long dreamed about," Downes said. "We have high hopes Oklahoma City will be selected and Dell will become one of the many significant projects to locate along the river."

08-15-2004, 03:17 AM
Here's an image of where the land is where the Dell site will be located. The highway junction you see is I-44/I-40 right in front of Mathis Brothers. The Mathis Brothers Site is on the top left of this intersection. The proposed Dell site is bottom right of the intersection. Dealer's Auto Auction is to the bottom left. You'll note the dry Oklahoma River in this photo just south of Dealer's Auto Auction, as it then runs under I-44.

Here's a more close up image of the area I'm referring to:

08-15-2004, 02:13 PM
How old are the photos? I ask because I'm pretty sure that portion of the river has water in it now, backed up by the May Avenue dam.
-Downtown Guy

08-15-2004, 11:52 PM
LOL! :) Yeah, that portion of the river is full now all the way back to Meridian Avenue and beyond. Those photos show you how much the MAPS river project has really made a difference though! Those photos are actually from 2002, before the May Avenue Dam was'll notice in the pic that the river has been diverted at a segment at the May Avenue dam is under construction.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more up to date satellite images!!!