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Z-Tel employment hits 550

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Adam Carlee worked with a mass of cables and wires in the communications room.
Down the hall, Misty Tatum and Beverly Rufus sat at cubicles in a room of 40 cubicles. They were the only ones there at the time, but later every cubicle would be occupied.
Across the hall was another large room with 40 cubicles. And there were several other such rooms.
A little farther down the hall, employees sat in front of computer terminals, looking from the computer to the instructor in the front of the room. They are the next class to be trained.
This was a typical day at Z-Tel Technologies, formerly Touch 1, as the company strains to keep up with its phenomenal growth.
At the end of June, the company's employees numbered 550, making Z-Tel the second largest employer in Atmore behind Vanity Fair. If the current trend continues, Z-Tel will easily become the largest employer by the end of the year.
The company had grown from 170 jobs when Z-Tel's acquisition of Touch 1 was announced in November, to 330 jobs in April when Jim Corman announced that the acquisition was finalized. Corman is president of the Consumer Services Division of Z-Tel.
At that time, he said the company would begin an aggressive hiring campaign to increase employment to 650 by June 30.
A couple of weeks ago, Corman predicted that the company would not hit the 650 mark, but would get close to 600.
Part of the reason for that is the logistics of putting so many people to work so fast and changing the physical plant and technology to match the growth.
Human Resources Vice President Stephen Van Pelt said some rooms that once held 20 people are now designed to hold 30 to 35.
The company currently has about 500 computers for the 550 people employed.
And it's by no means over.
Now that word is spreading about jobs in Atmore, potential employees are coming from other communities.
Corman predicts that Z-Tel probably won't draw many employees from Baldwin County since the economy is so strong there.