Greenwood Hall, a call center that was supposed to bring more than 300 jobs to the area and move its headquarters to Myrtle Beach, has closed its doors just weeks after opening, and around 50 employees in Myrtle Beach are out of work.
Greenwood Hall CEO Bill Bradfield was at the Myrtle Beach location Friday morning, and said that a deal to restructure the company fell through on Thursday when several clients pulled out.
“The company was in much worse shape than I thought it was when I first started,” said Bradfield. “I thought we had a deal to fix it, which we did not. I was a little upset because my fellow officers and the rest of the board resigned, so I’m holding the bag.”
Bradfield was hired in August after the founder and CEO John Hall resigned.
“I was with the company in a sales capacity,” said Bradfield. “When the company was stumbling, the ex-CEO, the founder, John Hall, resigned. In mid-August the board asked me to step in because they’d known I’d run companies before. It’s been very difficult to get a stable plan together, to get people who trusted investing in the business.”
The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation had offered the company $75,000 over three years provided they hired 317 employees and made a capital investment of $1.4 million, but had not given Greenwood Hall any incentives prior to the relocation.
Josh Kay, president of the Economic Development Corp., said he found out last night the company was closing its Myrtle Beach operation.
“This was a complete shock,” Kay said. “Honestly, we’re more concerned about the 50-plus employees who lost their jobs.”
Horry County Council Chair Mark Lazarus said the company’s investors had pulled its funding and the entire company would be closing.
“For some reason the investors pulled the funding from them yesterday at a board meeting,” he said on Friday. “From our understanding, the entire company is shutting down, which makes no sense if you have a substantial contract in place.”
Lazarus said he was concerned about the employees.
“Some of these people quit other jobs,” he said. “I’m worried about their ability to collect unemployment. It’s very disheartening.”
Bradfield said he didn’t know if employees were going to get paid, and that he personally was eight paychecks behind.
“I haven’t been paid, not a whole lot of people have been paid,” he said. “Three weeks of employment. Disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.”
Conway resident Robert Hawkins said he’s been out of work during the summer and was living off his savings when he was hired.
“One of my coworkers notified me of the bad news that they would be closing their doors and I’d better get in here and clean out what stuff I’ve got and try and look for another job,” Hawkins said.
“Everybody here who came to work for Greenwood hall either left a current job or was looking for work,” he said. “There’s 60 people that are now standing in line for unemployment trying to figure out what they’re going to do for Christmas.”
Greenwood hall provided contact management solutions for education institutions, including enrollment management solutions, new student recruitment, re-engagement of students who have dropped out of an institution and student support solutions, according to a press release issued in October when the company was planning its relocation to Myrtle Beach.
Clients included Horry Georgetown Technical College, The University of Alabama and Troy University, according to the release.
According to a statement, “HGTC is disappointed to have lost a strategic service provider after many years of providing service to our college. We are working with state procurement to identify another service provider that can replace this vendor as soon as possible. As always, we remain dedicated to providing world-class services to our students and to the greater community.”
The company in August hired Bradfield as it’s new CEO following the resignation of former CEO John Hall.
The change followed reports of payroll issues, according to KBTX-TV in Bryan, Texas, where the company had a call center.
The station reported that an estimated 60 part-time employees lost their jobs after staffing agency Staffing Texas reportedly canceled its contract with Greenwood Hall.
Hall resigned in July, and KBTX-TV reported the company’s board had told Hall of its belief that he had committed “gross negligence in the performance of his duties.”
Hawkins said that after the closure, he would start going to temp agencies trying to get work in call centers.
“I’ve got to find a job,” he said. “What I’m going to do is make it through the day. I might go kayaking tomorrow.”