Fast-growing Cary company HCL America seeks incentives

dranii@newsobserver.comJuly 12, 2013 

— Information technology services company HCL America, which has doubled its local presence in the past 18 months by adding more than 370 employees, is considering adding 200 more workers in the next year – if the state comes up with the right incentive package.

HCL, the U.S. subsidiary of Indian company HCL Technologies, also is seeking competing incentive packages from other states, including those where it also operates IT operations centers – Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington, as well as Puerto Rico.

The final decision will be “based on the economics of the situation,” said Sundarrajan Ramalingam, associate vice president of human resources.

“I think that is a very fair thing,” Ramalingam added. “Any business organization would do that.”

The company plans to make its decision in the next few months.

HCL, which today has more than 750 workers in Cary, was lured to North Carolina with incentives. The company became eligible for up to $5.07 million in incentives in 2008 when it decided to locate its first U.S. IT operations center in Wake County.

Those incentives were contingent on the company creating 513 jobs over five years – a target that the company easily surpassed.

HCL, which generated $4.15 billion in revenue in its latest fiscal year and has 85,000 employees worldwide, is benefitting from the corporate trend of outsourcing non-core functions. The company’s services range from help desk and technical support and software development to managing clients’ information technology infrastructure and even designing new products.

In the quarter that ended in March, HCL’s worldwide revenue rose by double-digits, including 13 percent growth in the Americas versus a year ago.

When HCL first moved into the Regency Park office complex in Cary, it began naming its work rooms after the planets. But as it rapidly expanded and moved into additional space in the building, it ran through the planets and moved on to galaxies and “obscure moons,” said Tony Cotto, facility manager.

The company eventually decided its nomenclature plan was too short-sighted and switched to naming its work spaces after cities around the world – Athens, Tokyo, etc.

Ramalingam said HCL is in discussions with state Commerce Department officials regarding incentives for the expansion the company is planning.

“We are always looking for opportunities to help companies locate or expand their business in North Carolina,” Commerce Department spokesman Josh Ellis said in an email. “However, the N.C. Department of Commerce does not discuss whether it is or isn’t working with any company in any capacity. We are happy to provide that information if and when a project is publicly announced.”

Ramalingam said the need to hire 200 additional employees is specifically “related to the work that we do here in Cary.” That includes work for clients served out of Cary – a list that includes Boeing, Chevron, Disney, Merck and Salesforce.com – as well as work that requires the technical expertise of its Cary workforce.

“We have had a very good run and are quite happy here,” he said. “We have been able to find the talent we need here. Having said that, the competition (for workers) is heating up in this area, and that is pushing the labor cost higher.”

That competition, Ramalingam said, has pushed HCL to focus on the “employee experience.”

“Now I have to go and sell HCL (to prospective employees) based on career and based on growth, rather than just based on salary,” he said.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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