New Duluth Company Promises Jobs, Will it Deliver?

By KBJR News 1

August 11, 2010 Updated Aug 11, 2010 at 10:39 AM CDT

DULUTH, MINN. --- A new Duluth Business opened today, touting the creation of 150 new jobs.

Performance Centers Inc. is a telemarketing business said to be creating new jobs in a tough economy. The company is based in Fargo, ND.

But some say what they really did was just move jobs from one company to another.

Ryan Sunnafrank claims that about 100 new employees were tricked into quitting their prior jobs at a similar telemarketing company called Epixtar to work at Performance Centers Inc. (PCI).

Sunnafrank was a supervisor at Epixtar, a telemarketing company he said employed over 100 people in Duluth up until last Monday.

In 2005, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida, but Sunnafrank says last week many employees were led to believe the company's financial problems were back.

"When you're told that you're not going to get paid for the work you're doing, or the current job that you hold isn't going to be there in a month, those are the kind of things that are threatening," Sunnafrank said.

Sunnafrank says Epixtar's then-director Larry Noorhoek convinced most of the company's workforce to quit their jobs by using that type of coercion.

He says Noorhoek joined PCI last week, bringing much of the workforce with him.

"They're saying they've created all these jobs, which they haven't actually created," Sunnafrank said.

"They've basically stolen employees from one company to another."

We asked Noorhoek if that was the case, and his company had in effect, swallowed up Epixtar, hiring many of their employees.

His reply:

"No comment."

Which is little comfort to Ryan Sunnafrank who was also offered a job at PCI.

"I was offered a job to the other place, turned it down, and the same people who are now working at the other place, did end up ultimately firing me," Sunnafrank said.

The Northland's NewsCenter made contact with Epixtar and asked them these same questions, but they declined to comment.

Last week, the City of Duluth, and The Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) were both promoting PCI, and touting these new jobs.

When told about the ex-employee's allegations, officials from both APEX and and the City pointed out that regardless of who the employer is, the jobs in question are still being kept in Duluth.

Written for the web by Matt Standal