Wayfair, the online home furnishings company, is on track to hire 1,000 workers for its operations opening this summer in Maine, a company executive said Thursday.
Liz Graham, the company’s vice president for sales and service, said Wayfair is on track to open its sales and customer service operation at Brunswick Landing in Brunswick next month and another operation in Bangor in July.
The company sells products ranging from furniture to flooring, lighting, plumbing and appliances. Its newest feature will allow customers to use a tablet to “place” a 3-D rendering of furniture in their home to see how it will look.
Graham said Wayfair is happy with the qualifications of the job candidates interviewed so far and has extended offers to many. She declined to provide specific information on how many employees have been hired or offered jobs, but said the pace is strong enough for the company’s plans.
Some job market analysts have speculated that the company may have a hard time finding enough qualified workers in Maine’s tight labor market. Statewide unemployment was 4.5 percent in April, but it is much lower in some markets – it was 2.7 percent in April in Cumberland County, where Brunswick is located.
The jobs are largely in sales and customer service. Graham provided no details about what the company will pay its employees, but she said the jobs offer good salaries and benefits and the offices will feature open floor plans and a “very Silicon Valley” job culture. She said that means that there are no offices, employees are empowered and a “high-energy, tech- and data-driven culture” is encouraged.
Graham was in Portland on Thursday to speak at Trade Day, an event sponsored by the Maine International Trade Center. Wayfair, which was founded in 2002, is based in the U.S., but expanded to the United Kingdom in 2008, the rest of Europe in 2009 and to Canada this year. Because of Maine’s proximity to Canada, she said the company expects to hire some local employees who speak French to handle calls from francophone Canadians.
She said that online retailing is less common in Canada and Europe than in the U.S., but the markets are large and the company has so far recorded strong growth overseas. Canada, too, is seen as fertile ground, and customers there have been able to shop on the U.S. site for the past eight years before a site dedicated to that country started operating in the first quarter of this year.
“We see a lot of opportunity there for future growth,” she said, speculating that Wayfair’s market share in Canada eventually could exceed the company’s market share in the U.S.
Wayfair projects net revenues of $2.6 billion this year and growth in direct retail sales were up 93 percent in the first quarter this year.
She said Maine was attractive to the company because of its loyal employees and a stable workforce along with a strong customer service culture.