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New call center planned for Hobart

HOBART, Okla. (AP) _ A company that provides mail-order supplies to diabetes patients plans to open a call center here, opting not to rebuild hurricane-damaged offices in Florida.

Diabetic Connection plans to begin operations within the next few weeks in Hobart, about 115 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Owner Suzanne Senter, a Hobart native who now lives in Jasper, Ga., said she chose to bring business to her hometown after attending her 50th high school reunion in September.

That was the first time she had been back to Hobart since her mother's funeral in 1974.

One of Diabetic Connection's two centers in Daytona Beach, Fla., was destroyed by recent hurricanes. Senter, who had plans to expand anyway, decided to locate in Hobart.

``We thought we were going to expand in Florida, but while we were here, we saw how the town had deteriorated but was bouncing back with the square and the Main Street program,'' she said. ``It's beautiful now, and it's going to be even more beautiful. There isn't that vacant face that a lot of little towns have. It's exciting to be part of that and to add 30 employees immediately.''

Diabetic Connection initially will hire and train 30 people, and will ultimately employ about 90 people, she said.

``Everybody has just bent over backwards to help us in any way they can,'' she said of the town's leaders. ``We're hiring people right now, and if we have to use card tables to start, we will.'' Senter and her husband, Howard, are both retired, but she has experience growing small businesses.

A laminating company she started in the 1970s in a basement in Philadelphia grew to more than 100 employees by the time she sold it in 1984.

``You think at a certain time that you're retired and you're not interested anymore, but we found that we are interested and inspired,'' she said. Senter said Diabetic Connection's sales are projected to be about $30 million this year.
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