January 14, 1997 in Nation/World

Wismer Cuts Work Force

Michael Murphey Staff writer
 

About a half dozen employees of Wismer Martin Inc. received layoff notices on Friday as the company’s new owner, Physicians Computer Network Inc., continued its restructuring of the local company.

“What we have been told is that the operation will remain at the level it is now, and that there will be no further reductions,” said Brenda Zehm, Wismer Martin’s office manager.

Zehm is now the on-site manager of Wismer Martin, which was acquired by PCN in a stock and cash deal last year. Zehm said the company now employs about 60 people in Spokane.

Zehm said the layoffs were made to reduce “duplication of efforts” between Wismer Martin’s staff and other PCN locations. She said the cuts came in a variety of areas.

“PCN has also made some major investments here,” Zehm added. “They have made Wismer Martin the hub of PCN’s Internet activity.

“They are making us a very valuable location by doing that, and have invested quite a bit in new computer equipment here.”

The move culminates several years of turmoil and downsizing at Wismer Martin, a Spokane-grown company that produces software and support for physicians office management systems.

Founded by Glen and Judy Martin in 1980, Wismer Martin was bought by outside investors in the early 1990s. A series of financial losses, legal disputes with key customers, and management turmoil put Wismer Martin on the brink of bankruptcy over the past two years. Employment at the company has steadily declined from about 160 at the start of 1995.

New Jersey-based PCN, which also supplies computer systems and software to physicians, has been one of the most successful companies in the highly competitive field in recent years.

It has grown rapidly since 1993, primarily through acquisition, and now has about a quarter of the office-based physician market in the country.

In some cases PCN has simply taken over the customer base of the acquired company and shut down most operations. But PCN apparently plans to keep an active operation going in Spokane.

, DataTimes


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