Top Woman Emerges at Bristol-Myers Squibb
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Life in the Fast Lane: P.J. Dempsey Sells Morgan Mercedes
These articles by Barbara Fox and Peter J. Mladineo were published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 21, 1998. All rights reserved.
It requires boldness to start a business, and courage
is needed at various points along the expansion road, but the
that really calls for fortitude is when you sell a business. One of
Princeton’s most prominent entrepreneurs, P.J. Dempsey, has sold her
human resources firm, Morgan Mercedes. She’s happy with the result
but admits the process was a harrowing experience for which few
owners are likely to be prepared.
Though she teaches the course at Mercer County Community College for
women entrepreneurs, Dempsey says this did not prepare her for merger
negotiations. And she was hard pressed to find another woman who had
sold her business.
Dempsey now realizes that women need to understand how to position
themselves to put themselves in a position to merge, to sell.
this is the next step for women," says Dempsey. "I learned
a lot of things I would have changed, had I known. You only have one
chance and you’d better get it right."
Dempsey has been in the employment industry since 1976 and founded
Morgan Mercedes Human Resources Group in 1984. Her father was an
engineer in Michigan, and her mother sold real estate. With degrees
from Saginaw Valley State University and St. Louis University, Dempsey
spent three and a half years with the State of Missouri Division of
Family Services, worked for an employment agency in St. Louis, and
was eventually recruited by Roth Young in New York City as a national
When Dempsey and Margaret Hindmarsh started Morgan Mercedes,
desire for a yellow Mercedes and Dempsey’s for a Morgan sailboat
the firm its moniker. (Hindmarsh later married and moved to Florida).
In the 1990s Dempsey added temporary placement to what had been solely
a permanent placement business. Since then the company has diversified
again and become an offsite human resources department. In 1996 she
won the small business person award from the Mercer County Chamber.
On Tuesday, January 13, she sold the business to the
Placers, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accustaff, based in
Florida. Alan Burkhard, owner of the Placers, has his headquarters
in Christiana, Delaware, and has 120 employees and 12 offices. "We
think it’s a nice merger," says Dempsey. As part of a larger firm
she can offer 401Ks and health care benefits that will help her
"We do have our niche market, but everyone is vying for the same
This opportunity turned out to be "win win," says Dempsey.
"I’ll still be here and my staff will be here and we’ll still
be Morgan Mercedes. We’ll be expanding in New Jersey, but I’ll
have the rewards of opening new offices without the risks." She
declines to discuss money aspects of the transaction but notes "I
will still have an interest in the company and am still very
in the bottom line."
The deal started at a convention in October: "I got off the plane
with a guy from the Placers who said his company was interested in
expanding into Princeton, and I said `I’m in Princeton.’ Then the
first day, in a crowd of 1,700 people, Alan happened to be sitting
right next to me."
Once discussions began, things got hectic. "One day the deal’s
on, one day the deal’s off, and in the meantime you have a business
to run." She had broken her hand, to add to the complications,
so when Burkhard would call on the telephone to impart confidential
information, she couldn’t write it down — nor could she put anyone
in her office on the phone, because she wasn’t supposed to leak
to her employees.
Whom did she call for advice? "I turned to my first ever client,
Bob Clancy, who has become a good friend and mentor of mine."
Clancy and Glenn Paul, co-founders of Clancy Paul, had sold their
firm to a national company in Omaha. "Bob said, `Get yourself
positioned for how you really feel and trust those instincts.’"
"My broker, Barbara Clarke at Merrill Lynch, gave me sound
Larry Oring of Oring Levinson Burness of Parkway Avenue was her
and Dan Murray and Dennis Casale were the merger and acquisition
from Jamieson Moore Peskin & Spicer of Alexander Park. Christa
her operations manager, was the only person in the company who knew
about it. "She kept a real perspective on it and kept me very
Gail Eagle (of Gail Eagle Associates Custom Publishing) was her
section: "She understood that in selling a business there is also
a sense of loss, that you don’t understand how much of your self image
is as a woman business owner." This change in self-image turned
out to be one of the most surprising and formidable obstacles to her
making the selling decision: "I never realized how much I
with being an entrepreneur," says Dempsey.
At the closing at Jamieson Moore’s office, she had one lawyer and
the Delaware firm brought three. The buyers’ lawyers had come to
office the previous day to update and spot check the "due
search. "Our lease, our books, our personnel files — we had
submitted 42 files of paper over six weeks," says Dempsey.
The two-hour closing went smoothly thanks to a "dress
staged the night before. "Then we came back to the office and
I sent each one of my employees, all of whom happen to be women, a
dozen roses." The week before she had let drop some hints.
tell you not to tell your staff, but I just couldn’t imagine doing
it cold," says Dempsey. "I was really glad that I let my
buy into the process."
After the closing comes the "cognitive dissonance" when you
wonder whether you’ve done the right thing. Dempsey is convinced she
has: "We had always prided ourselves on being different. We are
finding creative solutions to solving HR (human resource) problems.
Maybe it’s by screening resumes or maybe it’s taking onsite people
for a client company, or maybe it’s hiring all the people for a
so I couldn’t move into cookie cutter companies."
"The exciting thing is that I can continue to be as creative as
I want to be. Alan likes to think out of the box and so do I."
Morgan Mercedes Human Resources Group, 34
Road, Princeton Junction 08550. Pamela J. Dempsey, owner.
— Barbara Fox
Top Of PageExpansions
Atlanta Technologies & Systems Inc., 3371 Route
1, Lawrence Commons, Suite 218, Lawrenceville 08648. Nitin Shah, COO.
609-720-1111; fax, 609-720-1112. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Home
Atlanta Technologies, a subsidiary of East West Service, has moved
to its own space in Lawrence Commons. Atlanta was started in 1993
by Avinash Diwan as a computer consulting arm of East West, which
manufactures exit signs, electrical outlets, and surge protectors.
The head of the Lawrence Commons office is Nitin Shah, COO, who left
HexaWare Technologies (which recently moved from 13 Roszel Road to
5 Independence Way) three months ago. Shah has an undergraduate degree
and an MBA from Rider (Class of 1991).
Atlanta provides consultants to end-user clients that include Dow
Jones, Eli Lilly, Blue Cross Blue Shield, American Express, and Bank
of New York. He says the firm is currently providing contractors but
is considering taking on elaborate turnkey projects and doing offshore
Atlanta vacated 150 square feet at 3 Nami Lane in Mercerville and
now occupies 1,500 square feet. Shah welcomes the added space.
adding employees and more and more consultants."
Top Of PageContracts Awarded
Anthra Pharmaceuticals, 102 Carnegie Center, Suite
103, Princeton 08540. Michael Walker, president. 609-924-2680; fax,
Anthra Pharmaceuticals has filed its first new drug application for
a product intended for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer.
The product, AD 32, might be used for patients who might otherwise
have to have their bladders removed. Its first product was an enzyme
inhibitor that improves the efficacy of chemotherapy in the treatment
of advanced bladder cancer (U.S. 1, August 3, 1994).
Top Of PageCrosstown Moves
KDC Group Inc., 114 Main Street, Kingston
Building, Kingston 08543. K. David Cadieu, president. 609-252-9060;
David Cadieu has moved his pharmaceutical recruiting firm, KDC
Group, to Kingston. He previously worked for the Personnel Group in
Warren. Cadieu, 30, went to Susquehanna University (Class of 1990).
Chartwell Navigation Inc., 370 Wall Street,
08540. Pauline Carr, president. 609-494-2881; fax, 609-924-5906.
The shipping logistics business had moved to a home office, but is
now back at Research Park (U.S. 1, August 13, 1997).
Sports Track, 228 Alexander Street, Princeton
Francis Goodzeit, managing editor. 800-392-5238; fax, 609-921-1307.
Home page: http://www.sportscampus.com.
This online college sports news service was launched in March, 1995;
it furnishes sports stats in a product called the Sports Campus.
it closed an office at 350 Alexander Road and is operating virtually
now, says Frances Goodzeit, managing editor, the firm has expansion
plans that may include a joint venture. David Porter (a sportswriter
with the Times of Trenton) covers the news side.
Top Of PageLeaving Town
SoftNet Web Creations, 410 Wall Street, Princeton
08540. Peter Maracotta, president. 609-430-9310; fax, 609-430-9466.
The computer consulting firm that did website development closed its
office at 410 Wall Street. Its phone, fax, and toll-free numbers have
Peak AnalytiX Inc., 114 West Franklin Avenue, Suite
K20.4, Pennington 08534-1486. John Mikrut, president. 609-737-8133;
fax, 609-737-1724. E-mail: email@example.com. Home page:
The phone and fax have been disconnected Peak AnalytiX was an analysis
services company, specializing in scanning electron microscopy,
probe microscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and optical
It had a website http://www.peaklab.com, which appears to have
Top Of PageManagement Moves
Opera Festival of New Jersey, 228 Alexander Street,
Princeton 08540. Deborah Sandler, general director. 609-279-1750;
After six years Deborah Sandler has resigned as general director of
the Opera Festival of New Jersey to be general director of Kentucky
Opera in Louisville. She will make that move in August, after this
Top Of PageTop Woman Emerges at Bristol-Myers Squibb
In a seven-way shakeup Bristol-Myers Squibb moved around
its top executives and promoted Christine Poon to the highest post
ever filled by a woman. Poon will be president of Medical Devices,
a newly created position that has responsibility for both ConvaTec
(on Headquarters Park Drive in Skillman) and an Indiana-based
Five of the seven appointments pertain to Princeton’s part of the
B-MS business: Samuel A. Barker, Richard Lane, Peter R. Dolan, and
Donald J. Hayden Jr., and Poon. Spokesperson Anthony P. Carter says
the moves aim "to strengthen our core businesses in every
Poon is "certainly the first woman at that level," he says.
A native of Wyoming, Ohio, Poon majored in biology at Northwestern
and earned a master’s degree in biology/biochemistry at St. Louis
University and an MBA in finance from Boston University. She worked
for DuPont, first as a chemist, then in management positions including
manager of market planning in clinical systems. In 11 years at
Squibb (starting as manager of marketing research at Squibb
she has had 13 promotions, and her most recent jobs were with the
Pharmaceutical Group as senior vice president of the northern region
and president of Latin American and Canada. She will have offices
in New York, Princeton, and Skillman.
Barker, 55, has been president of U.S. Pharmaceutical Group but will
now be vice president of Franchise Management and Strategy of
Pharmaceutical Group. This is a new position, and he will work closely
with Kenneth E. Weg, president of Worldwide Medicines Group. Barker
went to Henderson State and has graduate degrees from the University
of Arkansas and Purdue.
Lane, 46, came to the firm in 1995 as president of the primary care
business of the U.S. Pharmaceutical Group. He will now succeed Barker
as president and report to Weg. Lane went to Temple and has a Wharton
MBA; his offices will be on Scudders Mill Road.
Dolan, 41, headed the nutritional and medical devices group in
and will now operate out of Princeton as president for Pharmaceutical
Group Europe. He has an MBA from Dartmouth.
As president, Intercontinental, Worldwide Medicines Group, Hayden
adds Canada and Latin America to his responsibilities; he had already
been in charge of Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, and
He went to Harvard and has an MBA from Indiana University.
The changes come a year after Peter Ringrose left Pfizer to replace
Leon Rosenberg as president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical
Research Institute; Ringrose was the third chief in seven years.
Top Of PageMilestone
Died: Carl C. Storey on January 14. He was a partner of
Pike-based Quinn and Storey, managers of condominium associations.
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