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ProTransport-1 grew too fast, cuts staff

Monday, December 10th, 2012 | Posted by

By CATHY BUSSEWITZ / The Press Democrat

ProTransport-1, the Cotati medical transportation company that was named one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies by Inc. magazine in September, laid off about 5 percent of its workforce on Thursday.

In Sonoma County, 15 workers lost their jobs, and outside the county an additional 22 workers were let go. The affected employees were permanent workers, mostly in administrative roles, the company said.

“We are growing rapidly, but geared up our staffing faster than needed,” Elena Whorton, president and co-founder, said in a statement. “That led to the situation where we have record business volume, but are over staffed and need to cut expenses.”

The employees were let go without advanced warning and did not receive severance pay, said Carly Clements, public relations director for ProTransport-1.

“The decision was made, and we felt it best to let them know as soon as we knew,” Clements said. “We have offered resources in securing them employment in other places, so we’re really doing the best we can for them, but we weren’t able to offer financial severance because we’re cutting cost.”

The company employs 723 people throughout Northern California, operating medical transport services for individuals and hospitals from Sacramento to Santa Clara.

“The result of the changes will be invisible to our patients and customers,” Whorton said. “It’s very difficult news to share, especially as we head into the holiday season.”

ProTransport-1 started in 2000, when founders Whorton and CEO Mike Sechrist identified a need for a service to handle non-emergency medical transportation. Its annual revenues in 2011 were $39.4 million, up 72 percent over three years. In September, Sechrist said the company planned to triple its size and acquire more ambulance companies.

“They hired all these people, and boom, they’re cutting jobs. I don’t understand it,” said Elroy Steele, whose wife, a collections agent, was let go. “We just spent all our money on Christmas . . . It’s a really bad time.”

  • Seth

    Typical. Another company that brings in millions cuts employees because the company bit off more than they can chew. I get it. Things happen, but no serverance? And you let people go only a few weeks before Christmas? Ridiculous. At the very least give them one months pay, or hold on to them until January 1st. To say you are doing all you can for them by offering them a link to craigslist is pathetic. Shame on this company.

  • Chris

    The article says all were permanent employees, thats a lie, becuase since sept they’ve had orientation seminars every Friday with huge groups, and they let go of everyone on probation. They also closed their Alameda County Dispatch and told the employees there that they could either commute to Cotati or quit. This Company is complete bullshit cutting costs, while all the people hirer up keep their 6 figure pay, why dont they cut their salaries!?!?!

  • Lynn

    It’s because they are a bad company run by a corrupt group. Look into Sechrist and Whorton’s background even a little; they have a history of running companies into the ground at the expense of their employees… RELS… most people didn’t even get paid after they collapsed. Pro Transport is a well intentioned group of eager and desperate workers being oppressed by greedy overseers with friends in positions they aren’t qualified for. You don’t have to be a genius to see that it’s a massive equation for disaster. Look at their efforts to snuff all talk of a union and then they fired anyone who supported even conversations about it. Station Supervisors were told to give names for firing lists! In these poor economic times, and in an over saturated market of EMT’s, this joke of a company is riding on the hard working backs of their workforce all the way to the bank. What happened to the business model where the employer and employee relationship was recognized as the key to great success? I implore you, the faceless bosses so far disconnected from the reality of a hard day’s work, to go out and address your workforce like a good leader should. Give them hope in their future and stoke the fire where it needs to be rekindled. After all, you would be nowhere without each and every one of them. Cheers to the EMT’s that work so hard without thanks!

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Nick Walden is our Rohnert Park + Cotati correspondent.
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