PM Systems, after almost 20 years of providing computer systems to electrical distributors, has told its customers that the company will close down by Sept.1, 1999. To help customers make the transition to new operating systems, PM Systems has formed a strategic alliance with Trade Service Systems, Blue Bell, Pa.

PM Systems president David Pratt has begun working with Trade Service Systems to build some of PM Systems' features into Trade Service's Array system. By doing so, Trade Service hopes to entice PM Systems users to migrate to Array and at the same time to entice David Pratt to play a larger role in Trade Service's future, said Mike Wentz, director of marketing, Trade Service Systems.

PM Systems decided to close down after confronting the prospect of rewriting its software for a new platform, said Eve Pratt, vice president. The year-2000 problem pestering so many software vendors didn't really play a role, she said. A more pressing factor was the need to offer client/server capabilities. PM Systems' software, which runs on mainframe computers, had been developed incrementally over the years, and some of its programs were almost 20 years old. Meeting the rising demand for client/server systems would require a complete rewrite.

Pratt said the alliance with Trade Service will make it easier for PM's customers to move to a new system. PM Systems will provide technical support until the Sept. 1999 deadline and key support people have agreed to stay on until then, but there will be no further enhancements to the product, Pratt said. "We felt that a year and four months was enough time for our users to both find another system and convert to it," she said.