To no one's surprise volunteers are flocking to the American Red Cross office at 707 Alexander Road, hoping to be of service to the beleaguered Gulf coast area. But by this Monday, surprisingly, 65 persons displaced by Hurricane Katrina's destruction had already made their way to those same Alexander Road offices. Diane Concannon, director of communications, says that the evacuees are seeking refuge with relatives and friends in the area. Some traveled by car, while others were flown up.
The Red Cross was not involved in bringing the evacuees to New Jersey. So how did they know that the organization stood ready to help? "The media," says Concannon. The Red Cross's blocky red symbol suddenly is everywhere - even on the helmets of every major league baseball player - and has become shorthand for "help."
Ubiquitous though it is, the Red Cross relies on myriad partners, and that is the case with its outreach to the New Jersey evacuees staying with area families. "We provide help with immediate needs," says Concannon.
The Red Cross, at least at present, is not set up to take in material donations from area residents who want to help. At times like this, the organization counts on churches and other community groups to help with any collection of cribs or clothes or food, she says. Long-term needs such as permanent housing and jobs also fall outside of the Red Cross's purview.
HomeFront is one area non-profit that is already helping out with the permanent needs of the hurricane's victims. Thomas Wallace, a Lawrence resident who works for Amtrak, and his wife, Darlene Wallace, who works for the Mercer County Board of Social Services, have brought 23 relatives up from New Orleans. They are feeding and housing as many as they can, but have turned to HomeFront for help. A spokesperson from that organization says that 10 to 12 more members of the extended Wallace family are on the way, and that a few other families have called to inquire about help for relatives and friends who are now making their way north.
There are a number of ways that area companies and individuals can help HomeFront in getting the evacuees back on their feet, the spokesperson says. One way is to provide gift cards so that the families can replace lost items - and so that they can purchase groceries and other daily necessities to keep them going until they are established.
Another way to help is to provide a job. Evacuees that HomeFront has seen to date have secretarial, clerical, and labor skills. HomeFront has found temporary housing for all of Katrina's victims that it has seen so far, so it is not now looking for rooms for them. The non-profit would, however, be grateful for new furniture to have on hand for the time when the evacuees are able to move into permanent new homes.
Meanwhile, at the Red Cross, long-established protocol is in flux. "A lot of new things are coming out of this disaster," Concannon says. "This is not an ordinary hurricane or flood. Things change every day." But some parts of the organization's response are proceeding as usual. The linchpin of the Red Cross's outreach to all victims of disasters, natural and otherwise, involves an assessment of needs by its family services volunteers. They are now interviewing the evacuees to determine what they need right away.
Help is available for temporary housing, prescription refills and other medical needs, and replacement of essential clothing and supplies. Some of these needs are being met by issuing debit cards, a relatively new approach. "That way the evacuees can shop at any store," says Concannon.
Not everything is available on a store shelf, however, and the Red Cross is also ready to provide the emotional help that many of these hurricane victims surely need. "They've been through a lot. I can tell you that," says Concannon.
The organization is incredibly busy fulfilling its core functions. Any attempt to collect material goods would get in the way of getting that work done, says Concannon.
To provide some idea of just how busy the Central Jersey Red Cross is, Concannon says that it has already trained and deployed 47 volunteers to help throughout the disaster area. One hundred more new volunteers have been screened and are scheduled for training, which is now taking place every day of the week. "At least 200 more volunteers are in the line somewhere," she says. Some are awaiting screening, while others are waiting for a place in a training class. So far, 300 Central Jersey residents have called to volunteer to spend two weeks or more in the affected areas.
These volunteers need to be willing - and physically and emotionally able - to pack up on short notice and to work long days anywhere in the hurricane disaster area, probably without air conditioning, and very possibly without a real bed to retreat to at night.
In addition to people seeking to ship out to work in the disaster zone, Concannon's office has fielded calls from 400 people who want to help out in other ways. "They want to do anything," she says. "Answer phones, lift boxes."
Then there are the people eager for information on how to run fundraisers for the Red Cross's efforts in aid of Katrina's victims, or how to funnel a portion of the cash raised at long-planned events and concerts to Katrina relief. These calls are too numerous to count.
One such fundraising effort that Concannon is eager to promote is a national Dine Out night in support of the rebuilding effort. It is taking place on Wednesday, October 5, and she encourages local restaurants to take part.
For more information on the Dine Out event, or to volunteer to help out with answering phones or with any other task in what is shaping up to be a years-long recovery effort, call the Central Jersey Red Cross at 609-951-2116. Or visit its national website at www.redcross.org.
American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, 707 Alexander Road, Suite 101, Princeton 08540-6331. Kevin Sullivan, chief executive officer. 609-951-8550; fax, 609-951-9787. www.njredcross.org
HomeFront, 1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrenceville 08648. Connie Mercer, executive director. 609-989-9417; fax, 609-989-9423. www.homefrontnj.org
Andrew T. Koerner and Deborah R. Walker have opened a four-person fee-based investment advisory firm, Koerner Walker Wealth Management, in Princeton Forrestal Village. The firm focuses primarily on families with a minimum portfolio of $1 million and also on business owners and professional athletes.
This boutique financial center offers one-stop shopping for a small group of clients who, in addition to investments, may need to refinance mortgages, assemble college funds, or buy life insurance. "In an increasingly complex investment environment, we look to provide safety of principal, strong performance, and sophisticated tax strategies" says Koerner. "Yet we will focus on providing personal-touch service."
The fees at a financial boutique, he says, can be half of what the national broker dealers traditionally charge. Broker dealers generally charge 2 to 2.5 percent on most portfolios whereas at Koerner Walker the highest fee will be 1 percent.
"Here we are working with only 100 households and many of them we have known for 15 to 20 years," he says. "Clients can choose from seven model portfolios ranging from conservative to aggressive growth." Walker, who has had 27 years experience as a financial consultant, lives in East Brunswick with her husband and their three children. She has a BA from Macalester College in Minnesota and a master's degree as well.
Koerner, a graduate of Rutgers, Class of 1987, has been a financial consultant for 17 years. One of three children, his father was an attorney and judge in Hillsborough, and his mother was a nurse. His wife, Josie, is a native of the Dominican Republic and had been an interpreter at the United Nations. They live in Hillsborough with their two children. Fluent in Spanish, Koerner has had a financial advice radio show in Latin America. Though taped in the United States, it was broadcast in Peru.
Both partners do pro bono speaking engagements at universities, and Koerner will speak at a conference for retired baseball players in November in the Caribbean. As the spokesperson for his previous employer, his favorite topic was achieving a life balance. His recipe: schedule time with family before scheduling clients or prospects.
Koerner Walker Wealth Management, 125 Village Boulevard, Suite 308, Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540. Andrew Koerner, president. 609-452-7803.
Sensors Sold, Again
For the second time in five years, the Sensors Unlimited crew made big profits by selling the company. The Princeton Service Center-based firm sold itself for $60 million in cash to Goodrich Corporation, a Fortune 500 company in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Founder Greg Olsen's timing could not have been better. Olsen - who is even now preparing to ride the Russian space shuttle at the end of this month - founded the firm in 1991. At the height of the technology craze, in 2000, he sold the firm and its infra-red camera technology to a Silicon Valley firm, Finisair, for $700 million. When the bubble burst he bought it back for just $6 million. That was in 2002. Now it is three years later and the employee-owned firm - with just over 50 workers - sold for 10 times that much.
Marshall Cohen, who is now president and CEO, presides over 39,000 square feet, including recently constructed clean rooms, at Princeton Service Center. Net sales are reported to be $19 million annually. Goodrich, in contrast, has 21,300 employees at 100 facilities in 16 countries and it has $4.7 billion in sales. Traded on the New York Stock Exchange (GR) Goodrich has products in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.
Sensors Unlimited has indium gallium arsenide detector technology, focusing on innovative design and production of shortwave and near infrared focal plane arrays, cameras, and high-speed detectors. Boards of directors from both firms have approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year.
Sensors Unlimited Inc., 3490 Route 1, Building 12, Princeton 08540. Marshall Cohen, president. 609-520-0610; fax, 609-520-0638. www.sensorsinc.com
A young pharmaceutical firm, Amicus Therapeutics, expanded in June from 3,200 square feet at the Technology Center of New Jersey to 10 times that space at Cedar Brook Corporate Center, where it is subleasing from Purdue Pharma. This month it closed a $55 million Series C financing deal. Founded in 2002, it has 35 employees.
On Friday, September 16, from 3 to 6 p.m., Amicus will have an invitation-only open house to celebrate its new headquarters and its new financing plan. Triad Properties of Princeton Overlook helped find the space - 32,000 square feet, on two floors, with much of the laboratory space already built. Purdue Pharma, which has downsized, still has 75 employees there.
John Crowley, the CEO, graduated from Georgetown University in 1989, earned a law degree from Notre Dame, and practiced healthcare law in Indianapolis. He earned his MBA at Harvard and did marketing and business strategy at Bristol-Myers Squibb before helping to found Novazyme, dedicated to finding a therapy for Pompe's disease, a rare form of muscular dystrophy that affects two of his three children. When that company was sold, it moved to Oklahoma.
Amicus focuses on small-molecule, oral pharmacological products to help treat human genetic disease that can be caused by the misfolding and loss of a particular protein. As "pharmacological chaperones," the products from Amicus "rescue" those proteins by binding to them and helping them function normally.
The company's first compound, AT1001, is for Fabry disease and is in a Phase I clinical trial.
Amicus Therapeutics, 6 Cedar Brook Drive, Cedar Brook Corporate Center, Cranbury 08512. John F. Crowley, CEO. 609-662-2000; fax, 609-662-20001. Home page: www.amicustherapeutics.com
New at 253 Nassau
The new building at 253 Nassau Street has its first - and what will be its only - commercial tenant, Prudential Fox & Roach. Anne M. Kearns, vice president at this office, took the entire first floor - 6,000 square feet, complete with 16 parking spaces. She had tracked the progress of the new building permits and signed a lease before the groundbreaking.
The office was scheduled to move on September 13 from 2,800 square feet on two floors at 166 Nassau Street, where it had just seven parking spaces. Phone and fax will be the same.
Kearns is giving up a storefront in the heart of town (where she showcased "talking houses") for more space and better parking. "Five years ago we had 18 agents and now we have 50, and we are "three to a desk," Kearns says.
Tim Norris of Callaway Commercial says his client, a Princeton-based person using the name Benchmark Realty, is selling the 166 Nassau Street building and expects to close on the deal in October. The property listed for $2.25 million for about 4,850 square feet including the apartments on the third and fourth floors.
Don't think you can poach those Prudential Fox & Roach parking spaces after it moves, because Kearns will hold onto those spaces until her lease expires in October. You never know when you will need to take a client to Thomas Sweet ice cream.
Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors, 253 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542. Anne M. Kearns, manager/vice president. 609-924-1600; fax, 609-924-4291. Home page: www.prufoxroach.com
Wintrance Corp., 11 Deer Park Drive, Suite 102 C, Monmouth Junction 08852. Chyi Lee, president. 732-438-8788; fax, 732-438-8886. wintrance.com
Newly established Wintrance Corporation, a drug delivery company, applies bio-molecules to extend the half-life of drugs. Chyi Lee graduated from Tamkant University in Taiwan in 1973 and has his PhD from the University of Illinois.
General Floor, 11 Princess Road, Suite 11-G, Lawrenceville 08648. Rob Seal, manager. 609-671-1900; fax, 609-671-1950.
General Floor has moved from 414 Whitehead Road in Trenton to 11 Princess Road in Lawrenceville. Contact information is the same. The company sells, at wholesale, carpets, vinyl, commercial tile, and wood floors, as well as mechanics' tools.
Amper, Politziner & Mattia CPAs, 100 Princeton Overlook, Box 7287, Princeton 08543-7287. Gerard Abbattista, CPA, officer in charge. 609-897-0200; fax, 609-897-0999. www.amper.com
In a move to consolidate office space, the accounting firm of Amper, Politziner and Mattia moved from 731 Alexander Road to Princeton Overlook on September 1. Other contact information remains the same.
Intellisphere, 666 Plainsboro Road, Suite 308, Plainsboro 08536. Michael Hennessy, CEO. 609-716-7777; fax, 609-716-4747. Home page: www.mdnetguide.com
Intellisphere will collaborate with Creative Force Video Productions on patient education videos. The Plainsboro Road-based firm publishes MD Net Guide, a family of medical journals, and the HealthXplorer consumer video series. Creative Force has hospital-based patient video programs.
Sovereign Consulting, 111 A North Gold Drive, Robbinsville 08691. Ravi Gupta, president. 609-259-8200; fax, 609-259-8288. Home page: www.sovcon.com
Sovereign Consulting has landed a five-year Navy contract, worth up to $30 million, to provide environmental remediation services in a 10-state area. "This is our first major contract with the Navy, although Sovereign has been working with other branches of the military since the firm was founded six years ago," says Marc Cicalese, a principal at Sovereign.
Certified as a minority-owned business, Sovereign Consulting was named by Dun & Bradstreet and Entrepreneur magazine as one of the 100 fastest-growing new businesses in the United States in 2001, 2002, and 2003. It has 47 employees in 9,950 square feet.
Princeton Day School, The Great Road, Box 75, Princeton 08542. 609-924-6700; fax, 609-924-8944. Home page: www.pds.k12.nj.us
Flush with $15 million in tax-exempt bond financing arranged through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Princeton Day School plans to build 45,000 square feet of new space, renovate 37,000 square feet of existing space, and buy furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
"Our statistics show that since 2003, the EDA has provided more than $148 million in tax-exempt bond financing to 22 different projects in New Jersey," says Glenn Phillips, EDA spokesperson.
Philip K. Brand, 50, on September 8. He was the retired director of parks and recreation for West Windsor Township.
Robert M. Devlin, 59, on September 10. Formerly a printing press supervisor at the Daily Racing Form in Hightstown, he worked for the past eight years at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic on Roszel Road.