Founded in 1999 by two Princeton graduates, one of their fathers, and a friend, North Brunswick-based fulfillment company Capacity LLC received very little press until it got involved with Silly String.
It turns out that Silly String, more commonly used by young boys to torment elderly neighbors at Halloween, is also used by soldiers in Iraq to detect trip wires on bombs. Marcelle Shriver, an office assistant in a Deptford podiatry practice, is the mother of one of those soldiers. When her son Todd told her that he and his comrades needed more Silly String, she launched a campaign to collect it. She started modestly enough by spreading the word through her church bulletin. Then Philadelphia radio station KYW picked up the story, and ABC did a Silly String segment. It was only a matter of time before the AP spread the news nationwide, attracting the attention of the New York Times and any number of other media outlets.
Silly String began to pour in from everywhere. By early October Shriver was sitting with 80,000 cans of the multi-colored sticky string. Her campaign had been successful beyond her wildest dreams. But Shriver had a big problem.
As any mom who has confiscated the messy stuff knows, Silly String comes in aerosol cans. You can’t just drop it into the mail. Most shippers don’t want to touch it. Shriver could find no one who would ferry her cache of the the life-saving toy to Iraq.
Then Thom Campbell, a founder of Capacity LLC, heard the story. He understood Shriver’s dilemma. “Puncture one can of Silly String and it becomes a little missile,” he says. “Puncture a lot of them, and, well, you can imagine.”
Capacity, however, has a permit to ship aerosol cans, and the company stepped in to help Shriver, volunteering to pick up the Silly String, get the necessary shipping permits, and get it to the soldiers who need it.
“The Silly String is in our warehouse now,” says Campbell. “It had to stay there for 10 days, and we have to inspect it. It was stored outside and some of the packaging got wet, but it will be ready to go in a few days.”
In order to obtain permission to ship the Silly String, which is classified as a hazardous material, “we just had to prove that we could do it,” says Campbell. In doing so, the company turned to Tony Ruiz, its facilities manager. “He has the ability to follow through with the transporters and with the government,” says Campbell. “It’s not something a private citizen could do.”
Hazardous material shipment is well within Capacity’s range of expertise, but it more commonly deals with deodorant, costume jewelry, cosmetics, laundry products, beach chairs, and CDs. The company provides a full complement of fulfillment services — from receiving and inspecting shipments to vendors, to assembling and custom wrapping gift packages, to arranging for bulk discounts on shipping. Its clients are small to mid-size companies, although, says Campbell, “we don’t kick them out when they become big companies.”
Campbell grew up in Manhattan, attended Exeter, and graduated from Princeton University with an English degree in 1991. He had done a lot of computer consulting while he was still in school, and went to work after graduation for start-up Bottom Line Technology, which was owned by the father of a high school classmate. “All of my clients were financial service companies,” he recalls.
Combining his technology and financial services background, he soon joined Morgan Stanley, where he worked for seven years. By the time he left he was responsible for the business administration and governance of Morgan Stanley Institutional Funds. He says that he enjoyed the work, but that he had worked himself into a narrow niche. When Jeff Kaiden, a fellow Princeton graduate (Class of 1990), called to ask if he wanted to join him in building a warehousing and fulfillment business with a focus on small and mid-sized companies, he gave him an enthusiastic yes.
“This was an opportunity in an enormous, fragmented, and poorly-served industry,” Campbell says. For while big companies typically have divisions to handle warehousing and shipping, small companies struggle with these functions and only rarely can afford to obtain the space, technological expertise, and transportation options available to larger companies.
Kaiden, who is Capacity’s CEO, learned the warehouse and fulfillment business from his father, Allen Kaiden, the president of Sigman/Kaiden Consultants www.sigmankaiden.com), a Long Island-based warehouse design and distribution company. Allen Kaiden retains that company, and is executive vice president for design and methods at Capacity. Clients of Sigman/Kaiden, which was founded in 1959, include the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, ADS/LeGourmet Chef, Aeroquip/Vickers, and two Internet grocers.
The younger Kaiden, an engineer, worked for his father at Sigman/Kaiden as a project manager after spending 10 years working in Asia on a number of projects, including the design of the Bangkok subway system. He met Capacity’s fourth founder, Arlen Fish, who now serves as the CFO, when they were MBA candidates at NYU’s Stern School of Business.
The company, which is registered in Delaware, began with $100,000 and just the four partners. It now has 169 employees, leases four warehouse facilities, all in the North Brunswick area, and has annual sales of $8.1 million. It ranks number 235 on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of “Fast 500” companies.
Capacity’s first client was NetGrocer.com. “They had good core capabilities, but didn’t have a warehouse management system,” says Campbell. The new company found one glaring problem right away. “They had a 30-foot-high warehouse, but were only using 8 feet,” he says. Capacity consolidated Net Grocer’s inventory and then leased space to other companies. When Net Grocer was sold to mywebgrocer.com, Capacity took over the lease on the whole warehouse.
The founders of Capacity had been introduced to NetGrocer by principals in A.P. Deauville, a company that distributes the Power Stick line of deodorants, which are sold by big retailers, including Wal-Mart, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree. Power Stick, says Campbell, is the largest “value brand” deodorant, and A. P. Deauville is now Capacity’s biggest client. In second place is Freeze 24/7, a manufacturer of facial skin products, including Plump Lips and RelaxodermRX.
Among the company’s smallest clients is start-up Penelope Peapod www.penelopepeapod.com), a company founded last year by a New York City mother of four. Its product is a wicker handbag which transforms into a colorful bassinet with a flowing skirt that contains a matching seven-inch doll. This client is a quite a bit smaller than most Capacity clients, says Campbell, but “it came to us through friends.” He was skeptical at first, but when he saw the unusual toy, he quickly saw its potential. Besides, he says, “if we like a tiny company or a start-up, we’re in a position to take a flyer.”
In general, Capacity is set up to serve clients that, at the low end, ship half a dozen items to consumers every day and ship a few orders a week to businesses. “Other clients ship only one order a week,” Campbell says, “but it’s 90 pallets.” At the high end of the volume scale is a client like jewelry manufacturer DCK. “We just shipped a very large amount of fashion jewelry for them,” he says, “millions of pieces in one week. It was for a launch.”
Capacity is not in competition with warehouse companies that specialize in shipping fork lifts full of pallets. It does do some of this work, but its speciality is “pick and pack” business, where individual items are received from a vendor and sent, often just a few at a time, to consumers or to boutiques. Before shipping, Capacity can collate, sort, hand label, shrink wrap, and assemble individual items into gift packs.
While Capacity caters to smaller companies, it is not set up to work with eBay sellers, Campbell says, because these merchants don’t tend to be shipping enough of the same item.
Capacity ships all over the world, but the company itself is content to stay in New Jersey. This is so even though two of its principals, Campbell and Kaiden, live in New York. “I live in Brooklyn,” says Campbell, who is married to artist Ellen Harvey and has a five-month-old son, Tobias. Kaiden lives in Manhattan. Other executives also live in the city. They carpool some of the time, but take the train at times — including all Fridays — when gridlock is likely.
Central New Jersey, though, is good for the business. “Every time we think of expanding, we find something close by,” says Campbell. Its warehouses include the former J & J building in North Brunswick, and another building just across the street. Space in that area is relatively inexpensive, transportation access is excellent, and the company has found the supply of available employees, especially for upper-level jobs, to be extraordinary. Even filling hourly jobs has not been too difficult. “You have to pay well,” says Campbell, “but we offer benefits to full-time employees, and that helps.”
The company does do business in California, too, and is about to open a warehouse there. All of its warehouse space is now leased, but Campbell says that buying space is an option that it may consider doing so when its leases are up.
“We’re in a growth mode now,” says Campbell. “We’re adding three to five clients a week.”
Have any been pulled in by Silly String?
“No,” Campbell laughs. “We haven’t gotten any business from the story, but we have gotten so many moving letters. And it’s nice for our clients to see that warehousing is not all that we do.”
Capacity LLC, 1112 Corporate Road, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-745-7770; fax, 732-745-0450. Jeff Kaiden, CEO. Home page: www.capacityllc.com.
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
Navinta LLC, 1499 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing 08618; 609-883-1135; fax, 609-883-1137. Jayshree Patel.
Navinta, a technology-driven pharmaceutical company in Ewing, has entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Tikvah Therapeutics, an Atlanta biopharma focused on treatment of central nervous system diseases. The agreement allows Tikvah to pay a licensing fee, potential milestones, and royal payments in exchange for an exclusive worldwide license to pursue the commercial development of the technology for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Navinta’s product, a formulation of sodium phenylbutyrate, incorporates components that mask the unpleasant tastes and smells of many oral products being explored to treat neurodegenerative diseases. An improved taste should improve compliance from infants, children, and older individuals with difficulties in swallowing.
Navinta, focusing on new ways to synthesis new and existing drug molecules, has at least 10 patents filed.
Princeton Geoscience Inc., 14 Washington Road, Building 5, Princeton 08540; 609-279-0008; fax, 609-252-9238. James L. Peterson PG, president. Home page: www.princetongeoscience.com.
Princeton Geoscience, an environmental consulting firm, has moved from a home office to 1,152 square feet at 14 Washington Road in response to increasing business opportunities. The company is looking now to fill one or two internships, and Peterson says he is always in the market for qualified geologists, hydrogeologists, and environmental scientists.
Founded in 2000, Princeton Geoscience evaluates and develops remedies for properties with contaminated soil and groundwater for its commercial and industrial clients.
James Peterson, the president, is a geologist. His colleague is an environmental scientist, and the two work with a network of subcontractors who provide full range of environmental risk, evaluation, and remediation services.
Peterson went to Hopewell Valley Central High School and then went west for a bachelor of science in geology from Colorado State University in 1985. He returned to New Jersey in the late 1980s when the environmental consulting industry was growing in response to passage of the Environmental Cleanup Responsibility Act, or ECRA, which after reauthorization is now called the Industrial Site Recovery Act, or ISRA.
Law Offices of Marc A. Deitch, 2119 Route 33, Lexington Square Commons, Suite B, Hamilton 08690; 609-586-0586; fax, 609-586-0637.
The Law firm of Marc A. Deitch has moved to 2119 Route 33 in Lexington Commons. The three-person firm specializes in real estate law. It made the move, to larger offices, because its lease was up.
Entasis Architecture, 21 Route 31 North, Suite A-6, Pennington 08534-; 609-730-9090; fax, 609-730-9333. Gonzalo Rizo-Patron, founder and owner.
Entasis Architecture moved from 2917 East State Street Extension in Hamilton to Pennington to prepare for expected growth. The firm does design-intensive architecture, including custom homes, additions, alterations, new homes as well as commercial work and some restoration and rehabilitation. It expects to hire two or three more people in the coming year.
Gonzalo Rizo-Patron, the owner, explains why the new location is better for his company: “An upscale center with somewhat related businesses located here, it is better suited for kind of work we do and the clientele we expect to find.”
He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1982 and a master’s degree in architecture from Carnegie Mellon University in 1986.
Infinix Corporation, 666 Plainsboro Road, Suite 1320, Plainsboro 08536-3047; 609-936-0101; fax, 609-936-0202. Uday Nadkarni, president. Home page: www.infinixcorp.com.
Infinix has made a short move. The recruitment software company is still located at 666 Plainsboro Road, but has moved from Suite 1022 to Suite 1320. Uday Nadkarni, president of the 10-person company, says that the reason for the move was simple: “Our lease was up.” The landlord did not want to renew the lease, he suspects, because a larger company wanted Infinix’s space for an expansion.
The new space is a little smaller than the old space, but it is more than enough, says Nadkarni. This is so because many employees telecommute. The farthest telecommute? “Eight-thousand-five-hundred miles,” he says. (The company also has a presence in India.)
Infinix’s main product is called Matchboard, web-based software that offers online collaboration among employees, job candidates, and staffing services. It also is used for customer relations management.
Matchboard can also be used for a company’s internal tasks. Nadkarni says that his telecommuters use its virtual meeting room feature to work together on projects.
Applied Engineering and Technology, 196 Tamarack Circle, Montgomery Knoll, Skillman 08558; 609-921-8999; fax, 609-921-1803. Harald Greve, president. Home page: www.aetpc.com.
Applied Engineering and Technology, a structural engineering consulting firm, moved from 298 Wall Street to 196 Tamarack Circle. Working primarily for insurance companies, attorneys, and universities, the company investigates collapses and storm-related damage, develops new designs, and repairs existing structures, including university buildings. The firm recently won an award from the International Masonry Institute for renovating an old chapel at Seton Hall University.
Harald Greve, the company’s president, received a master’s degree in structural engineering from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
Gannett Fleming Inc., 3575 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 203, Hamilton 08619; 609-584-9592; fax, 609-279-9436. Dave Hassrick, regional manager. Home page: www.gannettfleming.com.
Gannett Fleming has moved from 200 Wall Street in Princeton to Hamilton. The firm does environmental engineering, remediation, surface water discharge and air permitting, system engineering design, and construction management.
Neovision Consulting Inc., 3371 Route 1 South, Lawrence Commons, Suite 203, Princeton 08540; 609-531-4444; fax, 609-681-5036. Home page: www.neovisioninc.com.
Neovision Consulting, an accounting and information technology consulting firm, has moved from South Brunswick to Lawrence Commons.
O.C.A. Benefit Services LLC, 3705 Quakerbridge Road, University Plaza II, Suite 216, Hamilton; 609-514-0777. Stephen Honig, owner. Home page: www.ocal125.com.
O.C.A. Benefits has just moved from 731 Alexander Road. The company is a third party administrator for employee benefits. Its specialty is in HRAs, Heath Reimbursement Arrangements, which are generally high-deductible health insurance policies. These plans are an increasingly popular option among employers eager to cut the cost of providing health insurance for their employees. They are, in fact, one of the fastest growing health insurance strategies.
“Our business has doubled in each of the two previous years, and tripled last year,” says Stephen Honig, who founded the company in 1983. The company has grown from three employees to nine employees during the past year. It has 250 employer groups as clients and it administers plans for 5,500 employees and dependents.
Honig says that his company has clients in all industry sectors. “One of our biggest groups is physician practices,” he says. “As health care providers they don’t like high-deductible insurance plans, but as employers, they love them.”
Under the plans, employees are typically responsible for the first $1,100 to $2,500 of medical expenses for themselves and for each of their covered dependents. Honig says that this usually works out to less than most employees would spend under other types of more traditional policies.
On a personal level, Honig says that he switched his company’s insurance, and his own along with it, to an HRA when his wife, Jill, a homemaker, suffered a heart attack at age 39 just as their oldest child was preparing to leave for college. He says he realized that the family would have large ongoing medical costs. “She is on nine prescriptions,” he gives as an example. The HRA has worked for his family, he says.
HRAs operate under ERISA and carries tax advantages as well as lower costs than many other health insurance plans.
Honig, a 1981 Rider graduate, says that he sees education as part of his role. Employees are often skeptical about HRAs, and he holds workshops to tout their benefits. In his view, an HRA makes employees careful healthcare consumers. As an example, he points out that the sixth leading cause of death in the United States is incorrectly filled prescriptions.
“When I talk to people I tell them to always bring a pad and a pen to a doctor’s appointment, and to write down the name and dosage of every prescription,” he says. “If you can’t read your doctor’s handwriting, neither can your pharmacist.”
During a recent presentation, he says, a woman in the front row blanched when he made that suggestion. She told him that she had just returned from blood tests taken when her doctor called to tell her that he had prescribed the incorrect dosage of a medicine she had been taking for nine months.
Dittman Incentive Marketing, 317 George Street, New Brunswick 08901; 732-745-0600; fax, 732-745-9587. Jim Dittman, president. Home page: www.dittmanincentives.com.
Dittman Incentive Marketing will be moving on November 2 and 3 from just under 7,000 square feet at 108 Church Street to 10,159 square feet at Plaza II, a five-story, 110,000 square foot building at 317 George Street. Once the company had transformed two of its storage rooms and a conference room into offices and had moved the copy machine into the kitchen, it was time to move on, says Jim Dittman, owner of the company.
He had calculated that 50 percent more space would handle the expected growth of about 15 percent a year over the next five years. But over the last nine months the company has begun making eight additional hires and he feels lucky that the company has first right of refusal on an adjoining space in the new building. Right now Dittman has 50 full-time employees and another 30 to 40 full-time contractors.
Dittman says that he is thinks this growth rate is manageable. “In a service business you can’t afford to have any service failures to tarnish the reputation for quality,” says the owner of the 31-year-old company.
Dittman Incentive Marketing helps businesses motivate their employees to sell more, to work more productively or safely, and to refer potential new hires. Its programs also motivate distributors and dealers to be loyal to the companies whose products they sell. Moving beyond the traditional trophies and monogrammed golf balls, the company also provides online shopping rewards, and ways for employers to track how well in-house referrals are working to build business.
For customers in the banking industry, for example, Dittman provides an electronic platform that encourages referrals to other lines of businesses within the institution. An employee in retail savings and checking accounts, for example, should be referring new or existing customers to the bank’s investment or mortgage products. The electronic platform tracks the referral, sending automatic alerts to the relevant bank staff when a person receives a referral, makes an appointment, and makes a sale.
The employee who made the initial referral earns points to spend in an online shopping mall. This system provides the bank with valuable information on the percentage of leads that were followed up on and closed.
Dittman’s firm has another electronic platform, myperformancecenter.com, where a client can bring together all programs that recognize and reward employees. “Companies have different forms of recognition,” he says, “but they are not in front of everyone’s mind and often fragmented in terms of administration and delivery of rewards.” So frequent E-mails remind employees to visit the site. “Every time they go to the site,” explains Dittman, “they see a portrayal of a large number of recognition and reward programs that underscore the central message: This is a company that does care about me.”
The platform handles length-of-service rewards, administers incentive programs, and supports electronic referrals of potential employees. If a referral is hired, the employee earns shopping points. Another way to earn points is by using E-learning modules and passing brief tests on subjects like brand awareness. Prizes may be travel, hotel, or airline certificates, merchandise awards, or retailers’ gift cards and certificates.
Dittman’s business originated in pure sales incentives like deluxe travel to exotic locations. Recent growth has been fueled less by sales promotion than by programs that aim to engage employees and retain the best people. Whereas his industry contacts in the past have been more with vice presidents of sales or marketing, today he often talks to vice presidents of human resources or to those with the new title vice president of total rewards.
Dittman grew up in Kearny, near the swamps in the Meadowlands close to the Lincoln Tunnel. He received a bachelor of science degree in marketing from Rutgers University. In 1972, when he decided to start his own business, he was working for SCM Corporation. “I didn’t start it to make lot of money or to grow a big business,” he recalls. “I started it for creative freedom. I purposely kept it small for years because I liked being involved in every aspect.”
He started the business in New York City, then moved to Metro Park, to Edison, and finally landed to New Brunswick. By then his children were working for him. His son David is the sales and marketing senior vice president, and his daughter Vivian is the strategic planning senior vice president. When a business consultant told the family that their choice was either to get bigger or to shrink, they decided to expand.
Dittman loves the industry. “We give people reasons to exceed their normal levels of performance, and once they do, we get the opportunity to be part of the reward they earn. We help their lives become richer. When I started the company, I believed that, and I believe it more than ever now.”
— Michele Alperin
Coldwell Banker Mortgage, 2 Centre Drive, Monroe Center, Jamesburg 08831; 732-936-0759; fax, 732-936-9592.
Coldwell Banker Mortgage has closed its office in Monroe Township, according to Lynn Woodin, a real estate agent who formerly worked there.
Pelican Analytics LLC, 840 Sherwood Road, Bridgewater 08807; 908-725-2544. John A. Fiorino, director of technology. Home page: www.PelicanAnalytics.com.
Pelican Analytics has changed from a laboratory-based business to a consulting firm and moved from 11 Deer Park Drive to Bridgewater in mid-July. Its expertise is in analytical chemistry involving catalysts, petrochemicals, organic and inorganic chemicals, precious metals, and energy.
St. John’s Community Services, 2137 Route 33, Lexington Square Commons, Suite C, Hamilton 08690; 609-586-8005; fax, 609-586-8096. Tanya N. McBride, office manager. Home page: www.sjcs.org.
St. Joseph’s Community Services has closed. Located at 2137 Route 33, the social service organization offered support to children and adults with developmental disabilities. It was part of a larger organization that was founded in 1866 and has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. www.sjcs.org).
At one time the St. Joseph’s location in Hamilton had as many as 45 employees. A spokesperson in Washington, D.C., said that the non-profit did not want to comment on why the Hamilton office had closed. She said that the closing was not related to funding issues, nor were there problems with a lease.
Sunshine Chemlab Inc., 7 Deer Park Drive, Princeton Corporate, Suite M-7, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-274-1553; fax, 732-274-1556. Home page: www.sunshinechemlab.com.
Sunshine Chemlab www.sunshinechemlab.com), a research firm with headquarters in Thorndale, Pennsylvania, that produces complex organic fine chemicals, opened an office at Princeton Corporate Center in May. That office is now closed.
The company supports high technology research at universities, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and other chemical companies through the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds, agricultural chemicals, functional dyes, liquid crystals, organic functional materials, peptide compounds, and organic complicated intermediate compounds.
James S. Hill, 83, on October 23. While he was an attorney with J & J, he helped to create the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the J.S. Johnson Sr. Charitable Trusts. A former Princeton Township judge, he had been an attorney at Smith, Stratton, Heher, Wise & Brennan.
Alan R. Ford, 58, on October 26. He had been vice president of Interpool Inc. and CEO of Point to Point Services in Holland, Pennsylvania.
Donald R. Appleby, 71, on October 26. He had been director of special services for the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District.
Kenneth M. Schlesier, 64, on October 27. A phyicist who received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, he taught electronics at DeVry University.