Not to sound like a grinch, but after the holidays will come the new year, and with it, many paper storage problems. Offices around the world will be winnowing their files and tossing old files to make new room.
Digital files, in contrast, can be stored for an indefinite time. What's one more CD-ROM in a company's archive?
Converting paper files to digital files is the mission for Arun Malhotra, who founded Ardem Inc. in Belle Mead earlier this year. Malhotra points out that saving storage space is the least of the advantages enjoyed by digital files. Think of how easy it would be for an insurance company to search digital files for a particular contract rather than paper files. Law firms could mine the data in their transcripts for litigation support. And medical records could be made available for easy transfer between hospital, radiologist, and physician.
Twenty-five years ago this month Malhotra landed at JFK with $500 in his pocket. Now he is working on his version of the "American Dream," to help companies get rid of paper.
Malhotra grew up in northern India, where his father was an interior designer and contractor and his mother had a day care center. He majored in engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, graduating in 1978 with the second highest test score in the nation. After earning a master's degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he went to Ohio State University for his MBA. He ran operations for an international manufacturing company in Columbus, Ohio, then managed plants in North Brunswick and Bucks County. His international experience includes working with clients in Brazil, China, Germany, Sweden, Korea, Thailand, and Italy. He and his wife, whom he met in Ohio, have two adolescent children.
"When you look at the time spent in searching and accessing and being able to share information, the payback for going electronic becomes obvious," says Malhotra, who cites advantages for the following industries:
Insurance companies. Customer-specific policies and related records of from 30 to 50 pages can be digitized, indexed, and made retrievable for about $5 with Ardem's document retrieval software.
The company can retrieve the policy on a PC and send the scanned pages as E-mail attachments, eliminating overnight delivery charges and saving on remote storage costs. One client was paying $80,000 for remote storage costs and Malhotra says Ardem reduced that bill by $60,000.
The same system works for bankers, accountants, title companies, and any other business with intensive paper storage needs.
Law firms need to search through piles of paper for specific documents. "We digitize these records and code them according to the required search criteria, shortening the discovery process at a lower cost," says Malhotra.
Engineering companies pay as much as $13 to copy drawings that are in flat files or microfilm. Digitizing and indexing pays for itself in time saved, says Malhotra. He cites an engineering department that accesses 10 drawings per day and spends $35,000 per year for the retrieval service. The department would pay just $5,000 for Ardem's digitizing. Another engineering client had a 40 percent cost savings.
Retail clients. "For a large retail client we image about 30,000 invoices every month and extract eight to ten critical pieces of information from each invoice to feed back into their business system," says Malhotra. Distributors, importers, and freight companies have similar back-office transaction processing needs: with a large number of transactions processed daily, they need a cost-effective way to mine data and populate the information into their business systems.
Medical records and transcription services for doctors' offices, radiology centers and hospitals, can be digitized according to HIPAA compliance rules.
Malhotra outsources some of the work to his native India in order to keep costs down. How it works: Ardem does the scanning at its own secure site or at a client site, where it also handles project management, client relationships, and quality management. It outsources the data extraction and data entry work to India; clerks go page by page, using Ardem's software, to insert the indexing codes.
Malhotra promises security "from the time the documents leave the customer location. They are scanned at a secure location, are on a secure webserver, and are processed at a secure facility with keyed entries. The indexing is done with keyed entry on 'thin client computers,' with no peripherals so that no download is possible, and they are not directly connected to the Internet."
Automation transformed the manufacturing process, he points out, and he predicts that digitizing is going to revolutionize office practices and to prove it he cites statistics: Ten percent of all documents get lost or misfiled, he claims, and most documents are copied 19 times. The global document management market was worth $3 billion last year.
"Our clients are looking to easily retrieve and share information with their customers, or, within the organization thereby increasing both productivity and customer satisfaction," says Malhotra. "When you look at the time spent in searching and accessing and being able to share information, the payback for going electronic becomes obvious."
Ardem Inc., 41 Black Horse Run, Belle Mead 08502. Arun Malhotra, owner. 908-864-0902; fax, 908-864-0903. Www.ardem.net
Another firm that aims to cut paper processing, ESAC Associates Inc., offers low-cost full-service practice management solutions to physicians for a 4-percent flat fee. ESAC, like Ardem, is making the solutions cost effective by outsourcing some of the work overseas.
"The medical billing industry is characterized by high levels of inefficiency," says Amanda Chen, president of the Plainsboro-based firm. She says that doctors typically pay medical billing services between 7 to 10 percent of the collected amount to process their claims with insurance companies.
Chen went to the University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, Class of 1993, and has an MBA from the University of Rochester. A certified management accountant and certified financial manager, she had corporate finance jobs at Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. She is married to a faculty member at Rutgers and has two preschool children.
Her target market is physicians who are currently doing their processing in-house. She promises HIPAA compliant information technology, business process improvement, and economies of scale. Her clients have 24/7 access to information on patients and billing. ESAC leverages information technology to submit claims and follow-up as needed, verify eligibility, and file appeals.
"Having worked in the health care industry, I recognize the inefficiencies. Centralizing and standardizing the business processes can help," says Chen. "We will provide superior customer service in the United States, and for the back office work we can use lower-cost labor in China and India."
ESAC Associates Inc., 2 Goldfinch Court, Suite 201, Plainsboro 08536. Amanda Chen, managing partner. 609-945-5330; Home page: www.esacassociates.com
Children's Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC), 145 Witherspoon Street, Box 1540, Princeton 08542. Elizabeth Sword, executive director. 609-252-1915; fax, 609-252-1536. Home page: www.checnet.org
After six years as executive director of the Children's Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC), Elizabeth Sword is retiring and closing the Witherspoon Street office. In that time she has established CHEC as the nation's leader in children's health and environmental education and developed the best online and offline information sources to educate parents, caregivers, and health
professionals about the risks posed to children's health by common toxins.
The crown jewel in this information array is the interactive Healthy House website, created by Pennington-based Whitehurst Industries and funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mouse over a room in the house and the warnings appear. Some are obvious (precautions against strong cleaners) and some are not (furniture made with particle board can be harmful to children).
Operating on a $750,000 budget from both public and private sources, Sword just finished staging the first major fundraiser on the East Coast, a $500 per plate dinner at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
The organization was founded by Nancy Chuda, who lost her daughter to Wilm's tumor, a cancer she believes was contracted through exposure to environmental toxins. Chuda will continue to operate her part of the organization on the West Coast and Sword's three-person office - currently a 1,000 square-foot sublet from Viocare - will move to another location on the east coast.
"Nancy's personal interest was losing her child," says Sword. "Mine was interest in the subject matter and a friendship with her."
A Manhattan native, she went to Dartmouth, Class of 1979. Among her previous endeavors were editing a children's poetry anthology and founding a project that created the first comprehensive interactive database of service opportunities for you on the Internet. Married to Richard Sword, of the investment firm on Chambers Street, has three teenage children. "It was time to move on," she says.
Sword is always "on message." Even for the gala, she arranged for a dozen eco vendors to staff booths during the cocktail hour. "They supply safer cleaning products, and they were educating our guests about why their choices are preferable or healthier."
The Credo Group, 700 Veteran's Circle, Suite 300, Warminster 18974. Kevin McKenna, CEO. 267-803-1304; fax, 267-803-4737. Home page: www.thecredogroup.com
After five years on Alexander Road, the Credo Group has just moved to Pennsylvania, in part for convenience, but also for the significant tax incentives that the location offers.
The 15-person firm moved into a brand new building in a Keystone Opportunity Zone in Warminster, 50 miles from Philadelphia. "We are not paying local taxes on our income," says CEO Kevin McKenna, "and there is no use or sales tax here."
Global Photonic Energy Corporation, 375 Phillips Boulevard, Ewing 08618. Aaron Wadell, president and COO. 609-434-0002; fax, 801-406-3156. Home page: www.globalphotonic.com
Princeton University's Stephen R. Forrest is working to increase the efficiency of organic solar cells and Global Photonic Energy Corporation, the developer of sustainable organic photovoltaic (OPVT) technologies, uses Forrest's research to try to change how solar cells are manufactured. Forrest's subcontract with the Department of Energy has been extended three years, to 2007, says GPEC.
GPEC uses low cost, flexible materials that can be deposited on flexible and lightweight polymer substrates at room temperature. Because the cells can be very thin, they might be used for such applications as nearly semi-transparent power-generating windows.
Solar cell efficiency had been at a plateau of about 1 percent for nearly two decades, and, as part of the DOE program, Forrest's laboratory improved it to 3.6 percent (the percentage of incident sunlight power converted to electrical power).
"Lightweight, flexible and durable solar cells, that can even be semi-transparent, should have numerous applications in consumer, commercial, architectural materials (windows), and military markets," says Aaron Wadell, COO of GPEC.
Solar cells could help the electricity crunch. Some estimate that electricity consumption will nearly double in 20 years. Global solar cell production has grown more than 20 percent annually for the last 20 years, reaching an estimated $4 billion in 2003. Top manufactures include: Sharp Electronics, BP Solar, GE, Kyocera, Sanyo, Siemens, Shell Solar and others.
GPEC was founded in 1994 by Sherwin I. Seligsohn, who is also the founder, chairman, and CEO of Universal Display Corporation, a public company at the same address at Princeton Crossroads Corporate Center.
Global Photonic Energy Corporation has been working collaboratively with Princeton and the University of Southern California since 1994. The partnership has yielded 37 patents in the U.S. and overseas and numerous applications are in processes.
GPEC has also established a thesis prize at Princeton University's Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) and the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI). The Edith & Martin B. Stein Award is meant to encourage young innovators at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton, 1 Hamilton Health Place, Hamilton 08690. Christy Stephenson, CEO. 609-586-7900; fax, 609-584-6525. Home page: www.rwjhamilton.org
RWJ University Hospital at Hamilton is one of four healthcare providers nationwide to receive a national quality award from the U.S. Commerce Department. It was selected from a group of 60 to receive the Malcolm Baldrige award. Representatives of the hospital are being invited to an awards ceremony in the nation's capital that President Bush is scheduled to attend.
Hutchinson Industries (TOT), 460 Southard Street, Trenton 08638. Pascal Seradarian, president. 609-394-1010; fax, 609-394-2031. Www.hutchinsoninc.com
Last month Hutchinson Industries landed a one-year contract worth nearly $13 million for Humvee wheel and tire assembly. About one third of the work will be done in Trenton and the remainder in Texarkana Texas, the home of the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command.
Owned by a French firm, the company makes aluminum wheels, run-flat rubber and security products, for military contractors, and it has other sites at 642 East State Street, 84 Parker Avenue, 250 Ewing, and 106 Mulberry in Trenton.
Rider University, 2083 Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville 08648. Mordechai Rozanski, president. 609-896-5000; fax, 609-895-5681. Home page: www.rider.edu
The School of Education at Rider University has received $150,000 to establish three-year mentoring relationships for those who plan to teach science and math in middle schools. The competitive grants were given by the New Jersey Project for the Advancement of Clinical Education (PACE) for Teacher Preparation.
Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan Inc., 108 Church Lane, East Brunswick 08816. Michele Tuck-Ponder, executive director. 732-821-9090; fax, 732-821-4211. Www.gsofdr.org
Michele Tuck-Ponder is the new executive director of the Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan Inc. As chairman of the board on a volunteer basis, she stepped in as acting CEO when the executive director left, then applied for the job and was hired.
A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she is a a Leadership New Jersey Fellow (Class of 1995). She has been mayor of Princeton Township, assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio, assistant director of the New Jersey Division on Women and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, director of development and public affairs at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and congressional aide to former United States Representative Louis Stokes and Senator Frank
Keep Middlesex Moving Inc., 100 Bayard Street, Second Floor, New Brunswick 08901. Roberta A. Karpinecz, executive director. 732-745-4465; fax, 732-745-7482. Www.kmm.org
Peter Cantu has resigned as executive director of the nonprofit transportation management association, and his replacement is Roberta Karpinecz. Keep Middlesex Moving serves employers, municipalities, and developers in Middlesex County. Cantu is also the mayor of Plainsboro Township.
Rat's Restaurant, 16 Fairgrounds Road, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton 08619. Anthony Accardo, director of operations. 609-584-7800. Home page: www.ratsrestaurant.org
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Eric Martin, the name-brand chef at Rat's, has resigned over differences of opinion with J. Seward Johnson, the owner. The director of operations, Anthony Accardo, is overseeing the kitchen until a new chef is named.
Barsky Homes, 152 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08540. Roman Barsky, owner. 609-924-7111; fax, 609-924-7199.
Barsky Homes moved from Alexander Road, where it was renting space, to its own place. It had taken an old house on Witherspoon Street and built a five-unit condominium, with one ground floor office, which it now occupies, and four residential units. These two or three bedroom units sold in the $500,000 range, says Roman Barsky.
Currently the company is working on $4 million homes at a location off of Pretty Brook Road, a home at 75 Rollingmead, and two houses on Spruce Street. Soon it will start on a property on Harrison Street, tearing down a house and building a duplex.
Barsky says he came to this country from the Odessa region of Soviet Union 26 years ago, settling in Newark and taking a job in the building trades because it was the only job he could do without speaking English. His younger brother and nephew work with him in the general contracting business.
Cognetics Corp., 52 North Mill Road, Box 386, Princeton Junction 08550-0386. Charles Kreitzberg, executive vice president/COO. 609-799-5005; fax, 609-799-8555. Home page: www.cognetics.com
Cognetics moved from 51 Everett Drive to North Mill Road in September. Founded in 1982 by Charles B. Kreitzberg, it focuses on user-centered software design - the design and production of software interfaces based upon human cognition to increase user efficiency. With its Alignment Advantage practice, it does business-technology alignment and strategic consulting services.
Max H. Mesner,, 92, on October 22. He had worked at the David Sarnoff Research Center where he worked on the benchmark color television system, and at the Astro Electronics Division, where he managed the TV camera systems department.
Gustav Dreyhaupt, 67, on November 25. He was a master electrician at Princeton University.
Carmen Prezioso, 76, on November 28. He taught Romance languages at Princeton High School, chaired the humanities department there, and taught at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.
Emilia Golden, 79, on December 1. She was retired from Princeton University Press.
Julius Koppelman on December 3. Formerly an executive vice president at RCA, he and his wife endowed the Julius and Dorothy Koppelman Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center at Rider University.
Drew M. Dinardi, 21, on December 3. He was a 911 emergency dispatcher in West Windsor and a volunteer fireman.
Francesca Morning, 59, on December 4. She founded Francesca's Limousine Service and was an agent at Weichert Realty in Princeton Junction.
Berardino M. Toto, 81, on December 4. He retired from being a maintenance foreman at Westminster Choir College.