If anyone happened to read Richard K. Rein’s “I’m too busy to write a column” column in last week’s issue, then you know that our editor, and most of the rest of us, have been extra busy in recent weeks, tending to the details of our annual business directory.

It would be easy to blame the boss’s directory predicament on a failure to delegate and plan ahead. But this time, at least, that would not be fair. The truth is that he did delegate — several extra hands were on deck nearly every day during the past month or so — and he did plan ahead. The operation was in full swing more than a month before our deadline with the printer.

But any operation with an annual, as opposed to weekly, deadline is bound to be a challenge. After nearly a quarter century of putting out a newspaper some of the chores can practically be done in our sleep. But ask us to pick up the directory operation after a year’s lapse, and we all have to go back to our crib sheets and SOPs, trying to remember just where to begin and what to do next.

We suspect that our directory operation is a little unusual. Most organizations such as ours, concerned with the week-by-week comings and goings of area businesses, never take the time to create a directory. And most organizations that are in the business of publishing annual directories are not distracted by the week-by-week changes in their community. Instead they take a snapshot of the community they are serving and then build the directory from that point. And they may take months to come out with their book-length lists.

Here at U.S. 1 we continue to add to, subtract from, and modify our data base even as the book goes into its final production changes. We try to make the process as efficient as possible by shortening the length of time between when we first extract data from the data base and when we send the finished pages to the printer.

This year we created the first word processing documents on Saturday, March 17. On Monday, April 2, at around 10:30 a.m. the finished pages — all 312 of them — were sent to the printer.

That was the best snapshot we had at that moment. Less than half an hour later, at around 11 a.m, we received call backs from companies we had been trying to contact in the previous days. They gave us new addresses and phone numbers. Too late, we told them, for the perfect-bound directory, but still good for updating of our directory for next year and for our online company database at www.princetoninfo.com. And, of course, the information may also lead to a report in the weekly newspaper.

Sid Ponnuswamy from Mercury Systems was the first caller, responding to a call three days before. Halberd Match Consulting, a company that was a cover subject several years ago, was the second (see page 42). And come this Wednesday, April 4, we can expect more news, as deliverers return to the office with the inevitable changes they discover on their lists every week of the year.

We look forward to all the news, and — especially in the case of faithful readers — hope that it is good news. The directory is scheduled to be delivered along with the regular weekly edition of this newspaper on April 18.

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