Caliper, a talent management and consulting firm, is moving from Carnegie Center to a newly customized space at 500 Alexander Park. The move is one of the more visible changes in the company following the January, 2016, death of its founder, Herb Greenberg, and the passing of the torch to his son, Mark Greenberg.
“My dad was determined to work for as long as he was physically able to,” Mark Greenberg says. “We were working on succession while he was still working with us. We were sort of building leadership teams and structures around him so that when he finally did pass, we could move on without missing a beat, and it worked out really well. In some companies, it is very typical for the founder to retire and pass it on to other members of the family, but in this case he determined never to retire.”
Indeed, Mark said, Herb was in the office mere months before he died at age 86, leaving the company he started in 1961 in the hands of his son, who has worked at Caliper since 1993.
Born in Detroit to Polish immigrants, Herb Greenberg led an extraordinary life. Blinded at age 10, he went to school with the general student population in Brooklyn rather than a school for the blind at the insistence of his parents. He went on to become a psychologist but struggled to find work because of his disability. He finally earned a job teaching at Texas Tech but was there less than two years before being fired for speaking out against segregation.
Later, while teaching at Rutgers, Greenberg and a colleague founded a company to commercialize a test that Greenberg had invented to assess the talents of sales job candidates. The company renamed itself several times as it grew from its original headquarters in a Manhattan apartment to a proper corporate office at Carnegie Center with hundreds of employees at its peak. In 1987 it changed its name from Personality Dynamics to Caliper.
Mark Greenberg had a more conventional career path, majoring in political science at Pitzer, earning an MBA at George Washington University, and going into sales management at Berlitz in 1988. He also worked for the federal government for five years, and has teaching certifications for elementary education, social studies, and business education. He joined the family business five years later, starting as senior VP of client services and filling other management roles over the years, becoming president in 2014.
“It was a given that I would be taking the helm,” he said.
Caliper was a pioneer of the corporate personality assessment business. The industry it helped create has changed dramatically since the 1960s. Caliper is no longer the only player, and the company has adapted to compete with its rivals.
The core of the business, assessing the personalities of job candidates, is still the same. But Mark Greenberg says the business has moved in recent years towards a more comprehensive approach. Rather than provide testing results for individual employees, Caliper has created tools that are designed to help managers compare a wide array of candidates at once, and pick the right people for the right positions.
“There has been a lot of changes in the way people consume data,” Greenberg said. “They want it faster and they want more of it, and they want it presented to them in all kinds of flexible formats, and they want to be educated on it. It’s a different mindset than it was back in 1961.”
Greenberg said Caliper sees itself no longer as just an assessment company, but more as a consulting company that uses scientific tools to help companies look at strategy and how talent aligns with that strategy.
“People are looking at bigger questions,” Greenberg says. “That’s not to say the science of testing hasn’t grown tremendously either. People are looking for more scientific validation, and happily we are probably one of the strongest companies in terms of science.” Over its 56 years of existence, Caliper has compared outcomes with its predictions, changing its models over time in a process that Greenberg says has improved the validity of its tests.
Greenberg says Caliper has had to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace, especially recently. “I’ve had to take a lot of look at the whole organization,” he said. “The biggest change I’ve made is in assessing the market, and reevaluating a lot of how we do business in terms of how we deliver services, how we segment the market, and how we analyze profitability. Some of our products we’ve taken a look at and made modifications to. The market has been changing so quickly, we’ve had to jump in and do some pretty big reassessing about how we do business and branding.”
For example, Caliper has changed its messaging away from just talent assessment, and towards helping businesses solve talent management problems. “They want to know what problems we can solve for them, “ Greenberg said. “Assessment has become commonplace, so they want to see where the differentiator is.”
Greenberg says the move to a new office is a “clean slate” for Caliper and its 130 employees, 80 of whom work in the office full time. The new office, at 21,000 square feet, is roughly the size of the old one but is geared more towards collaborative working, with smaller individual offices, and more space devoted to “huddle areas” where teams can meet. It also has a training room where Caliper partners and independent consultants who use Caliper methods can receive education programs.
The new office also has glass-front offices (to improve transparency, literally) temporary workspace for visiting consultants and clients, and some standing desks. Caliper has signed an 11-year lease on the property and expects to move in May. It is the first move for Caliper since 2003.
“My dad would be really excited if he were around to see this happening,” Greenberg said. “He would love modernizing and keeping the company current.”
Caliper, 506 Carnegie Center, Suite 300, Box 2050, Princeton 08543. 609-524-1200. Mark Greenberg, CEO. www.caliperonline.com.