Confronting Workplace Violence: Watch The Eyes

Postal Increases for All

Tracking the Envirotechs

More Environmental Opportunities

Hamilton’s Business Partnership

Turkish Networking

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on Wednesday, September 23. All rights reserved.

Carpool Now

Nine transportation management associations in New Jersey aim to reduce the number of cars in employer parking lots. Not only do the TMAs share a statewide database of those interesting in carpooling, but these organizations also devise particular strategies for their own areas.

In Mercer County, for instance, Sandra Brillhart of Greater Mercer TMA has worked out a new system to provide a guaranteed ride home for ride sharers and transit users. The just-streamlined program does away with preapproved vouchers; the employee calls the phone number on the coupon, and it answers at A-1 Limousine.

"It's been proven that more people will consider rideshare arrangements if they have some assurance that they can get home in case of an emergency or working late," says Brillhart. "The old system may have been too burdensome for our employer representatives to administer along with their regular duties. Now, when an employee needs an emergency ride home, all they have to do is hand over a pre-approved coupon."

Some companies seek to reduce employee trips by encouraging vanpooling and use of public transit. The just-enacted federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) can make these options more profitable. Employees can set aside up to $780 per year of their pre-tax salaries, through a payroll deduction, to pay for transit or vanpool costs. This deduction is exempt from federal, state, and local payroll taxes.

Under the new law these commuter benefits can be offered by employers in lieu of compensation, not just as an additional benefit. Also corporate members of the TMAs in New Jersey can get tax credits of up to 10 percent (or $100 per employee per year) for money spent to promote and offer commute options to their employees.

Carpool matching is a basic TMA service. "We send prospective carpoolers a list of people who have comparable information on destinations and hours. It's a free service, with no obligation," says Helene Molter, rideshare coordinator for Monmouth and Ocean Counties for Keep Middlesex Moving on Bayard Street in New Brunswick.

Susan Winter, the GMTA project manager for the Greater Mercer Transportation Association at 15 Roszel Road, advertises potential carpool rides on the organization's web site and also in U.S. 1 classified ads. Winter points to her rideshare placement record of 20 percent, the highest percentage in the state, according to a Department of Transportation survey.

"Nationally, the average placement ratio is only 12 percent and continuation of rideshare arrangements is usually only about 10 percent," says Winter. In contrast, her TMA's "continued record" is 16 percent. In other words, 16 percent of those placed kept on with the car pool.

"We purge our files on a continuous basis and contact each applicant on a regular schedule to determine if they are still interested in ride sharing or if there has been any change in their work arrangements. This way we are confident that the names on our match lists are real candidates for ridesharing," says Winter. GMTA's database has 1,789 applicant files. For an application call 609-452-8988 or go to http://www.gmtma.org.

If you live in Monmouth or Ocean counties call Molter at 732-745-4368. Adele Clark handles Middlesex County, at 732-745-2326 or go to http://www.kmm.org.

Somerset County carpools are managed by Tony D'Anna at RideWise of Raritan Valley in Somerville at 908-704-1011 or http://www.ridewise.org. Winter is available for Mercer County carpools at 609-452-8988 or http://www.gmtma.org.

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Confronting Workplace Violence: Watch The Eyes

First there was road rage, now there is work rage. And like road rage, America is having a hard time finding solutions to this problem. Part of the problem, thinks Roland Ouellette, is that most workplace violence training programs focus on preventative aspects, not on what to do if a violent situation is about to erupt in the workplace.

"The biggest problem is people get too close," says Ouellette, president of R.E.B. Training International, a New Hampshire-based workplace violence training firm. "The more agitated a person is the more space they need. A lot of times people will step right into their personal space. The average space is like three feet."

R.E.B. conducts training sessions for companies throughout the country and several other countries. Ouellette, 61, is a retired lieutenant from the Connecticut State Police and a martial artist with 32 years' experience. He started R.E.B. 15 years and wrote a book, "Management of Aggressive Behavior," published by Performance Dimensions four years ago. "We have about 5,000 clients," says Ouellette.

Ouellette and Bonnie Michelman, the director of department police and security for Massachusetts General Hospital, an expert on workplace violence, give a two-day seminar on managing aggressive behavior at the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police starting Monday, September 28, at 9:30 a.m. at Bristol-Myers Squibb's Hopewell facility. The second day can be taken on Tuesday or Wednesday, September 29 or 30. Cost $125 for one day or $325 for two days. Call 609-452-0014 for more information.

In addition to respecting the agitated person's space, there are several other ways to deal with a potentially violent aggressor in the workplace:

Stop looking him in the eye. Just like dogs or other creatures of the wild, human beings will use eye contact for purposes of intimidation. "A lot of times people need to break eye communications, because that's perceived as aggressive," says Ouellette.

Use non-aggressive body language. How people stand and what gestures they use can be the difference between a close call and an incident, Ouellette reports.

Don't stand square to the enraged individual. "If you turn your body you take your zone out of their zone." Don't move your head or shoulders back, or put your hands on hips, or stand with one leg cocked and one leg bent. These postures can be perceived as aggressive in a heated situation. People displaying aggression often are not aware they're sending those signals. "Nonverbal comes from our subconscious mind," he says.

The most important strategy is to be able to recognize the signs that someone is about to launch an assault. When someone is about to strike, they often glare at the body part of the victim they intend to strike. Lips will tense, stances will shift, and in some cases, faces will go white "because all the blood goes to the large muscle groups," says Ouellette. "People often don't see that coming and all of a sudden it's too late. They can't get out of the way. Our behavior is a lot like animals."

Ouellette recommends creating a distraction when someone is on the vergeof lashing out physically. "When people become assaultive they usually haven't had time to think rationally about what they're doing, so that distraction is very powerful," he says. "Change the thought process, which gives them time to diffuse the individual."

All of this entails mental preparation. Human resource managers who do exit interviews should always have an emergency exit route. "Most people don't even have a plan for what to do to keep from being assaulted when they're terminating someone," he says. "When you see the behavior of someone getting assaultive, stand up, say, `Excuse me,' and walk out. That distracts them."

But in other cases, it's a good idea to let people vent. "If you yell and I yell back we're going to escalate," says Ouellette. "If you don't say anything they're going to run out.When venting is not working then we show them how to set limits. `If you don't control your behavior we're going to call security.' Then you throw the ball in their court."

-- Peter J. Mladineo

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Postal Increases for All

Postage will go up for most everyone on January 10, but nonprofits will begin to feel the pinch next month. The January hike is only a penny increase for each first class letter, but the postal increases that start next month will hit nonprofits much harder, because the federal government is no longer going to subsidize nonprofit mailings.

For nonprofits that have not invested in barcode-applying equipment, postage costs will go up 23 percent for letter-size mail. In contrast, the richer, more well-organized nonprofits that do barcoded bulk mailing, will, on average, pay only a 13 percent increase.

"Congress continues to not fulfill its promise to pay for its portion of nonprofit postage to the post office," says Paul Cerna, owner of KickStart Computer and Mailing Services at 955 Alexander Road (609-799-6515). "And the post office continues to increase the postage of nonprofit mailers to make up for Congress."

Cerna refers to the 1993 Revenue Forgone Reform Act, which will begin the first of six "step" increases for nonprofits on Sunday, October 4. These increases are not related to the January 10 overall rate increase that hikes the price of a first class stamp to 33 cents. That's just $10 more per thousand, but first class presorted and barcoded mail will take a bigger hit, a rise of $6 per thousand. When all is said and done, the overall nonprofit standard postage rate increase will be half that of the for-profit increase, 8.6 percent compared to 15.4 percent.

Many nonprofits, of course, pinch pennies when it comes to mailing. Those that typically do 3,000 to 6,000 pieces of mail at a time usually do their own addressing and even like to stuff their own envelopes. And some organizations like the "look" of a stamp or a meter.

Cerna says that for his firm to address 3,000 envelopes with barcodes -- no delivery, no stuffing, no stamping, and no metering -- costs just $96. For 6,000 envelopes it would be $162. That presumes you have the address list exported on a disk or E-mailed. Of the $162, $62 is the barcode fee, and $100 takes care of certifying the list and being sure it is barcode ready.

The nonprofit that moves to barcoding would save on label costs, which could be from $18 to $180 for the more expensive laser printers.

Cerna estimates that, in the final analysis, the postal service has increased the ever-widening gap between the cost of barcoded and nonbarcoded mail for nonprofits. The gap will be 51 percent. "In other words, if you save a thousand dollars in postage by barcoding now, you will now save $1,510," says Cerna.

Take the example of a nonprofit's 6,000 envelope mailing of ordinary letters, with a "geographically dispersed" list. As of January 10 the nonprofit would pay 11.9 cents now if it used barcodes. Without barcodes but with presort each letter would be 16.9 cents. That's $300 more. Under today's prices, the difference would be just $200 more.

Tom Hazel, the area sales manager of Pitney Bowes on Phillips Boulevard, cites another example, a nonprofit client that does one 250-piece mailing per month and is paying $1.93 per piece for first class mail to send it out by itself. "They are looking at automation discounts. The same information packet can go out for them at 31.1 cents inclusive with a smart-mailer addressing and barcoding system that costs $300," says Hazel. With this new equipment this client could save 23 cents for every ounce after the first, which amounts to $1.61 per piece or a total of $405. Subtract the equipment cost of $275 on a three-year lease and the net savings would be $130 per month or, over the term of the lease, $4,671. "A nonprofit can do a lot with that, and that is on only 250 pieces," says Hazel.

For-profit mailers using Standard Class (formerly Third Class) mail may find their postage going up or down depending on their list's "geographic density." Some examples:

Light density, barcoded. If you barcode your mail and send it all over the nation in a very dispersed manner -- less than 150 pieces to any one zip code (a three or five digit area) -- your postage will be unchanged.

Light density, presorted. If you just presort your mail and mail across the nation, postage will actually be $21 cheaper per thousand than current rates.

Light density, moving from presorted to barcoded. You will still pay 22 percent less to barcode. "If you begin to barcode when the rates change, postage will decrease by $73 per thousand instead of $21 per thousand," says Cerna.

Cerna points out that how you send the mail must be decided early, at the design phase when the indicia (the box on the envelope that identifies the class of mail in the stamp area) is laid out. Once printed, changing class of mail becomes difficult.

"Your original idea may not be the most efficient and cost effective way to do your mailing," agrees Michael Lang, director of sales at SHM Mailers on Everett Drive. "Consult with the mailing professional, so you can focus on both your objective and your bottom line."

If your Princeton business does not barcode, you are in the majority. Most of the barcoding here is done by the large, high volume mailers. But if you do, your mail is getting to its destination faster. "Service from the post office improves dramatically while cutting costs," says Cerna.

"It's more expedient, more efficient, and more cost effective," says Lang. "Eventually every piece of mail will get barcoding. Either you do it or the post office will do it. Our clients release man hours to us. With so much postal savings they pay for our labor also. Barcoding is going through the roof.

Meanwhile, an underground mailer's tactic: To preserve a hand-addressed look with no barcoding, use a square envelope. The Postal Service's barcode readers cannot handle squares because they can't tell "which way is up."

-- Barbara Fox

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Tracking the Envirotechs

Responding to New Jersey's reputation as an environmental hot spot -- for both good and bad reasons -- the New Jersey Technology Council is starting a new environmental track. Its inaugural program is Tuesday, September 29, at 8 a.m. at Johnson & Johnson's headquarters in New Brunswick. Call 609-452-1010 for more information.

"The purpose is to increase the awareness in the state of new innovative technologies that are available to help save money and to help bring companies into environmental compliance," says Ron Unterman, chairman of the environmental track at the Technology Council and a senior vice president at Envirogen.

The keynote is by Karl Schmidt, vice president of worldwide environmental affairs at J&J. He speaks on how exceeding compliance can help gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Other speakers include David Zervas, president of In-Situ Oxidizing Technologies Inc. (ISOTEC), and Paul Togna, director of systems R&D for Envirogen. Also speaking are Brian Sogorka, section chief of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's site remediation program, Caren Franzini, executive director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Michael Winka, an administrator at NJDEP's office of innovative technologies; Susan Hoffman, a partner with Drinker, Biddle & Reath; and W. Leigh Short Ph.D. of Greiner Woodward Clyde.

The panel provides a peephole into the small-but-growing cache of environmental technology firms in the Princeton area. Zervas and Togna, for example, are realizing just how little the marketplace knows about their firms' products and services. ISOTEC, Zervas explains, treats contaminated soil by injecting hydrogen peroxide and a proprietary catalyst directly into the soil or water. This creates a reaction that changes the chemical composition of the contaminants, rendering them harmless. This system can rid a site of diesel fuel, fuel oils, volatile organics, chlorinated, compounds, PCBs, or pesticides, Zervas reports.

"We break down these contaminants into carbon dioxide and water, and if it's a chlorinated compound, chlorides," he says. "And there are no hazardous byproducts."

What's new about this process is that it is done in place (in situ), so there's very minimal site disruption. The reaction rates are also unimaginably fast, measured in billionths of a second.

"We can treat groundwater contaminated with gasoline, for instance, and begin the actual remediation process the same day that we are doing injections," says Zervas. "And we are able to verify the effectiveness with our remediation technology within hours."

Traditional pump and treat remediation systems take far longer to accomplish compliance, he explains. "Our technology allows us to clean up conventional sites in months as opposed to years." And an ISOTEC solution ranges from $75,000 to $100,000 while a traditional cleanup could cost from three to four times as much, Zervas maintains.

With 10 fulltime employees, ISOTEC, based at 51-A Everett Drive, is learning that getting its innovation to a higher level of acceptance is a bigger challenge than was originally anticipated. "We definitely have the better mousetrap," Zervas says. "But the fact that we are branded an innovative technology makes some people suspect. They don't understand the chemistry behind it."

And what about the name? Hadn't they ever heard the old adage that you shouldn't name your company with its mission? Zervas isn't worried. "This is cutting-edge environmental technology," he says. "This is the next phase in environmental remediation. It's quick, it's effective, and it's complete."

For Envirogen, finding a niche in a sea of competitors is important, but keeping your price competitive is king. "The bottom line is cost," says Togna. Envirogen sells several different environmental technologies, but he is particularly interested in the firm's biofilters that use microorganisms to clean up hazardous and toxic air contaminants and treat odors. "We're using the catalytic activity of microorganisms to oxidize the contaminants," he says. "They do this at ambient conditions, increased temperatures, pressures, etc. and as a consequence the operating costs are less and that's what makes the technologies attractive."

Envirogen, a publicly traded company with 80 employees and a headquarters at 4100 Quakerbridge Road, is hoping to "turn the corner financially," says Unterman. "We're one of the companies that 10 years ago looked into this marketplace and said how do we develop environmental biotech? We've continued to grow through acquisition. Now we're just continuing on that curve."

A challenge for Envirogen is that competitors are found in all corners of the environmental industry. "We're competing directly with all other pollution control equipment out there -- thermal oxidizers, activated carbon absorption, chemical scrubbers, you name it we have to compete against them also," says Togna.

And while some of its competitors are huge (Monsanto is one), the fact that there is competition means that there is credibility. This should be taken as a good sign, says Togna. "If you have no competitors you don't have a market, because in a good market there will always be competitors," he says.

But evidence of competition alone won't gain credibility. That's why the DEP has devised a third-party verification program that evaluates new technologies. This, says Winka of the DEP, is "equivalent to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

"People who use the technology out there are risk-averse," he says. "They don't want to use something that could have a potential failure."

Sogorka is the managing director of the state's interstate technology regulatory cooperation workgroup, which is responsible for New Jersey's reciprocity agreements with regulatory bodies in other states. So far, Sogorka reports, this workgroup has 25 states signed on.

"We're trying to set up the process so we get an efficiency across the states," says Winka. "The goal for us is to take New Jersey companies into other states. We're taking 50 different markets and putting them together without really changing state efficiency programs. We also manage international agreements."

"We're doing that for selfish reasons," Winka concedes. "It's not just to promote economic benefit. New technologies means lower emissions, lower discharges. We're going to help set up anything that can help pull that along without beating people over the head."

-- Peter J. Mladineo

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More Environmental Opportunities

Reciprocity agreements and other environmental industry initiatives will be discussed at an environmental export seminar on Friday, September 25, at 9 a.m. in the Delaware River Port Authority office building, on Riverside Drive in Camden.

The speakers are Robert Shinn, the DEP commissioner, as well as Rhea Brekke, executive director of the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology, and Benoit Trudel and Richard Vinson of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service in Canada. Call 609-989-2100 for more information.

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Hamilton's Business Partnership

The mounting cost of doing business -- from taxes to insurance, to the daily expenses related to turning the key -- are increasing regularly," says John Bencivengo, executive director of the Hamilton Partnership. His organization has planned a three-day whirl of free business classes. Call 888-466-0400 or 609-259-5899.

"Hamilton's Blueprint," a guide to zoning, planning, and permitting, sponsored by Congoleum Corp. & Sharbell Development Corp, will be Monday, September 28, at 8:30 a.m. at the Palace, formerly Angeloni's Cedar Gardens at 1445 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road. Blaine Greenfield speaks on "Competing in Today's Economy," also at the Palace, on Tuesday, September 29, at 8:30 a.m. At that location at 1 p.m., Ron Cook tells how to create a successful business plan.

Bencivengo explains how to be a "BIZ Partner" on Tuesday, September 29, at 8:30 a.m., at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital at Hamilton. Stay there for a 1 p.m. program about "The Year 2000 Computer Glitch" plus digital access to on-line virtual communities.

At the Palace on Wednesday, September 30 at 8:30 a.m., Ed Noble and Ron Palumbo explain the ins and outs of Quick Books. Also that day at 2 p.m., the mysteries of business loan packages will be unveiled by various bankers. Stay for a 4:15 p.m. panel discussion moderated by Pat Ryan, CEO of Yardville National Bank, followed by a 5:30 p.m. business card exchange.

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Turkish Networking

<B>Tansu Ciller, former prime minister of Turkey and the nation's first woman in that position, will speak at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School on Thursday, October 1, at 4:30 p.m. in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall.

Ciller has graduate degrees from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Connecticut and did postgraduate work at Yale. She became politically active in 1990, was elected to parliament in 1991, and served as prime minister from 1993 to 1996. Her topic: "The Future of Turkey's Place in the West."


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