Lighthouse Hosting

Family Business: Creating Textiles

Mom & Pop Websites

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox and Dina Weinstein were prepared for

the January 10, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

Family Businesses

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Lighthouse Hosting

George Ascione and Catherine Saville both work for

Princeton Plasma

Physics Laboratory during the day, but in their off hours they have

launched an impressive entrepreneurial effort at Montgomery

Commons,

a web presence provider named Lighthouse Hosting LLC.

"Very few places do hosting and those that do have limited

services,"

says Ascione, "but 1 to 3 million new domain names will be

registered

this year, and they will be hosted someplace."

Unlike some of its competitors, this company hosts websites without

offering dial-up services. You can put up your company web page here,

but you will go elsewhere for to get access to the Internet. "To

be an Internet Service Provider is a tricky business, because you

have to get somebody to sign up to dial into a modem connection and

lots of support needed," Ascione says. "Now everybody wants

cable modems or DSL, and dialups are becoming dinosaurs.

Ascione is a health physicist with a nuclear specialty at the Plasma

Physics computer facility. The son of a chemist in Bergen County,

Ascione went to Fairleigh Dickinson, Class of ’79, and earned his

masters there. He worked at Teledyne Corp. in health physics

and radiation detection, for Boston-based Atlantic Nuclear, and in the

medical health physics area for the University of Pennsylvania.

At PPPL he monitors environmental radiation safety and sits on the

radiation safety committee for the New Jersey State Police. "About

100 people are working in this field in the greater Princeton

area,"

he says.

Saville grew up in Old Bridge, where her father was a machinist. She

went to Rutgers College for computer science and economics and entered

the health field 15 years ago when she was asked to set up the first

databases for PPPL’s safety office. She and Ascione are engaged to

be married and were also partners in another webhosting company in

Toms River; they sold their stake to found Lighthouse Hosting.

"We had a lot of fun in the last company we were in," says

Ascione. "It is a new growth field, very interesting to run. And

it is a nice solid business. Once you get it running

well, it requires very little input."

The going was slow at first. "It took quite a bit of time —

six months — to get our own presence out there," says Ascione.

"Our business is now pretty regular."

"Our facilities are monitored by special computers that

send pages and E-mails and all kinds of warnings when something goes

wrong," says Ascione, who says he has 24 x 7 technical support,

redundancy on the network, and some degree of redundancy on the

computers.

He does extensive backups and is proud of his performance record,

pointing to how, last year, his computers were "down"

for change-making and adjustments for a total of only three hours.

"We have a very extensive and elegant statistical program that

generates 40 extensive reports on health and popularity of the

websites

and where they are coming up with errors. It’s very graphical and

it’s on the web." Also available is a "full featured"

E-mail system, so that website owners can not only get access to their

website-based E-mail accounts, but they can also send E-mail with

the company logo.

Why the name? "We were looking for a friendly theme that would

be suitable for graphic design," says Saville. So far, all

those in the business are keeping their day jobs.

Lighthouse Hosting LLC, 121 Commons Way,

Montgomery

Commons, Princeton 08540. George Ascione, president. 609-688-0905;

fax, 609-688-0907. Home page: www.lighthousehosting.com

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Family Business: Creating Textiles

Quilting is one of those centuries-old pastimes that is

gaining popularity

in the 21st century. "It’s an over $5 billion business," says Jim

Hankins of Textile Creations at Ibis Plaza on Quakerbridge Road.

"Quilting

is done out of a need to be creative — mixing the fabrics and

colors to create what they want — and has rolled over into apparel

as well. Garments are becoming art pieces."

He and his wife, Margie, are trying to carve out a niche in the

textile

trade. With 10 employees plus a sales force of manufacturers’

representatives,

this company imports, exports, and resells cottons and silks, and

markets to the fabric stores — especially to the independent quilt

shops.

Jim Hankins, the son of a Methodist minister, has been working in

textiles all his life. "I always wanted to be a fashion

designer,"

says Hankins. "I always liked clothes, was `best dressed’ in high

school, and wanted to go to the Fashion Institute in New York, but

the big city scared me off. Right out of college I started working

in textiles."

He majored in home economics at Middle Tennessee State, Class of 1974.

"I took the sewing classes, the tailoring, and the design,"

says Hankins. He met his wife when he was a buyer and she (the

daughter

of a Baptist minister and a graduate of the University of Tennessee

at Chattanooga) was store manager at a fabric chain based in

Mississippi.

They have four children, ages grade school to high school.

After stints with two other retail fabric chains, he worked in New

York City for a textile company and broker before starting off on

his own. They opened their first office at Office Concierge,

a shared-office space at Princeton Pike Corporate Center. They have

a warehouse in Patterson and moved to their own space at Ibis Plaza

last summer. Richard Cohn is vice president and sales manager.

The fabric is made in Korea, Indonesia, or India. Hankins has no

qualms

about using Third World factories. "I have been to the places

where the goods are produced and there is no child labor

involved,"

he says.

In addition to cottons for such chains as Joanne, Hancock, Hobby

Lobby,

the Hankins sell to garment manufacturers and the independent quilting

stores. They also do a line of silks for home furnishings under their

Textile Creations brand.

The Hankins’ marketing plan involves sponsoring individual quilt

stores

or quilting guilds by offering giveaways such as "fat

quarters,"

pieces of fabric 18 " by 22," eight different patterns in

a bundle. Each bundle is the material for a quilt and retails for

$15 to $19.

Quilters are generally women, ages 35 to 60 plus, with median income

of $45,000 or more. "People at home with their kids tend to have

more time to do this, but certainly working people are also into

it,"

says Janice Crane, proprietor of the four-year-old Pennington Quilt

Works at Pennytown Shopping Village.

Hankins does all the original designs and is working on harvest and

Christmas

patterns for 2001. He might draw 250 to 300 new designs per year,

and he chooses 150 of them for production. "I was in the retail

business for 15 years plus, and I sold a lot of fabrics to the

consumer. I feel I know what they want. You have to stay up with the

trends."

The trend right now is to patterns about gardening, the number one

hobby across the country. "You do 10 or 12 different patterns

to cover that theme — watering cans, hoes, rakes, hanging baskets

— and three or four different color waves in the same pattern,

all to coordinate," Hankins explains. "Women will use five

or six different patterns, cut them up or piece them, to make a wall

hanging or a quilt."

High fashion colors that emanate from Europe must be translated and

toned down for American tastes and divided among the four major areas

of quilting patterns: country, contemporary, classic, and themes.

"The theme can stand, but the patterns and colors will

change,"

he says. "Nautical is a big theme for the people who live in

the coastal areas. Right now animal skins are really hot."

"The Lord is with us in our business," says Hankins. "He

has blessed us and the people who are employed here."

@endline same — Barbara Fox

Textile Creations, 3535 Quakerbridge Road, Ibis

Plaza, Suite 201, Hamilton 08619. Jim and Margie Hankins.

609-631-4433;

fax, 609-631-4434.

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Mom & Pop Websites

Sarah Miller loves dragons. Think China and King

Arthur’s Court. Her

husband and business partner, Michael Miller, says virtual worlds grip

Sarah in both her hobbies and her professional life. "I’ve always

loved the Internet," says Sarah.

The couple met five years ago. Their first conversation focused on the

Internet, and that was before it was widely used. Sarah says that’s

what drew the two together. They have transformed two rooms of their

Ewing home into offices for Set Now Solution, LLC, started in 1996 to

provide web design consultation

for Internet and advertising agencies.

Sarah majored in English at the

College of New Jersey, Class of 1994, and worked at E-Design Group,

which was bought by InfoFirst. For

four years she operated the company while maintaining full-time

employment but has devoted full-time to Set Now since November.

Michael has been with the company full time for a year. An 1985

advertising and public relations graduate of

Ithaca College’s School of Communications, he worked in corporate

video

for Bristol-Myers Squibb and most recently for Stonehouse Media. He is

taking classes towards a masters degree in education at LaSalle

University’s Newtown extension

site.

The company, newly incorporated, specializes in custom Internet

production. The Millers call themselves website producers, similar to

video producers, coordinating graphic artists, programmers, media

providers, Internet service providers,

advertising agencies, and website owners.

"We wear many hats," says Sarah. "I know programming back-end and

graphic design and Michael knows video. Together we pull together a

complete package." Their sites have a multimedia interface, using

Flash production, music, animation,

audio, graphics, copy editing, data base creation, security issues,

chat elements, live events, and streaming video technology. Their

business strategy involves collaborating with former employers to

achieve their goals.

The Millers pride themselves on making sites that work for their

clients, which include Atlantic Health System, dotPhoto, InfoFirst,

Mountainside School of Nursing, Teen Health FX, Yale Materials

Handling Corp., Children’s Medical Center,

the Center for Interim Programs, and Russell and Company.

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the sites Sarah says are most

successful are those meant for children — like Disney’s. "We don’t

want

users to feel daunted by the website’s navigation scheme," she says.

"And we don’t want the user to work

too hard. Navigation should

work as people learn. Users shouldn’t learn to use navigation."

Both admit to having to adjust to working out of their home. "We’re

excited to go to the supermarket," Michael jokes. While they may miss

simple office social interactions, it is the Internet

that allows the Millers to connect with any business partner. "And, I

get to work with my best friend," says Michael.

— Dina Weinstein

Set Now Solutions LLC, 33 Ronit Drive, Ewing, NJ

08628; 609-406-1665; E-mail: smiller@setnow.com. Home page:

www.setnow.com.


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