Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were prepared for the November 27, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Garden State & Gaza: Perfect Together
Israel is a small country with an exceptionally well-educated
workforce. Increasingly, it is playing a big role in the design, development,
and testing of sophisticated software, Internet, pharmaceutical, and
biotechnology products. This makes the country a prime partner for
any number of New Jersey businesses.
Those interested in discovering the benefits of "Exporting to
and Investing in Israel" can attend the roundtable discussion
and networking breakfast presented by the New Jersey Global Business
Initiative (NJGBI) on Tuesday, December 3, at 8 a.m. at the Hyatt
Regency-Princeton on Route 1. Cost: $35. Call 609-771-2033 or e-mail
and Natan Tabak, CIO of Wakefern Foods. Discussion centers on specific
opportunities and industries for Garden State businesses. Afterwards
exporters and investors will break into work groups where, with the
aid of on-the-spot video conferencing, initial steps toward partnerships
will be explored.
"Business people who have attended the previous Center for Global
Business breakfasts at Mercer County College," notes Director
Keld Hansen, "will find our larger, state-wide New Jersey Global
Initiative sessions more fast-paced, practical and, well, more down
and dirty." These monthly breakfasts now are aimed not only at
those who want to learn about foreign trade, but at those ready to
invest and create partnerships today.
Teaming up with the Governor’s New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth
Commission, the NJGBI has set itself up as a deal maker between Garden
State firms and a list of target nations ideally suited to New Jersey’s
production. In upcoming months, NJGBI will discuss opportunities and
align business partners with Hong Kong, Cuba, NAFTA participants,
the European Union, and the often overlooked Eastern European countries.
Interested exporters, investors, or professionals can obtain further
details by E-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in 1989 Governor Thomas Kean saw the natural Garden State-Gaza
business connection and established the two as "Sister States,"
founding the New Jersey-Israel Commission to promote culture, education,
and trade connections. Panelist Yonah, current commission director,
states that Israel offers a true hand-in-glove trade relationship.
"Israel," he says, "has amazingly strong intellectual
capital in the fields of bio-tech, computer technology and design,
healthcare, pharmaceuticals — all New Jersey’s top industries."
Already several major firms, like Johnson & Johnson have staked out
large research and development centers in Israel, taking advantage
of the country’s expertise.
Yonah, a native of Cherry Hill who earned her political science degree
at Columbia, later moved to Israel, where her foreign language education
led to eight years of working joint U.S.-Israel ventures. She sees
Israel as a nation that has, as she puts it, "commercialized on
its disadvantages." Jamming 6.2 million inhabitants onto 20,770
square miles of virtually resourceless land has forced a 2.4 million
workforce to develop skills suited to a high-level knowledge-based
economy. A host of companies initiating high-tech agriculture, crisis
management, security, and desalinization have all blossomed from an
environment that has proved harsh since the days of Moses. All of
these specialties Yonah sees as profitable imports and partnership
links to the Garden State.
Panelist Doran, Israel’s director of trade and investment, emphasizes
the advantages the whole range of New Jersey industries can reap from
importing from Israel.
months ago to invest in Israel’s newly formed Graven Images Company,
you could have done quite well, says Doran. The firm developed a tiny,
ingestible camera that non-invasively transmits an astoundingly clear
picture of a patient’s insides, making it an important new tool in
any number of medical diagnoses. "Israel is chock full of these
new companies — incredibly idea rich — which desire either
American funding or American partners to help carry them through production
and into the market place," he says. He agrees with Yonah that
biotech, pharmaceutical, life sciences, and high tech ventures are
prime candidates for partnership between New Jersey and Israel.
<d>Free market alliances. Israel has developed a
surprisingly expansive set of free trade agreements with a number
of partners, ranging from most South American countries, all the European
Union, much of the Near and Far East, and all corners of Africa. Thus
she provides Garden State businesses with a tariff free gateway. Tradition
also works for New Jersey exporters. "Israel has long been viewed
as the eastern arm of the U.S.," says Doran. Not only does Israel
itself have a constant craving for American goods, but the country
is renowned for delivering them to the surrounding nations.
of long standing. For decades, many large Garden State companies have
had research and development branches in Israel. Now small and mid-size
businesses are linking up with Israeli import/export firms to bring
their goods into Asia and Africa. The language, common business practices,
and established political ties make them the safe and obvious choice.
In fact, the city of Raanana, Israel, even provides a special New
Jersey trade mission, a counterpart to Yonah’s office, which designs
and builds successful partnerships between the two lands.
cannot do it all," says Doran. "We can excellently take a
project from the scratch board right up through production. But after
that we have trouble." In the post-production areas of advertising,
marketing and distribution, Israel needs and craves Yankee know how.
laughs Doran. "Every engineer knows most of the other engineers.
It makes for a great sharing of ideas and a swift passage of the business
process." Bureaucracy typically can be overcome with the personal
beset with strife and problems. For the last decade Israeli industry
has been destructively cash starved. And in addition to her incessant
struggles with neighbors, being viewed as the "eastern arm of
American foreign policy" has not always proven to be an ideal
business booster. Along with the rest of the globe, Israel has slid
into a substantial recession this past 24 months. Among the sectors
hurt is its high-tech industry, on which Israel had placed high hopes.
Yet the corner is already being turned and economists are predicting
that Israel now offers a chance to buy low before prices rise.
As a final caveat, both Doran and Yonah plead with New Jerseyans to
be sensitive to the cultural differences. Frequently, the easy use
of English and similar dress can lull American business people into
assuming that you are truly at home. "Differences may be subtle,
but they are many," insists Doran. Payment schedules, for example,
typically are different. Consultants and sub-contractors get paid
only when the final results are submitted.
"Israel is a very informal, very personal country," Yonah
explains. Dress is much more casual and business deals are forged
more frequently on relationships. Israelis are very concerned with
the content of your character and will spend a long time working to
discover it. "One day you may spend 12 hours in heated negotiations,"
she says, "then the next you will be invited to your partner’s
grandson’s wedding where scores of people are fawning over you like
family." In short, Israel is a land where it is important to go
the extra, personal mile. And for those who are willing, it can prove
a profitable experience in many ways.
— Bart Jackson
There are signs that the job-hunting climate is improving.
Drake Beam Moran’s (DBM) Forrestal Village office, says she is seeing
less downsizing. Her firm’s customers are companies in the throes
of personnel changes, which sometimes, but not always, means downsizing.
Her firm’s clients, for the most part, are individuals who are in
"career transition." And while the euphemism does mean "out
of work," the cause is no longer predominantly a downsizing.
"When the economy is not doing well, cutting people is a quick
way to save money," says Butterfield. That is exactly what DBM
had been seeing until recently. "We are a counter-cyclical business
in terms of career transition," she says. "The last two years
were the strongest ever for DBM."
Since the spring, however, she has not been seeing as much downsizing.
"Now," she says, "it’s more a division is being sold,
and eight or so people in the Princeton office are no longer needed."
But whether the move to the unemployment line comes as a result of
a mass downsizing or of a merger or a decision to scrap an office
or a line of business, the result for the displaced individual is
the same. DBM is among the outplacement firms whose mission it is
to get those individuals back into a good position as soon as possible.
On Tuesday, December 3, at 8:30 a.m. Butterfield joins with other
HR professionals in a seminar on "HR Transitions: Taking Your
Next Step." The Society of Human Relations Management event takes
place at Rutgers University’s Bush Center in Somerset. Other panelists
Borkin of Strategic Advancement Inc.,
colleague at DBM,
The clients in Butterfield’s office are nearly all executives, many
of them high-level executives. For about half, finding themselves
suddenly on the street is getting to be old hat. For the others, some
longtime employees with the same company, the experience is new. For
all, it is unsettling. Adding to the stress is the fact that, in many
cases, severance is not the thick cushion it once was. Perhaps because
this is the case, Butterfield says her clients are raring to go from
Still, it is now taking the executives DBM works with about five months
to find a new position. And in this less-than-ideal economic climate
are they having to settle for less? Butterfield does not hesitate
a second before declaring No! Interestingly, the fact that displaced
executives are finding jobs that are at least equal to the ones they
left has little to do with their own willingness to make a downward
move. "It’s driven by the employer," says Butterfield. She
finds that no employer wants an overqualified employee, fearing that
he will bolt at the first opportunity.
While getting back into the game is not easy — not now — there
are some strategies that help. Just as important there are some things
the still-employed can do that will provide a softer landing should
they be made redundant:
flexibility, and an eagerness for new challenges. Experience is a
given, but it is far from enough. Successful candidates need to demonstrate
a high energy level and an ability to make a contribution to a new
does not want to hear how you faithfully served your past company
for three decades. Loyalty no longer wins a lot of points, says Butterfield.
If you were with just one employer for a long time, prepare vignettes
showcasing the challenges you met while moving among different positions
at that company.
often decide early on in the assessment program through which the
company leads them that the corporate life is no longer for them.
Many are even grateful to have been shown the door, and after taking
a good look at their skills and interests, decide to go in an entirely
gig, start a business, teach third graders, or look into the opportunities
in the non-profit sector, Butterfield says there is one single thing
that is the biggest help in the transition. And it is something everyone
can do — and really should do — while still employed.
"Network!" she says. Nothing is as important. Don’t get so
lost in work that you lose track of your friends and business associates.
Beyond keeping up a strong network, she thinks it is a good idea to
take those calls from headhunters and even to go on a few job interviews
from time to time, even if you have no desire to leave your current
No job — absolutely, positively no job at all — is truly secure
over the long term, Butterfield says, although she is still seeing
some folks who thought that was the case. A number of DBM’s clients
are former high tech workers. "They were always so highly employable,"
she says. "This is such a huge shock to their systems."
<d>Jessica Alpert-Goldman is the winner of last year’s
New Jersey Small Business Development Center’s International Award.
At 28, and looking a good deal younger (there are lots of pictures
of her on her website, www.worldaccordingtojess.com), Alpert-Goldman
has been the owner of an international business for just a year. She
designs and sells pricey fashion forward handbags that she has manufactured
in Asia. Already, she has gotten ink in Vogue, Us, New Jersey Monthly,
InStyle, ImProper Bostonian, and Time.
Alpert, whose wares have appeared on the arms of Sex in the City’s
trend-setting stars, waded into international business — an arena
every bit as fraught with difficulty as is New York’s single scene
— with the help of
business consultant based in Upper Nyack, New York (www.rogercohen.com),
is on contract with the NJSBDC to provide instruction and consultation
to New Jersey residents involved in — or contemplating getting
involved in — international trade.
No pie-in-the-foreign-sky optimist, Cohen flatly states that "international
trade is never easy." Yet, as Alpert-Goldman’s success indicates,
it is possible, even for start-up entrepreneurs. Cohen provides a
roadmap when he gives a three-hour seminar on "Demystifying International
Trade" on Wednesday, December 4, at 6:30 p.m. at an NJSBDC event
at Raritan Valley Community College. Cost: $30. Call 908-218-8871.
In addition to his work for the NJSBDC, Cohen sees private clients
through Cohen International, a company he formed in 1991 to consult
on business development to international companies and to start-ups.
A graduate of Cornell (Class of 1978), where he studied planning and
policy development, Cohen has managed factory construction in Canada
for Coke, Pepsi, and 7-Up, represented the Japanese Ministry of Finance
to the United States Department of Treasury, and developed the first
export markets of United States specialty paper to Japan.
Just back from a business trip to Japan and China, Cohen talks about
the ingredients for success in international trade:
is like the super charger for an engine," Cohen says. It is best
used as an extension of a current business. People come to him all
the time talking excitedly about an interesting product they saw while
on vacation. Could the doll or electronic gadget or line of sweaters
sweep the United States? Maybe, he says, but probably not. The barriers
to distribution are huge, and the time investment necessary to turn
a vacation find into a business would be enormous.
For the person or company already selling software or designing schools
or manufacturing modular homes, however, expanding into other countries
can often be profitable.
in producing olive oil in Italy might use that connection to start
an import business, says Cohen. In the same vein, a company making
auto parts in South Jersey might consider adding an export side to
While Alpert-Cohen, the young woman with the international handbag
company, did not have a close overseas connection or an existing company,
she did know handbags. Her resume speaks of "14 fashion-fabulous
to fashion-mishap" jobs.
for a common language, Cohen suggests, pointing out that it might
be easier for the typically uni-lingual American entrepreneur to do
business with the U.K. than with a country where few people speak
English. Also look for proximity. Cohen points out that Canada and
Mexico are two of the country’s main trading partners.
But, Cohen warns, be aware that there are no truly "easy"
countries with which to trade. International trade, no matter where,
involves lots due diligence and perseverance.
is lower,’ you’re not going to succeed," says Cohen. An entrepreneur
taking on international markets needs to have competitive advantages
that go beyond price. As an example, he says, a person thinking of
finding clients for his telecom business in Finland might have a shot
if he knows the technology, speaks the language, appreciates the culture,
and has had dealings with Finnish companies.
good amount of time to marketing. He says he sees many people —
especially in the technology field — who have developed products
they believe are exciting and can’t wait to start selling them. Before
sales, he points out, comes marketing. It is vital to determine who
might be interested in buying from you and how you will let them know
that you could be a great supplier for them.
great for selling one or two or fifty items at a time, but, says Cohen,
is no help with mass distribution.
of the world, says Cohen, most often do not even buy from manufacturers,
but rather depend upon ultra-sophisticated distributors. "Can
you guarantee that you will have between 15 and 24 of your widgets
on their shelves at all times?" asks Cohen. This is no easy task
for the little guy trying to bring in any product, let alone one that
has to travel across national borders and make it through customs.
are making the connection all the time. Cohen’s student, Alpert-Goldman,
is an example. Armed with a unique, relatively expensive line product,
she has gotten her goods on the shelves of a number of small, specialty
shops. Anyone who dreams of replicating her success might want to
attend Cohen’s seminar to get a handle on the realities — and
Here’s a practical public relations gesture that is
sure to be appreciated while also raising funds for two area non-profits:
McCarter Theater and Kids-for-Kids of New Jersey.
Beginning Friday, November 29,
a storefront at 43 Hulfish Street, Princeton, into "Holiday Central."
The space will be open Thursday and Friday evenings as well as Saturday
and Sunday afternoons as a rest stop for tired shoppers plus a collection
point for new unwrapped toys, winter outerwear, and toiletries to
be distributed to the needy by Kids-for-Kids, a service organization
run by teenagers.
In addition, the storefront will feature gift wrapping, the proceeds
of which will benefit McCarter’s education department, and it will
also display items from the theater’s company store. In return McCarter
will present guest appearances by members of its "Christmas Carol"
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.