Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the July 23, 2003
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Gear 3 Technologies Challenges DSL
Bill Mavracic’s face lights up when he talks about
up a building. As a partner with Gear 3 Technologies LLC, he offers
high speed broadband Internet access plus other services to office
parks. The company occupies some of QLM’s former space in Research
Park and has five full-time and three part-time employees.
Targeting the small to medium-sized businesses that can get lost in
the shuffle by big telecoms, Gear 3 sells segments of the fiber line
to the tenants of a building or park. For instance, Mavracic says
that 80 percent of his neighbors at Research Park are Gear 3 clients.
Other client parks and buildings are Montgomery Knoll, 600 Alexander,
20 Nassau Street, and the Needleman building in Cherry Hill. "We
light up new parks every other week," says Mavracic. Soon
Commons will be added to that list.
Using bandwidth from such providers as AT&T, Verizon, and
Gear3 provides ethernet and brings in T-1 and fiber lines, most of
them underground, and its clients divide or share the service.
believes this service is less expensive than and superior to DSL
wiring, which is usually on a pole. "We provide T-1 fiberoptic
type access at a cable price. On a T-1 line, all our speeds are
whereas DSL has different speeds in uploads and downloads, and by
DSL-enabled buildings, in fact, are among his target customers.
are always interested in parks with DSL, because with our technology
and service you get so much more. As long as it makes business sense,
we would have fiber run to your park."
The Internet access can be accompanied by web hosting and E-mail (for
from $8 to $159). With Gear 3’s Express Net product, a shared service,
Internet for one computer is $69, 12 workstations are $350, and
workstations are $500. "But the access is at much higher speeds,
768k and above." Gear3 can also split off a dedicated bandwidth
for a larger company.
Mavracic compares that to dial up service: AOL’s unlimited access
dialup is $23.90 per month, then you pay $18 for the phone line. If
it is a business, the phone line will incur message units. For regular
surfing and E-mail, therefore, add about $17 more for a total of $59.
He compares that to $69 for high speed T-1 quality Internet service.
"The service comes with some free E-mail addresses, plus it’s
not DSL or cable, and has 99 percent reliability." Mavracic has
a grim picture of the DSL service policy. "In a blackout, the
first thing the phone company will do is establish the T-1 lines.
The last thing they do is establish DSL."
The partners — Mavracic, Mike LaMastro, and Pat LaMastro —
each have a dozen years technical experience, and the company can
provide technical services for both the Mac and the PC.
Bill Mavracic (accent on the second syllable) grew up in Feasterville,
where his father was an engineer, and majored in communications at
Temple University, Class of 1992. He worked at Kinko’s as computer
services manager and then in Manhattan as an IT manager before
a home-based business, MacHeadz, doing IT for ad agencies. He and
his wife, who works for a mortgage company, have two preschool
The LaMastro brothers grew up in Manville, where their father was
an automobile service manager. Pat went to Metropolitan Technical
Institute in Fairfield and worked as IT manager for the school board
Mike went to Kean University for two years but graduated from an Ohio
school, the Recording Workshop, known for audio engineering. He
first in his class and nabbed an internship at a big national
the Sound Track Group. Then he worked at the studio of the group Bon
Jovi and was assistant engineer for the Live From London CD, issued
in 1995. Now married (his wife works for a pharmaceutical firm), Mike
runs the financial end of the business and produces his own band’s
albums as well as some others.
"I was fresh out of school and working for less than I could
but I had backing from my family," says Mike. "Then I had
to go out and get a higher paying job. It ended up taking me to
Ltd. in Whitehouse, where I worked on computers for water analyzers.
At the time my brother Pat was an IT director, and occasionally he
would bring me along for outside jobs. One day he said we could do
this on our own. We quit our jobs and started PC Services in 1998
in our house in Manville."
MacHeadz merged with LaMastro PC Services, changed the company’s names
to Gear 3 Technologies, and the partners designed their own logo.
Their attorneys are Nee, Beacham, Gantner in Hillsborough, and they
have an accountant from H&R Block.
Here’s how to tell what your Internet speed is, says Mavracic. Check
your contract. If it is less than 768k you might want high speed
"Property managers can definitely benefit from the services we
offer," says Mavracic.
Park, Princeton 08540. Bill Mavracic, CEO. 609-252-1155; fax,
Home page: www.gear3.com
Richard Speedy’s first business location could not have
been more humble — a garage with no plumbing and no phone behind
Andy’s Tavern on Alexander Street. Then he and his partner, Toby
moved their commercial corporate photography studio to an old stone
barn at the corner of Sherbrooke Drive, across from the Acme Shopping
Center in Princeton Junction. Now he has moved to a home studio, a
converted factory building, in Hopewell and has a new phone, fax,
and web page. He saves on rent, and this gives him time to pursue
his passion — photographing the mountains and people of Mexico.
"Many of our projects are location projects and we didn’t need
the big facility," says Speedy, telling why he decided to
"And we had zero walk-in business."
The move did, unfortunately, eliminate the convenience of being close
to the train station. "We hire models, makeup people, photographic
assistants, artists, background painters, and many of those people
live in New York City," he says. "They didn’t walk, we just
picked them up. We still pick them up, but it’s a little more of a
ride now." But no matter how many taxi fares he has to pay, it’s
still less than the rent. "A whole lot less," says Speedy.
He and his partner, Toby Richards, are hired by advertising agencies,
design firms, and corporate communications departments to shoot ad
campaigns and annual reports. Clients tend to be pharmaceutical, high
tech, and financial companies. Richards shoots most of the annual
reports and Speedy focuses on the ads, and about half their work is
digital. Their only staff member is an offsite bookkeeper, and they
hire a host of freelancers, sometimes for a period of several months.
"There is a good network of talented people around here and we
try to help each other out these days," says Speedy.
Speedy grew up in Princeton, where his father wrote manuals and did
fundraising for the Boy Scouts of America headquarters. (At age 93,
his father just published a memoir, "Coming of Age at 90.")
After graduating from Princeton High, Speedy spent a year a college
in Ohio, then took photography courses in Manhattan, which led him
to Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California. After graduating
in 1972 he worked as a photographer’s assistant in Manhattan. In 1980
he encountered his future partner at an exhibit in the gallery at
Bristol-Myers Squibb. The two photographers were standing side by
side, admiring each other’s photos, and then they introduced
They opened a studio later that year.
Since they had zero clients, the going was hard. "We had a garage
behind Andy’s Tavern (now Soonja’s). We had no plumbing and no phone
for nine months. Our clients would have to go to the tavern to use
the facilities. And I would go to the tavern and sit at the bar and
make sales calls. When we found our clients in high-heeled shoes
through the mud we realized we needed to move." After six years
in the garage, the studio moved to the barn in 1986.
Speedy is passionate about his personal photography project —
creating his own treasures of the Sierra Madres. He rides or hikes
into the mountains of northern Mexico four times a year to photograph
the landscape and the culture of the Tara Humara Indians. On one of
these trips he met his future wife, Mara, and they have an
"It’s very exciting, very fulfilling," says Speedy. "The
beauty of having a low overhead and a minimal staff is that it gives
me more time to work on personal projects. They may not create a huge
source of revenue, but they feed the artistic side and get me up in
the morning. And that’s why I got into photography in the first place.
After all these years I am living that dream."
Hopewell 08525. Richard Speedy. 609-466-9669; fax, 609-333-0359. Home
It’s an atypical building for offices — a
stone barn across the street from a shopping center. Once it was used
to dry potatoes on the Dey Farm. Then, for 17 years, it was occupied
by Richards and Speedy photography studio. An addition was added in
1986, and it is currently divided into five tenant spaces. It is
by Charles P. Kaempffer of the Freehold-based KMK Realty Group, the
leasing agent for offices in Twin Rivers and nine other properties
(732-625-1055; fax, 732-625-1060).
Early tenants are Mr. Handyman (609-799-2346), which moved into 600
square feet two months ago, and Stein Construction, which has 2,400
square feet. Three spaces ranging from 1,000 to 2,200 feet remain.
CDNJ Plaza, Princeton Junction 08550. Scott Stein, owner.
fax, 609-799-7743. Home page: www.stein-services.com
Stein Construction does construction management and general
for commercial buildings. Scott Stein, the founder, has an economics
degree from University of South Florida. In 1992 the firm was known
as Interior Renovation and did corporate interiors.
It merged with a drywall company and became known as Interior
Corporation, but it has been operating under the Stein name for about
18 months. The firm moved from North Brunswick to the barn two months
ago. "Now we do both — corporate interiors, retail or office
— and we also do some ground up work," says Elaine Stein,
Scott’s sister. Recent clients include a 6,000 square foot jewelry
store in Manalapan and a retail strip in Marlboro.
Vasant Kumar Ramaswamy sees the need to market
using both old and new methods. "The most effective is
selling," he says. "Many companies try to replace that with
technology, but we use technology to enhance the face-to-face
Aiming to use technologies that are intuitive, he suggests that even
the stethoscope might be developed into a tool for communication.
Ramaswamy founded Scriplogix simultaneously in New Jersey and New
Delhi two years ago. He has moved eight employees into 2,400 square
feet at 300 Alexander Park (the Hillier "treehouse"), and
he has 17 employees in India. (Scriplogix shares the space with
Technologies, see story below).
"We keep the quality of experience high. If we have to choose
between experience and functionality, we always choose experience,
so patients and doctors walk will away saying `that was easy, that
"First we show the sales force that our tablet PC will not replace
them. Then we help them manage the attention of the physician with
a few taps on the screen, and we show the physician that the tablet
PC makes him look better with the patients."
For example, his company prepares an animated sequence on an ear
Tapping the screen elicits a sequence illustrating the problem and
showing how to administer the medication. Then the doctor gives the
parent and child a CD to play at home and link to WebMD. "We make
it fun and games, so the children learn," he says. "One device
will not cut it. It has to be a combination of online and
Ramaswamy says he is in the business of attention management, managing
the attention of physicians and patients, and he offers product
strategies, economic models, and working hardware and software
for life sciences companies.
"Our `go to market strategy’ is that we help you weave in creative
strategies in marketing and patient communication to alter the average
impact," says Ramaswamy. "We say to the physicians, here are
ways to communicate with patients and here are some technology
to make compliance better." His goal: to build a patient and
relationship, moving from technology to nontechnology to technology
Ramaswamy, 40, is married to an art curator and writer, and they have
a school-aged son. The son of a business executive, Ramaswamy majored
in mathematics and economics at the University of Madras, is a
accountant, and has a business degree from Delhi University. Most
recently he was vice president of strategy and CIO for Ranbaxy
Inc., which has its headquarters in New Delhi but has a U.S. branch
at 600 College Road.
Ramaswamy’s previous job as an economist for the World Bank in New
Delhi and Washington gave him a good perspective on what he calls
the "economics of information." "That was macro economic
policy. At Ranbaxy, I practiced translating some of those concepts
to an India-based company that was going global," he says.
I realized if I took the idea of economics of information, and applied
it to life sciences, using technology to do so, we had a proposition
that was valuable."
Ranbaxy Pharmaceutical’s vice president of business development, Chuck
Caprariello, says that Ramaswamy played a pivotal role in the
planning for Ranbaxy. "He was instrumental in identifying SAP
as the system that would bring the global regions together to
with one software tool. He coordinated the implementation of the
operation from beginning to end, and this allowed us to be competitive
in the global marketplace. He is very highly regarded in our
Ramaswamy will use his company’s location in India to do some work
less expensively, but he is careful to say that only part of the work
— the repeatable part, not the creative part — will go there.
For instance, he will create a program for acne that works for
and doctors in the United States and then adapt that for repeatable
deliveries in other countries. "After crafting the strategies
to understand the market here, then a piece of it can be translated
at lower cost."
Princeton 08543. Vasant Kumar Ramaswamy, CEO. 609-806-3200; fax,
Vasant Ramaswamy has another company under his wing,
a business and technology computer consulting firm named Fortuna
He has been with the company for two years. Fortuna and Scriplogix
have eight employees each, and they share 2,400 square feet at
"It has been a Silicon Valley company, and I saw there were
between the two," says Ramaswamy. "They had no particular
expertise in life sciences and were interested in someone who could
help them grow. I opened the office on the east coast.
The 10-year-old firm has 200 employees in the U.S. and 50 employees
in India, Europe, and Malaysia.
Suite 201, Princeton 08540. Ravi Suri, business development manager.
609-419-0532; fax, 609-419-0162. Home page: www.fortuna.com
As he vowed to do last year, Kurt Landgraf, the CEO
of Educational Testing Service, has started his expansion program
at the Rosedale Road campus (U.S. 1, November 13, 2002). Plans
to the Lawrence planning board call for an additional 800 employees
to be added to the current 1,650 workers on this campus. To be
the two-story Conant Hall, the cafeteria, and the library, Brigham
Hall. To be built: three buildings and a five-level parking garage.
If the plans are approved, two of the buildings and the garage could
be built by 2005.
In an interview last year Landgraf spoke of his plans for a $100
capital expansion program and noted how expensive it would be to
the 1950s buildings for energy efficiency. "It’s not like we are
working in a hovel, but the best way to rehabilitate these buildings
is to put new ones up," he said then. "And they are not
to an interactive work space."
08541. Kurt F. Landgraf, president. 609-921-9000; fax, 609-734-5410.
Home page: www.ets.org
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