Eternal Green

Job Chemistry

Hiring an Attitude

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

October 13, 1999. All rights reserved.

Housing in the Wealth Belt

Trenton didn’t make it to Money magazine’s "Best

Places to Live In America" this year, but if you’re looking for

some good news about New Jersey, here it is: Central New Jersey may

not win any popularity contests, but when it comes to real wealth

per square foot, it’s hard to beat it.

Mercer and neighboring counties constitute what researchers at Rutgers’

Bloustein School of Public Policy are calling "The Emerging Wealth

Belt," an area that includes Mercer, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth,

Morris, and Somerset counties. Here personal income has risen roughly

$35,000 in the past 20 years, with Somerset ranking the wealthiest

county in per capita personal income. Per capita equalized valuation

(the market value of real estate property) has gone from $5,791 to

$75,369 in the past three decades, so that central New Jersey has

finally nosed ahead of Bergen and Essex in real property wealth per


Unlike New Jersey’s northern metropolitan-edge counties, which have

run out of space to develop, however, central Jersey’s growth spurt

isn’t over, says James W. Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School

and editor of the "The Emerging Wealth Belt: New Jersey’s New

Millennium Geography" (Rutgers University Press, 800-466-9323).

"The market is not saturated yet," says Hughes. "It all

depends on the state of the economy, but if it continues at the brisk

pace of the 1990s we’re going to see a long run in front of us in

terms of large-scale housing."

So far the state’s economy has been tireless. This year alone, 116

businesses migrated to central New Jersey, according to a press release

from the office of the Governor. Over the past 20 years, employment

in the area has doubled, reaching a total of 1.3 million jobs, according

to the Rutgers report. "We were well aware of these broad shifts

taking place," says Hughes, "but the wealth belt is really

the greatest economic pattern dominating the state."

Evidence of that pattern can is the new sub-suburban housing developments,

where "McMansions," Hughes’ term for large, single-family

homes, dominate the formerly rural landscape. While the big, expensive

houses continue to be in high demand, within the next 10 years, another

demographic shift — the maturing of the babyboomers — could

bring about big changes in the residential real estate market. The

maturing babyboomers are likely to scale down, says Hughes, and migrate

back to villages and towns, where everything is close at hand. "Once

they are freed of time constraints they’re going to want to be near

cultural facilities," he says. "It’s really places like downtown

Princeton that would bode well in the future."

But the McMansions that the boomers leave aren’t likely to fill with

cobwebs — it’s the Levittowns that are in real danger. "Overbuilding

may be possible at some point," says Hughes, "but as in any

type of market, it will be the obsolete, older, less desirable product

that bears of the brunt of change," including early split-level,

post-World War II tract housing. "In many cases that housing does

not have the amenities that today’s buyers want."

In fact, housing development may remain strong if the boomers seek

to continue their affluent lifestyles on a smaller scale. "I think

what empty-nesters will look for is all the same qualities — double

height spaces, high ceilings, big bathrooms, and a specialized computer

room — just packaged in a lower-maintenance format," he says.

"I think it will be a square foot adjustment, not any loss of


All that makes for good challenges in both development and preservation

over the next 10 years, says Hughes, who graduated from Rutgers with

a BS in planning and engineering, Class of 1965, and was one of the

first members of the school’s PhD program in Urban Planning. "New

Jersey is a laboratory for looking at economic development and planning

issues in the nation," he says. "We’re at the forefront of

the new information age, and open space preservation and planning

law in New Jersey have always been on the cutting edge."

Top Of Page
Eternal Green

There’s no guarantee that, long after you’re gone, your

big backyard won’t be sold to housing developers, or that big 150-year-old

maple where your children first learned how to swing and climb won’t

be cleared for a new bypass.

Open space is a precious commodity in central New Jersey — Representative

Rush Holt recently noted the state has a "denser population than

India." While the state is doing as much as it can to protect

some of it, private property is difficult to preserve. So whether

it’s egocentricity or eco-sensitivity that motivates you, you can

do your part as a homeowner to influence how your land will look a

hundred years from now.

The D&R Greenway (609-924-4646) is an organization that can help you

protect your estate, regardless of whether it is handed over to the

government or remains in the family. Property owners can chose from

the following different arrangements, each with different tax and

inheritance implications:

Conservation Easement. The land remains in private ownership

and D&R Greenway monitors and defends restriction on subdivision and

development with all future property owners. This usually includes

provisions for agricultural and recreational use of the land, and

substantially reduces the value of the property for inheritance tax

purposes, enabling the land to remain in the family.

Fee Simple Acquisition. This is the sale or gift of the

property (with obvious cash and tax benefits) to the Greenway. It

then becomes permanent open space and will be transferred to a public

agency, which designates it as park land.

Reserved Life Estate or Remainder Interest. The land is

transferred to D&R Greenway and the owner reserves the use of the

property for his or her lifetime. There are tax benefits to this,

since the property is then removed from the value of the estate.

Bequest. If the landowner conveys the deed of the property

to D&R Greenway at the time of his or her death, the property is permanently

protected and exempt from inheritance tax.

The D&R Greenway takes approximately three to six months to

complete their appraisal of the land. It’s always less than market

value, but then again, you can’t take it with you.

Top Of Page
Job Chemistry

Chemical engineers need to shed their lab coats and

seek jobs that cross into other fields, says Betty Feehan, a

career counselor at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in

New York. "A lot of people feel that if they started in the petroleum

industry they have to retire in the petroleum industry," says

Feehan, who has been in consulting for 25 years. "My mission is

to enable people to see other options."

Among these options: Abounding opportunities for scientists in consulting,

the burgeoning biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and yes,

even in the field of computer software development. "It’s an unusual

market out there in that the ones doing well are those who are moving

about, looking at alternatives — who see the opportunities for

parlaying strength and experiences," says Feehan.

On Wednesday, October 20, Feehan teaches scientists and engineers

how to market themselves in today’s economy at a workshop at Princeton

University’s Engineering Quadrangle. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Cost:

$20. Call 973-244-0600.

Feehan received a BS in math from Mount Saint Vincent, Class of 1963,

and a masters from Manhattan College before becoming a teacher, college

administrator, and human resources rep on Wall Street. Prior to joining

the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, she worked as a consultant

with Deloitte and Touche. "I’ve had a sort of checkered career,

the common ingredient being working with people for their own prosperity,"

she says.

Although not a chemist herself, Feehan says she understands the machinations

of the scientist’s mind; she knows where their strengths lie, and

what tendencies may cause their careers to stagnate. "They’re

very bright people because they’ve mastered a curriculum that includes

an array of sciences so they look at problems more holistically,"

she says. "The question is can someone who knows how to look at

a process holistically see all the possibilities for herself or himself?"

One such possibility: working in supervisory or managerial roles.

"An individual who has been working in an organization often has

to sell his or her ideas, and that skill in cajoling people into doing

something is very marketable these days," says Feehan. "Consulting

companies and software companies need that. Someone who is a good

manager or good team leader may be accustomed to leading people in

a specific industry, and that’s a transferable skill."

It’s important to take inventory of these kinds of skills, says Feehan.

To that end:

Do periodic self-assessments, either using a software

tool, or employing a career coach. "We all have financial planners,

and fitness managers, there are many people that are actually hiring

a coach," says Feehan.

Connect with a mentor or networking group.

Never underestimate the importance of a job environment.

"I think more people have failures at work because of their inability

to work in a particular context rather than an application of skill,"

says Feehan. "I work with a lot of people who have just left a

job because of reorganization or downsizing, and in any downsizing.

I often ask are you glad to be out of there and often times people

say yes, it was just a bad fit. Individuals have to look around and

see what they really like about an environment."

Finally, says Feehan, don’t over intellectualize the job search.

"Chemists look at things from a very intellectual point of view,

and sometimes in job searching you have to have some emotion,"

she says. "They need to think about what kind of person they are,

what kind of people like to work with, not just what they do."

In short, a successful career begins with good job chemistry.

Top Of Page
Hiring an Attitude

A technical wizard doesn’t necessary make a good IT

person, nor is a good sales rep always an extrovert. Even with today’s

labor shortage, employers need to look beyond strictly technical skills

and look at a worker’s attitude, says Candace Kucy, a hiring

consultant. "Skills are easy to teach," she says. "Most

of the time I’m brought in is because of attitude or behavior problems.

Some companies just want to find a warm body to put in a seat, but

if the person doesn’t work out, there’s a cost to that person, there’s

certainly a cost to the company."

Kucy’s motto: there is no such thing as a good or bad employee, just

a good or bad fit. On Thursday, October 14, she discusses "The

New Art of Hiring Smart" at HQ Metropark Conference Room in Iselin

at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Call 908-276-2914.

Kucy, who runs her own consulting business in Cranford, Renaissance

Strategies Inc., holds a BS in marketing from Rutgers, Class of 1975,

and started out as a sales rep for Legs Pantyhose during the 1970s.

Bully managers or disgruntled employees show up in just about every

company, says Kucy, either because that behavior was encouraged in

the past, or they were hired solely on their technical achievements.

"The traditional model was that you want drivers, people who bulldoze

over all the obstacles," says Kucy. "Businesses tended to

reward the people who went out and made all those things happen. Most

managers tend to still look at a person’s technical skills because

that’s something that’s easy to quantify."

Since businesses have to be more responsive to customers and to a

changing economy, says Kucy, different skills are required. "Today,

it calls for more teamwork between technical, non-technical, financing,

and manufacturing," she says. "A lot of companies give lip

service that teamwork is important, but when it comes down to it,

they push results. So the people who push hardest and scream loudest

are usually rewarded."

Cloning is another hiring error. "An entrepreneur thinks, well,

that’s what my style so if I hire even more of me then we should be

able to grow faster," says Kucy. "The problem is when you

get too many people of one kind you lose balance. I tell small business

owners to look for someone who is not necessary the opposite, but

who really brings different skills to the table, so that there will

be a whole different class of customers drawn to a different kind

of style."

Yes, sales people should be outgoing, but there are other considerations:

"If they’re selling a product that requires a lot of hand-holding

and backup, hiring someone with just that isn’t going to do it."

Businesses are also discovering that technical skills are not paramount

in computer programmers or networkers, says Kucy. "The product

development process requires a lot of teamwork between the marketing

people and the customers," says Kucy. "They found the team

work skills were much more important than they had thought."

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