Princeton resident George Taber and his partners have sold

Snowden

Publications , parent of NJ BIZ magazine, to Journal

Publications of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, owner of the Central Penn

Business Journal. Taber, his wife, Jean, and Donald Wilson

co-founded the company in 1988. Taber, a former senior editor of Time

magazine, served as the company’s president.

"It was too soon," Taber says of the sale. "I would have liked to stay

on for another two to five years. I was having a good time. But we’re

a private company. When a good offer comes along, you have to take

it."

The sale was effective January 17, and Taber, citing the terms of the

contract, says he cannot provide details on the deal, other than to

say that it was an all-cash sale and that he will remain through a

two-month transition period. Most of the company’s 30 employees, based

in New Brunswick, will be staying on, he says.

Taber met Dave Schankweiler, president of Journal Publications,

through trade group meetings, and says that Schankweiler first

proposed the purchase at a meeting last January. "They’re landlocked,"

Taber says of the Pennsylvania publishing group. "They have the

Philadelphia Business Journal on one side and the Pittsburgh Business

Journal on the other. They were looking for growth opportunities."

Journal Publications, which was founded just a few years prior to

Snowden Publications, and which has followed a similar course, had

revenue of $4.9 million in 2003, while NJ BIZ had revenue of $3.8

million for 2004.

"It was our second best year," says Taber. Only 2000, which marked a

zenith of popular interest in business, was better.

NJBIZ, with headquarters in New Brunswick and a circulation of

approximately 18,000, covers business in the entire state, but started

out covering central New Jersey.

"In our original business plan, in 1987, we were going to have three

newspapers," says Taber, "one each for central, north, and south New

Jersey." The company did add a north New Jersey newspaper and ran it

for two years out of an office in Union. "But our readers told us they

didn’t want two newspapers, let alone three," says Taber. So, in 1995,

the two papers were combined and coverage of the southern part of the

state was added.

Covering a state that is part-Philly at one end and part-New York City

at the other is a challenge for any media company, but Taber says that

was not the greatest challenge he faced.

"At a smaller publication you’re under constant pressure from

advertisers," he says. "They say ‘I’ll take an ad, but you have to do

a story.’" He recalls an instance early on in which he countered, "You

wouldn’t ask that of the Wall Street Journal." The reply? "You’re not

the Wall Street Journal."

Taber says that it took a long time and "some heavy hits from

advertisers" to get across the message that his newspaper would cover

stories on their merits, and not because an advertiser had applied

pressure.

Taber and his wife are relocating to Block Island, and he has already

found his post-retirement career. He has written his first book,

"Judgment in Paris: California vs. France and the 1976 Wine Tasting

that Changed the World." It is to be published by Scribner in

September.

The genesis of the book was a story Taber covered while he was working

for Time. Posted to Paris, he covered a wine tasting that put the best

of France, the world’s pre-eminent producer of fine wines, against the

best of California, chiefly known at that point as the home of Gallo

wines. "California won," says Taber, "and it was the turning point in

the history of California wines." He was the only journalist present

at the competition, and it made an impression.

He plans to do more writing on Block Island, but has not yet settled

on a topic. He is talking with his agent about a few things, but is

not yet ready to announce his next project.

The Times of Trenton has realigned its editorial lineup. In

place of a full stock table in its Sunday business section, the

newspaper has decided to run a list of the previous week’s most active

stocks and leading mutual funds. The change was occasioned by the

number of people now getting detailed stock market information online.

Filling the space is the Motley Fool column of stock market advice,

the weekly bank rates chart, and a banking and finance column written

by Robert Heady. The last two have moved from Monday, generally a slow

business day, to Sunday.

Also on Sunday, the Times is adding reviews of the newest video and

computer games to its arts and leisure section.

A new health and fitness section has been added to the newspaper’s

Monday line-up, replacing business coverage. Fitness columnist Fay

Reiter and science columnists Kate McCartin and Dan Benedict have also

moved to the new Monday health and fitness section.

Princeton Business Journal editor Melinda Sherwood has left her

position at the Packet Publications newspaper and is now with

Hollyrock-Miller, an ad firm with offices at 17 Rockingham Way.

Taking over at the packet is the new business editor, George Spohr,

who comes from the Central New York Business Journal. A native of

Herkimer, New York, he had a Gannett Memorial Scholarship in

journalism at Utica College. Based in Syracuse, the CNY Business

Journal covers 14 counties, has a weekly readership of 25,000, and has

an online edition and news service.

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

House Auction

Just one buyer came forward on Wednesday, January 12, at the

sheriff’s auction for the Library Place home of John and Pamela

Torkelsen. That buyer was a mortgage holder, and though the bidding

opened at $1.1 million, the preemptive and final bid was $3.5 million,

the listed price.

The new owner, PMJ Capital Corp., holds the second mortgage. Headed by

Peter M. Joseph, PMJ Capital is a privately held company based in

Greenwich, Connecticut with no connection with the Torkelsens.

The Internal Revenue Service, which has a lien on the property, has a

six month period to buy the property for the amount of the bid.

Joseph’s bid is likely to discourage an IRS purchase, and now the

house can be sold for its full value. "The property is not on the

market at this time," says Joseph. It was most recently listed at $3.5

million by Robin McCarthy of N.T. Callaway.

The Torkelsens are in litigation with the federal government on

charges of civil fraud in connection with Acorn Technology’s use of

Small Business Administration funds (U.S. 1, January 12). William

Crenshaw of the firm Powell Goldstein LLP in Washington, one of John

Torkelsen’s attorneys, declines comment.

Recently renovated by Jerry Ford, it has 17 rooms including seven

bedrooms, 7.5 baths, a 35-foot living room, two solariums, a pool, and

a two-story luxury cabana with a Lalique glass-paneled staircase, and

it sits on an acre of land in Princeton’s expensive Western section.

Comag May Be Coming to Forrestal Village

Comag Marketing Group, a joint venture owned by the Hearst

Distribution Group and Conde Nast Publications, is considering a move

to 155 Village Boulevard in Princeton Forrestal Village. The company,

with headquarters in New York City, was approved for a business

employment incentive program grant in the amount of nearly $1.8

million by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on January

11.

In applying for the grant, the company, which is involved in sales,

marketing, and promotional services for magazines and specialty

products, said that it is considering relocating its New York City,

Georgia, and Pennsylvania employees to Forrestal Village. Job

categories would include administration, sales, marketing, operations,

and information systems, and the average salary would be $103,625.

The company expects to have 70 employees in place when it moves, and

to add 20 more over the following two years.

Glenn J. Phillips, public affairs officer for the EDA, explains that

the grant approval does not mean that Comag definitely is making the

move — or that it will necessarily pull in the $1.8 million.

Companies frequently line up state aid in the process of deciding

whether to relocate — or to stay put, and possibly reap greater

incentives from their current state.

The business employment incentive grant is actually a rebate of the

state income tax paid by a company’s employees. It flows back to the

company over a period of time. In the case of Comag, the state, in

approving this grant, has agreed to return 60 percent of the state

income tax paid by any employees Comag hires or relocates to the

Forrestal Village location the company is considering. The money would

flow back to Comag for 10 years.

The company, which stated in its grant application that it is also

looking at sites in New York City, will not receive any of the grant

money if it decides to stick with the Big Apple and give the Garden

State a pass. If the company does come to Forrestal Village, but has a

payroll that falls short of its current estimate, it will receive less

than $1.8 million. If it hires more people, or pays them more than is

now anticipated, it could receive more grant money.

Leaving Town

After 10 years, one of Princeton’s Top 50 employers is closing down.

The United States Postal Service Remote Encoding Center, which has had

as many as 700 workers, will shut its doors by July.

The cavernous room at 707 Alexander is honeycombed with cubicles where

postal workers spend long hours staring at video images. Their job: to

decipher handwriting on envelopes from such remote locations as New

Brunswick, Long Island, and Eatontown. These are the problem

envelopes, the ones that the optical character readers cannot

decipher. The workers keystroke a code, which sprays on an 11 digit

barcode that will route the letter to its destination (U.S. 1,

November 12, 1995).

But as the technology has improved, fewer envelopes need their help.

The post office has 55 similar centers, and it is closing 40 of them.

Employment has slowly declined in Princeton, and only 220 workers,

many of them temporaries, are here now. About 90 of them will be

relocated to other postal jobs within a 50-mile radius. Some hope to

return to the Hamilton processing center, now decontaminated from its

infestation of anthrax. The 130 "transitional workers" remaining do

not have guaranteed jobs with the post office, but they are eligible

to take more tests and apply for other postal jobs. The U.S.P.S. plans

to hold a job fair at this location in the spring.

Deaths

G. Scott Watson , 53, on January 16. He was a chemical

technician at Hydrocarbon Technologies on New York Avenue.

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