Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the April 6, 2005
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Executive searchers can be among the most persuasive people on the
planet. They have to talk their way into offices of contented
executives, who have no thought of changing jobs, and persuade them
that they want to uproot their families and sally forth with a new job
in a new company. Michael Zinn, who does retainer-based executive
search, has had more than 25 years in the business and has his pitch
honed to perfection.
He says, up front, "We were retained to do a confidential search, and
my first assumption is that you are very happy where you are but also
that, if it were the right opportunity, if it were made very
attractive, and it were very good fit, and we could handle it very
very confidentially, you might be open minded about learning more
Zinn has a method for weeding out the people who will turn the search
process into a way to negotiate a salary raise at their old jobs. "I
make them go through a series of Yes/No decisions to invest a nominal
amount of time." First he and the candidate spend 45 minutes on the
phone, then he invites the candidate to a 90-minute sit-down meeting.
It may not be totally convenient to set aside that time. "The guy or
gal who is ‘not real’ will not commit to that, and I tell them to give
me a call back if they can make that commitment."
Zinn has just moved from 301 Ewing Street to 993 Lenox Drive. The son
of a dentist and an interior decorator, Zinn grew up in Binghamton,
New York, and went to Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania, graduating
from Ithaca College in 1975, and has an MBA from St. John’s. After
briefly working for an insurance company, he moved to the 10th largest
executive search firm, where he was the "right hand man" of the
founder. The firm sold for $29 million and Zinn started his own
company in 1988.
At one point he had a dozen people working for him and did $1 million
a year, but now he has a three-person firm and does all the searches
himself, saying, "I found there are certain skills you just can’t
teach. I found I am much more comfortable doing 12 to 15 searches a
year rather than trying to do volume work and relying on others. I am
much more comfortable being much more focused and more hands on. I can
still make a lot of money with this model and the clients are happier
Saying that he competes with the big firms, like Korn Ferry and
Hedrick & Struggles, Zinn prides himself on being able to get to the
candidate that other search firms can’t. "There is a reason why
clients have been with me for 15 years," Zinn says. "I have the
experience to relate to senior level people and understand what their
needs are. I have more experience in getting the candidate to say, ‘I
might be interested if it’s done the right way.’
Be persistent. Talk to enough people in the organization. If one
person doesn’t give you a straight answer, somebody else will.
Be private. Zinn always asks the person who answers the phone, "Are
you his (or her) personal secretary?" If the answer is no, he asks to
go into voice mail. "Or you call back at another time until you get
somebody you can trust."
Be candid. "Candor is so welcome," says Zinn. "At the senior level,
it’s a game that is understood. Executives get these calls all the
"There’s an art to this," says Zinn. "When I had a lot of staff, I was
making a lot of money, but I was never totally confident that they
were doing it to the level that I could do. Now I am making a very
good living, and I can be more selective about the searches I am
willing to take and the deals I am willing to accept. Everybody out
there is trying to cut deals."
Lawrenceville 08648. Michael D. Zinn, president. 609-921-8755. Home
Last week Kos Pharmaceuticals and Barr Labs halted their legal
proceedings and agreed to settlement talks on Niaspan patent disputes.
The immediate result was that the Kos stock went up 28 percent to more
than $42 and has stayed there.
As stated last week’s article on Kos (U.S. 1, March 30), Kos has been
objecting for three years to Barr’s selling generic copies of Niaspan.
Efforts to pursue the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York have been stopped to allow time to negotiate a
The company made some statistical corrections to the U.S. 1 article:
Kos has 150 people working in Edison, and it occupies 90,000 square
feet, not 9,000 feet in Cranbury.
Brook Corporate Center, Cranbury 08512. Adrian Adams, president and
CEO. 609-495-0500; fax, 609-495-0920. www.kospharm.com
Medical World Communications (MWC) has a new name, Ascend Media, and
after several years of turmoil it can now start off with a clean
slate. The small headquarters office on Center Drive will close, but
most employees have retained their jobs, and the Forsgate Drive
office, with 115 employees, is staying open.
John J. "Jack" Hennessy had founded MWC 20 years ago but began having
legal problems when his former COO, Peter F. Sprague, filed a whistle
blower suit claiming that 11 of 20 magazines had filed false
circulation figures, and that MWC owed $2 million in postage. (Under
bulk rate rules, more than half of the recipients must request a
publication, and Sprague charged that the request figures had been
fudged.) MWC settled the case for $3.7 million.
In a letter on the website to 350 employees, Hennessy told how the
firm grew from $3 million to $100 million in annual sales in 10 years.
"All MWC employees should feel proud," said Hennessy.
Hennessy’s majority shareholder, Great Hill Partners, has cashed out
its investment; Great Hill had owned the controlling shares since
1993. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The buyer, Kansas-based Ascend Media, was founded by three men who
left publishing giant Primedia after two decades. Cameron Bishop, Dan
Altman, and Ron Wall were working in Primedia’s Intertec Publishing
and Event unit when Bishop was replaced as CEO of Intertec by Tim
Andrews. (Andrews is remembered in Princeton as the Dow Jones
executive who was the founding CEO of Factiva and left to start up
Industry Click for Primedia. Then Industry Click was subsumed into
another of Primedia’s companies. Andrews is now president of
Advertising Specialty Institute.)
At Ascend, Media Bishop is president and CEO, Altman is executive vice
president and CFO, and Wall is executive vice president for sales and
marketing. Their financing was from J.P. Morgan and merchant banker
Veronis Suhler Stevenson, and they made their first acquisition in
2003. "This is their first foray into the health industry," says
Darren Sextro, spokesperson.
MWC (now Ascend) firm publishes 50 magazines and journals in the
medical and healthcare field on such topics as primary care, pharmacy,
dentistry, imaging, cardiology, respiratory therapy, physical therapy,
esthetics, hearing and clinical. Among the most prominent are Pharmacy
Times (first published in 1897), Physician’s Money Digest, Cardiology
Review, Family Practice Recertification, Rehab Management, Medical
Imaging, and Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry.
The company also publishes magazines in the food and beverage
processing, retailing and packaging industries and has a healthcare
marketing agency, Practice Builders.
"Medical World is an impressive company in a dynamic industry. We saw
that firsthand when we met with their senior managers during the
acquisition process. They were experts in their fields who
demonstrated a true passion for this business. We’re looking forward
to working with the great team that Jack Hennessy assembled," said
Bishop in a press release. Bishop says his firm is now a
business-to-business media company with $150 million in revenue. "We
have the capability to serve our customers in a uniquely comprehensive
manner unlike any other medical publisher."
Drive, Jamesburg 08831. 732-656-0200; fax, 732-656-0818.
Pennington Business Park, Building B, Pennington 08534. Quentin T.
Kelly, chairman and CEO. 609-818-0700; fax, 609-818-0720. Home page:
WorldWater & Power Corp often works in third world countries but it
just won a $3.25 million contract close to home – in Atlantic County.
It will build a solar electric system sith a joint venture partner,
Conti Corp., at a wastewater treatment plant near Atlantic City.
WorldWater & Power will supply all solar-related equipment,
engineering and design services, and Conti will provide construction
services and construction project management. The project is slated to
be finished by October.
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