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These articles by Michele Alperin were prepared for the March 29, 2006 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
With 11 stores today and 14 more opening soon – in New Jersey alone – perhaps the iSold It’s website’s claim to be "possibly the biggest franchise opportunity in 20 years" is true. Take the experience of Mark Figueroa, owner of two iSold It eBay drop-off stores, one in Hightstown, which opened 15 months ago, and another that opened this month on Quakerbridge Road.
From the hefty evidence of yard sales, trips to thrift shops, and, more recently, sales on eBay, it seems that people are constantly turning over household inventory, and iSold It stores try to make the process as painless as possible. "We provide the ability for people to reclaim space in their houses and get rid of stuff," says Figueroa, "and we send them money."
For a 30-percent commission on successful sales and no charge if an item doesn’t sell, iSold It will take photos of an item, research its vintage and sales potential on eBay, write listings, and put it up for sale, according to Figueroa. By avoiding the kinds of mistakes that most people make when they list items on eBay and by accepting multiple forms of payment from buyers – not just the commonly used Paypal – Figueroa believes he can also pull in a higher price than an individual seller would usually get.
Another plus Figueroa cites is convenience. "We are a retail store. Sellers can call us here six days a week."
Figueroa, who grew up in Woodbridge, cites a few examples of items he might research and sell. For a Lladro figurine, he would find out what year it was retired and who the artist was. For a musical mixing board and multi-track recorder he recently took in, he will research its features and put them in the listing "so that it will sell for the $400 to $500 that it’s worth." Because of his thorough research, he adds, "I don’t have to field a million questions and say, `I don’t know.’"
Figueroa had opened a high-end hi fi store, Freehold Stereo Video, after he got his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University. "I didn’t like college," he says. "It was not fun and not challenging, and the hi fi business was much more fun – but 20 years of that was enough." After selling it two years ago, he took a year off, had fun, and played with his kids: "I got to be a daddy instead of a workaholic," he says.
As opposed to his hi fi store, which he says "was very high maintenance," he finds the iSold It franchises less stressful: "They are all about setting up good personnel and production."
When he came across iSold It, he realized it was an "interesting, up-and-coming concept" and probably a good bet for a business. The company thinks so, too, and has committed to opening 1,000 stores in the next two to four years. Figueroa, a resident of East Windsor, also knew this area would be a great source of inventory. "I know people have really good stuff they want to get rid of," he says. After all, in his hi fi store, he concludes, "I had the pleasure of selling them their really good stuff."
Another relatively new business in this niche is Auction Mojo. Located on Route 130 in Hightstown, it was started in September by Scott Feder and his wife, Jennifer. She wanted to stay home with their young children, and so Feder, who is also the principal of West Windsor’s Dutch Neck School, starting selling other people’s cast-offs on eBay to supplement his income.
– Michele Alperin
iSold It, 4120 Quakerbridge Road, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-275-5656; fax, 609-275-5610. Mark Figueroa, owner. www.i-soldit.com
Auction Mojo, 510 Route 130, Royal Plaza, East Windsor 08520; 609-371-0300;. Scott Feder, owner. Home page: www.auctionmojo.com
Global Recruiters Network (GRN), 197 Wall Street, Princeton 08540; 609-430-9200; fax, 609-430-9213. Fred Goldsmith, managing partner. Home page: www.grnprinceton.com
Global Recruiters Network of Princeton opened a franchise office at Research Park that focuses on the placement of executive, sales, and technical professionals for the information technology, medical, and healthcare industries. Fred Goldsmith, managing partner, anticipates growing to a staff of five to seven.
Goldsmith had been recruiting independently for a couple of years from a home office in South Brunswick when he decided it was time to align with a corporation. After interviewing with several companies, he felt most comfortable with GRN, headquartered in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, because of what he calls its "family oriented" approach. "It is a close-knit group of people who look out for each other," he says. "We speak to one other in different offices daily, can chat with each other online, have interoffice videoconferences, lots of online training, and regional and national meetings."
According to Goldsmith, GRN is also the fastest-growing recruitment company, having opened 100 units in two years with currently about 400 employees. But he likes the fact that they want to grow to only 250 or 300 units, then stop, in order to retain the advantages of relative smallness.
Goldsmith calls GRN’s founder, Brad Baiocchi, "a real visionary." He developed software called CAPS (which stands for "consulting and placement services") that he was selling to recruiting houses across the world, through BBDP Inc., where he was founder and president. In March, 2003, he started GRN, which uses BBDP to outsource its technology operations and provide ongoing training and support.
Although Goldsmith did take county college courses in business, the Woodbridge native jokes that he graduated from the "school of hard knocks." A veteran of 30 years in a family business – a wholesale industrial-electrical supply house in Middlesex County – he decided a few years ago that he had had enough. He sold everything and took a couple of years off to spend with his kids.
When looking at how best to put his old skills – mostly "talking to people all day" – to work in a new way, Goldsmith decided on recruitment. He focuses primarily on his old field – the complete distribution channel for electrical supply, from manufacturers to reps to distributors. Happy with his new line of work, he says, "I find it pleasurable to find good people great jobs."
– Michele Alperin
Suntec Business Solutions, 5 Independence Way, Suite 110, Princeton 08540; 609-520-8223; fax, 609-520-8331. K. Srinivasan, senior vice president. Home page: www.sunteconline.com
Suntec Business Solutions, a software product company that specializes in pricing and billing, opened an office at 5 Independence Way in February. Headquartered in India, Suntec is expanding globally, according to Krishnan Srinivasan, senior vice president. This office will develop relationships with customers in the financial and telecommunications markets and will include a support center for customers in North America. Srinivasan expects to hire at least nine people.
The Princeton location was chosen based on factors ranging from pure business to personal whimsy. First of all, this office will be responsible for "relationship management," particularly focusing on the banking and financial services industry in New York and on telecommunications. Second, the company also has customers in Philadelphia. And finally, Suntec’s founder, president and CEO, Nanda Kumar, was driving along Route 1 last summer and liked the "lush green" and the "serenity in the atmosphere."
Srinivasan has an MBA from the Xavier Institute of Management in eastern India and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Utkal University. He has worked for eight years in the United States; his last position was as head of business development for a large Indian IT services company focusing on financial services and banking. Last year he became the global head of sales and account management for banking and financial services at Suntec.
BT Americas, 650 College Road East, Suite 3200, Princeton 08540; 609-799-1531. www.btamericas.com
BT (British Telecommunication) Americas Inc. opened an office last year in Princeton. Along with its parent, BT Global Services, part of the BT Group, it provides desktop and network equipment and software, transport and connectivity, IP-based E-business solutions, managed network services, and systems integration. The company has 1,800 professionals in the United States.
Inverso Capital Management LLC, 3100 Princeton Pike, Building 3, Suite H, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-896-4800; fax, 609-896-4811. Peter L. Inverso CFP, certified financial planner. Home page:
Peter Inverso, a certified financial planner, recently moved his investment management firm from Hamilton to Lawrenceville to expand his client base. In the financial services business since 1983, Inverso prefers one-on-one relationships with clients, tailoring their investment portfolios to their specific needs, expected returns, and risk tolerances. He sells no financial products and adheres to standards developed by the Center of Fiduciary Studies. Inverso graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1974.
Progressive Insurance, 300 Horizon Drive, Robbinsville 08691; 800-776-4737. www.progressive.com
Progressive Insurance has opened an office at 300 Horizon Drive in Robbinsville. Headquartered in Mayfield Village, Ohio, it is the nation’s third largest provider of car insurance; it started writing insurance in New Jersey last October.
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