Christine Dwyer opened the independent senior residential community, Princeton Windrows, next to Princeton Forrestal Village. When she left in 2001 as vice president/executive director of Princeton Windrows, it was going through a foreclosure, and home sales were on hiatus.
Dwyer says she made sure the tenants were well represented and well-informed during that period. Now she has returned as marketing director, and sales have resumed at the community, owned by New York-based investors and operated by Springton Development Services, based in Media, Pennsylvania. She also oversees marketing and sales for other Springton projects in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.
Dwyer grew up in Manhattan, where her father worked for the New York Times and her mother managed a restaurant. A 1980 graduate of Cornell University, she has opened senior centers in other college communities, such as Oberlin, Cornell, and Dartmouth. She lives in New York City and makes what she terms a "relaxed" reverse commute.
"This is a wonderful and gracious community and I’m very pleased to again be working here," says Dwyer. "We have a unique atmosphere of style and freedom, and a charming ambiance that attracts dynamic people. Once sales started, she says, "There seems to have been pent-up desire. We started closing units in November and have had 20 closings in a short period of time." Of the 294 homes, 135 are occupied.
Princeton Windrows, 2000 Windrows Drive, Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540; 609-520-3700; fax, 609-514-0005. Sherry Wagner, executive director. www.princetonwindrows.com
Trenton Downtown Association, 23 East State Street, Trenton 08608; 609-393-8998; fax, 609-396-4329. Home page: www.trenton-downtown.com
Matthew Bergheiser has left the post of executive director at the Trenton Downtown Association to be in charge of the Philadelphia office of the Knight Foundation.
Innophos Inc. (IPI), 259 Prospect Plains Road, Building G, Cranbury 08512; 609-495-2495; fax, 609-860-0138. Randy Gress, CEO. www.innophos.com
Innophos Inc., a specialty phosphates maker that separated from Rhodia two years ago, has filed for an initial public offering. Though the company could raise up to $150 million, it has not priced the shares nor disclosed the number of shares to be offered.
Two years ago Innophos Inc. became a stand-alone company, comprised of several segments of the North American specialty phosphates business formerly owned by Paris-based chemical firm Rhodia SA. Bain Capital Partners bought the business and owns more than 98 percent of the stock.
When Rhodia moved to Cedar Brook Drive, Innophos stayed at the Prospect Plains campus, which is now owned by Preferred Real Estate Investments.
Innophos makes phosphate salts, acids, and related products that are used in such merchandise as soft drinks, sports drinks, deli meats, baked goods, and toothpaste. Recently introduced: a nutritional supplement and an additive to asphalt that allows roads to last longer in extreme temperatures.
With seven manufacturing plants in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, it has 1,148 workers, and more than half are unionized hourly wage employees.
Innophos’ CEO Randy Gress, 51, majored in chemical engineering at Princeton University and has a Harvard MBA. He has worked at Ford Motor Company and FMC Corporation, and he joined Rhodia in 1997. For 2005 he earned $375,000 plus a bonus of $93,750.
Credit Suisse Securities, Bear Stearns and UBS Investment Bank will be joint underwriters.
Roma Bank (ROMA), 2300 Route 33, Robbinsville 08691; 609-223-8200; fax, 609-223-8303. Peter Inverso, CEO. www.romabank.com
Roma Bank’s holding company raised $98 million in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, July 12. Shares rose from $10 to $14 and were trading at just under $15 on July 21.
Founded in 1920 in Trenton to cater to the Italian immigrant market, it has eight branches and 145 employees in Mercer and Burlington counties, and will soon open a branch in Ocean County.
Able Laboratories (ABRX), 1 Able Drive, Cranbury 08512-3609; 609-495-2800; fax, 609-495-2705. www.ablelabs.com
Able Laboratories will be liquidated on July 28, according to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.
Charles Stanziale will serve as the sole officer and director of Able; his duties will be to comply with FDA requirements and assist government agencies with any question.
Able had made 46 generic versions of name-brand drugs for pain, inflammation, obesity and cardiovascular conditions but, according to federal regulators, it had falsified test results 41 times to make it look like the strength of its drugs would meet federal standards. Also, it failed nine times to notify the Food & Drug Administration about impure drugs.
Last year Able filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but reorganization plans changed to liquidation arrangements.
Hill Wallack, 202 Carnegie Center, Suite 200, CN 5226, Princeton 08543-5226; 609-924-0808; fax, 609-452-1888. Robert W. Bacso Esq., managing partner. www.hillwallack.com
Hill Wallack, a full-service law firm at the Carnegie Center, has merged with a Langhorne firm, Sullivan & Sullivan, and the combined firms have more than 20 practice groups, 55 attorneys, and 140 employees. Hill Wallack also has had offices in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
"Sullivan & Sullivan concentrates in an area that we are interested in providing to our clients, and we have other areas of practice that provide terrific support for business and commercial work," said Robert W. Bacso, managing partner of the Princeton-based firm.
New in Town
The PFM Group, 821 Alexander Road, Suite 110, Princeton 08540; 609-452-0263; fax, 609-452-0952. Stephen Faber, managing director. www.pfm.com
The PFM Group, a financial services firm for government clients, opened an office in Princeton this month. Founded in 1975, PFM is ranked by the Securities Data Corporation as the number one financial advisor in the United States, based on total transactions managed from 1984-2005.
To date, PFM has been involved in financing programs totaling over $328 billion, and in 2005, PFM completed 891 transactions totaling over $39 billion. The firm’s clients in New Jersey listed on the website include over 50 school districts and municipalities; Camden, Mercer, and Middlesex counties; the New Jersey Asset & Rebate Management Program; and the NJ Turnpike Authority.
Acre Mortgage & Financial, 2642 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road, Trenton 08619; 609-890-7171; fax, 609-890-7788. Debbie Maxwell, branch manager.
After four years as a mortgage rep with Choice One, Debbie Maxwell opened a branch with Choice’s parent company, Acre Mortgage, in April. "It was the next step in my own personal business development plan," she says. "I wanted to be able to hire loan officers and train them the way I trained myself."
Maxwell grew up in Hamilton, where she worked in her family’s home remodeling business, starting at age 11. Her father taught her to do the books, and she also worked in the store. "I was trained from when I was a youngster to be in business," she observes, "and have worked for myself for most of my life."
Mortgages were not her first venture, yet in her earlier experience in nutritional consultation, there was a surprising amount of crossover to the customer service side of the mortgage business. "I was in muscle therapy and naturopathic medicine, for about 15 years," she explains, "so I was used to taking care of people, used to dealing with people’s problems and finding what best suits their needs."
Five years ago, looking for something new, she was first introduced to different people in venture capital and then in nontraditional commercial lending. When she finally got to retail lending, she says, "I had found my niche."
Her job with Choice was the first time in her life that she had been employed by someone else. But the nature of the job, she says, "allowed me to be self-employed, for the most part."
Maxwell wants to grow the business slowly, so that she can grow it the way she wants; she has an assistant, a closing coordinator, and three loan officers."It’s about quality more than numbers," she says.
Because she "thinks like an underwriter," she says, she knows how to put together a file that is likely to be approved, with quick turnaround, when she sends it to a lender.
Much of what she has observed elsewhere in the mortgage business is "a system based on chaos and crisis management." Her approach is different: "I want to be in control, as much as possible, of a process where so many people are involved. Then I’m prepared if something happens."
– Michele Alperin
Accounting Firms Merge
Bartolomei Pucciarelli LLC, 2564 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-883-9000; fax, 609-883-9008. James Bartolomei, partner. www.bp-cpas.com
Sharon Lamont & Associates, 2277 Route 33, Hamilton.
Bartolomei Pucciarelli LLP, which provides accounting, taxation, financial, and management consulting services, completed the acquisition of Sharon Lamont’s solo CPA practice in early June – its second acquisition in two years. Lamont is now the chief financial officer of Roma Bank.
James E. Bartolomei, managing partner, says he received a call from Lamont the third week in March, right in the middle of tax season, asking if the firm was interested in taking over her practice. "She called only us," says Bartolomei. "It was a ringing endorsement of our firm." It was a particular honor, he adds, because she is the past president of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Bartolomei Pucciarelli has already contacted nearly all of Lamont’s former customers and reports that most have agreed to try out his firm. His larger firm, he says, is able to offer more resources than Lamont, who was a solo practitioner. "Her clients in the growth stage benefit greatly from the transition and can avail themselves of all the services we can offer."
The fact that Lamont has neither retired nor left town is another advantage to her former clients. If there are questions, Bartolomei Pucciarelli can give her a call with any questions – and they do so about twice a week.
The firm counsels clients risk management, information technologies, customer service, and other key strategies. With offices in Lawrenceville and Ocean Township, the firm grew about 30 percent last year and expects to continue adding employees at the rate of about a person a year. It will probably also be expanding its square footage in the same building by the end of this year.
Alsgen Inc., 7 Deer Park Drive, Suite L-1, South Brunswick 08852; 732-438-6605; fax, 732-438-6605. Dan Benjamin, chief scientific officer. www.alsgen.com
Alsgen Inc., a drug discovery company focused on drugs for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), has just moved its offices and laboratory from 777 square feet at 11 Deer Park Drive to about 2,400 square feet at 7 Deer Park Drive. The company has five employees and is expecting to expand to eight by the end of the year.
Dan Benjamin, cofounder of the company and its chief scientific officer, says that Alsgen specializes in familial ALS. The company has developed techniques for selectively reducing the expression of given genes, and it is applying these techniques to the mutant protein related to ALS. As to why Alsgen is pursuing this orphan disease, Benjamin says, "It presents itself as an opportunity where a breakthrough is imminent."
The company has identified two lead compounds and is currently optimizing these leads, both of which have been approved for different purposes and are off patent. Clinical investigators are now performing "proof of concept" trials for one of the products at Mass General and Mt. Sinai hospitals.
Benjamin got his Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology in 1989 from the University of North Texas Medical Sciences Center. He has worked for 25 years in neuropharmacology in a variety of settings – American Cyanamid, Johnson & Johnson, a biotech called Neuronics, and FMC Corporation – and he has taught at Rutgers.
Benjamin says he has longed to start a company for a long time: "I thought it would be easier to make scientific progress in a small biotech than in big pharma."
Primera Analytical Solutions, 1 Deer Park Drive, Princeton Corporate Plaza, Suite N, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-355-9111. Bibo Xu, owner and lab director. www.primera-corp.com.
Primera Analytical Solutions will complete its move by August 1 from 800 square feet at 1 Deer Park Drive in Monmouth Junction to 6,000 square feet at 259 Wall Street in Research Park. The space will accommodate the current six employees and new equipment as well as providing room to expand. Phone and fax will change.
When the firm was founded in 2002, it provided only analytical services for pharmaceutical and biotech testing. It has now added formulation and preformulation services, via Primera PharmaLab, which was formally launched early in 2006.
Ming Zeng and Bibo Xu co-founded this firm to provide outsourcing services for pharmaceutical, biotech, and petrochemical firms. Both grew up in China. Zeng went to college in Beijing and has a doctor’s degree from the University of Maryland, and Xu has his doctorate from Penn State. Both had worked for American Cyanamid and later Wyeth Ayerst.
Law Office of Michael C. Schonberger LLC, 600 Alexander Road, Princeton 08540; 609-279-9900; fax, 609-279-9901. Home page: www.re-lawyer.com
Michael C. Schonberger just moved his real estate law practice into a larger office at 600 Alexander, where he had previously been a tenant in the ReMax office; he has also hired an assistant.
Before starting his law practice in 2004, he had 15 years of experience as a commercial mortgage broker – putting together $5 to $50 million deals for the purpose of buying or refinancing shopping centers, office buildings, and apartment complexes. Although his practice has been primarily residential thus far, he is beginning to do more commercial work.
Schonberger studied for his law degree in night classes at Rutgers, Camden. He majored in marketing at Pace University, graduating in 1984, and has an MBA in finance from New York University. Schonberger relocated to the Princeton area in 1986 when he started working for Larson Financial Resources, a subsidiary of Cenlar Bank. He teaches a class in real estate finance for the business school at Rutgers, New Brunswick.
Alvine Shook has been making airtight plastic drums for 18 years, but his manufacturing business is leaking people. From 80 workers, his building is down to 20 or 30 workers, and soon it will close. Operations will move to a site in East Brunswick, where the new owners have a similar facility.
The company had been named, in sequence, Russell Stanley, Smurffit, and Container Corporation of America. Its parent company is now based in Bridgewater.
After graduating from high school in northern Burlington County, Shook joined the Marine Corps and spent two years in Vietnam. He has been here ever since and has become an expert in blow molding and injection molding. At 57, he is thinking about taking a job in Vermont.
"There is not enough work to keep both plants going, says Shook. Nevertheless, the 35-gallon and 55-gallon drums are used by just about every food and chemical manufacturer. The drums are sterile, because they are formed at a temperature of 425 degrees, and the lid goes on right away. They are sold by the truckload, 200 or 300 at a time.
Mauser Corporation, 2 Progress Road, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-821-9600; fax, 732-821-0876. Alvine Shook. www.mausercorp.com
Lenox Inc., Lenox Products Group, 1414 Ratcliffe Street, Box 2006. Bristol, PA 19007-0806. 267-525-7800; Fax, 267-525-5644. www.lenox.com
Lenox, the china and crystal manufacturer, has completed its move to from 100 Lenox Drive to Bristol, Pennsylvania, to a 126,000-square-foot factory building with a history of soap manufacturing. The renovated building has natural daylight from floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Delaware River (U.S. 1, January 18, 2006).
Brown-Forman Corporation sold Lenox Inc. for $190 million last year to Department 56, based near Minneapolis. The Pomona factory closed in November and the fine ivory china manufacturing moved to Kinston, North Carolina.
Washington Group International (WGII), 510 Carnegie Center, Princeton 08540-5287; 609-720-2000; fax, 609-720-2050. Louis E. Pardi, president, power group. www.wgint.com
Washington Group International Inc. will install a flue gas desulfurization system, or scrubber, at Reliant Energy’s Cheswick Power Plant in Springdale, Pennsylvania. This system converts sulfur dioxide gas to a solid that can be removed before it leaves the power plant stack. Reliant Energy is one of the largest independent power producers in the nation.
Initial engineering for the project is under way at the Carnegie Center, according to Lou Pardi, president of the power business unit, and the system is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2009.
A similar system will be installed in Masontown, Pennsylvania, at Allegheny Energy’s Hatfield’s Ferry power plant, a three-unit 1710-megawatt plant. The scrubbers it installs will be designed to remove more than 90 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions, and it is expected to be finished by the end of in 2009.
The Carnegie Center is the headquarters for Washington’s power group as well as the life sciences group. The company also does rail transit and highway projects, and contract maintenance for refineries and chemical plants, and has 950 workers in New Jersey.
Kumon Opens Regional Office
On June 1 Dean Bradley opened a 2,500-square-foot field support office in Lawrenceville for Kumon North America. Kumon provides after-school education for children from preschool through college, and Bradley dubs it "the largest afterschool anything in the world, with three million children worldwide."
Kumon’s program, based on the principle of mastery learning, is self-paced, using progressive worksheets to teach new concepts and reinforce them. Bradley is team leader for the new office, which covers Pennsylvania and a large swath of New Jersey that extends from south of Newark Airport to the Delaware Bridge; he is also leader for Kumon’s regional hub in Teaneck.
New Jersey currently has 14,000 Kumon students. Kumon opened the Lawrenceville office so that the staff members could be closer to the instructors they serve. The Teaneck office, which handles marketing, public relations, and franchisee recruitment for the East Coast, from Washington through Boston, continues to provide support for centers north of Newark Airport.
The three permanent staff members, plus the two who shuttle between Teaneck and Lawrenceville, provide monthly in-service training for franchisees and organize drop-in study groups where instructors work together on Kumon’s high school materials and share case studies.
Franchisees vary in their backgrounds, says Bradley, from people with teaching experience to engineers whowe children have been through the Kumon curriculum. Each franchisee usually operates one center, and occasionally two, out of a commercial space.
Kumon’s franchise fee is $1,000, and the estimated initial investment to open one new center ranges from $15,163 to $37,778. Kumon requires a $500 deposit and usually offers a rental subsidy of $700 a month for the first year. Students pay from $80 to $100 per month, and, according to the Kumon website, franchisees pay a minimum royalty of $30 per student per subject per month.
Kumon rates as number 18 franchiser overall, according to Entrepreneur magazine, and it ranks number one in the tutoring category.
Kumon opened its first North American office in the late 1980s in Los Angeles, followed soon by an office in Fort Lee on the East Coast. Kumon North America has been growing at 15 percent or more a year, according to Bradley, and now has 215,000 students across North America, with between 1,500 and 1,600 franchises and 24 field offices in the United States alone. "In the east," he says, "we recently cracked 40,000 students."
In this area Kumon has franchises at the Princeton Shopping Center, Forest Glen Plaza in Hamilton, Princeton Meadows in Plainsboro, Princeton Arms Shopping Center in West Windsor, and the Village Shopper in Rocky Hill.
Typically centers are open two days a week for three to four hours. Children pick up work that has been preplanned by the instructor. An assistant usually grades the work, and children are required to correct any mistakes. Before leaving, the students show their work to the instructor, who assigns homework for the next three or four days. "It’s like pushups, 15-20 minutes each day," explains Bradley, adding that students do not advance until they are ready.
"Parents are a pivotal part of the whole process," explains Bradley. The instructors provide a parent orientation, often sharing personal experiences about how their own children progressed through the Kumon program. Parents of younger children are asked to read to the children every night and use stickers to mark each book they have completed; they also use flashcards to supplement their children’s worksheets. Parents of older children grade the work every night, using Kumon’s answer book.
The goal, says Bradley, is to "mimic the process at the center, creating the same environment at home." Kumon suggests that parents set up a Kumon Corner at home in a place where students will not be disturbed.
Half of the Kumon students come for remedial work and half exceed grade level. Typically students have come from the suburbs, but Kumon has seen an increase in interest from the inner city.
Bradley doesn’t see big tutoring organizations like Huntington and Sylvan as competitors to Kumon, because they don’t use a worksheet-based program and they often charge three times as much per month. He says there are some smaller-scale competitors.
Bradley, who has been involved in Kumon for 18 years, grew up in Toronto and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Toronto. He had wanted to join the foreign service and attributes his interest in the wider world to his parents. "My parents were travel people," he says. "My father was an airline executive for Air Canada, and my mother owned travel agency."
During college, he tutored a Japanese theology student in French. "He also tutored me in Japanese," adds Bradley, "but I took only the food seriously." The Japanese student also introduced Bradley to Kumon, where he worked early on with an excellent mentor, the personal secretary of founder Toru Kumon. And Bradley has stayed with the company. "I am an anomaly," he says, to be with the same company from post-college to age 42, but he adds, "I have seen so many people’s lives changed as a result of Kumon."
As for his plans for the future, says Bradley, "we’re looking to outgrow this office as quickly as possible."
– Michele Alperin
Kumon North America, 3150 Brunswick Pike, Suite 350, Crossroads Corporate Center, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-882-0160; fax, 609-882-2729. Dean Bradley, region leader. www.kumon.com