Last week Opinion Research Company shareholders approved a deal to sell the company to Omaha-based InfoUSA. Employees who held stock and other stockholders received $135.71 per share, double the current stock price.
ORC will continue to operate, independently, on College Road as part of InfoUSA (www.infoUSA.com). Founded in 1938, ORC is a global measurement-based marketing services firm with market intelligence. Founded in 1972, infoUSA is the leading provider of business and consumer information products, database marketing services, data processing services, and sales and marketing solutions.
“Market research has been evolving, for five years, into database management services for clients,” says John Short, CEO of ORC. “Certainly InfoUSA is a formidable database business and marketing company and we are a formidable research company, so the combination is a natural fit. We are working on integration aspects.”
ORC has 140 employees in the United States, and Short estimates that 75 or 100 of them work in Princeton.
Short grew up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, where his father was a steel worker, and went to Ursinus College. He worked at Burrows, which became Unisys, and joined the Hay Group, moving to ORC in 1989.
“We were unable to do a public offering at a price that we wanted,” says Short. “There seemed to be support from the shareholders to do something alternative, and we considered a broad distribution of candidates to buy the company. It’s very positive. No personnel had to be carved out to make the deal work, though some efficiencies may be identified over time.”
Short predicts that, by doing research surveys on customer profiles, ORC can help infoUSA clients with sophisticated market segmentations and customer retention programs. “We are a survey operation,” says Short. “We can extend marketing support around helping clients get to the right people with the right stuff.”
Opinion Research Corporation (IUSA), 600 College Road East, Suite 4100, Box 183, Princeton 08542-0183; 609-452-5400; fax, 609-419-1892. John F. Short, CEO. Home page: www.opinionresearch.com
John Torkelsen maintains a determined silence in the federal investigation of Milberg Weiss, which paid him handsomely, over the years, for his expert witness services. Torkelsen (Princeton University, Class of 1967) is serving at least five years in federal prison for making false statements about his investment fund, Acorn Technology, that resulted in the United States Small Business Administration losing $5 million.
But Justin Scheck, who has been following the Torkelsen case for the California Law Journal’s Recorder, reported on December 6 that the pressure on Torkelsen increased when a former Milberg Weiss client revealed — under the threat of a long prison sentence for another charge — that Milberg Weiss had paid some illegal contingency fees to expert witnesses. This strengthened the prosecutors’ determination to get Torkelsen to testify in the Milberg Weiss case. Torkelsen has been accused of working for Milberg on a contingency basis.
On November 22, Scheck writes, Milberg Weiss lost a major ruling. Now the firm has to turn over documents that might show how Milberg Weiss illegally paid Torkelsen contingency fees by funneling payments through other firms. Other documents might show that Milberg Weiss paid other firms to bring in lead plaintiffs in class actions. Attorneys for Milberg had claimed that the material was covered by work-product privilege.
Torkelsen is still in a downtown Los Angeles detention center. Prosecutors moved him from Morgantown, West Virginia, months ago with the stated purpose of obtaining a handwriting sample.
Location Consultant Expands on Hulfish
Biggins Lacy Shapiro, 47 Hulfish Street, Suite 400, Princeton 08542; 609-924-9775; fax, 609-924-8817. Jay Biggins, executive managing director. Home page: www.sbb-incentives.com
Jay Biggins has joined with Joe Lacy and Andrew Shapiro to form Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co., a location economics consulting firm. Biggins was formerly associated with Stadtmauer Bailkin Biggins LLC. The 10-person firm has also expanded from 132 Nassau Street to Palmer Square, 5,000 square feet at the 47 Hulfish Street building, in Heartland’s former suite.
Biggins had advised Bloomberg on the purchase of the Atchley tract in Ewing, and its sale to OpusEast. With some investors, he had bought and developed the current Charles Schwab building at 132 Nassau Street. After Rutgers, Class of 1974, and Rutgers law school, he had been executive director for economic development for the City of New York, where he managed to keep two big brokerage houses from moving out of town. He was chief financial officer of DKM, the real estate development firm that cut a big swath in the New Brunswick/Trenton corridor in the 1980s.
Biggins’ first firm had been incubated in a law firm and operated as a joint venture with that firm. “We bought ourselves out and elevated two of our senior people to the status of partner,” says Biggins. “We developed an interdisciplinary practice in corporate location consulting, including corporate real estate, law, tax, and project finance. As the practice grew far beyond the practice of law, the law firm was an increasingly limited environment.” Only two of the 10 employees are attorneys.
The firm operates globally and has partners in Europe and Asia. Its clients include Lehman Brothers, Honeywell, and UBS.
This team advised Bristol-Myers Squibb on site selection and incentives for a new biologics manufacturing plant, announced last July. Among the areas considered were San Diego, Research Triangle Park, the Syracuse area of New York, and Central New Jersey/eastern Pennsylvania, but the choice was Devens, Massachusetts, near Boston.
New Jersey does not have development-ready sites designed for its targeted industries, says Biggins, though it is just beginning to address that challenge. In the Bristol-Myers choice, the site needed more than 100 acres of contiguous land, very high utility requirements, and a depth of skilled workers in several disciplines. No site in New Jersey that could meet the labor requirement could also meet the acreage requirement. “It simply could not be supplied in New Jersey,” says Biggins.
“When corporations have a business to run, they are not interested in locations where there will be significant delay,” says Biggins. He hopes New Jersey will join the states that identify suitable locations and bring them through the approval process. “It would seem elementary that you can’t sell without inventory, but the state is beginning to make progress on this for the first time.”
R.P. Sobol & Co. LLC, 15 Roszel Road, Princeton 08540; 609-452-2100; fax, 609-452-2199. Robert P. Sobol, president. Home page: www.rpsobol.com
Bob Sobol has relocated his real estate management firm from Woodbridge to 1,000 square feet on Roszel Road. Phone and fax are new. He does tenant representation, site selection, relocation and property disposition.
A graduate of Rowan University, Class of 1982, where he majored in communications and advertising, Sobol grew up in West Orange. His father owned a variety store and luncheonette in Newark, and his mother had been a nurse. His older and younger brothers are also in real estate; the older brother focuses on retail leasing in Wall Township and his younger brother does residential appraisals in Chester. Their sister is a pharmaceutical sales representative.
He sold word processors in the educational division of Lanier Business Products and turned to industrial real estate with an independent company in Edison, then office leasing with the Sitar Company, and moved to the Acclaim Group. In 2004 he decided to start his own firm, focusing on tenant representation in Woodbridge.
In October he moved his office to be closer to such clients as the Robert wood Johnson Foundation, University Medical Center at Princeton, Lucent, and Bank of America. He and his wife and their toddler son also moved from Woodbridge to a home in the Estates of Princeton Junction. His wife had been an accountant for what is now Provident Bank and works part-time in the firm.
New in Town
Homewood Suites by Hilton, 3819 Route 1 South, Plainsboro 08536; 908-209-4070; fax, 609-720-0551. Nick Katsikis, general manager. Home page: www.homewoodsuites.com/princeton
Homewood Suites by Hilton has opened a 142-suite hotel on Route 1 South in Plainsboro, complete with fitness center, indoor heated pool with Jacuzzi, and a meeting room for 65 people. Nick Katsikis is general manager of the property for the owner, Barclay Hospitality Services.
Hilton has 191 Homewood Suites nationwide and 120 more are planned. Its one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites have complimentary high-speed Internet. Custom-designed clocks, with easy-to-set alarms, have a a connection cable for MP3 players and other portable music devices. Hot breakfasts are complimentary, as are weekday receptions with a light meal and beverages.
Media Mastr Computer Products Inc., 7A Marlen Drive, South Gold Industrial Park, Robbinsville 08691-1604; 609-586-7576; fax, 609-586-7581. Bob Klar, president. Home page: www.mmcpi.com
Media Mastr CPI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 7. It focuses on business to business sales of computer supplies, data cartridges, and storage media, CD-ROM manufacturing and CD duplication.
Pyramid Learning Center, 2277 Crest Corporate Center, Hamilton 08690.
Pyramid Learning Center, a tutoring, counseling, and assessment center, has left the area. Its phone has been disconnected and its Internet domain name has expired.
Judge Bill Mathesius was suspended by the New Jersey Supreme Court for 30 days without pay, starting December 4, for what the court termed “repeated and unremorseful instances of petulance, sarcasm, anger, and arrogance.”
Deborah T. Poritz, who retired in October as chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, will join the College Road-based law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath.
Ronald A. Kinchla, 72, died on December 8. He was professor emeritus of psychology at Princeton University.
Robert D. Cowan, 75, died on December 10. He was a lab technician at Princeton Gamma Tech.