Michael R. Cooper, the former CEO of Opinion Research Corporation, is the new dean of Rutgers Business School in Newark and New Brunswick. “I’m honored to have been selected as business dean at such a venerated and prominent university as Rutgers,” Cooper says. He will also be a tenured professor in global business.
Although he does not start work officially until June 1, he is already devising his strategy for advancing the reputation of the business school.
Cooper has the real life business experience that could help him to succeed in the ivory tower. At ORC, an old line Princeton polling firm, he led a management buyout and took it public, growing revenue from $10 million to $125 million. He made sweeping changes that were received with various degrees of acceptance. His mantra then: “You have to be who you say you are. When all the excuses come, that doesn’t work for me.”
In 1999 he left the firm in the second year of a five year contract, implying at the time that this was due to the board’s unwillingness to take a big step in the E-commerce market (U.S. 1, March 1, 2000). But he also admitted that, “right or wrong, I do things very intensely, which is good for some people and not for others.”
Now, says Cooper, he has come to be a different person, and he attributes this to the time he spends studying the Torah under the tutelage of a rabbi. “The corporate environment produced a very tough CEO who accomplished a lot of goals and made a lot of friends and some enemies along the way. Now I am quite interested in a different environment, and the Torah has a lot to do with it.”
“I have become much more spiritual,” says Cooper. “I study the Torah every week with the chief rabbi, and that has given me a different sense of my values. People who know me would say I have toned down myself.” For instance, he points out that, in the Torah and in Judaism it is considered a major crime to publicly embarrass some one. Anything negative must be said in private. “Otherwise, you are disrespecting that person and affecting their self confidence. That is highly applicable to my own life style in the past, and it reflects my transition from corporate America to academe.”
Cooper graduated from Hofstra University with a psychology major, has a doctor’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Ohio State, completed executive education at Harvard Business School, and taught at Suffolk University Graduate School of Business. He has two children, a daughter with master’s degrees in applied math who is working for a hedge fund in Manhattan, and a son who is an investment banker, also in Manhattan. Prior to ORC, Cooper was president of Hay Research for Management for 10 years and senior partner of the Hay Group.
When he left ORC, he founded Cooper Investments LLC to do consulting and make investments in early stage companies. At one of these companies, the on-demand publishing firm Xlibris, he managed to help sell a 49 percent share to Random House and is still active on the board; Xlibris is offshoring some operations to the Philippines. His dental clinic chain, Arrail, is about to go public in Hong Kong, and a Virginia-based patent firm, MCam, is a success story also. Another investment, in a dotcom firm called MakeUsAnOffer.com, did not go as well, and Cooper ended up in a lawsuit with the founders.
“I’ve had a lot of successes, and failures as well,” says Cooper. “I wish I hadn’t lost the money, but the successes did compensate for the failures, and the failures were an important learning experience.” One of his current favorite projects is a company called Patient Passport, “which has software that will make a significant contribution to healthcare.”
From 2002 to 2004 Cooper was on staff at the Stevens Institute of Technology as founding dean of the Executive Leadership Institute and associate dean of the Howe School of Technology Management, where he also lectured. That his lecture-rooms were packed, he says, “showed that I had something to contribute from the business world,” he says, “and that I like an academic university setting.”
At Stevens he also had an unusual assignment as assistant basketball coach, a result of his loving basketball since his Brooklyn childhood. “It really kept me in touch with the students,” he says.
“Then along came Rutgers. I pondered whether I could be a full time dean of a business school and discovered that Rutgers has great talent but that the business community doesn’t know a heck of a lot about the business school. ‘OK, Cooper,’ I thought, ‘there is your challenge.’ I am surprised that I could occupy such a position and am treating it with respect.”
Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick (RBS) was founded in 1929 and has extensive undergraduate and graduate business programs on both campuses. The Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for Pharmaceutical Management Studies is part of the school, as is the Prudential Business Ethics Center and the Rutgers Center for Supply Chain Management.
Cooper replaces Howard Tuckman who resigned in 2006 and whose place was taken for a year by Rosa Oppenheim. His mission, according to Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick, will be “to capitalize on the enormous potential of the Rutgers Business School to reach new heights of academic excellence and to play a leading role in promoting the continued economic vitality of New Jersey.” “Rutgers is the number one pharmacy school in the United States and has one of the top five math departments,” says Cooper. “I’d like for a part of the business school to enjoy the same recognition and success.”
“But in 25 years of business, I learned that you have to find the right niche, that you can excel in, that your competitors aren’t in,” he says. Research that comes from Rutgers is very important, “but it is involved in so many areas, one could say too many. I am forming a strategy to pick a couple of areas.” He points, for instance, to Wharton, which is known for its finance department, and Babson, noted for its entrepreneurial program.
He guards his conclusions as closely as any corporate secret: “We don’t want to let the other universities know our plans.”
— Barbara Fox
Radpharm: Speeding Up Clinical Trials With Radiology
It’s hard to tell whether a new drug is working or not working, whether it is harmful or not harmful. That’s why clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical and biotech companies generally take a long time.
Usually a drug company administers an on-trial drug to groupps of patentis and then waits for good effects or bad effects to follow. But there is a safer, faster, non-invasive way to determine whether compounds in development are working: To take images of what’s going on inside the body. More and more clinical trials involve radiological images.
“If pharmas can determine their compounds are working or not working, if they can make no go or go decisions sooner, it saves time and a lot of money,” says Ron Berg, CEO of Radpharm, which evaluates radiological images for companies conducting clinical trials. It is also safer. “For pharmas and biotechs, patient care and patient safety is their primary concern.”
The nine-year-old firm expanded last month, moving from 34,000 square feet at 103 Carnegie Center and some additional space on Vaughn Drive. Its new space, 52,000 square feet, is on the third and fourth floor at Princeton Overlook.
In the last year it has grown from 180 to 250 employees. Ampersand Investors, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, was an initial funder, and among the other funders is Chicago-based Adams Street Partners.
In the past eight years Radpharm has played a part in 12 out of the 13 last blockbuster oncology therapies submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. “Ninety percent of our business is repeat business, or from former clients who have moved to other companies,” says Berg.
Using images has a potential flaw: their evaluation is subjective. Two radiologists can look at the same image and come up with different opinions. That’s what give Radpharm an advantage. “A central unbiased review provides consistent quality,” says Berg.
Radpharm collects images from 5,000 sites throughout the world, involving about 60 pharma/biotechs on close to 100 projects. Digital images come in over the Internet, on CDs, or on optical disks. These images are formatted, ready for Radpharm’s proprietary analysis software, and for inspection by two of the more than a dozen full-time staff radiologists. Berg says that all have years of experience, all are board certified, and in addition they all get the same Radpharm training on response assessment criteria used for clinical trials.
To complete an evaluation of one image, two radiologists must agree. If they don’t, a third doctor is brought in for a tie-breaking opinion.
Berg says he has had no problem finding the good radiologists. They don’t have to deal with patients, they are not on call on nights and weekends, and they don’t have to deal with the business aspects of the practice. They can’t be just technically savvy, they must also be communicators, because their job involves traveling to — to places like India, Japan, and Russia — to consult with those setting up the clinical trials.
The staff also has about 120 people who focus on the clinical operations, plus technical, IT, and data management personnel, and also a couple of oncologists. “We are looking to hire life sciences graduates straight out of college or with a couple years of experience,” says Berg.
Being in Princeton helps the recruiting effort. “For a services company to succeed, you hire the best people you can find,” says Berg, “and Princeton is a place where people like to work.”
The company was founded by two radiologists who used to be at Princeton Radiology Associates, the biggest radiology practice in the Princeton area. Robert R. Ford went to Rutgers and Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School, and Donald P. Rosen went to the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cincinnati. (Princeton Radiology Associates, at one point, had an interest in the firm, but it no longer does.)
Coming from a medical practice, the firm needed somebody with experience managing and growing a service business, and Berg had it. “My passion is to build and grow companies, and it doesn’t matter what industry. I met the two founders, very bright individuals, with very high moral ethical values, and because of my experience with a previous company, I realized how important that is. I liked them and what they stood for and thought there was a great opportunity.”
Berg grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, and at age 13 he began detailing cars at the family’s Volvo dealership, the second oldest in the United States. After graduating from Bucknell in 1978, Berg worked for seven years for Coopers & Lybrand, then was CFO of a hospital in Baltimore that went bankrupt and merged with another hospital. Then he was CFO and COO in an IT services staffing and user training business with 140 employees in five different cities. His wife Barbara, a CPA, works for a small accounting firm, and they have two teenagers.
Then he worked in the E-commerce world, taking one of the first Internet companies public, and trying to do the same with the second. He sold Deja.com to Google, and, at Idealab, he helped launch a company called Partsearch Technologies. “I have a lot of worthless stock options in the basement. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.”
But his basic business education came from the car dealership, which suffered from the ups and downs of the steel industry. “The automobile business goes through some major cycles, and my father, a former Marine, was a strict parent. I realize now why he was hard on me, because I grew up in a modest household, and when times were not good, it was pervasive. As my father used to say, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’”
Radpharm, 100 Overlook Center, Third and Fourth Floors, Princeton 08540; 609-936-2600; fax, 609-936-2602. Ronald Berg, CEO. Home page: www.radpharm.com
No Dry Eyes Here
After Michael Wells had worked at Merck for nearly 10 years, first as a sales rep, then moving up to product marketing, he seized the opportunity to acquire a company that had seven products — Aton Pharma. It took him two years.
Wells formed a holding company, Princeton Pharma Holding, and partnered with a private equity firm to complete the acquisition of Aton Pharma and its seven products. These products, targeting rare and orphan diseases, were owned by Merck, but Merck was not promoting them. Aton Pharma moved into its offices at Crossroads Corporate Center last fall.
Even though the seven products were small potatoes for a company like Merck, Wells was satisfied that the sales potential for these drugs was significant. Aton Pharma already had sales in more than 30 countries and throughout the United States.
“We inherited sales in all those places and have the opportunity to expand sales,” says Wells. “These products are medically significant, unique, and have little or no competition — so they have a very stable trend line.” Wells was able to work out a favorable set of terms allowing him to acquire and sell these drugs for a long period of time.
Wells grew up in Los Angeles, where his mother was a nurse and his father is in the insurance business. He earned his bachelor and master of science degrees in human physiology from the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree, and a masters in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Aton Pharma, with nine employees, already has in place finance, regulatory, supply-chain, and business development groups, and it is about to bring in its first marketing person. It has no in-house sales force yet. Nor does it have a research and development team, although development of a research capability depends on how the life-cycle opportunities unfold. Wells expects to have 20 employees a year from now.
Several of Aton’s products have a lot of potential, according to Wells. Lacrisert, for example, an ophthalmic product used to treat dry-eye syndrome, has never been promoted. Currently prescribed by only 2 percent of ophthalmologists, Wells says it is comparable to existing products. “In our market research prior to acquisition,” he explains, “we learned that most ophthalmologists felt the product had been taken off the market, because there was no promotional support.”
The dry-eye market is worth a total of $300 million, and Lacrisert has less than a 1 percent market share. Wells believes that by increasing awareness of the drug’s availability, it will be used with greater frequency.
Other promising products range across several therapeutic categories. One is a form of Vitamin K used by people on blood thinners whose blood has become too thin; Vitamin K helps reverse this over-anticoagulation effect.
Two products treat Wilson’s disease, a rare orphan genetic disease characterized by an inability to metabolize copper, which in turn can lead to liver damage or neurological symptoms.
Another of the drugs is a diuretic in both tablet and injectable forms. It is the only diuretic on the market that does not have a sulfonimide component, so it is the drug of choice for people who need a diuretic but have sulfa allergies.
The last drug is used to treat a rare but serious cancer of the adrenal gland, pheochromocytoma.
“Many physicians and pharmacists are not aware that these products are still available,” says Wells. “It is startling how low the awareness is.” As a result, Aton Pharma is focusing on improving awareness of these drugs’ availability and expanding their distribution, both in the United States and internationally. The company is also looking at life-cycle opportunities to enhance these products through new dosage forms.
— Michele Alperin
Aton Pharma Inc., 3150 Brunswick Pike, Suite 130, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-873-7056; fax, 609-671-9046. Robert E. Useller, VP supply chain management. Home page: www.atonrx.com
New in Town
Sunshine Chemlab Inc, 7 Deer Park Drive, Princeton Corporate, Suite M-7, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-274-1553; fax, 732-274-1556. Home page: www.sunshinechemlab.com
Sunshine Chemlab, a research firm that produces complex organic fine chemicals, has opened its doors at Princeton Corporate Center. It supports high technology research at universities, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and other chemical companies through the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds, agricultural chemicals, functional dyes, liquid crystals, organic functional materials, peptide compounds, and organic complicated intermediate compounds.
irstat Nursing Services, 20 Texas Avenue, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-530-1800; fax, 609-530-9800. Chandni Juneja, president. www.firstatnurse.com
The contract nursing service expanded in April from 3131 Princeton Pike to Texas Avenue. Phone and fax are new. It provides contract nursing service for home health, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Also here is Carnegie Staffing.
Atlantic Coast Financial Group/Metropolitan Financial Services (MET), 1009 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-896-0013; fax, 609-896-0525. Elena Kliss, managing director. www.atlantic.metlife.com
The Atlantic Coast Financial Group of Metropolitan Financial Services has moved from 168 Franklin Corner Road to 1009 Lenox Drive in Lawrenceville. The move affords the group room to grow and a location that is close to its customer base.
Headed up by Elena Kliss, managing director, the firm offers financial planning and financial products, including life, auto, home, disability, and long-term care insurance, along with mutual funds and other investment products.
Creative Marketing Alliance Inc. (CMA), 191 Clarksville Road, Box 727, Princeton Junction 08550; 609-799-6000; fax, 609-799-7032. Jeffrey E. Barnhart, CEO. www.cmasolutions.com
Creative Marketing Alliance has launched a spin-out, CMA Healthcare Marketing, to cater to the $8 billion pharmaceutical and medical device business in New Jersey (www.cma-healthmktg.com).
“In our 20 years of business in New Jersey, the ‘medicine chest of the country,’ we know that the healthcare industry calls for a specific kind of marketing,” says Jeffrey Barnhart, president and CEO of CMA. “By creating a specialized business that caters directly to healthcare, we can utilize our creativity and specialized expertise in that industry to its full potential.”
CMA is a full service advertising, marketing, public relations, association management, and event planning firm.
Law Offices of Glenn R. Cochran, 812 State Road, Princeton 08540; 609-924-4011; fax, 609-924-5333.
Glenn R. Cochran moved his law offices from 4597 Route 27 in Kingston to Princeton.
Martin Personnel Services Inc., 9 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro Village Center, Suite 722, Plainsboro 08536; 609-275-1133; fax, 609-275-1166. Martin Bell, president. www.martinpersonnel.com
Martin Personnel Services, an accounting and financial recruiting and placement firm, upgraded its location with a move from 1,200 square feet at 2865 Route 1 South in North Brunswick to 800 square feet in Plainsboro.
An alumnus of the University of Miami, Class of 1970, Martin worked as an accountant and audit manager for a Fortune 500 company. He worked for another recruiting firm for six years and founded his own firm in 1991.
Stock News: YNB Concludes Internal Audit
Yardville National Bancorp (YANB), 4556 South Broad Street, Box 8487, Trenton 08650-8487; 609-581-2809; fax, 609-584-5984. Patrick M. Ryan, president and CEO. Home page: www.ynb.com
Lawrence Seidman, a shareholder in Yardville National Bancorp, plans to challenge the bank on, among other things, its regulatory practices at the annual shareholders meeting on July 12. (U.S. 1 Newspaper, April 25). Seidman has charged YNB with improper disclosure of company information. In response the bank announced on Tuesday, May 8, that it has concluded an investigation of this allegation, and found it without merit.
The bank, which went public in 1995 and has branches in Lawrence, Pennington, and Hamilton, has reported that independent outside counsel it retained to conduct the investigation has determined that there was not sufficient credible evidence under the circumstances to conclude that it is reasonably likely that a material violation of law or a material breach of fiduciary duty had occurred.
YNB’s chief legal officer, Daniel J. O’Donnell, began the investigation following his receipt of an allegation from a YNB shareholder that one or more members of the company’s board of directors had improperly disclosed material, nonpublic information to at least one other YNB shareholder. After O’Donnell’s preliminary inquiry into the matter, the allegation was referred to the company’s audit committee. The audit committee thereafter retained Bingham McCutchen LLP to serve as independent outside counsel and further investigate the allegation.
Ocean Power Trades
Ocean Power Technologies (OPTT), 1590 Reed Road, Building A, Suite 1, Pennington 08534; 609-730-0400; fax, 609-730-0404. Dr. George W. Taylor, chief executive officer. Home page: www.oceanpowertechnologies.com
Ocean Power Technologies began trading on April 25 on Nasdaq with 5 million shares of common stock at $20 per share.
The renewable-energy company develops and manufactures floating devices that generate electricity from ocean waves. Cash from this sale will help build wave-power stations for demonstrations, develop the proprietary wave-harnessing system, and expand global sales and marketing departments.
The joint book-running underwriters are UBS Investment Bank, Banc of America Securities, and Bear, Stearns, and the co-manager is First Albany Capital is co-manager.
On Nassau Street:
New Building Owner,
& New Juice Bar
Charles E. Brodsky, 166 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542; 609-430-3044; fax, 609-430-3058.
Attorney Charles E. Brodsky has moved from 234 to 166 Nassau Street after buying the building. A real estate attorney, he handles most of the commercial real estate deals for the Dreher Group, with whom he shares an office.
Brodsky and the Dreher Group share the second floor of the building, which is next to Mehek, an Indian restaurant. The bottom floor, previously occupied by Prudential Fox Roach, is in the process of becoming a juice bar, Booster Juice. David Cohen, architect on the project, says that it has just passed through the historic review process, and is planning on a July opening.
The top two floors of the building contain residential apartments. The building was listed for sale in the May, 2006, U.S. 1 commercial real estate issue for just under $2 million.
The Dreher Group, 166 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542; 609-430-3055; fax, 609-430-3056. Richard Dreher.
The Dreher Group, a commercial real estate development company with a specialty in drug stores and grocery stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has moved with Charles Brodsky.
NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), 211 Carnegie Center, Princeton 08540; 609-524-4500; fax, 609-524-4501. David Crane, CEO. www.nrgenergy.com
It’s not easy pushing green. Delaware, looking for ways to provide its citizens with clean energy, had been considering three technologies, including a coal gasification plant from NRG. The other two contenders were an off-shore wind farm and a natural gas plant. An NPR report states that “at first it seemed like the coal plant had the inside track. State politicians were excited about using abundant coal in a cleaner way.” But surveys showed that some 80 percent of Delaware residents wanted wind power.
Last week the Delaware Service Commission supported the idea of building the wind farm — and the gas plant, leaving NRG’s new-technology coal gasification technology to swing in the wind.
NRG spokesperson Caroline Angoorly told NPR that NRG doesn’t think much of the wind solution. “It is an intermittent resource and so it’s only going to provide electricity when the wind blows,” she warned.
Creston Hydraulics Inc., 109 Flock Road, Trenton 08619; 609-587-3334; fax, 609-587-2315. Michael McGuire, owner.
Creston Hydraulics Inc. changed hands three months ago when Mike McGuire purchased the business from Bob Zarrilli when he retired. The firm does full-service hydraulic repair for contractors, construction, and municipalities.
McGuire, a 31-year-old native of Hopewell, grew up with his father’s family business, Prestige Associates, which does dye-cutting and packaging in Trenton. McGuire has a background in warehousing and storage, and he also has the franchise for Meyer Snowplows.
SAI Global DBA Midi Inc., 101 Morgan Lane, Suite 301, Plainsboro 08536; 609-955-5100; fax, 609-924-9207. Thomas Parry, president & CEO. Home page: www.midicorp.com
Compliance & Ethics Learning Solutions, founded as Midi, has changed its name to reflect its new owner, SAI Global. Midi provides compliance and ethics programs and services for Global 2000 companies.
The company focuses on Internet-based compliance training, off the shelf and custom interactive multimedia applications, including compliance and human resources training programs.