Michael Hierl closed his Pacesetter Management Consulting office at Montgomery Knoll in June and moved it to his Bucks County farm. If you were to conclude that Hierl’s 24-year-old consulting business had gone sour, you would be wrong. It was his attempt to be an aviation entrepreneur that went sour.
Hierl, the former board chairman of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce spent the last two years trying to set up a firm that could compete with Ronson Aviation at Trenton-Mercer County Airport. But instead of letting him move into an existing building at the airport, the county shut and locked the doors.
“We had been hoping to move all our people to the airport when our current lease ran out,” says Hierl in a telephone interview. After the county turned down his proposal, “I decided to move the administrative operations into a beautiful renovated barn on my horse farm. Our consultants work full time at client sites, our administrative folks are working more virtually, and we are renovating the space so we can add more people in the fall.”
Pacesetter is a general management consulting firm that works primarily with Fortune 500 and fast-growing, mid-sized companies to improve organizational performance and effectively manage change. Many of its 12 consultants are embedded on internal client teams of pharmaceutical firms.
Says Hierl: “We act as the ‘trusted advisor,’ subject matter experts in the business of consulting.” When the client hires a big consulting group, the Pacesetter person makes sure the client gets what it needs and is not overcharged. “We can make sure the chemistry and the direction of these projects go the way the client wants.”
Hierl likes to be sure knowledge transfer gets built into the contract. “Instead of swooping in and developing analysis and recommendations and sharing what they found, they need to include talented high potential folks from the organization in the effort. They are coaching. The more experience the clients can gain, the more capable they will be in the future.”
Perhaps because many Pacesetter’s clients are pharmaceuticals, Hierl sees no slowdown: “There is so much business in the region that the market is not shrinking at any alarming rate. At any major pharmaceutical company, the scale of change they are embarking on is bigger than anything I have seen in my 25 year career.” Not only are fully-integrated pharmas partnering with smaller companies to fill their pipelines, but some are starting to farm out their manufacturing and sales operations. “Ten years ago we saw change in one department with a visionary leader. Now there is global change, from top to bottom, worldwide — in process, technology, and culture — all at the same time.”
Hierl grew up in Wisconsin, where his mother was a nurse and his father was the base controller for the Air National Guard. He majored in political science and economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Class of 1979, and set his sights on being a management consultant before he graduated. That’s because he had taken a year off to direct a federal program for artists in the schools and was mentored by an experienced management consultant. So after earning a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Harvard, he took a job in an internal consulting group at what was then Squibb, aiming to spend a couple of years there and start his own firm.
Everything worked according to plan, and Hierl founded Pacesetter in 1983, at first basing it on special software and then moving to a more general approach. His recent aviation company plans, nevertheless, went awry.
Hierl is an accomplished pilot, following his father’s example, and he is about to trade his single engine Piper Archer four seat plane for one that can fly to the outer islands of the Bahamas. So he wanted to set up a “fixed base operator” business in an old building formerly occupied by the Navy. He describes the FBO business as similar to a neighborhood gas station, because it sells fuel, does repairs, offers flight instruction, and can offer charter service. “For an FBO the margins are so low, it is like a family farm and you have to love what you are doing,” says Hierl. “It is not a huge generator of income unless you are in a monopoly situation.”
He submitted a his Request for Proposal (RFP) papers to Mercer County, but after two years the county decided not to lease out the space. Hierl speculates that though the Federal Aviation Administration encourages competition, the county may have wanted to reserve that space for a big corporate tenant, one that would build a $40 million facility similar to those built by Pfizer and Merck. Hierl is sad about the time lost. “I understood from the start that there would need to be a careful RFP process, and I was disappointed that, after the two year process, and we were the sole bidder, the county decided to withdraw the RFP.”
If the past two years were difficult, 2003 to 2005 were terrific, “life changing,” as Hierl says. After building the business to 15 full-time staffers, including a dozen consultants, plus four consultants working in the United Kingdom, his stint as board chairman of the chamber allowed him to focus on the broader community. He and then CEO Kristin Appelget took office together, two new brooms sweeping broad strokes.
“I’ve helped probably hundreds of companies improve in far off places and to be able to do that at the chamber, and develop close relationships with terrific people — that was the icing on my career, my most fun (and lowest paid) consulting project,” says Hierl. He is still chairman of the Princeton Regional Chamber Foundation, which is meant to help serve as a catalyst for greater civic engagement in the Princeton Business Community.”
Princeton will still be his base of operations. But for now Pacesetter will be located in a barn shared with three horses; his daughter, Erin, is the horsewoman. With an equine science degree from Delaware Valley College, she has a pet sitting business in the Doylestown area. Another daughter, Lauren, has a bachelor’s from Fordham and a master’s degree from Columbia, is a Pacesetter consultant, “popular with our clients,” says her father, and her older brother is an actor and lawyer in California. Hierl’s wife has just retired as assistant director of financial aid at Princeton University.
Now Hierl will concentrate on passing his instrument rating test and rehabbing the barn. The upper level, where the offices will be, has a beautiful view of the eight-acre pasture, he says. They have three horses, two goats, and are looking for a mule.
Pacesetter Management Consulting, Box 425, Buckingham PA 18912, Box 848, Princeton 08542; 609-683-5225. Michael J. Hierl, president. Home page: www.pacesetterconsulting.com.
New in Town
RMB Wealth Advisors LLC, 2117 Route 33, Suite 2, Hamilton 08690; 609-838-1335; fax, 609-838-1337. R. Michael Braender, financial advisor.
RMB Wealth Advisors opened its doors in Hamilton in January to provide financial advising, particularly in investments and insurance. Its principal, R. Michael Braender, has a bachelor’s degree from Trenton State and is a certified long term care counselor and a financial advisor; he has been in the field for 10 years.
George F. Yuska Attorney at Law, 1230 Parkway Avenue, Parkway Corporate Center, Suite 305, Ewing ; 609-434-1000; fax, 609-434-1022.
George F. Yuska, formerly with Gaylord, Yuska, Rubinstein & Popp, opened his own practice on June 1 in the areas of civil and criminal litigation, municipal court, expungements, and general practice.
Before cofounding Gaylord and Yuska, he spent six years with Stark & Stark and ten years as a New York City assistant district attorney and New Jersey Deputy Attorney General. Yuska received a bachelor of science in business management from St. John Fisher College and earned his law degree at the University of Dayton School of Law in 1988.
Taiho Pharma U.S.A. Inc., 202 Carnegie Center, Suite 100, Princeton 08540; 609-750-5300; fax, 609-750-7450. Masayuki Kobayashi, president. Home page: www.taiho.co.jp.
After five years in 9,000 square feet at 210 Carnegie Center, Taiho Pharma U.S.A. moved to 13,000 square feet at 202 Carnegie; the staff has grown to 25 from the seven who moved to Carnegie Center in 2002. A spokesperson says that, in the firm’s former space, all conference rooms had been converted to offices, and there was no room to add new offices.
Taiho Pharma USA, which belongs to the family of Otsuka companies, is a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical firm that manufactures and develops therapies for oncology, urology, and immunology. The S-1 drug that Taiho brought to the United States had been used for two years in Japan for advanced gastric cancer and for head and neck cancer. Taiho is now in the process of submitting S-1 to the FDA.
Masayuki Kobayashi, who heads the office, is the son of a pharmaceutical executive and attended Gakushuin University in Tokyo. He worked at a Japanese bank in New York before joining Taiho.
Brickman Group, 572 Whitehead Road, Suite 601, Hamilton 08619; 609-689-3332; fax, 609-689-3563. Scott Live, branch manager. Home page: www.brickmangroup.com.
The landscaping company expanded from 289 Whitehead Road to a larger office on Whitehead Road. From here, 100 people work in the summer, and about 55 in the winter. Based in Maryland, with more than 100 branches in 23 states, it does landscape installation and maintenance, says Lisa Pine, the office manager.
Health Pro Systems, 2137 Route 33, Suite A, Hamilton 08690; 609-588-9707; fax, 609-588-9706. Ken Roberts, managing partner. Home page: www.healthprosystems.com.
Health Pro Systems, a healthcare accounts receivable management and consulting firm, added a Philadelphia office last year as it increased its Pennsylvania business, particularly with hospitals. Managing partner Ray Galietti explains that the firm can take over a hospital’s existing business office: “We can hire their staff as if they are our staff; or we can take a portion of their insurance receivables and help to increase cash flow.”
Health Pro was formed when the three managing partners rolled together their separate businesses in 2004. Since then the firm has doubled in size. In its two offices combined, it has a staff of 32, but because Health Pro is increasingly positioning its people with clients, the total staff is close to 50. Health Pro has been in its Hamilton office for a little over two years.
Ironbound Capital Management LP, 5 Vaughn Drive, Suite 106, Princeton 08540; 609-951-9700. Stephen Silverman, founder.
After three years on Vaughn Drive, Ironbound Capital will expand from 6,000 to nearly 12,000 square feet at 902 Carnegie Center.
Stephen Silverman, a 19-year veteran of Merrill Lynch, opened the office of this global hedge fund. A New Jersey native, he graduated from Case Western Reserve in 1978 and has an MBA from the University of Chicago. Silverman, who declined to be interviewed, had worked at Merrill Lynch’s Scudders Mill Road campus.
OOPS Inc. (O’Brien Oil Pollution Services), 103 Morgan Lane, Plainsboro 08536; 609-275-9600; fax, 609-275-9444. Christopher Gregory, vice president. Home page: www.oopsusa.com.
In June OOPS moved 28 employees from 4,000 feet at 186 Princeton Hightstown Road to 6,000 feet on Morgan Lane. “We had two spaces on the second floor and one on the first floor, which was not conducive to team building or efficient operations,” says John Ripperger, general manager. The newish Morgan Lane building also happens to represent the company elegantly when pictured on its website.
A graduate of the SUNY Maritime College at Binghamton, Ripperger moved to the east coast from a job at a tanker company on the west coast, where he was in charge of operations.
Based in a suburb of Los Angeles, this firm does crisis management for vessels at sea — response services, vessel services, 24-hour emergency assistance.
E. Harvey Meyers/Architects Planners, 34 Chambers Street, Suite 002, Princeton 08542; 609-924-8552; fax, 609-924-6237.
E. Harvey Meyers and his sons Harvey Jr. and Vincent, architects and planners, have moved from 245 Nassau to Chambers Street. Meyers calls the space “more efficient. In the move, he says, he was able to throw out many drawings from his 30 years in business because now he does his design work with a computer.
NJPCA (New Jersey Primary Care Association Inc.), 3836 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 201, Hamilton 08619; 609-689-9930; fax, 609-689-9941. Home page: www.njpca.org.
The trade group for primary care physicians has opened an office on Quakerbridge Road.
Outerbridge Morgan Architecture and Space Planning LLC, 10 Princeton Avenue, Box 427, Rocky Hill 08553; 609-497-3900; fax, 609-497-3909. Peter Morgan AIA, architect. Home page: www.omarch.net.
Outerbridge Morgan Architecture and Space Planning moved last year from 1729 Linvale Harbourton Road in Lambertville to Rocky Hill. Andrew Outerbridge received a bachelor of planning and landscape design from NSCAD University in Nova Scotia in 1978 and Peter S. Morgan received a master’s degree in architecture and preservation from the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture in 1987. The firm has a staff of 12.
Bioscientific Resources, 116 Village Boulevard, Suite 200, Princeton 08540-5799; Luke Fannon, president.
Bioscientific Resources, a medical education and publishing firm, has left shared office space. An Internet search revealed no information about the firm’s whereabouts.
Cummings/Riter Consultants Inc., 10 Duff Road, Suite 500, Pittsburgh 15235; 412-241-4500; fax, 412-241-7500. Kevin Gawason, eastern regional development manager. Home page: www.cummingsriter.com.
Cummings/Riter Consultants Inc., a consulting firm in Pittsburgh, PA, closed its Ewing satellite office after two years at 1230 Parkway. The environmental practice out of this office provided consulting and technical services to the regulated community in support of environmental projects and programs.
Guardian Inspection Services Inc., 33 South Delaware Avenue, Riverview Plaza, Suite 104, Yardley 19067; 609-631-7799; fax, 609-631-7799. Richard Alloway, president. Home page: www.guardianpa.com.
Guardian Inspection Services, construction underwriters, has moved its corporate office at 2277 Route 33 in Hamilton to Yardley. It has 12 regional offices in Pennsylvania, and they do on-site plumbing, electrical, building, and fire inspections for municipalities.
Pao-Chien Di 49, on July 12. He was a systems analyst for Lucent Technology and Compaq Computer.
Erica Marie Mulligan, 22, on July 15 in an automobile accident. She was a secretary at AC Dental on Quakerbridge Road.
Constant “Frenchy” Gianacaci, 81, on July 15. He had owned Frenchy’s Gulf Service Station on Nassau Street.
Deborah A. Brooks, 51, on July 17. She was an office service manager at the New Jersey Hospital Association.
Andrew P. Mason III, 51, on July 18. He was manager of customer development at Church & Dwight. The funeral will be Thursday, July 26, at 9:15 p.m. at the Murphy funeral home, 935 Parkway Avenue, Ewing, followed by a mass at the Church of St. Ann, 1253 Lawrenceville Road, at 10 a.m.