If you were to look at Rodney Watson’s life on paper, you would conclude that he grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He was, after all, born there, raised by parents of the bluest collar. His father, a clothes presser, was certainly no stranger to collars of all shades. His mother, a nurse, specialized in children afflicted with rubella.

But if you ask him, Watson will tell you that he really grew up in Saskatchewan, after a stint in professional football as a running back in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League. You would need a good memory to peg his tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals, and you would need to know that at the time, he did not go by Rodney. Pete Watson played for the Bengals in 1972, before heading north, where he played in Toronto and then, where he says all he is as a man was forged.

“You hear people talk about Green Bay,” he says. “That’s what it was like. Very rural and close-knit. Everyone depended on everyone else.”

Life in Saskatchewan taught Watson how to connect with other people in personal and business settings. This experience influences how he runs the New Horizons Computer Learning Center. Located in IBIS Plaza on Quakerbridge Road, New Horizons opened three months ago as the latest in a 20-site string that blankets the Northeast corridor. The center teaches all contemporary desktop applications — from Word and Excel to graphics programs such as PhotoShop — to small and entrepreneur-level businesses. It employs four people and is looking to expand to general consumer training in the next few months.

What sets New Horizons apart, Watson claims, is its flexibility and reach. Whatever program a business wants to teach its employees, he says, the center can teach it. And if there is no one on Quakerbridge Road who knows it, or if it simply requires more people to do the teaching, the center can pull resources — human or otherwise — from its New York regional office. New Horizons also offers on-site training for companies, making it one of the few computer training schools to both host classes — it has four classrooms — and bring the training directly to a business.

The operation takes a lot of customer service, which is where Watson’s Canadian coming-of-age comes in. Learning to live in a community that views all interactions — “Even when money changes hands” — as relationships, has helped him to relate to New Horizons’ clientele in a more personal way, he says.

Though born and raised in New York, Watson spent many of his early school years at New Hampshire’s Phillips Exeter Academy on a scholarship. He then graduated from Tufts University in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in economics before setting off to a four-year pro football career. After football, he settled in Canada where he got married and had a family. He has a son involved in IT consulting and a daughter you likely have seen on television. Jennifer Donelan, now with an ABC news station in Washington, D.C., was a nationally recognized reporter for CBS News for three years.

In Canada Watson sold life insurance and did some financial planning. A friend asked him to teach some computer issues to a group and the teaching/training bug took over from there.

Watson moved on to Productivity Point International, a Canadian computer training school now known as Learning Partners. He served as the company’s general manager in 1996 and 1997, when he went for a job with New Horizons. The catch was that he would have to leave his adopted home for his native one, and it was quite a shock. New York, after all, is not a bit like Saskatchewan.

These days, Watson is well-adjusted to the northeast. After a long stint with New Horizons’ New York and Iselin offices, he is now the general manager of the Princeton office and is moving to Woodbridge by month’s end.

The next step for New Horizons, he says, is wending through state approvals to teach the general public and growing the staff here to about 10. What the school will teach he says, will depend on the market.

“We teach whatever’s being asked for,” he says.

— Scott Morgan

New Horizons Computer Learning Centers Inc. (NEWH), 3525 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 903, Hamilton 08619; 609-570-6900; fax, 609-570-6918. Lindajean Luca, center coordinator. www.princetonnh.com.

New in Town

Levare Software, 12 Stults Road, Suite 106, Dayton 08810; 609-395-7030; fax, 609-395-7145. Jacob Antony, president. Home page: www.levare.com.

Levare Software, a privately held software development firm, moved from Iselin into 3,000 feet of space in Dayton to accommodate growth early in the year. Since the move, the company has hired seven people in sales and technical support.

Levare Software has developed software products for a number of markets, including judicial scheduling, patient and provider data management, and small business supply chain management. The company also does software development. Charlie Callari is the chief operating officer.

Expansions

Edward Bucci Builders Inc., 915 Pennsylvania Avenue, Trenton 08638; 609-278-4300; fax, 609-278-4301. Edward D. Bucci, president. Home page: www.buccibuilt@aol.com.

Last year Edward Bucci moved his construction firm from an office at 812 State Road to a 3,200-square-feet address in Trenton with space for indoor and outdoor storage. “We moved because this is zoned so we can store equipment in the yard,” says Edward Bucci. He and his brother founded the firm in 1952, and now both of their sons have joined the firm; it builds custom homes and also does alterations and remodeling. Phone and fax are new.

Nini Construction Co. LLC, 2099 Pennington Road, Ewing 08618; 609-883-6300; fax, 609-883-6350. Roberto Nini, president. Home page: www.niniconstruction.com.

In the middle of February Roberto Nini moved his construction company from West Delaware Avenue in Pennington to 2,000 square feet in Ewing, “a bigger and better space,” says Lori Iacono, human resources manager. Nine people work in the office, and about a dozen carpenters work on all phases of construction. The firm also does plumbing and electric work.

Web 401K, 13 Roszel Road, Suite C-205, Princeton 08540; 609-275-2909; fax, 609-275-8887. Dan Klein, president/CEO. Home page: www.web401k.com.

Web 401k, an investment services firm specializing in pension funds, moved January 21 from 300 Alexander Park to 13 Roszel Road.

New Jersey Opera Theater, 14 Washington Road, Building 6, Suite 616, Box 3151, Princeton Junction 08543; 609-799-7700; fax, 609-799-7703. Lisa Altman, executive director. Home page: www.njot.org.

New Jersey Opera Theater, a performing arts company, has moved from 50 Princeton-Hightstown Road to 14 Washington Road, Suite 616. The move, which occurred in mid-January, was to a bigger space, according to Patricia Kiernan Johnson, the company’s marketing manager. The company also has added a full-time production manager, bringing the staff to six.

Crosstown Moves

Brennan Financial Group LLC, 475 Wall Street, Princeton 08540; 908-924-9300; fax, 908-428-6976. Jay R. Brennan CPA CFP, president. Home page: www.brennan-financial.com.

Jay and Kathleen Brennan moved their financial consulting business from Vreeland Drive, in Montgomery Business Center, to D/J at Research Park.

Jay Brennan is a 1972 Boston College graduate who had worked at J&J and Carter Wallace before opening his own firm in 1989. He does fee-only planning for small businesses and individuals.

The base beat of rock music and sounds of tap dancers of the dance studio next door to the old location triggered the move, but it has worked out well, says Kathleen Brennan: “We duplicated our conference room, and now we meet our clients there, but can work from home.”

N.L. Garlic Law, 197 Berg Avenue, Hamilton 08610; 609-396-3100; fax, 866-882-5817. Nicole Lemire Garlic Esq., managing attorney. Home page: www.garliclaw.com.

Nicole Lemire Garlic moved her law office from the Trenton Business and Technology incubator on South Broad Street to Hamilton. She practices real estate and construction law. Phone and fax are the same.

Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, Blader & Lehmann PC, 101 Grovers Mill Road, Quakerbridge Executive Center, Suite 200, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-275-0400; fax, 609-275-4511. Barry D. Szaferman, managing partner. Home page: www.szaferman.com.

Szaferman Lakind, a multi-purpose law firm founded in 1977, has moved upstairs in the Quakerbridge Executive Plaza. Formerly in Suite 100, Szaferman Lakind now operates out of Suite 200 at 101 Grovers Mill Road.

Leaving Town

Albert C. Barclay Jr., 4444 Route 27, Kingston 08528.

Attorney Albert C. Barclay has closed his Kingston practice. He is now living and practicing law in Michigan, where his phone number is 517-333-3235.

Barclay’s files have been taken over by the firm of Backes and Backes, a general practice law firm with offices at 12 West Delaware Avenue in Pennington. The phone number at Backes and Backes is 609-730-4224.

Advanced Medical Resources LLC, 196 Tamarack Circle, Montgomery Knoll, Skillman 08558; 609-688-0193. John Fielding, president.

Advanced Medical Resources, which does conference planning for the pharmaceutical industry, has moved to Virginia but gives no forwarding address.

MGI Pharma (formerly Aesgen), 5775 West Old Shakopee Road, Suite 100, Bloomington 55437; 952-346-4700. Edward C. Shinal, president and COO. www.mgipharma.com.

After MGI Pharma was bought by Esai, a company based in Woodcliff Lake, the office at 2 Research Way closed. MGI identifies, develops, and markets marketing of pharmaceutical products primarily generated by research conducted from cancer research collaboration, and it is also involved in specialty delivery of peptides, proteins, and small molecules for critical care. MGI Pharma is based in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Melovision Productions Inc., 190 Cold Soil Road, Princeton 08540; 609-895-1030. Mel Obst, president. www.melovision.com.

According to its web page, the video and multimedia production studio has closed after 29 years of being in business. Business is being referred to Rainbow Video in Morristown. (www.RainbowVideo.net, 973-993-5757).

Down-Sizing

Xechem Inc./Xechem International Inc. (XKEM), 379 Thornall Street, Edison 08837-3279; 732-205-0500; fax, 732-205-0504. Robert Swift, president, CEO, chairman of board. Home page: www.xechem.com.

Xechem International Inc., which focuses on proprietary technologies for orphan diseases, and XetaPharm, a neutraceutical firm owned by Xechem, have downsized their New Jersey offices from 33,000 to 500 square feet and decreased staff from 12 to 5.

The consolidation followed management changes in which Robert Swift replaced Ramesh C. Pandey as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board. Pandey is now a director.

The firms are now concentrating production in Nigeria, where they have 100 employees. Both firms have moved their administrative offices from 100 Jersey Avenue in New Brunswick to Edison. Two scientists are still working in laboratory space at Rutgers University.

Xechem focuses on proprietary technologies for orphan diseases. Its mission is to increase the quality and length of life of individuals who suffer from these diseases, which afflict a relatively small number of people.

Deaths

Raymond J. Smith, 77, on February 18. He was editor-in-chief and publisher of the Ontario Review, a literary magazine, and of the Ontario Review Press. He was married to Joyce Carol Oates.

Patricia Sanderson-Willis, 47, on February 17. She worked in title insurance for the state of New Jersey.

Sandy Maxwell, 90, on February 23. A former creative director for Madison Avenue advertising agencies, Maxwell was known in Princeton as a versatile piano player, who performed at many area venues. A memorial service will be Friday, February 29, at 1 p.m. at Trinity Church in Princeton.

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