Princeton Computer Repair

Le Camera

Digital Services

Softech’s Hard Sell

A Basia Start-Up

New in Town

New in Town

Start-Ups

Techno Moves

Deaths

Corrections or additions?

Life in the Fast Lane

These articles by Barbara Fox and Peter J. Mladineo were published

in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 4, 1998. All rights reserved.

Many predict that computer superstores and sales of

computers over the Internet will eventually dominate computer sales.

But three proprietors of Princeton-based computer companies are

fighting

back. And the three — immigrants from Taiwan, New Delhi, and

Saigon

— are following distinctively different strategies.

Bruce Tung of PC USA has closed his retail storefront at Mercer Mall

and moved to an office location at Lawrence Commons to concentrate

on business to business customers and expand his Internet operations.

Tony Sethi of Princeton Computer Repair has expanded at 12 Roszel

Road and aims to service the service contracts that the superstores

generate. Meanwhile Phat Le has established a high-end niche: he has

moved Le Camera from selling only cameras to selling digital cameras

plus computers at a new Route 1 location.

Tung’s response to the changing computer market is to relinquish his

storefront and concentrate on business to business marketing and

Internet

services. He has closed PC USA’s storefront next door to Palace of

Asia restaurant and moved six employees to Suite 202 at Lawrence

Commons.

"We are not moving out of the retail business, but simply

relocating

our service center to a professional building and our storefront onto

the Internet," says Tung, partner and general manager of both

PC USA and Advanced Online Services Inc. "Our move will allow

us to focus on what we do best: service, networks, and Internet

solutions."

"We will cater to our existing customer base, referral and repeat

customers, and pursue business to business opportunities," says

Tung. PC USA will continue to service all brands of computers,

including

Apple, and it will incorporate the Internet for its business and SOHO

(small office and home office) customers.

PC USA launched its Internet services two years ago and has been

providing

dial-up Internet connections and corporate web services for its

computer

user through AOSI. AOSI offers unlimited analog dialup, ISDN, Web

hosting, Web designing, dedicated lines, and corporate dialups.

When in it moved last month AOSI went from an analog to a digital

backbone with full ISDN capability and dedicated lines suitable for

K56flex (analog) modems. To the T-1 (analog) line it added three PRI

(Primary Rate Interface) ISDN lines for a total of 72 ISDN channels.

"Most of our AOSI website clients are not taking full advantage

of their Internet presence, and our new Internet store will also serve

as a model for more businesses to focus on the Internet as a sales

asset, " says Tung.

The Internet store will have a comprehensive database searchable

for more than 70,000 computer products, plus shopping cart features

and a secure server for online ordering. Just in time inventory will

cut down on overhead, "so we are able to keep up with the pricing,

which drops every few months," says Tung. "Usually businesses

don’t need an order the same day — and they can have it in the

next day or two."

Though the Internet store is of course open 24 hours, the physical

store will now be open only on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and

closed Saturdays. Saturday customers, as it turns out, consisted

mostly

of the computer equivalent of "tire-kickers."

Tung’s father (a jet pilot in the Nationalist Chinese air force) and

mother (an English teacher) had immigrated to West Caldwell when he

was 10 years old. He worked in his parents’ restaurant in Elizabeth,

and former governor Tom Kean was one of their customers. "My

parents

moved us here for our education and for our future," Tung says.

"This is the land of opportunity. Anyone with a desire and a dream

and who is willing to work for it should be able to achieve."

Tung started as a pharmacy major but switched to business

communication

at Rutgers College and graduated in 1988. He had various sales and

technical jobs, ranging from selling Wall Street mutual funds to

computers.

"I’m a fast mover," he says. "I guess I pick up things

fast and then I get bored with it so I love to move on and pick up

new projects."

His first firm was a one-man consulting firm, Tungsten International,

based in Princeton Service Center, and then he and his brother started

T2 Enterprises. Jeffrey Tung is a Massachusetts Institute of

Technology

graduate with two engineering degrees and a MBA from Harvard.

PC USA, 3371 Route 1, Lawrence Commons, Suite 202,

Lawrenceville 08648. Bruce Tung, owner. 609-734-8484; fax,

609-951-9390.

Advanced Online Services, Lawrence Commons, Suite

202, Lawrenceville 08648. Bruce Tung, owner. 609-631-8553; fax,

609-631-8554.

Home page: http://www.aosi.com.

Top Of Page
Princeton Computer Repair

A small expansion makes a big difference when you move

from the back of the building to the front. Tony Sethi has expanded

from 1,300 to 1,500 at 12 Roszel Park, but the new space opens

directly

into the lobby and boasts a conference room.

"My customers are major corporations as well as individuals,"

says Sethi, "and the nicer space will help us attract larger

clients

and get into networking areas." He is renting out his former

office

and has a lease-to-buy arrangement for this one.

He is a certified Compaq service technician and works for such

extended

service warranty companies such as National Warranty Corporation,

Vac Service Corporation, Warrantech (which deals with Comp USA) and

CES (which has government clients). He also sells systems and upgrades

and does sales and repairs of all brands of notebooks, printers,

monitors,

and systems.

"It doesn’t matter who makes it, we service from Acer to

Zenith,"

says Sethi. He does Novell and NT networking and is starting two new

business areas — creation of web pages and selling business forms,

checks, and business cards.

A native of New Delhi, Sethi immigrated to Denver, Colorado, when

he was 25. Trained as a computer technician at Mercer County College,

Sethi checked inspectors’ work on a pacemaker assembly line and worked

for a defense contractor (Base 10 Systems) as senior quality auditor.

In 1990 he began selling computers at trade shows then moved to

selling

systems to major corporations. In 1993 he acquired a partner.

"We specialize in service with a quick turn around time (within

48 hours) and a free estimate," says Sethi. "My reason for

success: I am very honest with my customers and work hard," says

Sethi.

Princeton Computer Repair & Services Inc., 12

Roszel

Road, Suite B-101, Princeton 08540. Tony Sethi, vice president.

609-452-8747;

fax, 609-452-0208. E-mail: tsethi@ix.netcom.com.

Top Of Page
Le Camera

Phat Le has not only expanded into the computer

business,

he has expanded his retail space. That’s because his market niche

is digital cameras, a high-end computer product that needs lots of

hand-holding for buyers to make the right decisions.

"If you go to where all the cameras are locked up in the cage,

nobody will advise you as to what to get or what to do," says

Le. "It is different from a supermarket where milk is milk. With

the wrong choice on a digital camera, you can lose $1,000."

Le started out with a mail order camera business in 1991 and then

opened six years ago at 4040 Quakerbridge Road. Now he has tripled

his space and moved 10 employees from 2,200 square feet to 7,000

square

feet in a building next door to Mrs. G’s on Route 1 North.

He sells new and pre-owned cameras and lenses (including collector

items) plus digital cameras and the computer equipment needed to use

them. He also has a repair service.

Le immigrated from Saigon, Vietnam, where his family owned a gas

station.

"When the government took over those kinds of businesses, we had

no income," says Le. In 1979, at age 21, he left the country.

One of his former high school friends managed to get a Michigan church

to sponsor him. "I came here with one pair of shorts that’s

it,"

says Le. "We got out in 1979 by boat. The people up there were

extremely helpful, extremely nice; they helped us get started."

Five days after he disembarked he was working at his first United

States job — dishwashing for $2.90 minimum wage — and he began

taking English classes.

He met his future wife, Winnie, at the University of Chicago, where

he was a mathematics major, Class of 1983. Together, they started

the camera business in 1991, and now they have children ages six,

two, and seven months. "We are concentrating on the imaging part

of computers," says Le. "We are not competing with Computer

City for selling mom and pop systems. We are experts on computer

imaging,

an integral part of photography now. You have to have the proper kind

of computer and the proper kind of hardware and software."

How does he deal with customers who seek his expert advice but make

their lowball purchase at a "big box" store? "That happens

with cameras, and we are used to it," says Le. "But actually

most of our customers appreciate our presence and our service and

they are willing to pay a little bit more for our advice. We spend

a lot of time discovering what is good on the market. If you spend

$1,000 and you get the wrong digital camera, what good is it? Yet

you spend $1,200 and you get the right equipment."

"The smart people come to professional people to get advice. The

not so smart people shop for price and they are lost."

Le Camera, 2936 Route 1 North, Lawrenceville 08648.

Phat Le, owner. 609-912-0200; fax, 609-912-0166. E-mail:

lecamera@bellatlantic.net.

Top Of Page
Digital Services

Digital Photography Services Inc., 9A Princess

Road, Lawrenceville 08648. Paul Ettlinger. 609-844-9596; fax,

609-844-0565.

Spurred by the growth in the digital photography

business

Paul Ettlinger and Philip Cutrone have expanded after starting up

less than two years ago. They have moved from an office on Franklin

Corner Road into 3,700 feet, including a fully equipped studio, on

Princess Road. Now clients can choose whether to rent a camera at

their home site or bring their work to the Princess Road studio.

DPS rents and sells digital camera systems for such purposes as

catalogs,

Internet web pages, Sunday newspaper inserts, and newspaper photos.

The partners also do consulting and training in such digital

photography

areas as research and development, manufacturing, and image databases.

Ettlinger went to Rider, Class of ’82, and Cutrone is an electrical

engineer from DeVry Technical Institute, Class of 1988 (U.S. 1,

October

9, 1996).

Digital cameras are connected to a computer. With each click of the

shutter a high resolution image is downloaded to the screen. Some

of the benefits of digital photography include immediate proofing,

cost savings on film & scanning, reduced production time, and the

elimination of hazardous waste (the heavy metals in film processing).

These are not the consumer-style digital cameras that Phat Le sells

at Le Camera (see previous story). This $30,000 camera price tag does

not include the camera’s computer peripherals. To rent the camera

and studio costs $450 a day, $1,350 for the week. To rent the camera

at your site is $695 for a day or $1,995 for a week, but that also

includes the computer system and an operator that stays for the first

day to train you or your photographer.

"It’s getting to a point where the cameras are out three days

a week, and we have weekly rentals," says Ralph Scharinger, a

sales representative. "It’s a great market and things are picking

up for us."

Top Of Page
Softech’s Hard Sell

When Princeton Softech was young, it celebrated big

wins with pizza picnics outside its office on Business Park Drive.

Last weekend Joe Allegra took 60 employees and their spouses to the

Bahamas — three nights and four days at Club Med — to thank

everyone for a good 1997.

It was a very good year. Last week, as everyone was packing for the

all-expense-paid trip, the announcement came that the nine-year-old

firm had been bought by Mountain Lake-based Computer Horizons for

$43 million in stock. The privately held company will now be a wholly

owned subsidiary, and Allegra will remain as president. "We’re

enthusiastic about being part of a such a forward-looking

organization,"

stated Allegra in a press release.

Now located at 1060 State Road, Princeton Softech’s sales grew 538

percent from 1991 to 1995 — from $602,000 to $3,840,000 and as

a consequence it was making the "fastest growing" lists. By

1994 it had grown to 37 employees. It now has 75 workers, and nearly

all were able to take advantage of the trip with their spouses or

partners. They left in shifts, some on Thursday, others Friday, still

others flew down Saturday, and all convened for a dinner on Saturday

night.

Allegra went to parochial school in Bergen, majored in economics at

Rutgers (Class of 1975) and earned an MBA at New York University.

He and his wife Bobbie have a daughter, 11, and a son, 15. He worked

at Applied Data Research from 1977 until the firm was bought by

Computer

Associates in 1988. Eight other people left with him in 1989 to build

high quality programming tools for large application systems.

Meanwhile

he became president of the Software Association of New Jersey, later

to become the software track of the New Jersey Technology Council.

The firm now has core competencies in relational databases, data

synchronization,

and intelligent data migration and management. "We compete against

very large companies and win 8 out of 10 times because our software

really works. Our model is that we won’t send out products before

they’re done; we get support calls an order of magnitude less than

anybody else," Allegra said in an earlier interview.

Now that the company has been bought out, will Allegra have the

independence

to throw an offshore company party? "I expect they will continue

running the company the way they have," says Faye Gregory-Yuppa,

vice president of Computer Horizons.

John J. Cassese, CEO of the $335 million Computer Horizons, went to

Rutgers, Class of 1968. He founded the firm in 1969; it went public

on the Nasdaq (CHRZ) soon after that

(http://www.computerhorizons.com).

Though Computer Horizons began as a staffing augmentation firm for

IT services, in the early 1990s it created a solutions division, which

has grown to be worth nearly $100 million. "For one of our Year

2000 solutions we needed to use a Princeton Softech product, and it

has been a business partner of ours," says Gregory Yuppa. Her

firm had had a good success record as a service company that brought

tools with the Year 2000 services and it hoped to broaden that

approach

to apply to data management. "We had raised $80 million for

additional

acquisitions to position us beyond the Year 2000," she says.

"Almost

all of the solutions we offer involve data management and migration,

and we realized Princeton Softech’s real strength was in data

management

tools."

Allegra has also developed a global distribution channel with clients

in 20 countries. In the early ’90s Princeton Softech was just one

of three software firms that were drawing national attention on the

Inc. Magazine "fastest growing company" lists. But unlike

Voxware and LogicWorks, which have gone public, the smaller Princeton

Softech chose the "be bought out" alternative over the IPO.

"We thought about going the IPO route ourselves," Allegra

has said, "but we’re a little too small and we thought it was

a little too early." Maybe that’s just as well. The founding CEOs

of Voxware and LogicWorks have both left their top positions.

Is that one of the reasons why Allegra chose an alliance rather than

an IPO? Allegra could not be reached for comment before press time.

He was still in the Bahamas.

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
A Basia Start-Up

When nursing mothers get breast infections and take

antibiotics, they pass along the drug to their babies — an

unfortunate

but tolerable use of the drug. But when cows get udder infections

(mastitis) and are treated with antibiotics, the contaminated milk

must be poured on the ground, literally or figuratively, until the

antibiotics have passed through their systems. Mastitis — very

common and very infectious — is a drain on dairy farmers’ profits.

An emerging biotechnology company funded by Barbara Piasecki Johnson

hopes to clean up this milk infection problem. Nika Health Products

Limited has licensed its technology to Pharmacia & Upjohn for

"dimerized

lysozyme" for various animal health indications, including bovine

mastitis.

"Animal health represents a large potential market opportunity

for our technology," says Wojciech Piasecki, president of the

firm and the nephew of the heiress to the Seward Johnson estate.

"We

are pleased to be partnering with a proven leader in the field."

Thomas S. Gifford of Century Capital Associates assisted Nika in this

transaction.

Nika is engaged in discovery and R&D of proprietary platform

technologies

involving the treatment of infectious diseases. But the process of

drug approval is slow, even for animals. It could take four to six

years to get FDA approval for the drug for veterinary use.

This company does not have a financing problem. Because of the

Piasecki

Johnson backing, Nika’s executives have time to develop strategic

partnerships to increase market share, reduce development time,

increase

manufacturing capability, and streamline product distribution.

"It is an interesting business model," says Ricky S.

Stachowicz,

chief counsel. "We would take pride in being a virtual

company."

The company is located within the office of BPJ Holdings, Piasecki

Johnson’s firm on Lenox Drive. Research is taking place in

Switzerland.

"This product is also in active research and development for human

use as well," says Stachowicz, who notes that it seems to function

like standard antibiotics. "We are running clinical Phase I trials

in Poland." Other potential products are a chemically modified

enzyme that has shown uses for the treatment of herpes in humans.

Stachowicz majored in biology at Rutgers (Class of 1984) and went

to Hofstra Law School. Piasecki went to Rider, Class of 1984, and

has master’s degrees from Georgetown University, Claremont Graduate

School, and the University of Wroclaw in Poland.

"There is a tremendous interest in developing high quality

products

for human and animal health," says Stachowicz. "It is not

uncommon to be able to introduce a medicine in veterinary field and

then use it in the human field as well.

"We want to get good results in clinicals and examine them

carefully,"

says Stachowicz. "When we are confident with what we have, we

will move forward."

— Barbara Fox

Nika Health Products Ltd., c/o BPJ Holding

Corporation,

1009 Lenox Drive, Suite 115, Lawrenceville 08648. Wojciech Piasecki,

director. 609-921-0089; fax, 609-219-9295.

Top Of Page
New in Town

Naif Systems, 707 Alexander Road, Suite 208,

Princeton

08540. Dan Naif. 609-419-4407; fax, 732-367-0097. Home page:

http://www.naifsystems.com.

This firm does multimedia training — sites, web pages, CD-ROMs,

Internet — and provides turnkey systems and tools. "I work

with training departments and graphics departments to build

development

systems and sell tools and train on the use of the systems," says

Naif.

He founded the firm eight years ago and usually telecommutes from

Jackson but is also a client of the Daily Plan-It. His clients include

Bristol-Myers Squibb, CNA Insurance, a major financial firm

headquartered

in Princeton, and Fleet Bank — for which he does customer service

training and sales skills training.

Naif grew up in South Jersey where his father was a consultant to

the division of gaming enforcement. After Stockton State he worked

for Bell Atlantic as a systems analyst training consultant and

developer

of custom applications. Then he went to Continental to run the

multimedia

development group and do systems applications training. A member of

the ASTD trainers’ association, Naif has trained thousands of people

in software programs and computer literacy. "I am good at it,"

says Naif. "That’s why I went into multimedia. I have analytical

technical skills but I understand adult learning principles."

Top Of Page
New in Town

Imperial Technology, 707 Alexander Road, Daily

Plan It, Princeton 08540. Al Lanza, eastern regional manager.

609-720-0040;

fax, 609-720-0042. Home page: http://www.imperialtech.com.

If you are running a relational database with millions

of entries, and your search slows for even a nanosecond, you could

be losing money fast. Al Lanza has opened the eastern regional office

of Imperial Technology, a firm that pioneered in solid state disk

and disk cache systems for input/output operation performance

enhancement.

"Our access time to data is 300 times faster than regular disk,

which can do 75 input/output transactions per second. When you have

1000 customers lined up it makes a difference," says Lanza.

"Solid state disk and solid state cache devices are a hardware

solution to computer performance problems," says Lanza.

"Oracle

or Sybase will allow you to run a test to determine a bottleneck and

will allow you to take the hot files and put them off to a separate

device, a SCSI (Small Computers Systems Information) rotating magnetic

mechanical disk, which does 50 input outputs per second." This

company is one of the few makers of nonrotating solid state SCSI

disks,

which is computer memory. "Our solid state disk looks to the

computer

as if it is another rotating disk, but it actually is computer memory.

Instead of 50 input/outputs it does thousands."

Lanza went to the University of Pennsylvania, Class of ’69, and has

worked for IBM, Bull, and Pioneer Standard. Imperial is a niche

company

that does have a couple of competitors, including Quantem Corporation.

The hardware is manufactured at headquarters in El Segundo, California

(310-536-0018) and the firm has more than 40 employees in four offices

and distributors worldwide.

Only a few firms that need very expensive but very fast data

applications

— telemarketers, catalog firms, Wall Street firms, power stations,

and airlines — can profit from super speed at almost any cost.

Other potential clients have batch jobs that run at night but are

finishing late, after the start of the business day — or users

on a slow system with a response time of more than three seconds.

When users start colliding, the efficiency of each person goes down.

"One big catalog company told me that every second they can reduce

the time it takes to handle a customer call can save them $10,000

a year," says John Jory, the president. "Ninety-nine percent

are buying it for speed, and another 90 percent are buying it for

database applications," says Jory.

Top Of Page
Start-Ups

Maselli, Warren & Lanciano PC, 600 Alexander Road,

1st floor, Princeton 08540. Paul Maselli, managing partner.

609-452-8411;

fax, 609-452-8422.

When attorneys leave big firms to start little firms,

certain things usually happen: they usually take some clients with

them, they usually promise more personal, less-departmentalized

attention

to their clients, and they usually work longer hours. What’s not so

obvious is the fact that they usually get better software.

Now that Paul Maselli, Perry Warren, and Guy Lanciano have left Stark

& Stark and opened a new practice at 600 Alexander Road, they should

have a shorter wait to get Windows 98 when Microsoft delivers it.

When Windows 95 came out, Maselli recalls, Stark & Stark was

"reticent"

to implement it because the 60-attorney firm would have needed to

get it for hundreds of machines. "On the other hand," says

Maselli, "we just opened our office, we have Windows 95. When

the new Windows comes out it’s going to cost us a few hundred

dollars."

On a more philosophical level, this kind of efficiency allows a

smaller

firms to develop the art of "leveraging technology, not leveraging

people," says Maselli. "Firms that are more responsive to

client needs are firms closer to the leading edge of technology."

This new firm will specialize in small and medium-sized business

interests

such as bankruptcy, commercial litigation, and securities arbitration.

The managing partner is Maselli, 38, who got his JD at Rutgers

University

Law School in Camden in 1986 and spent nine years at Stark & Stark,

where he was a partner.

Warren, 34, graduated with honors from the University of North

Carolina

Law School in Chapel Hill (Class of 1993) before becoming an associate

at Stark & Stark. Lanciano has a law degree from Widener (Class of

1992) and advanced degree in taxation from New York University.

Another advantage to opening a smaller firm is that the attorneys

will encounter less conflicts of interest between clients. "You’re

not representing the big institutions," says Maselli. A

not-uncommon

occurrence at Stark & Stark was having to turn down a prospective

bankruptcy client because the firm was already representing the bank,

he adds.

— Peter J. Mladineo

Top Of Page
Techno Moves

DanAshe and Company, 33 State Road, Suite A1,

Princeton

08540. Peter Corcoran, president. 609-683-5600; fax, 609-683-3758.

Some reports have stated that only 10 percent of the

high tech jobs in the country are filled. With this statistic, you

might think that a high tech headhunter like Peter Corcoran would

be having a field day, right? Bad assumption, reports Corcoran,

president

of DanAshe and Company, which just took 400 square feet at 33 State

Road.

"People might think headhunting is really going great right

now,"

he says. "When there are too many mobs or not enough applications

or vice versa it really throws it out of sync. You really want to

have things in balance. It’s nice to have a lot of jobs but you need

the people to fill them in order to make the money." DanAshe

(named

after Corcoran’s daughters, Danielle and Ashley), specializes in

supplying

salespersons to the software industry.

Corcoran, a 40-something with a degree from Villanova University,

started off as auditor for Peat Marwick and Mitchell. He started

DanAshe

in 1987. The problems arise when candidates become too mobile —

this can make them hard to place, even in an industry that desperately

needs workers. "It’s a very volatile industry," says Corcoran.

"There isn’t a lot of stability in terms of people being able

to stay with one company at one time, except maybe with the big boys.

For medium and smaller companies, the average is three years and

you’re

off, looking for another opportunity."

Still, if you’re in high tech sales, you might have a suitor in

Corcoran

"as long as your track record doesn’t get too choppy," he

says. "The good side of it is allows you to have movement, and

that creates opportunities, but if an applicant moves too much then

he becomes very tough to place. So you like to have a guy who can

hang in there for two, three, or four years. Then if he moves it kind

of works for everybody involved."

VComm, 8 Cedar Brook Drive, Cranbury 08512. Dominic

Villecco, president. 609-655-1200; fax, 609-409-1927. Home page:

http://www.vcomm-eng.com.

Moving into 8,000 square feet at 8 Cedar Grove Lane, Cranbury, is

VComm, a "telecommunications engineering" firm. "We assist

people who are building or who already have wireless systems to

optimize

them to run better," says Ken Baranowski, director of business

development. "We supply the engineering talent."

This office has 18 employees, and the firm has another office in

Warminster,

with an additional 24 employees. The president, Dominic Villeco, and

other principals are located in Cranbury.

Baranowski explains that the company utilizes an in-house system of

assisting clients to meet objectives. "We like to talk to the

client, get an idea of what the particular aspect of the job is so

that there are quantifiable, demonstratable results by a certain

time."

Top Of Page
Deaths

Christine Huntley, 36, on January 27. She was human

resources

manager at Sadat Associates.

Peter Silvestro, 40, on February 2. He owned and operated

Joe’s Tomato Pie restaurant in Trenton.

William Bowie III, 32, on February 3. He owned Princeton

Packing Company.

n

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