Corrections or additions?
This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 23, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Gravity Shift Solutions, a 15-year-old multimedia firm,
has moved from 182 Nassau Street to the home of Newton Interactive
at 2425 Pennington Road in Pennington. The combined firms are now
known as Newton Gravity Shift and have 50 people in 12,000 square
Peter Sandford and Robert Christensen, founders of Gravity Shift,
went to Rowan College, Class of ’83 and ’84 respectively. Christensen
had been a producer and director at Press Broadcasting Company in
Asbury Park, and Sandford had worked in Philadelphia at WTXF, Channel
29. They founded the firm as RAC Productions in 1987 and moved to
Nassau Street in 1998, then changed the name. Now Gravity Shift offers
technology-driven E-business applications for Web applications, interactive
programs, video, and event-based media.
"The majority of our work is web-based, but we are still doing
multimedia work," says Sandford. Gravity Shift’s clients include
the Vanguard Group and Rutgers University, and it produced a CD-ROM
on diversity training for the state of New Jersey.
Debra Newton, founder of Newton Interactive, grew up in Dayton, Ohio,
and says she absorbed the entrepreneurial spirit from her father,
who had a tool and die company. "I lived and breathed having a
business and seeing the time and energy needed to grow and maintain
a company," says Newton She dropped out of school and 12 years
later — by then single and with a seven-year-old child — went
back to college and graduated from St. Mary’s College in California.
She did meeting management for a large labor law firm, and then moved
east to do pharmaceutical marketing for Carter Wallace. She founded
her company as Newton Resource Group in 1991. Even before this merger,
it showed five-year growth of 479 percent and placed 465th on the
latest Inc. list of 500 fast growing companies.
Newton Interactive lists its core focus as digital media solutions,
specifically Internet-based technologies, particularly (though not
exclusively) for the pharmaceutical industry. Among Newton’s products
is a custom training and learning portal, Assessor, that combines
a test-taking system with web-based course content. This tool can
cut down the time it takes for teachers to grade tests.
"We had done some work with Debra recently, and the more we talked
the more it made sense for us to do this. It started taking shape
in the spring of this year," says Sandford. "Newton Interactive
has concentrated on health care, and the combined entity offers a
stronger, more viable partnership within pharma. But it will also
leverage the solutions that we developed for the healthcare environment
outside of health care."
"The merger gives us not only new market areas and expanded products
and services but it also lets us tap proven talent," says Newton.
"Growth puts formidable demands on any management team, and a
CEO who is the `chief everything officer’ is not effective.
"To organically grow a company takes hours and hours of commitment,
and it can be difficult to find the right people," she says. The
right person can be another entrepreneur, someone who has been in
the trenches and understands the risks and the time commitment required.
"Often," says Newton, "our real work starts at 6 p.m."
"When I talked to Pete and Bob in the spring about bringing the
two companies together, I was delighted to recognize that they are
on the same business wavelength as I am. Also we found our corporate
cultures to be very similar, which has made for a seamless merger."
Everybody is doing what they did before. Christensen is leading the
creative, technology, and production services, and Sandford is taking
some of the sales management load from Newton. "There is little
duplication in the other staffing areas," says Newton, "and
we didn’t have overlapping clients, so we can play off the strengths
of the two companies."
08534. Debra Newton, CEO. 609-818-0025; fax, 609-818-0045.
Daniel P.T. Thomas has quadrupled his space with a move
of six people from 500 square feet at 947 Wall Street to Main Street
in Kingston. Though like most companies, his has been buffeted by
the winds of the recession, he is jubilant about his current expansion.
He attributes it to the fact that his agency is in tune with what
clients need. "They want small, niche, specialist, and affordable,"
he says. "They hear of us by word of mouth, and though we are
small we are up against major agencies for big accounts."
"Our strength is marketing communications in the widest sense
of the world — electronic media, print, sales aids, detail aids,"
he says. "Like many agencies we have learned our way into pharmaceutical.
I’ve gotten into every big pharma company in the last year and am
chipping away slowly. Places like that are ripe for the picking if
you know what you are doing. They are all very conservative and they
love letting us loose."
The son of a British military officer who served as the Queen’s Chaplain,
Thomas declined to take the ordained path — to go to the British
military academy at Sandhurst. Instead he went off on his own to London,
found a job at Ketchum Advertising, and put himself through college
via night school. When he moved to Princeton he was a vice president
at QLM Marketing at Research Park, and he founded his own firm in
1996. Now he has six employees and 2,000 square feet at his new location.
His current work is a varied lot. It includes internal and external
newsletters for Bristol-Myers Squibb, sampling and displays for the
Coty’s "Move" fragrance to be used at teenage concerts, juice
boxes for Flemington-based Johanna Foods, and corporate redesign and
advertising for Techne, the Washington Road-based laboratory equipment
What’s missing in the market right now is "personality," says
Thomas, and that’s what he aims to supply.
— Barbara Fox
08528- Daniel P.T. Thomas, president. 609-921-6588; fax, 609-921-6516.
Root to Princeton Imaging
Scholars and purists tend to cling to the paper copies
of their favorite journals. And why? Not just because they treasure
the boxed sets, but because the electronic versions don’t always render
the true colors faithfully. If you are studying birds or tumors, you
want to be sure you are looking at the right shade of red.
For the last 10 years Root Technologies has focused its business on
converting journals and other paper documents to electronic forms
of all kinds. To represent its business focus, Root Technologies is
changing its name to Princeton Imaging. Its clients come from all
industries, but the company has a particular focus on scientific organizations.
"We image documents for archival use or sometimes to Word, Excel
or other electronic form for further use by our customers," says
CEO Tom Johnson. Digitizing scientific journals, he says, is not so
much of a commodity business as you would think, because having to
do the photos and getting the true colors really separates out the
amateurs. "There are many tradeoffs involved in file size and
quality, and we have technical edges over our competitors," he
says, "because a lot of what we do is custom work, and if we need
to we write our own software. Our competitors use off-the-shelf software,
and when it can’t do what they are looking for, they are stuck."
National clients include AT&T, Lucent, Kraft, Playtex, Monsanto, and
the military. Lucent Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers
Squibb, and Merial are among the many Princeton-based scientific clients,
and the firm also does litigation support for Herrick, Feinstein.
For the Acoustical Society of America it made a 10 CD set of journals,
dating to 1929, and it also did a large online library of mosquito
studies for the Smithsonian Institute. Available on the web are the
largest online collection of ornithological papers, the result of
120 years of journals from three societies (elibrary.unm.edu/Condor/)
and Rutgers’ Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (harvest.rutgers.edu/projects/spectator/).
Among Johnson’s more esoteric offerings is a 600 DPI face-up book
scanner so it can work with rare and valuable books. Other services
include turnkey document archival and delivery systems, large format
scanning (engineering drawings up to E size), recovery of damaged
database files or files specific to an outdated software, high volume
document scanning up to 400 DPI, putting scanned documents on the
web with DjVu conversion, high volume Acrobat PDF conversion, and
even conversions to HTML. "Automatic HTML conversion tools do
only part of the job," says Johnson. "We can convert spreadsheet
files and even complex tables."
Johnson’s new web page (www.princetonimaging.com) has a helpful
glossary of document imaging terms for those who have always wondered
how to tell a TIFF from a GIF, and he also explains some more unusual
esoteric terms, such as "dithering" and "lossiness."
stored during scanning. The greater the number, the greater the amount
of visible detail, and the more space the image will occupy.
This is why images that a company displays on its website are almost
never suitable for printing in any publication. Most images displayed
on screen use from 72 to 100 DPI, but any common printer needs at
least 300 DPI.
is not appropriate for text because it supports "lossiness,"
which means it will throw away some detail to achieve better compression.
multiple compression techniques, allowing the user to specify the
best format for a type of image, and that one file can contain multiple
and is good for color and grayscale images. It is "lossless,"
which means it will not compress as well as JPEG, but it will retain
all of the image’s quality. In black and white it does not compress
as well as GF.
and is frequently used as an option in TIFF files for black and white.
It is also used in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files.
are almost never exactly vertical. De-skewing is a process where the
computer detects and corrects the skew in an image file.
adding pixels of intermediate shades or colors around the line.
existing image to improve the appearance of the image. Can be thought
of as the inverse to quantization.
and lenses, who also did computer work. Tom went to Kean College,
Class of 1980, and the Stevens Institute of Technology, and then he
worked for Bell Labs and BellCore. He opened the business in 1987
in Middlesex as a generalized computer consulting firm, moving to
Research Park in 1996. His brother Gary joined the business two years
ago, and two other brothers also work in this eight-person business.
"We definitely don’t want to grow a lot," says Johnson. "Our
goal is to look for the right kinds of projects and focus on what
we do well — what is fun and interesting."
To herald the new name, the firm is issuing its own CD, the 1902 Sears
catalog, complete with illustrations of funky sinks and quaint bathing
suits (www.PrincetonImaging.com/cdrom/sears/). "It is fun and
interesting, and it can be used as clip art — there are so many
figures on every page," says Johnson. The CD sells for $25 and
ships November 15. The next publication, at the end of the year, is
a CD-ROM version of the famous 1911 Century Dictionary.
Johnson offers some advice for the amateur who wants to put hard copy
into digital form. "Learn how to properly use a scanner,"
says Johnson. "Make sure you understand the best kind of scanning
and the best compression for your particular job. If you don’t do
that, you could end up with very large files that don’t look as good
as they could."
Wall Street, Princeton 08540. Thomas D. Johnson, project manager.
609-430-1320; fax, 908-359-9250.
Call a spade a spade and a toy a toy. That’s what Paul
Cottingham thought when he renamed his company PHC Toys. Cottingham
sells, services, and installs home theaters — everything from
modest to grandiose. One customer has the equivalent of a $50,000
drive-in theater in his back yard. "This is something people want,
not what they need," says Cottingham.
Cottingham has moved his business from 1 Circle West in Pennington
to the Glen Roc Shopping Center. But don’t just stop by — make
an appointment, or you are likely to find that he is out on the road.
He markets his business by word of mouth and even in this recession,
the calls keep coming in. He sells equipment direct from the manufacturer,
anything from $500 to $250,000.
Rentals are available for big screen outdoor parties. For one such
rental, a Halloween party, Cottingham played all the B movies —
Bride of Frankenstein, War of the Worlds — and put up a temporary
cardboard screen. "Our client, an attorney, liked it so much we
fabricated a permanent powder coated screen for him." The
owner can float on a raft in his swimming pool while viewing a 17-foot
screen with Dolby digital surround sound.
Cottingham has aspirations of opening a drive-in movie theater, complete
with sushi and Italian food, but the economics are daunting. "It
seems as though Hollywood gets 95 percent of the door. But you can
charge for parking based on the fact that the land costs you money.
Monday night football would be cool to have outside."
He offers tips to future owners of a surround-sound system at home:
When prewiring, you of course need to think about placement of electrical
switches. But also decide where you will put the television, telephone,
networking computers, nanny cams, and inside and outside speakers.
"People finish the basement and sheet rock the ceiling, then call
me and say they are ready," says Cottingham. "I have to ask
them how much they like that sheet rock." To wire a home for fiber
optic after the sheet rock is up costs double.
If you think you might want to install fancy wiring at some later
time, take pictures before the sheet rock goes up, to show where all
the wires and pipes are. Or call Cottingham to take the pictures.
"Later on, we have a picture of the wall, cut a hole, and the
wire is right there for you," says Cottingham.
He also does what could be called "prophylactic" wiring. "If
we wire 8 or 10 rooms for music and they say they don’t want telephone
or speakers in the garage, I just do it. Because sometimes you can’t
get there again."
"Some of the architects are starting to realize that they should
get in touch with us in the planning stages," he says, "because
quite often we will move a fireplace or a window because it is in
the wrong place for surround sound."
Cottingham’s father, formerly a mounted policeman in the West, had
a Lawrence-based detective and insurance investigation agency. At
40, he is married and has three school-age children. He was a manager
at Sound Automotive for 10 years before going out on his own. Though
he was self-taught, certificate courses are now available through
the Custom Electric Design and Installation Association.
Most electricians hook up "black and white" wires, not fibers,
says Cottingham, and they don’t do structured wiring for communications
data. "They do the high voltage 110 for the television sets and
we do the low voltage, 12 volts, for the LCD panels. You could practically
stick your tongue on our wire. We have put flat screen TVs near jacuzzis
in the master bedroom."
Popular now: plasma screens and DLP digital light processor projectors
for 120-inch screens. "We are doing a lot of media rooms —
dedicated rooms for surround sound and family entertainment. The LCD
technology is so good that you no longer need one of the giant boxes
hanging from the ceiling."
"The market is constantly changing," says Cottingham. "Every
day there is something else you can have."
West Trenton 08628. Paul Cottingham, owner. 609-883-4477; fax, 609-883-2230.
At age 26, Tara Kolb has joined Mike Kendrick to buy
a printing business, the Millstone Group, at Research Park. Formerly
a Minute Press franchise at the Princeton Shopping Center, the Millstone
Group is a family business, founded 30 years ago by John and Joan
Emmerick as Minute Press (no relation to the national franchise, Minuteman
Press). The company does graphic design, marketing strategy, and design
for corporate, business-to-business and consumer clients.
The team of Kolb and Kendrick is also a family business, because Kendrick
is Kolb’s maiden name; Mike is her uncle on her mother’s side.
"I’m a partner during the day and an uncle at night," says
Kendrick. He has had his own printing business, Kendrick Graphics,
for seven years, and by partnering with his niece he acquires printing
capabilities plus the services of a staff designer and photographer.
"I had agreements with a lot of different companies, but to have
it all `in house’ is nice," says Kendrick.
Kolb, 26, was just out of college when she was hired as art director
at the Millstone Group. "It was a great opportunity, and not even
two years later John and Joan were mentioning retiring," she says.
"They groomed me to take over the company. They wanted to make
sure it would run the same way they had run it for the past 30 years.
They did a lot of traveling, and I would be two or three weeks by
myself, so it was a natural transition." Other potential buyers,
she believes, would probably have bought the firm for the client list
and broken up the company.
"Ever since I was little, I could copy anything you gave me,"
says Kolb. Her father and grandfather worked for USX in Fairless Hills,
as did Kendrick’s father. She graduated in 1998 from the University
of the Arts in Philadelphia. While going to school, she was a designer
at MetLife in the Carnegie Center, and she moved from that job to
the Millstone Group.
She is expanding the company to add four-color and six-color printing
and digital capabilities and is aligning it with Kendrick Graphics,
which has contracts for printing for many of Philadelphia’s sports
Her clients, which include schools and professional offices, have
not been seriously affected by the recession. "We will do design,
photography, or printing for anybody who walks in. Not many places
can you find that all in one company," she says. Sam Stia, on
the faculty at Mercer County Community College, takes care of the
Kendrick grew up in Bristol and took a customer service job in the
airline industry straight out of high school. When deregulation came,
he worked at a family member’s packaging company and began his sales
career. After a stint at another company as marketing manager he went
into the print brokerage business, working for Curtis 1000 as the
Philadelphia sales representative. "I thought I was going to retire
there but in 1995 there was a change in the company’s philosophy and
I thought it was best to go out on my own."
He and his wife, who is also in the printing business, have two teenage
children. "My wife is the one who talked me into going into my
own business. I had had a number of offers from other printing companies
but they were for starting up new territories. She said, `If you are
going to do it for them, why don’t you do it for me.’"
Princeton 08540. Tara Kolb, president. 609-924-1502; fax, 609-921-7037.
Princeton Multimedia Technologies company is changing
its name to better reflect what it does — develop health and nutrition
software, including packages for research nutritionists. The new name
will be VioCare.
"Vio is derived from the Latin word `vivo’ which means life,"
says Rick Weiss, president, "and we combined it with `care’ to
focus on technology tools to support healthcare organizations, disease
management, clinical trials, and clinical research, — through
electronic health relationship management portals (EHRMs)."
The firm is working with the Princeton Medical Center, the Princeton
Regional Health Department, and other community groups to provide
a website for the Lighten Up Princeton effort, which is in progress
now through December 17. "This project provides service to the
community and give us some exposure, and it starts building a natural
relationship with a local hospital," says Weiss, a graduate of
Carnegie Mellon (Class of 1980) with master’s degrees from Princeton
One of Weiss’ four employees has spent most of his time for several
weeks on the community website, but this pro bono effort is actually
part of his business plan, says Weiss, who works with research hospitals
around the country. "Hospitals can use health portals like this
one to be the `glue’ between the patient and the doctor," says
Weiss. "The website can deliver tools that the patient needs,
and the individual has power over the data." For instance, www.lightenupprinceton.com
has tools for calculating ideal weights and resting metabolism rates.
It offers chat pages for exchanging recipe ideas and other weight-losing
tips, and a tracking program.
Another way to help doctors communicate with their patients can be
through a pocket PC. From the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute,
Weiss’ company has a $200,000 grant to help consumers track their
diet on the pocket PC. He is working with Steven Heymsfield, a body
composition and obesity expert at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. "Our
system provides feedback, and the information can be uploaded to a
website so the healthcare provider can see your records and send information
to you. Education on portion information, licensed from the U.S.D.A.,
will be incorporated into the tracking program," Weiss says.
Street, Princeton 08542. Rick Weiss, president. 609-497-4600; fax,
Posts New Plan
Orchid BioSciences makes its payroll by using its existing
toolset, SNP genotyping services, to do clinical-quality geno-profiling.
And though they may have the among best tools on the market now, these
tools are fast becoming out of date. So rather than spend lots of
money on continuing to develop the tools — and miss its promised
target of profitability by 2003 — Orchid announced earlier this
month it would ditch the tool business and concentrate on its high
growth service business, genotyping. It will sell its Orchid Life
Sciences business unit.
It also added a new person at the top, George Poste, as chairman,
leaving Dale Pfoste as president and CEO. Both names are pronounced
the same way, as in fence post.
Orchid has a much publicized contract to do identity genomics for
victims of the World Trade Center, but it also works in the profitable
areas of forensic, paternity, agriculture, and HLA testing for organ
transplantation. Orchid’s GeneShield unit is working on ways for genomic
knowledge to make medical care — diagnostics and healthcare —
more appropriate for each individual.
Pfost predicts revenues will reach $65 million this year. In the last
year he trimmed the workforce from 700 to 540, and of those laid off,
80 were in Princeton. About 100 people work on College Road now. He
also cut expenses by about $2 million per quarter. Nevertheless, the
company’s stock is trading at 50 cents, compared to its high of $55
in 2000, just after it went public.
George Poste, 58, is the former president of research and development
and chief science and technology officer at SmithKline Beecham. He
has been a member of Orchid’s board of directors for two years. He
chairs the task force on defense against bioterrorism for the United
States Department of Defense.
A naturalized American citizen who was educated in England, Poste
has a degree in veterinary medicine and a doctor’s degree in virology
from the University of Bristol. He has been associated with 29 successful
drug and vaccine registrations in the United States and internationally.
He is non-executive chairman of diaDexus, the joint venture in molecular
diagnostics between GlaxoSmithKline and Incyte Pharmaceuticals located
in Santa Clara, CA, and non-executive chairman of Structural GenomiX
in San Diego. He has published over 300 scientific papers and co-edited
15 books, primarily in the fields of cancer research and drug delivery.
In 1999 Poste retired from SmithKline Beecham, where he had been for
20 years in such posts as chairman of R&D and chief science and technology
officer. That year he was awarded the honor of Knight Commander of
the Order of the British Empire, bestowed by Queen Elizabeth in 1999
for services to the development of biosciences. He is now CEO of
Health Technology Networks, a healthcare consulting group based in
Philadelphia and Arizona. It focuses on the genetics, computing, and
other advanced technologies for healthcare R&D and Internet-based
systems for healthcare delivery.
Poste is expected to expand Orchid’s commercial applications of its
geno-profiling technologies. "For Orchid, no individual could
better embody where we have been and where we are heading than George
Poste," says Pfost. "George has been one of the most prescient
leaders in the field of genomics, molecular diagnostics and pharmacogenetics
— precisely the markets that represent Orchid’s future," says
"I believe no other company is as well positioned to emerge as
the premier company in the use of geno-profiling to improve the diagnosis,
classification, and treatment of disease and to drive the rational
use of prescription medicines for optimum treatment outcomes,"
Princeton 08543. Dale R. Pfost Ph.D, president. 609-750-2200; fax,
at University Square-based Princeton Softech (
He comes from Concerto Software, a $100 million global provider of
enterprise and mission-critical customer interaction management (CIM)
systems, He also worked at McKesson, Lockheed-Martin, and Gould
been promoted to be CTO and executive vice president of product integration.
On December 1
who resigned in July as head of the Pharmaceutical Research Institute
at the Route 206 offices of Bristol-Myers Squibb. The 49-year-old
comes from GlaxoSmithKline, where he was senior vice president for
new product development. He has a medical degree from Aberdeen University
and began at Glaxo in 1985.
administrator with Educational Testing Services.
received in an automobile accident. She was a product manager for
a division of Siemens Medical Systems.
Corrections or additions?
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