Bankruptcy Filing

Name Changes

Builder/Engineer Moves

Tech Who’s Who


Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the November 6, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

A biotech company founded by venture capitalist Robert

F. Johnston has changed its name from Carta Proteomics to ExSar


This change was instigated by Patrick Griffin, the chief scientific

officer who came on board July 1. This Deer Park Drive-based firm

analyzes and profiles potential drugs using proprietary methods of

mass spectroscopy (U.S. 1, June 26). In particular, its technology

is hydrogen deuterium exchange and structural activity relationships.

Griffin came to ExSar from Merck, where he was instrumental in


leads from the hundreds of possibilities produced by high throughput

screening and combinatorial chemistry. "This is where ExSar can

help," says Johnston, "and with the experience and knowledge

that Pat Griffin has, we are already negotiating some contracts. The

new name is a better description of exactly what we do."

"There wasn’t a scientist on board to set the vision of the


says Griffin, who started at the firm on July 1. "We have put

it on a course that is an area in which our expertise can be utilized

most efficiently and profitably. It is hard to distinguish yourself

as a proteomics company. We believe we have a business plan now that

defines us as a drug discovery company."

The company’s focus was to be a proteomics company and it no longer

focuses on proteomics, says Griffin. "There are several proteomics

companies that can lead to new targets, but the great limiting step

is not finding new targets, it is taking the validated drug targets

and making choices as to which compound to bring forward in the



Meanwhile the company’s first employee has left his post as vice


of operations. "David Houck did a good job at setting up the


part of the operation, but we needed an expert in mass spectroscopy

and how the technology was used in drug development," says


who has his office in a farmhouse on Cherry Hill Road.

Griffin grew up on Long Island, where his father was a aircraft


and his mother a bookkeeper. A graduate of Syracuse University, Class

of 1984, Griffin earned a PhD in chemistry under Donald F. Hunt (an

innovator in protein mass spectrometry) at the University of Virginia,

and did postdoctoral work at California Institute of Technology with

Lee Hood, founder of Amgen and known for deciphering the T-cell loci,

the gene sequence that determines how infection is fought. Griffin

worked at Genentech for a year and was at Merck for 11 years, most

recently as senior director of molecular profiling. He and his wife,

whom he met at Syracuse, live in Scotch Plains, where she works for

Coldwell Banker, and they have two school-aged daughters.

In addition to Johnston’s investment, the company has a few other

private investors plus monies from MBF Capital. It has less than 10

employees, says Griffin.

Griffin had spurned other head hunters’ calls, but the recruiter from

Korn Ferry left a voice mail he couldn’t ignore: "They were


for a CSO to set the vision for emerging drug discovery company that

uses novel technology based on mass spectrometry for looking at small

molecule protein interactions," says Griffin. "When I met

with Bob Johnston, I really enjoyed and liked him, and he has a good

track record at starting up companies. I had had some thoughts of

going off to start a small company, and this definitely lowered the

entry barrier. But it’s not a chip shot. Each person here is wearing

multiple hats."

ExSar Corporation, 11 Deer Park Drive, Suite 103,

Monmouth Junction 08852. Patrick Griffin, CSO. 732-438-6500; fax,

732-438-1919. Home page:

Top Of Page
Bankruptcy Filing

The Lenox Drive-based Highlands Insurance Group has filed for Chapter

11 bankruptcy protection, listing $1.64 billion in assets and $1.82

billion in debt. Founded in 1877 as the American Reliance Group Inc.

the company is now part of the conglomerate owned by Halliburton,

the Dallas-based energy and construction services provider formerly


by Vice President Dick Cheney. Halliburton is now under fire for

accounting irregularities.

The company’s troubles began 10 years ago when Hurricane Andrew


southern Florida. American Reliance Group Inc. had more than 28,000

policy holders, small to medium-sized businesses, in Florida, plus

clients in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Its $100 million in losses left it unable to purchase reinsurance

at favorable rates, and the net loss per share that year was more

than $13.

The company changed its name to ARI and ceased writing insurance,

and the business and headquarters building was sold to Vik Brothers

International USA Inc. part of a conglomerate, which then sold it

to Highlands in 1996. The company lists 12.9 million shares

outstanding held by 11,074 shareholders, plus 26,431 preferred shares.

New Jersey has worked with the Texas Department of Insurance to make

sure that state policy holders will be protected, according to Stephen

Kibblehouse, CEO of Highlands. But under the terms of the bankruptcy

filing in Delaware, shareholders will get nothing. The company’s


stock, which was trading at about a penny, will be canceled. Highlands

had $496.5 million revenue in fiscal 2001 and a $341.6 million loss.

At one time American Reliance Group had 300 employees on Lenox Drive.

Brandywine Realty Trust bought the 52,000 square-foot building and

its developable acreage for $7,575,000 and will lease it to CUH2A,

which now occupies a Carnegie Center property on Roszel Road. CUH2A

plans to move in November 2003.

Highlands Insurance Group (HIC), 1000 Lenox Drive,

Box 6426, Lawrenceville 08648-6426. Stephen Kibblehouse, CEO.


fax, 609-219-1774. Home page:

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Name Changes

Regional Business Assistance Corporation, 2479

East Front Street, Trenton 08608-2102. Deborah Osgood, executive


609-396-2595; fax, 609-396-2598. Home page:

Regional Business Assistance Corporation (), 75

Bayard Street, JFK Square, c/o Office of Economic Development, Box

871, New Brunswick 08903-0871. Carlos Sanchez. 732-745-5836; fax,

732-745-5911. E-mail: Home page:

To reflect its new focus Trenton Business Assistance Corporation has

changed its name to Regional Business Assistance Corporation, and

it is providing services in five counties in Central New Jersey. One

of its business development officers, Carlos Sanchez, has opened a

New Brunswick office.

"We are eager to offer our lending and support services to


in Middlesex, particularly in the urban, Latino communities",

said Deborah Osgood, executive director. RBAC has a community


small business loan fund providing financing and technical assistance

to small businesses.

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Builder/Engineer Moves

Raval Engineering Company LLC, 379


Road, Building 1, Windsor 08520. Mahendra N. Raval PE, principal.

609-443-6400; fax, 609-443-5998.

The consulting structural engineering firm expanded with a move from

Monmouth Street in East Windsor to Princeton Windsor Office Park


this fall. The 30-year-old seven-person firm was founded by Mahendra

M. Raval, who licensed as a Professional Engineer and has a master

of engineering degree from New York University. For such clients as

architects, developers, and contractors, its projects include public

schools, hospitals, factories, warehouses, churches, and offices —

both new and existing buildings.

Hunt Construction Group Inc., 214 Carnegie Center,

Suite 103, Princeton 08540. Peter Clark, executive vice president.

609-936-7100; fax, 609-936-8520. Home page:

Hunt Construction Group Inc., 1700 Merrill Lynch

Drive, basement, Box 997, Pennington 08534. Peter Clark, executive

vice president. 609-274-3535; fax, 609-274-0864. Home page:

The field office for the Merrill Lynch project, which used to have

55 people working out of the construction company’s own building,

has moved into the basement of a Merrill Lynch building, now that

construction is nearly complete. Meanwhile the Central Jersey


of this construction company moved from Branchburg to 214 Carnegie

and has a new phone and fax. Tim Vaughn and Kevin Keller are vice

presidents here. About 17 people work at headquarters and 10 people

on the Merrill Lynch site.

Lance Design Group, 830 Raymond Road, Jefferson

Plaza, Suite 25A, Princeton 08540. John Lacenere, president.


fax, 732-438-0751.

Lance Design Group, a commercial and industrial engineering company,

moved from one suite to another at Jefferson Plaza. Founded in 1989,

the two-person firm focuses on energy management.

CSC Engineering Group, 4599 Route 27, Kingston

08528. Kevin Sweeney. 609-279-1311; fax, 609-279-1387.

The structural engineering firm moved into an office formerly occupied

by a retail store in Kingston. The four-person firm, founded in 1993,

has architects, contractors, and developers as its clients.

Hatzel & Beuhler Electric, 5A South Gold Drive,

Hamilton 08691. Scott Eyester, vice president. 609-890-1430; fax,

609-890-4896. Home page:

This electrical contracting company moved its New Jersey branch from

Woodbridge last summer because it focuses on the Central Jersey area.

Among its clients are Barclay White Skanska, Sordoni Skanska, Hunt

Construction Group, and the Henderson Group. Headquartered in


Delaware, it does work for Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Janssen

Pharmaceutical, and Lockheed Martin,

Medina Consultants PC, 29 Emmons Drive, Building

B, Princeton 08540. Robert Medina, president. 609-219-0556; fax,


The engineering firm moved from 3,500 square feet at 15 Princess Road

to Emmons Drive. Headquartered in Hackettstown and founded in 1989

it does environmental permitting and land surveying.

Top Of Page
Tech Who’s Who

Anthony Scaturro is Princeton University’s information

technology security officer, a new post created by Betty Leydon,

vice president for information technology and chief information


as of last year. David Sample has been appointed executive vice

president of worldwide sales and field operations at Princeton Softech

on University Square. He had been CEO at Davox Corporation (now


Software, Inc. and president of ABT Corporation (sold to Niku


Diane Petercsak is vice president of information technology

at Alta Services LLC at Ibis Plaza on Quakerbridge Road. She had been

business systems director, Application Systems Development, at Aetna

Inc./Prudential Healthcare.

William E. Ferguson left a position as director of


planning at Bristol-Myers Squibb and is now director of laboratory

planning at CUH2A, the architectural firm at 211 Carnegie Center.

Lynn Benzing is the new president of the health management

division at HealthAnswers Inc. on Titus Mill Road in Pennington. She

was most recently vice president at McKesson Corporation. Joseph

M. Palumbo has been made senior medical director, CNS Division,

of PharmaNet at 504 Carnegie Center. He had directed CNS clinical

development at Sanofi-Synethelabo.

Top Of Page

Christine M. "Tina" McCaffrey, 51, on November 2. She was

an executive with McCaffrey’s Food Markets.

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