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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the December 18, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
A French pharmaceutical firm, Ethypharm, has opened
its business development headquarters in 5,000 square feet at 821
Alexander Road, at the corner of Vaughn Drive. Ethypharm has drug
delivery systems, both oral and injectable, that optimize the delivery
of active molecules into the body.
Founded in 1977 by Patrice Debegeas (a pharmacist and Wharton MBA)
and Gerard Leduc (a chemical engineer and patent attorney) in St.
Cloud, a suburb of Paris, Ethypharm is a privately owned firm. It
has 700 workers in eight countries, more than 120 pharmaceutical partners,
more than 100 clients in over 70 countries, and more than $100 million
in sales. The Montreal operation has 26 people and will grow to 50
to 55 employees, and the Princeton office is expected to have 12 to
15 people within the next year, about 25 eventually.
Pierre Lapalme, CEO of Ethypharm North America, says he located the
office here because this is where he started out — at University
Plaza, with another company. "And because it IS the Princeton
area. Princeton will increasingly become the governing body for Ethypharm
in North America."
Three executives are here so far: the COO/CFO for North America, Laurent
LaPortz; the senior vice president for business development and R&D,
North America, Jerome Martinez; and the vice president of business
development, Hafid Touam. "Our skeleton group will be beefed up,"
says Lapalme, "in the following areas: medical and regulatory,
some administration, additional business development, marketing, and,
at some point, legal. We have no plan to manufacture at that site,
but we are looking at various scenarios to set up, or acquire, or
strike a strategic alliance with a company that has manufacturing
Ethypharm has been active in North America for nearly four years,
and it settled its R&D operations in a Montreal building that had
been constructed, partly with government funds, specifically for drug
delivery technology companies. It was not being used to its full capacity.
"We were able to acquire an already-built facility which matched
our needs 100 percent," says Lapalme. He notes that both Canada
and Quebec "have incentive programs galore in biotech."
Represented by Bill Barish of Commercial Property Network, Ethypharm
bought out the lease that Intertrust had had on Alexander Road.
As to why he opened this Princeton office, "It’s my home turf,"
says Lapalme. "In 1986 I founded Rhone Poulenc Pharmaceuticals
right across from the Hyatt" (at 117 University Plaza). Lapalme,
a graduate of the University of Montreal, spent the first part of
his career with Ciba/Geigy (now Novartis). He joined Rhone Poulenc
in 1979 and became CEO of Rhone Poulenc Pharmaceutical. When his company
acquired Rorer he moved all the operations to Pennsylvania and headed
Rhone Poulenc Rorer in North America.
Martinez is a native of Paris, where his parents were educators. He
has a pharmacy degree from the University of Paris and an MBA from
HEC in Paris and a master’s degree in health administration. After
working as a pharmacist in France, he was the scientific director
for a pharmaceutical wholesaler, Roussel Uclaf, in Japan. He met Lapalme
when he was working for Lavipharm, another French pharmaceutical firm.
Martinez began working in Lavipharm’s Princeton office in 1998 and
moved to the United States in 2000. He and his wife, Anne, live in
Princeton and have three school age daughters.
Ethypharm’s proprietary technologies are on four technology platforms:
oral modified release, taste-masked and orodispersible formulations,
enhanced absorption, and injectable sustained release formulations.
Competitors in the drug delivery area are Cima, Cardinal Health, and
Biovail, which recently bought a 15 percent stake in Ethypharm. With
Biovail, Ethypharm has a licensing deal regarding a therapy for brain
cancer. The two companies expect to begin Phase III trials for this
product in 2003 and possibly put it on the market in 2005.
"We have been rather successful in North America," says Lapalme.
"We have announced alliances and contractual agreements with Aventis,
Reliant, and Bristol-Myers Squibb." The B-MS contract is for a
new Excedrin delivery system, Excedrin QuickTabs, a no-taste tablet
that melts in 30 seconds on the tongue and can be swallowed without
water. "Products that are easy to take anywhere, anytime, and
without fluid, and with no bad taste are increasingly popular,"
says Lapalme, "for those who have difficulty swallowing, the senior
generation, and the kids."
— Barbara Fox
Jerome Martinez, senior vice president. 609-919-9773, fax, 609-919-9766.
The age-old pattern: Immigrate to the new country and
network with your ethnically related friends to found a business.
Count on your countrymen to patronize your business while it’s getting
started, then reach out to a wider group of clientele. This worked
for the Irish in Boston in the last century, and over the last decade
it has been working in New Jersey for people from various Asian countries.
Hussain Sheriff and Asifa Nahad, a husband and wife team from Bangladesh,
founded an Internet company last March and are following this path.
Sheriff is an engineer who had been working in ADC Telecommunications
(formerly Commtech), a telecommunications firm in Cranbury, but his
division was eliminated. Figuring that telecommunications jobs would
be few and far between, Sheriff and his wife — a recent MBA —
tried their hands as entrepreneurs.
Like many early Internet pioneers, they thought they could make money
by setting up a portal that would fill a dire need. They saw that
graduate students who were looking for postdoctoral positions must
browse the whole Internet because no appropriate equivalent to Monster.com
exists for them. So they started the website www.postdocme.com
But like many others who had good ideas for websites, they found out
that filling a gap doesn’t necessarily make money. Though the "about
us" section of the site says that it intends to be "the catalyst
for accessible and standardized academic announcements by providing
our services to users around the world," the site has only a smattering
As Nahad tells it, they then turned to retail web marketing. Again,
not much success. "We started a roommate search service, a place
to buy and sell secondhand books, and a little store called Cinderella
Mall," says Nahad.
They found that what does make money is the very basic business of
custom web development for small companies and web-based marketing.
Webmastering is a service industry that, like the Eveready rabbit,
just keeps going and going. "For the academic portal and the online
store, we never lost any money, but the web design is growing more
quickly," says Nahad.
She and Sheriff began with their Bangladeshi friends who had businesses
and professional practices and are now expanding. He does the technical
work and she does the marketing and some of the design. Among their
clients are a doctor, a chemist, an accountant, attorneys, and a medical
Also at this address and with the same phone numbers, is Sheriff’s
brother’s business, Oil and Gas Machinery Inc.
Sheriff had majored in mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute
of Technology in Calcutta, and has master’s and PhD degrees from Clemson
University. His parents and hers arranged for them to be introduced
while they were students. Her father is a retired government official.
She majored in economics at a university in Australia. After earning
an MBA in international business from Boston-based Brandeis University,
she did telecommunications consulting for the Yankee Group and software
research for International Data Corporation.
"It took us time to come to the right business," says Nahad.
08648. Hussain Sheriff. 609-689-3664; fax, 609-890-1935. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home page: www.postdocme.com
Cambridge Mercantile Corp., a full-service global payments
solutions provider, moved its United States office from Independence
Way to 5 Vaughn Drive. Through a network of offices in the Americas
and business partners worldwide, the company serves more than 7,000
corporate clients. The company’s co-founder and CEO is Bernard Heitner,
and the president is Jacques Feldman. Leslie George, who is in charge
of the United States operations, says that — in a virtual world
— he did not need to set up shop in a major metropolis, yet the
Princeton area is an appropriate center for international trade.
"We do both telephone and web-based business — personalized
and competitive solutions for international payment needs," says
George. His clients are large to medium-sized companies that need
to settle a transaction in a foreign currency. "We provide a legitimate
niche for companies that have an obligation to make or receive payments
in foreign currency. Our state-of-the-art cutting edge online capability
allows companies to securely do transactions online — for transparency,
audit, and control. With our web portal, we can provide instantaneous
pricing and settlement."
A native of the British Virgin Islands, George is married and lives
in Monmouth Junction with his wife, school-age daughter and two younger
sons. He attended Rhodes, a boarding school in Manhattan, and majored
in economics at Georgetown University, Class of 1981. After working
in the foreign exchange and precious metals business with Deak International
in Washington, D.C., he did precious metals commodity trading at Westpac
Bank in New York, then worked for Thomas Cook Currency Services. Based
in Manhattan, he was the regional manager there. Two years ago he
launched the U.S. operations of this Toronto-based firm on Independence
"The Euro changed how people did business and made it easier for
a lot of companies to do business overseas," says George. "but
banks traditionally treat foreign exchange as a sideline, and we focus
strictly on corporate foreign exchange. We use the positioning of
our company and expertise in the market to give our clients a competitive
edge in the currencies. We are dealing with formidable competitors."
307, Princeton 08540. Leslie R. George, vice president, general manager.
609-452-5000; fax, 609-452-5010. Home page: www.cambridgefx.com
Linda Carnevale and 19 agents from Princeton Crossroads
Realty have joined the office of Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate on
Witherspoon Street. Founded in 1979, Princeton Crossroads had been
independently owned and operated.
The parent company of Gloria Nilson has 17 offices in New Jersey and
has access to a national network of 1,400 offices for relocation,
mortgage, and real estate brokerage services. Linda Carnevale will
be assistant manager in the new office.
08542. Catherine McCool, manager. 609-921-9300; fax, 609-921-3299.
Home page: www.gnrgmac.com
Bob Brown, owner. 609-393-4200; fax, 609-393-4302. Home page: www.firstinstaffing.com
When Bob Brown and his partner split their business between the New
Jersey and Pennsylvania offices, the name of Brown’s business changed
from London Personnel Services to First Staff. With service centers
in Trenton, Pennsauken, and New Brunswick, it provides all kinds of
industrial workers from assemblers, janitorial, and lift operators
to market researchers and demonstrators. His workday starts at 6 a.m.
for this market, when the first vans leave from the inner cities to
transport workers to the warehouses at Exit 8A.
"There is no labor force at Exit8A, and we have to provide the
buses," says Brown. Workers make from $6.50 to $8 an hour, but
they get workers’ comp, social security, and unemployment, and many
get semi-permanent "Many companies outsource their HR function
and use us for long-term staffing."
A Vermont native, the son of an engineer, Brown has been in the staffing
business for close to 30 years. He served in the Navy, on the USS
Intrepid, then went to Georgia State. But first he did plenty of temporary
jobs in Atlanta, so he knows the business from both sides. "I
thought the people on the other side of the counter had a good thing
going. And I became a dispatcher and a sales person."
"I love this business," says Brown. "There has never been
a more equal opportunity employer. Our clients they don’t care about
race or height. A number of them have after-work English as a Second
Language program. And on Friday afternoon, payday, my company will
dump $40,000 on the streets of Trenton in two hours, and none of the
people will leave Trenton to spend it. It didn’t come from taxpayers.
It came from companies that pay their bills out of Phoenix."
Village Boulevard, Suite 240, Princeton 08540. Lori Kennedy, branch
manager. 609-452-7117; fax, 609-987-0681. Home page: www.ajilon.com
This branch of the temporary and permanent agency specializes in accounting
and financial services and also office personnel, one of more than
500 offices nationwide. Though it is a division of Adecco, it is a
different company from the Adecco office on College Road. its fees
are contingency based. In the past it has been known as Accountants
on Call and Olsten Temporary Services.
The executive search firm has moved to Corralles, New Mexico, and
can be reached at 505-898-0484, fax 505-898-5951. Asked why he moved,
Reynolds says it was "too many factors to explain." He does
retainer-based searches in these industries: — pharmaceutical,
medical device, biotechnology, and diagnostic products, and electric
He graduated in 1958 as a chemistry major from Bowdoin College in
Maine and had a 25-year pharmaceutical career, working for Monsanto
in St. Louis, Becton Dickinson, and Carter Wallace. Most recently
he was vice president of research & development at Wampole Laboratories,
a Carter Wallace company.
Road, Suite 103, Lawrenceville 08648. Mary Munson, president. 609-799-4242;
Munson Placement Services, a company that supplied permanent and temporary
office support personnel, has closed at this address and the number
is disconnected. No information was available about another office
at any other location.
08619. Edie Foley, recruiting manager. 609-689-0700; fax, 609-689-0730.
Ginny Savage sold her company, Preferred Personnel, to Source 1 Personnel.
It offers graphic design and general office placements
Center, Princeton 08540.
After two years at Carnegie Executive Center the business development
office of this British pharmaceutical company closed, and calls are
being taken at the United States headquarters in Kentucky (7900 Tannersgate
Drive, Florence, KY 41042. 800-536-7878 or 859-282-2100).
writer for national publications and the Trenton Times.
in Princeton Borough and Township and in Mercer County Court.
at American Cyanamid.
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