Just in time for year’s end — here is a way to donate those valuable antiques that you no longer have room for and deduct them from your income tax. Four months ago Brad Caswell, a former employee of the Clancy Paul computer store, helped found Donation Exchange, a company that enables charities to accept noncash donations, and on Tuesday, December 16, his company was featured in the Wall Street Journal.
"Rather than give $5,000 to the charity, someone might choose to donate a piece of antique furniture. We help the donor with the logistics of the donation and help the charity to find a broker, auctioneer, or liquidator," says Caswell.
But don’t call Caswell to get rid of your sofa bed: "We participate only with assets greater than $5,000," he says.
Caswell is no stranger to the Princeton business community. Raised in Boston, where his father was an engineer with Raytheon, he was a math major at Hamilton College, Class of 1974, and taught math at Lawrenceville School. In the glory days of the personal computer he started working at Glenn Paul’s retail computer store Clancy Paul and earning his MBA from Rutgers. When Clancy Paul was sold to ValCom, he commuted to Omaha for various executive jobs, and he ended up working for the next buyers — Compaq and then Hewlett Packard. In 1989 when Paul bought back the Princeton business, he ran the shops in Princeton and Robbinsville. Last year at age 50 he took early retirement — and connected with another Clancy Paul alumnus, David Csira, who had ended up in California.
"David had been in the business of liquidating excess assets. He was dabbling on E-bay, and rather than just be another player on E-bay, he did his homework and found that charities prefer not to deal with certain assets," says Caswell. For instance, museums typically can accept art or anything that goes along with their mission, but they shy away from accepting real estate.
What kinds of assets does Donation Exchange take? Anything from a Persian rug to an antique shotgun collection, to name two projects that Caswell is working on. It’s up to him to find the best buyer or the best auctioneer for each article. "Anything" can even be another business. "One of our partners has been in the venture capital world and is focused on selling a web-based crystal-selling business that is owned by a charity," he says.
He is encouraged by the demographic of empty nesters who want to move to a smaller house and want to donate very nice furniture. "We sell it as a collection of assets, a roomful of stuff from A to Z," he says. He prefers using the auction market. "E-bay is our option of last resort. The values we can get on E-bay tend to be a little lower than what we ought to be able to get for a quality asset through an auction market."
His only known competitor is an Atlanta-based consultant, Charitable Solutions, who is paid by the hour. In contrast, Donation Exchange does everything and aims for the charity to receive 65 to 85 cents on the dollar. "We pay the auctioneer, appraiser, and the moving costs, and our fee is a percentage of the value of net proceeds, negotiated on a case-by-case basis. The donor gets a charitable deduction, based on an appraisal, no matter what is earned, and the charity gets whatever the market will bear," says Caswell, who is a volunteer at the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, which is also one of his clients.
"We already have seven or eight charities and have two other `handshakes’ pending," says Caswell. "Our business model presumes that we help the charity market the concept. In the charity world, only 12 percent of donations have been in non-cash assets. But if you look at the wealth in the United States, 90 percent is in non-liquid assets, including publicly traded stock."
What is most fun? "Meeting the people in the nonprofit world who are so passionate about their mission," says Caswell. "In the for-profit world, a lot of the fun is washed away in the volume and pressure of the day. The people at nonprofits are so energized about what they do for people."
Donation Exchange, Pennington 08534. 609-737-1919; fax, 609-737-1069. Home page: www.donationexchange.com
Stock News: i-Stat
After five years of working with i-Stat Corporation on diagnostic systems for testing blood, Abbott Laboratories wants to buy up the remaining shares of i-Stat for $392 million in cash. It already owns about 10 percent of the Windsor Center company and will pay $15.35 for the remaining shares.
In the third quarter of this year i-Stat had about $13.3 million in sales to Abbott, and the Illinois-based firm says it wants to own i-Stat’s automated handheld blood analyzer for bedside testing as well as tests under development, such as those for congestive heart failure and management of metabolic conditions. The analyzer can perform a panel of blood tests on two or three drops of blood, usually in just two to three minutes. It is especially useful for newborn and preemie care.
Some officers and directors of i-Stat, along with outside investors, have agreed to tender their shares to make the deal happen in February.
i-STAT Corporation (STAT), 104 Windsor Center Drive, East Windsor 08520. William P. Moffitt, president and CEO. 609-443-9300; fax, 609-443-9310. Home page: www.i-stat.com
Management Moves: Interpool
On April 1 James F. Walsh will be Interpool’s new chief financial officer, and until then he is working at the company in other capacities. With an economics degree from Rutgers and an MBA from the University of Bridgeport, Walsh has worked for GE Capital and C-S Aviation Services (part of General Electric company).
For now Richard Gross will continue as interim chief financial officer, responsible for the restatement of the results triggered by a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the company’s accounting. A company press release says that the long-delayed results for 2000-2002 will be issued before December 31.
After the accounting scandals, Interpool fired one team of accountants and then its outside counsel discovered irregularities that caused the reporting delays. Interpool says that when it reveals the changes, they will be minimal, and that in the fourth quarter it will pay one-fourth of the stated annual dividend rate of 25 cents per share.
Interpool (IPX), 211 College Road East, Princeton 08540. Martin Tuchman, CEO. 609-452-8900; fax, 609-452-8211. Home page: www.interpool.com
Robert Kwolek, 56, on December 8. A licensed pharmacist, he had worked at Nassau Pharmacy.
John S. Samus, 51, on December 8. He was a custodian for the West Windsor-Plainsboro schools and co-owned the Washington Street Station in Rocky Hill.