The meeting notices we receive are generally straight forward. A chamber of commerce is offering a seminar on marketing tactics, for example. But this notice, from "LUG/IP" (Linux Users Group in Princeton) was a puzzle. It reads "…special guest Jeff Waugh stops by as part of his Badger Badger Badger Tour. Meet Jeff and learn about his love for Ubuntu."

The free meeting takes place, the notice goes on to say in plain English, on Wednesday, November 9, at 7 p.m. at the Lawrence Branch of the Mercer County Library. Visit hppt://lupig.org for more information.

A little research turned up the fact that Badger refers to the latest release of Ubuntu Linux software, called "Breezy Badger 5.10." Linux is open source software, characterized by its cost – free – and by the fact that it is not the product of any one company, the way that Office, for example, is a Microsoft product, but rather is the creation of many developers.

Now, on to "Ubuntu." That, a spin around the Internet indicates, is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others." Ubuntu also means "I am what I am because of who we all are."

Ubuntu is also open-source software coordinated by an Isle of Man company, Canonical, for which Waugh does software development. Ubuntu, says the Canonical website, is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with both community and professional support.

The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit. These freedoms make Ubuntu fundamentally different from traditional proprietary software: not only are the tools you need available free of charge, you have the right to modify your software until it works the way you want it to.

The team behind Ubuntu makes the following public commitment to its users:

Ubuntu will always be free of charge, and there is no extra fee for the "enterprise edition." The developer promises to our very best work available to everyone on the same Free terms.

Ubuntu comes with full commercial support from hundreds of companies around the world. Ubuntu is released regularly and predictably; a new release is made every six months. Each release is supported with free security updates and fixes for at least 18 months.

Ubuntu includes the very best in translations and accessibility infrastructure that the free software community has to offer, to make Ubuntu usable by as many people as possible. "We collaborate as widely as possible on bug fixing and code sharing," they claim.

Ubuntu is entirely committed to the principles of free software development. "We encourage people to use free and open source software, improve it, and pass it on," the developers say.

Ubuntu is suitable for both desktop and server use. The current Ubuntu release supports PC (Intel x86), 64-bit PC (AMD64) and PowerPC (Apple iBook and Powerbook, G4 and G5) architectures. Ubuntu includes more than 16,000 pieces of software, but the core desktop installation fits on a single CD.

Ubuntu covers every standard desktop application from word processing and spreadsheet applications to internet access applications, web server software, E-mail software, programming languages and tools, and of course several games.

The extended Ubuntu community includes translators, software developers, teachers, people who love to hand out CDs and help friends try free software, artists, people who write documentation, tips and guides, accountants, even a lawyer or two.

So, that is what the Badger Badger Badger meeting is about. And it offers an excellent perk. Waugh is bringing lots – lots and lots – of Breezy Badger CDs with him. Oh yes, and he promises hijinks, but there is no indication of what sort of hijinks, so that’s another reason to make time to drop in for the technology-meets-entertainment event.

The Cost of a Patent: Charles Brumlik

You could say it was fate – or at the least heredity and environment – that led Charles Brumlik to the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Forum (NJEF). Brumlik’s father, a chemistry professor at New York University, had over 40 patents and started "a bunch of businesses" on the side, in areas as diverse as molecular models, salt substitutes, and alternative energy. Brumlik was, therefore, schooled early in "the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur."

As both a Ph.D. chemist and a lawyer, he is well placed to continue in the family tradition. For the past couple of years he has been involved with NJEF, an organization founded 20 years ago by entrepreneurs, consultants, and investors to support the development of technology companies. Through this connection, he gleans contacts for his consulting business as well as learning about good prospects for his own investment. NJEF is also a great learning forum for entrepreneurs, he says, because it provides feedback on what they might have to fix in order to entice an angel or venture capitalist.

Brumlik speaks at the monthly meeting of NJEF on "Essential Protections for Intellectual Capital and Property," on Thursday, November 10, at 4 p.m. at the Center for Commercialization of Innovative Technology, at 675 Route 1, in North Brunswick. Cost: $30. For more information and to register, call 908-789-3424.

Brumlik’s consulting company is Branchburg-based TechStartup.net, and his fellow speaker, David Gange, is president of Pennington-based Altimatia. Two entrepreneurs, Charles Kreitzberg, CEO of Cognetics Corp., based in West Windsor, and Michael Pappas, CEO of MGP Biotech Inc., a company with headquarters in Lawrence, will also be sharing their "war stories" from the trenches of entrepreneurship.

"Startup companies need to get intellectual property protection to shield themselves from the competition, but they can’t afford the approach of large companies," says Brumlik. There are, however, ways to provide themselves with protection, both by doing work themselves up front and by knowing when they are headed for trouble. Brumlik offers a number of suggestions:

Reserve a website name early on. If someone else already has the name you want, your options are either to buy the name or to change it.

Determine the need for your product or process before you think about patenting. "At least 90 percent of patents never make money," says Brumlik. "One of the major reasons is that they are not tied to the market." Before you worry about intellectual property and other startup issues, determine the need for your product. Will people buy it and will they pay a price that is large enough to allow you to make a profit?

Use less expensive ways to protect intellectual property. Copyrights, which protect an image, song, or jingle, cost somewhere between $40 and $150. Trademarks, which are used to associate a name, logo, jingle, or even color with your company or product, are "one of the broader forms of protection," says Brumlik, "and can last forever."

First research the proposed company name to find out whether it is available. If yes, trademark the name for a particular class of products and services. Within that class, "as long as you keep using it for your product or service, nobody else can call a product or service by the same name or anything confusingly similar," he says. The breadth of protection depends on how many trademark classes a company has filed in.

Consider stealth protection. If you are a small company and can’t afford a patent, you may want to just keep your idea a secret. "A trade secret is an idea you have come up with, but have to keep secret," says Brumlik, "like the Coca Cola formula."

A startup company has two choices: apply for a patent for about a 20-year exclusive on a product or process or keep an idea secret; the secrecy path will provide some protection until someone else develops the same idea. If employees sign agreements to keep a trade secret, and the company itself is careful to guard the secret, then state laws will protect the employer.

The company must mark secret information as "confidential," not send the information to clients, not leave it lying around public areas, and often, simply keep it locked up. If they are not careful, then it is considered to have gone "into the public domain."

Get a patent, but only for a good reason. "Many small companies patent without thinking about why they’re patenting," says Brumlik.

Patents are very expensive, about $8,000 on average for a U.S. patent, and for one patent in 10 major countries internationally, the cost can run to $100,000 over four years. "The only reason to patent, therefore, is because you think that the patent will be worth money in some way." A patent may keep competitors away, for example, but if a patent is too narrow, competitors can work around it at little cost to themselves.

Take a simple example: If you patent a sneaker that features a tiny change, like an extra eyelet, a competitor might just put in two new eyelets, thereby circumventing the patent. But if you discover a new chemical compound, either that no one has made before or has used before for a particular application, then you should probably go for it. A patent is worthwhile to build market share or increase profit margin.

Research patents in the same area. Part of marketing research is finding out who else has been working on similar ideas. Use the website of the U.S. Patent Office, www.uspto.gov, to do a free full-text search of existing patents. Do this patent research early on, because you may uncover information that will either open or close future paths.

Whoops, someone else already had the idea. "Many times people have great idea and, thinking they are the first to come up with it, spend lots of money in the first couple of years, only to find that others already have a patent," says Brumlik.

Could another company use my help? You may find mid-sized companies working in the same area with whom you can partner or from whom you can license. "Instead of reinventing the wheel, you may be able to get to the market much more quickly by using some of their know-how and their patent," says Brumlik.

What does the competition look like? "Looking at who has patented will tell you who are the competitors and the likely licensees," he says, noting that many startups would like to license their idea for royalties instead of building factories.

How did my competitors solve technical problems? Patent research will help you identify technical solutions uncovered by your competitors, areas that you may want to stay out of. Say you want to design and market a portable MP3 player. You would want to know what Apple has filed on MP3 technology, but you would also explore patent filings of Apple’s competitors to see what competing technologies are out there other than Apple’s family of iPODs.

Write contracts carefully. When you take in employees, contractors, subcontractors, or partners, make sure that contracts specify that the company owns the intellectual property. "Many times employees in startups, because of little pay, are fairly mobile and go to competitors," says Brumlik, and you want to prevent the transfer of intellectual property along with them. Also, don’t forget founders or even website designers. Ironically, because of poorly drawn contracts, a company may not own the content and design of its own website.

Decide whether a small or a large law firm will work better for you. A small law firm can save you money, usually costing about a third less to file a patent. On the other hand, if you get into a large litigation, a small firm won’t be able to handle it beyond the earliest phases.

Brumlik grew up in Montclair. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Seton Hall University in 1987 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A & M. Then, because of his entrepreneurial interests, he went to New York Law School. He has worked at ExxonMobil and at Honeywell doing intellectual property and patents. Now he is a consultant, both on the science side in nanotechnology and, as an attorney, doing patents, intellectual property, and employment agreements for both startups and larger companies like Honeywell.

Whereas large companies are generally risk averse, says Brumlik, "little companies can’t afford to protect themselves against all risks. So they have to be picky about what they pay for and how likely that risk is." For example, they might consider patenting only their best idea and keeping other products as trade secrets. But they should regularly check the patent database to make sure that no one else is developing similar products. A large company, however, would spend a lot of money making sure it was not infringing anyone’s patent.

In reality, because small companies often have little extra money lying around, they are more likely to receive a cease-and-desist order than an actual suit. At that point, the company may decide whether it wants to license, to walk away, or to redesign. "But if the companies grow," warns Brumlik, "patent owners come out of the woodwork."

Environmental Triumphs

‘New Jersey is building out to what it calls ‘capacity.’ The problem is, most towns see capacity as literally space to plant houses. The real truth, is that our capacity is limited by our resources. And the first one of these we will run up against is the limit of potable water." These foresighted words come from lifelong planner and environmentalist Candice Ashmun.

Since she graduated from Smith College in l946 and came to New Jersey, she has fought to help the state value and preserve all of its resources. At the same time, she has brought her considerable wisdom and intelligence to bear in helping the state plan sensibly for its inevitable growth. For this lifetime of effort and achievement, the Princeton Regional Planning Partnership is honoring Ashmun with the Van Zandt Williams Award for personal community involvement. The presentation is part of the Planning Partnership’s Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, November 10, at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton. Cost: $150. Call 609-393-9434.

Johnson & Johnson also will be honored that night with the "Community Development Award." The Regional Planning Partnership seeks to take note of the corporation’s smart growth economic plan, its commitment to rebuilding New Brunswick beyond the company’s own financial interest, and the employment of green technology in the company’s new buildings.

"We sought deliberately to honor both the environmental and economic sector," says Anne Brady, spokesperson for the Regional Planning Partnership. "We want to show that business and environmental entities can work within the same framework. And these award winners are excellent examples."

"I was born in Oregon," says Ashmun, "so naturally I’m concerned with our environment." Yet Ashmun’s was an upbringing that made her aware of much more than nature. Early in her childhood, her father, a builder of hydroelectric plants for American Power & Light, moved the family to Brazil. She watched her father bring energy far into that country, and she studied its effects, both good and troublesome, on the environment.

Ashmun majored in both physics and philosophy at Smith. After graduation, she spent two years performing experiments in a physics lab and discovered that she loved science, but not particularly physics. As she began raising a family in Basking Ridge, she spent her few free hours reporting for a local newspaper. Her beat took her to countless town council meetings where she began to learn the real and seldom-addressed problems facing the growing Garden State.

Ashmun’s knowledge increased when she joined the Raritan Watershed Association as a water quality researcher. Later she took over as executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (www.ANJEC.org). "At ANJEC we really worked with municipalities – the necessary level – and I felt that we were a strong power making a mark," says Ashmun. Since l982 she has continued the fight for state’s environment as a private consultant. Truly a Renaissance woman, she also consults on office automation. Those interested may call 908-647-3040.

"When I first came here in l946, New Jersey was a state of small towns and medium-size cities, substantially agrarian, with a fantastic, working rail system," recalls Ashmun. How have we handled our exploding growth since then? Ashmun gives the state a varied report card.

Pinelands Commission. Definitely an A+. Establishment of the Pinelands Commission in l979, for Ashmun, was a great triumph in planning. As one of its founding commissioners, she has watched it take hold, and effectively preserve one of the state’s greatest assets, while still allowing for necessary growth.

"The Pinelands Commission, in an unreplicated move, created a regional plan that first, had teeth; and second, recognized local control," says Ashmun. Because of those two aspects, she says, it has admirably and wisely dealt with the great population push into the southern two- fifths of the state.

Growth pattern. "It has taken our state a long time to think beyond the aquifer," says Ashmun, "but we have finally come around." In the bad old days, all concern about a region’s water problems stopped at finding a clean aquifer. But as Ashmun and others have insisted over the past decades, all water issues are, in the end, land use issues. Govern land use as if water were a limited resource, and the entire ecology will be protected.

This healthy land equals healthy water equals healthy ecology equation has now made its way into the thinking of lawmakers, planners, and the pubic as well. The problem is that a host of pressures continue to sway us away from this goal.

Over the past 40 years New Jersey stopped investing in its cities while its open spaces fell to victim to the ungoverned suburban sprawl-and-mall shift. From the mid l970s, the interstate highway system, along with a very powerful automotive lobby, transformed local towns into a system of housing clusters with linking arteries. Housing developments plotted tight dwelling clumps with one eye toward profit and a blind eye toward sustainable resources. Local planners, involved in a great rateables chase, helplessly concurred while regional and state planning was a noise off stage.

While the sprawl-and-mall shift was distressing, many people blamed it on immigration. For the last 15 years America, and particularly the Garden State, has experienced an immigration gush unprecedented in the nation’s history. Some planners would seek ways to turn down Miss Liberty’s lamp and at least slow the population influx. Ashmun disagrees. "I think immigration is healthy and necessary to our state. With a vast retiring population, these new working people – who take jobs that no one else is taking – have actually kept our workforce stable," she says.

But like it or not, our current high rate of immigrants remains inevitable and will continue. Local, regional, and state planners must accept it and coordinate methods of accommodating these residents while retaining the integrity of the state’s ecology.

State plans. Probably a C for effort and good intentions, but Ashmun gives both Plan I and Plan II no higher grade. The New Jersey State Planning Commission, now teamed with the Office for Smart Growth, has a lot on its plate.

Everything from housing, economic development, and transportation to natural resource conservation and historical preservation must be considered. To reach a precarious balance, the commission has divided state sections roughly into Growth Areas, Limited Growth Areas, and Conservation Areas. (See www.NJplanningcommission.org.) It is very thorough, but Ashmun sees two major flaws in the effort.

"They used bad and old data from the start," insists Ashmun. "The first state plan was flawed. By the second state plan the data improved, but was pushed aside by special interests." She cites the new Plainsboro town center as an example of developers leading the town into ignoring water management capabilities and other environmental needs.

"But the worst thing about the state plan is that it’s got no teeth," says Ashmun. "Every aspect from development to compliance is voluntary." Currently the state commission employs what it calls cross acceptance. Basically, this involves the gathering of local officials with regional planners, developers, and every conceivable special interest group to negotiate a plan. This at-odds committee is presented with the state plan and data, but is not bound by it. The state aims for a "grass roots decision." Yet, too often, the plan favors the party with the most muscle.

The warehouse state. Central Jersey’s transformation from small farms into massive multi-acre warehouses is seen by Ashmun as just a logical, and unfortunate, result of antiquated tax laws. "The tax system has set municipalities against each other in a great rateables chase just to survive," Ashmun says. "Every town is competing for some industry – any industry – to help ease the tax burden."

Those who claim that a large warehouse makes less impact than several housing units spread over the same area are, in Ashmun’s experience, simply misinformed. Warehouses require more energy, generate more traffic from trucks and employee automobiles, and wreak havoc on water systems, with many of their footprints treading dangerously across wetlands.

Hope and solutions. "My greatest source of hope is the many energetic, hard-working people who care about this state, and who now are directing us toward a sensible future path," says Ashmun. In time, she is confident, these people will be able to create growth and management plans based on good data that have strong enforcement teeth.

A great deal of new clean-up technology has been created and marketed within just the last five years. As long as advanced technology in one resource does not blind us to the limitations of others, Ashmun sees hope in our own inventiveness.

"In the end everything lies in the municipalities," says Ashmun. "All the important land use decisions are really made right on the local level. So if we can get dedicated people, making well informed decisions, we will have a good state in which to live."

How Small Business Can Be Heard By Government: John Rogers

Democracy is the rule of the most energetic. If a legislator makes one statement concerning gun control or abortion, he can count on 200 letters hitting his desk the next day praising or railing against his stance. While many very vocal organized citizens incessantly bombard lawmakers with their needs and opinions on a host of subjects, business owners are remarkable for their absence.

Less than 8 percent of Garden State’s 364,624 registered businesses fall into the category of big business. These are the companies that gross more than $2 million annually, and who have the wherewithal to employ professional lobbyists to represent their interests. The other invisible 92 percent can gain value from the talk "What Employers Can Do to Influence the Legislative Process" on Monday, November 14, at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton. Sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter of the Human Resource Management Association, this panel features John Rogers, vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and attorney Steven Berlin of with Martin, Clearwater & Bell, a firm with offices in Manhattan and in Newark.

Despite his legal degree, Rogers considers himself much more of a businessman than an attorney. A native of Ocean Township, he graduated from Syracuse University in l993 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Back in his home state, Rogers got his first taste of the lawmaking process as a legislative researcher for the New Jersey Assembly. "Researchers are the ones who give the Assembly people the facts," says Rogers. "When they would get all gung ho about pushing through an employment bill for a certain area, we were the ones responsible for finding out that 85 percent of the area’s unemployed were retired."

Hoping to make a stronger mark, Rogers then earned his law degree from Seton Hall University. Since then he has served as vice president for human resource issues for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. And he swears he will never run for any political office.

Business owners are a sleeping dragon with more power than they realize. "Unions, environmentalists, local land use groups, zoning interest folks – all very well organized, are pushing their concerns," says Rogers. "Small business owners need to wake up." There are several, painless ways to answer Rogers’ wake up call.

Courting the law. Before you get steamed up about the latest newspaper article and begin dipping your pen in poison ink, stop a moment. Take a breath. Then click onto www.njleg.state.nj.us. This website provides the name, district, contact information, biography, and brief voting record of each legislator for the Garden State. This is the best quick source for learning about your state senator and assemblyperson. Your representative may not have even voted for the bill that has so outraged you.

Instead of venting, call your representative, and introduce yourself, ideally before a specific bill comes to the floor. You may have to talk with an aide first, in which case, ask the legislator to call you back at his convenience. Tell the aide, then the legislator, about your business and your general concerns.

To sound cogent and to be brief, write out what you want to say before the call. Don’t bother disclosing your political affiliation or stance, or gross income. Don’t try to wield clout. Just introduce yourself as a politically active, concerned business person. If the conversation goes well, offer an open-ended invitation to stop by and visit your company.

E-mail easy. For the businessperson who is up to his ears in work during regular working hours, E-mail provides an excellent way of contacting a legislator at 10 p.m. after the day’s frenzy has abated a bit. "The important thing to realize is that even 25 or 30 E-mails very frequently guide the legislator’s mind in voting," says Rogers. Seemingly very small numbers do indeed count.

Representatives are busy, but not casual individuals. Use the same format as you would in a printed business letter, including full headings, salutation, well-organized content, and spellchecking. Format the E-mail in a larger than typical type face for easy reading.

Passion is not nearly as effective as poignancy. In the opening two sentences identify yourself and the issue. Mention your very specific concern, including the bill number if you know it, and thank the legislator for your previous telephone conversation on a given date.

Then in a paragraph or two elaborate your position, for example, why such a bill would prove a hardship for your firm. Then end it. This is hopefully not the last message you will send this lawmaker and you do not want to get categorized as "that long-winded guy."

Message and medium. Rumor has it that legislators are more impressed with a hand-written letter than with a typed one, and a typed letter is better than an E-mail. Not so, says Rogers. Particularly for the individual representing his business, a hand-written missive is not a plus. Go for convenience, he insists. Faxes and letters are all okay, but they take more time than E-mail. Petitions, particularly E-mail petitions, are the one item not given the weight of an individually written message.

Two magic words. Thank you are words our legislators seldom hear from any but the highest, most intimate lobbyists. When your issue comes to the floor, check your lawmaker’s voting record. If he voted on your side, regardless of the bill’s outcome, give him an approving nod. Most legislators want to know their constituents’ response, meaning those few who do make the one-minute thank-you phone call really catch the law maker’s attention.

Also, if you were ever considering a campaign contribution, this is the time. Sending a $25 check and a note of thanks in response to his vote gives you greater status and identification than the contributor who forks over $200 with all the others at election time. Invest wisely.

It has been said that there are two things whose manufacturing process you never really want to learn. One is sausage and the other is law. In this interest-group-driven democracy, a lot of fingers go into each bill that passes into law. But if a business owner is willing to do some research, and put forth a little effort, it may be his finger in the mix that nudges the bill in the right direction.

Marketing Penn State Sports: Angelo Scialfa

Angelo Scialfa knows a lot about sales and marketing. As a sales representative for Penn State University, he develops all of the corporate sponsorships for the men’s and women’s basketball and football teams.

Scialfa could function like others in his field, but he chooses to differentiate himself. When he calls on Fortune 1000 companies in Pennsylvania, he could just try to sell them signage, print, web, TV and radio time. But instead he develops targeted marketing programs for customers like Hormel Foods, Wegmans Supermarkets, Hershey Company, and Sheetz, a major convenience store chain in Pennsylvania.

He sees his role as not only selling his customers the "assets" of Penn State, but actually helping them to implement promotions. Once he sells signage, for example, he might help the customer write rules for a sweepstakes or develop point-of-sale materials. Scialfa also follows up with his customers before, during, and after a contract, using proof-of-performance documents to record what he did versus what he said he would do.

Scialfa shares his experience in a two-session class at Mercer County Community College, "Know Thy Enemy and Thy Ally: Do You Know Who Your Competitors and Customers Are?" on Monday, November 14, at 6 p.m. Cost: $84. For more information call 609-586-9446.

Scialfa offers a number of suggestions to businesses that want to understand better where they are now and where they are going:

Evaluate your current product line and consider potential product extensions. Scialfa offers the example of a bank. At one time banks were places people went for checking and savings accounts and maybe for a mortgage or a car loan. Today when bank officers think about products, they also visualize mutual funds, investments, stocks, and bonds – along with home equity and business loans. Different products may be appropriate for different income groups.

Determine your potential customer base. For banks, customers used to be defined as anyone who needed a checking account, but today potential customers include people who have money to invest. But Scialfa doesn’t recommend going out and hiring a research firm to study the potential market. He suggests instead using census data to look at socioeconomic characteristics of the population in a firm’s catchment area. He also encourages business owners to join local business organizations, like the Rotary, both to network and to learn about the local business scene.

Educate yourself, by, for example, faithfully reading trade journals. They offer analyses of where an industry is going and how companies are innovating. Trade associations offer a variety of resources, including seminars, workshops, and networking opportunities.

Understand your competition. Every business needs to position itself within the field of its competitors. A bank’s competition used to be the bank across the street, but today it includes investment companies like Charles Schwab, credit unions, private loan companies, and mortgage brokers. "Often people aren’t examining the full scope of their competition," says Scialfa. "Look at what products you offer and ask yourself where else people can get those products and services."

Collect data from current customers. "Customers can contribute to your market research, and what they have to say is very telling," says Scialfa. He recommends surveying customers by direct mail, E-mail, or through website data collection and simply asking: How well are we doing? What do you like? What don’t you like?

Reach for loyalty, not just satisfaction. "Every business can satisfy a customer, but can they keep them and keep them loyal?" he asks. Customers need to be rewarded for their business, with incentives that keep them coming back. Even though Scialfa is satisfied with service at his bank, for example, he says he would switch in a heartbeat if he got a better offer elsewhere. The key to loyalty is a combination of good customer service and good products – taking the time and effort to do it right.

Scialfa received a bachelor of fine arts in communication arts, with a concentration on the radio industry, from the New York Institute of Technology in 1983. "This led to sports on the radio, which led to sports sponsorships, and several jobs later here I am," he says.

Scialfa describes a promotion he developed for Wegmans. After explaining to the VP of sales how Wegmans might use Penn State as a vehicle to drive its sales, he set up a consumer promotion to draw Penn State fans to Wegmans. When customers used the Wegmans E-loyalty card to purchase certain products, they were automatically entered into a contest to win a tailgate party for 16 at a Penn State game. For the winner, Wegmans brought their chef to the parking lot with complete party supplies, as well as free tickets and parking passes.

Not only is Scialfa attentive to his customers, but also to his competitors. "Competitors are not your enemies, but your allies, and they can help you grow your business," he says, admitting that he meets with his competition regularly. "In our own minds, we believe we cannot call the competition, thinking – why would they ever talk to us?" says Scialfa. "Why wouldn’t they talk to you? We all have the same issues, problems, and successes – why not share them?"

And there’s an additional benefit. Sharing customers brings more revenue to the industry, and as companies become more proficient, more people are drawn to the industry. Scialfa even shares leads with his competition. "I am not insecure that if I share a lead, they will take business from me," he says. "I don’t get the business if I haven’t offered enough value to begin with."

Top Of Page Alternate Route For Teachers

Middlesex County College is holding an information session for people interested in becoming teachers through the alternate route program on Tuesday, November 15, at 6 p.m. at the Campus Center on the Edison Campus. Call 732-548-6000, ext. 3144 to pre-register by November 10.

While anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a decent grade point average may apply, the program is aimed at professionals who want to change careers to become teachers. The alternate route program, "New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey," allows prospective teachers to begin their training in the summer at community colleges throughout the state.

The graduate level program runs in two stages. State I runs in the summer as a 45-hour pre-service program with guided classroom observations. Stage II runs in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, and will include content-specific courses and a capstone institute.

Students can choose to take the program as either a certification requirement to become a teacher in New Jersey, or can choose to apply the program as 15 credits toward a master’s in teaching degree from New Jersey City University.

The alternate route is for people who did not major in education in college but would like to teach. They work toward certification while they are teaching.

Program candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree with either a major in an arts and sciences field for elementary education or hold a major in the appropriate field for a subject area license. Candidates must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher for the last degree earned and hold a passing score on the appropriate Praxis II exam.

Corporate Angels

In its ongoing support of educational enhancement for students who may be at risk, Yardville National Bank has donated $10,000 to fund the supplemental education program of the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County. The club’s after school program helps students achieve their full potential by providing enrichment activities, including technology skills, mentoring, and the "Smart Moves" intervention program.

The Boys and Girls Club of Trenton & Mercer County has been providing programs and services to the youth of greater Trenton since 1937, and YNB has been a strong supporter of their work. In addition to YNB’s financial assistance, the bank’s first senior vice president, Nina Melker, serves on the club’s board of directors, and YNB provides "in-kind" donations of products and services as well. Currently, over 1,300 young people are served each year with summer camp, after school, educational, sports, and enrichment programs by the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer.

In recognition of its ongoing efforts to combat homelessness in central New Jersey, Tyco International has been selected by the Community Foundation of New Jersey as a "2005 corporate patron of social welfare." As part of the honor, Tyco also received $5,000 in grants from the Community Foundation for the benefit of the nonprofit group of Tyco’s choice.

Charles Young, Tyco’s senior vice president of corporate marketing and communications, said in a prepared statement: "Tyco is committed to supporting the community in which our employees live and work. We look forward to sending the ‘prize money’ of $5,000 in grants right back to our community to help bolster our ongoing work here in central New Jersey."

Two years ago Tyco worked with local nonprofits and community leaders to determine that much of Tyco’s local philanthropic efforts could best be focused on reducing homelessness in Mercer County – a region in which the average age of a homeless person is seven years old.

Since then, Tyco has made grants totaling $650,000 for a variety of initiatives aimed at addressing homelessness. Although the company funds smaller projects with numerous local service-related charities, its three main nonprofit partners are the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, HomeFront, and Habitat for Humanity.

Tyco is the lead supporter of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, choosing to invest in the alliance because, in the company’s opinion, it attacks the root cause of homelessness and creates solutions. Tyco provides funding and board oversight, and recently supported a multi-media awareness campaign to shed light on the plight of the working poor in Mercer County.

Another recipient of Tyco philanthropic funds is HomeFront. The company has provided the non-profit with funding, professional expertise, and consulting, as well as in-kind product donations – including a recent donation of six tractor-trailer shipments of some basic necessities for homeless or elderly clients, as well as families with young children.

Tyco’s work with Habitat for Humanity in Trenton is taking shape in the form of a house on Olden Avenue – with the company providing much-needed funding for supplies, and groups of employees helping to provide in-kind labor. This is one of a total of 22 homes that Tyco will build in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity in the United States, Mexico, China, and South Africa.

In addition to these main partnerships, Tyco employees participate in a variety of local activities throughout the year, including a back-to-school backpack effort, Thanksgiving and holiday gift drives, Red Cross Blood donations, and an annual United Way campaign.

For more information, visit www.tyco.com.

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