Tech Who’s Who

Product Demo


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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the September 25, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

On the Move

So you want to give a donation to McCarter Theater.

You check the "my employer matches gifts box" on the form,

and McCarter will certify it received the donation and request the

equivalent. "That request has a good chance of coming through

us," says Roy Kaplan of the JK Group. Headed by Kaplan (the "K"

to Glenn Johnson’s "J"), the JK Group outsources employee

matching gifts and volunteer programs for Fortune 1000 companies.

This 12-year-old company has been so successful that it has bought

a 42,700-foot building, built on spec by Woodmont Properties at 104

Morgan Lane, and is moving from Princeton Meadows Office Center. "It’s

nice but we outgrew it," says Kaplan. "It was a choice between

buying the space we are in and a couple more of the buildings here

— or going to new space. We drove by this site and called the

realtor." He and his partner paid about $4.5 million for the shell

plus $1 million for the buildout. They are using 31,000 square feet

and leasing the rest. Kaplan is looking for new hires, including keystrokers

and customer service personnel, with some part-time and evening positions.

Think of the JK Group as performing the same functions as the back

office of the bank — lots of check entry and paper work, much

of it done electronically. "We help companies administer the paperwork

to assist employees making charitable donations, whether through matching

programs, annual giving campaigns, volunteer hours, or PAC programs,"

says Kaplan. JK takes care of validating the charities to be sure

they are on the up and up, and that they conform to a particular corporation’s

giving guidelines. "We know we are helping the employees get the

funds to the agencies they want to get it to — and helping the

corporations give money."

"We are not in the business of raising funds. We are not a competitor

to United Way." he says. "The United Way is trying to raise

money. We are trying to help corporations give it away as cost effectively

as possible."

Less than one-third of JK’s clients are in the tri-state area, but

it has most of the pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey. Microsoft

was an early client, as was Johnson & Johnson and Merrill Lynch. Some

clients are fairly wealthy but small corporations that don’t want

to do the matching gifts work themselves. But the typical client has

several thousand.

Kaplan keeps a minimum sales staff of two and says that most clients

come from word of mouth. For these companies, giving away money is

an ancillary job to the main business, sometimes handled by the human

resources staff, sometimes by volunteer committees.

"Clients talk to each other through community groups that meet

once in a while. In the New York area, there are several dozen corporations

that say, `Let’s get together every quarter and talk about how we

do our giving’."

One of Kaplan’s parents was a bookkeeper, and the other was in the

garment industry. Kaplan majored in accounting at City College of

New York, Class of 1967. He worked as a field agent for the IRS, in

Seattle for Boeing, as a software programmer at Bell Labs, and from

1973 to 1989 he was an employee at ARAP on Washington Road where he

met Johnson. In 1989 he and the 52-year-old Johnson (an industrial

engineering major at the University of Illinois) formed their own

software company. Kaplan’s wife, Rita Kusler, is the CFO. The gift

administration business came by happenstance. A client asked for grant

administration software and then asked for help entering the data.

To keep the client happy, they enlisted the after-school services

of one of their children. That company, Polaroid, told other companies

that the JK Group does matching gift administration.

The JK Group has fended off most competition and has 90 percent of

the market, says Kaplan, unless you count United Way, which takes

care of its own matching funds. In 1996 the biggest competitor, Matching

Center, had 30 clients and JK had 13. "We now have 150 clients

and they have about 13. Another competitor, CoreMatters, folded on

the west coast. A start-up dotcom, Charitable Way, saw the charitable

market as ripe for picking. They were big competitors for two years

until they realized they couldn’t make money as a pure electronic

business, and to do both electronic and paper, you need people to

answer the phones when something doesn’t go right with the website,"

says Kaplan.

"We provide an 800 number, human beings to talk to rather than

menus and voice mail," says Johnson, "and that’s in part why

we are growing so quickly and doing so well."

"We end up being anywhere from 20 to 30 percent cheaper than inhouse

departments, but it is more of a question of other benefits. Since

it is not a job for a full time person, the employee never understands

how to do it right — how to validate a nonprofit, how to insure

that the agencies meet the criteria the corporation has set up,"

says Kaplan. "There is a good chance they will get behind the

eight ball and not be able to do it thoroughly."

— Barbara Fox

The JK Group Inc., 666 Plainsboro Road, Building

500, Suite 508, Box 7174, Princeton 08543-7174. Roy Kaplan, president.

609-799-7830; fax, 609-799-8019. Home page:

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Tech Who’s Who

<B>David Botstein has been named director of the

Lewis Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University’s

multi-disciplinary center that will do research on dynamic properties

of biological systems using integrated computational and experimental

approaches. A graduate of Harvard with a PhD from the University of

Michigan, the 60-year-old Botstein has taught at MIT and most recently

at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. For two years he was

vice president for science at Genentech, known for being one of the

first biotech companies to be successful.

"David and alumni from his Stanford laboratory have made a huge

impact on the biotech industry in Silicon Valley. We expect that the

Princeton area will benefit in the same way from his presence here,"

said Nils Lonberg, senior vice president and scientific director

at Medarex, headquartered on State Road. Botstein succeeds Shirley

Tilghman, now president of Princeton University, and his new quarters

are scheduled to be completed this year.

Ilhan Aksay, professor of engineering at Princeton University,

and president Shirley Tilghman are scheduled to speak at Frick

Laboratory for the September 25 inauguration of a $17 million NASA-funded

Institute on Biologically Inspired Materials. Princeton will join

four other institutions to work on materials that can replicate the

strength and self-healing abilities of such natural substances as

bone and seashells.

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Product Demo

Princeton Optronics, 1 Electronics Drive, Mercerville

08619, Box 8627, Princeton 08540. Andy Quinn, CEO. 609-584-9696; fax,


At a trade show in Dallas September 17 Princeton Optronics demonstrated

its tunable laser platform, which launches a minimum of 30 megawatts

of optical power. This product produces more than the output level

required for long and ultra-long haul network applications, says Timothy

Hays, vice president of sales and marketing.

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Dennis R. Sullivan 54, on September 19. He worked as a

superintendent at Princeton Township’s public works department.

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