Corrections or additions?
Life in the Fast Lane
These articles by Barbara Fox and Peter J. Mladineo were published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 4, 1998. All rights reserved.
Many predict that computer superstores and sales of
computers over the Internet will eventually dominate computer sales.
But three proprietors of Princeton-based computer companies are
back. And the three — immigrants from Taiwan, New Delhi, and
— are following distinctively different strategies.
Bruce Tung of PC USA has closed his retail storefront at Mercer Mall
and moved to an office location at Lawrence Commons to concentrate
on business to business customers and expand his Internet operations.
Tony Sethi of Princeton Computer Repair has expanded at 12 Roszel
Road and aims to service the service contracts that the superstores
generate. Meanwhile Phat Le has established a high-end niche: he has
moved Le Camera from selling only cameras to selling digital cameras
plus computers at a new Route 1 location.
Tung’s response to the changing computer market is to relinquish his
storefront and concentrate on business to business marketing and
services. He has closed PC USA’s storefront next door to Palace of
Asia restaurant and moved six employees to Suite 202 at Lawrence
"We are not moving out of the retail business, but simply
our service center to a professional building and our storefront onto
the Internet," says Tung, partner and general manager of both
PC USA and Advanced Online Services Inc. "Our move will allow
us to focus on what we do best: service, networks, and Internet
"We will cater to our existing customer base, referral and repeat
customers, and pursue business to business opportunities," says
Tung. PC USA will continue to service all brands of computers,
Apple, and it will incorporate the Internet for its business and SOHO
(small office and home office) customers.
PC USA launched its Internet services two years ago and has been
dial-up Internet connections and corporate web services for its
user through AOSI. AOSI offers unlimited analog dialup, ISDN, Web
hosting, Web designing, dedicated lines, and corporate dialups.
When in it moved last month AOSI went from an analog to a digital
backbone with full ISDN capability and dedicated lines suitable for
K56flex (analog) modems. To the T-1 (analog) line it added three PRI
(Primary Rate Interface) ISDN lines for a total of 72 ISDN channels.
"Most of our AOSI website clients are not taking full advantage
of their Internet presence, and our new Internet store will also serve
as a model for more businesses to focus on the Internet as a sales
asset, " says Tung.
The Internet store will have a comprehensive database searchable
for more than 70,000 computer products, plus shopping cart features
and a secure server for online ordering. Just in time inventory will
cut down on overhead, "so we are able to keep up with the pricing,
which drops every few months," says Tung. "Usually businesses
don’t need an order the same day — and they can have it in the
next day or two."
Though the Internet store is of course open 24 hours, the physical
store will now be open only on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and
closed Saturdays. Saturday customers, as it turns out, consisted
of the computer equivalent of "tire-kickers."
Tung’s father (a jet pilot in the Nationalist Chinese air force) and
mother (an English teacher) had immigrated to West Caldwell when he
was 10 years old. He worked in his parents’ restaurant in Elizabeth,
and former governor Tom Kean was one of their customers. "My
moved us here for our education and for our future," Tung says.
"This is the land of opportunity. Anyone with a desire and a dream
and who is willing to work for it should be able to achieve."
Tung started as a pharmacy major but switched to business
at Rutgers College and graduated in 1988. He had various sales and
technical jobs, ranging from selling Wall Street mutual funds to
"I’m a fast mover," he says. "I guess I pick up things
fast and then I get bored with it so I love to move on and pick up
His first firm was a one-man consulting firm, Tungsten International,
based in Princeton Service Center, and then he and his brother started
T2 Enterprises. Jeffrey Tung is a Massachusetts Institute of
graduate with two engineering degrees and a MBA from Harvard.
Lawrenceville 08648. Bruce Tung, owner. 609-734-8484; fax,
202, Lawrenceville 08648. Bruce Tung, owner. 609-631-8553; fax,
Home page: http://www.aosi.com.
A small expansion makes a big difference when you move
from the back of the building to the front. Tony Sethi has expanded
from 1,300 to 1,500 at 12 Roszel Park, but the new space opens
into the lobby and boasts a conference room.
"My customers are major corporations as well as individuals,"
says Sethi, "and the nicer space will help us attract larger
and get into networking areas." He is renting out his former
and has a lease-to-buy arrangement for this one.
He is a certified Compaq service technician and works for such
service warranty companies such as National Warranty Corporation,
Vac Service Corporation, Warrantech (which deals with Comp USA) and
CES (which has government clients). He also sells systems and upgrades
and does sales and repairs of all brands of notebooks, printers,
"It doesn’t matter who makes it, we service from Acer to
says Sethi. He does Novell and NT networking and is starting two new
business areas — creation of web pages and selling business forms,
checks, and business cards.
A native of New Delhi, Sethi immigrated to Denver, Colorado, when
he was 25. Trained as a computer technician at Mercer County College,
Sethi checked inspectors’ work on a pacemaker assembly line and worked
for a defense contractor (Base 10 Systems) as senior quality auditor.
In 1990 he began selling computers at trade shows then moved to
systems to major corporations. In 1993 he acquired a partner.
"We specialize in service with a quick turn around time (within
48 hours) and a free estimate," says Sethi. "My reason for
success: I am very honest with my customers and work hard," says
Road, Suite B-101, Princeton 08540. Tony Sethi, vice president.
fax, 609-452-0208. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phat Le has not only expanded into the computer
he has expanded his retail space. That’s because his market niche
is digital cameras, a high-end computer product that needs lots of
hand-holding for buyers to make the right decisions.
"If you go to where all the cameras are locked up in the cage,
nobody will advise you as to what to get or what to do," says
Le. "It is different from a supermarket where milk is milk. With
the wrong choice on a digital camera, you can lose $1,000."
Le started out with a mail order camera business in 1991 and then
opened six years ago at 4040 Quakerbridge Road. Now he has tripled
his space and moved 10 employees from 2,200 square feet to 7,000
feet in a building next door to Mrs. G’s on Route 1 North.
He sells new and pre-owned cameras and lenses (including collector
items) plus digital cameras and the computer equipment needed to use
them. He also has a repair service.
Le immigrated from Saigon, Vietnam, where his family owned a gas
"When the government took over those kinds of businesses, we had
no income," says Le. In 1979, at age 21, he left the country.
One of his former high school friends managed to get a Michigan church
to sponsor him. "I came here with one pair of shorts that’s
says Le. "We got out in 1979 by boat. The people up there were
extremely helpful, extremely nice; they helped us get started."
Five days after he disembarked he was working at his first United
States job — dishwashing for $2.90 minimum wage — and he began
taking English classes.
He met his future wife, Winnie, at the University of Chicago, where
he was a mathematics major, Class of 1983. Together, they started
the camera business in 1991, and now they have children ages six,
two, and seven months. "We are concentrating on the imaging part
of computers," says Le. "We are not competing with Computer
City for selling mom and pop systems. We are experts on computer
an integral part of photography now. You have to have the proper kind
of computer and the proper kind of hardware and software."
How does he deal with customers who seek his expert advice but make
their lowball purchase at a "big box" store? "That happens
with cameras, and we are used to it," says Le. "But actually
most of our customers appreciate our presence and our service and
they are willing to pay a little bit more for our advice. We spend
a lot of time discovering what is good on the market. If you spend
$1,000 and you get the wrong digital camera, what good is it? Yet
you spend $1,200 and you get the right equipment."
"The smart people come to professional people to get advice. The
not so smart people shop for price and they are lost."
Phat Le, owner. 609-912-0200; fax, 609-912-0166. E-mail:
Road, Lawrenceville 08648. Paul Ettlinger. 609-844-9596; fax,
Spurred by the growth in the digital photography
Paul Ettlinger and Philip Cutrone have expanded after starting up
less than two years ago. They have moved from an office on Franklin
Corner Road into 3,700 feet, including a fully equipped studio, on
Princess Road. Now clients can choose whether to rent a camera at
their home site or bring their work to the Princess Road studio.
DPS rents and sells digital camera systems for such purposes as
Internet web pages, Sunday newspaper inserts, and newspaper photos.
The partners also do consulting and training in such digital
areas as research and development, manufacturing, and image databases.
Ettlinger went to Rider, Class of ’82, and Cutrone is an electrical
engineer from DeVry Technical Institute, Class of 1988 (U.S. 1,
Digital cameras are connected to a computer. With each click of the
shutter a high resolution image is downloaded to the screen. Some
of the benefits of digital photography include immediate proofing,
cost savings on film & scanning, reduced production time, and the
elimination of hazardous waste (the heavy metals in film processing).
These are not the consumer-style digital cameras that Phat Le sells
at Le Camera (see previous story). This $30,000 camera price tag does
not include the camera’s computer peripherals. To rent the camera
and studio costs $450 a day, $1,350 for the week. To rent the camera
at your site is $695 for a day or $1,995 for a week, but that also
includes the computer system and an operator that stays for the first
day to train you or your photographer.
"It’s getting to a point where the cameras are out three days
a week, and we have weekly rentals," says Ralph Scharinger, a
sales representative. "It’s a great market and things are picking
up for us."
When Princeton Softech was young, it celebrated big
wins with pizza picnics outside its office on Business Park Drive.
Last weekend Joe Allegra took 60 employees and their spouses to the
Bahamas — three nights and four days at Club Med — to thank
everyone for a good 1997.
It was a very good year. Last week, as everyone was packing for the
all-expense-paid trip, the announcement came that the nine-year-old
firm had been bought by Mountain Lake-based Computer Horizons for
$43 million in stock. The privately held company will now be a wholly
owned subsidiary, and Allegra will remain as president. "We’re
enthusiastic about being part of a such a forward-looking
stated Allegra in a press release.
Now located at 1060 State Road, Princeton Softech’s sales grew 538
percent from 1991 to 1995 — from $602,000 to $3,840,000 and as
a consequence it was making the "fastest growing" lists. By
1994 it had grown to 37 employees. It now has 75 workers, and nearly
all were able to take advantage of the trip with their spouses or
partners. They left in shifts, some on Thursday, others Friday, still
others flew down Saturday, and all convened for a dinner on Saturday
Allegra went to parochial school in Bergen, majored in economics at
Rutgers (Class of 1975) and earned an MBA at New York University.
He and his wife Bobbie have a daughter, 11, and a son, 15. He worked
at Applied Data Research from 1977 until the firm was bought by
Associates in 1988. Eight other people left with him in 1989 to build
high quality programming tools for large application systems.
he became president of the Software Association of New Jersey, later
to become the software track of the New Jersey Technology Council.
The firm now has core competencies in relational databases, data
and intelligent data migration and management. "We compete against
very large companies and win 8 out of 10 times because our software
really works. Our model is that we won’t send out products before
they’re done; we get support calls an order of magnitude less than
anybody else," Allegra said in an earlier interview.
Now that the company has been bought out, will Allegra have the
to throw an offshore company party? "I expect they will continue
running the company the way they have," says Faye Gregory-Yuppa,
vice president of Computer Horizons.
John J. Cassese, CEO of the $335 million Computer Horizons, went to
Rutgers, Class of 1968. He founded the firm in 1969; it went public
on the Nasdaq (CHRZ) soon after that
Though Computer Horizons began as a staffing augmentation firm for
IT services, in the early 1990s it created a solutions division, which
has grown to be worth nearly $100 million. "For one of our Year
2000 solutions we needed to use a Princeton Softech product, and it
has been a business partner of ours," says Gregory Yuppa. Her
firm had had a good success record as a service company that brought
tools with the Year 2000 services and it hoped to broaden that
to apply to data management. "We had raised $80 million for
acquisitions to position us beyond the Year 2000," she says.
all of the solutions we offer involve data management and migration,
and we realized Princeton Softech’s real strength was in data
Allegra has also developed a global distribution channel with clients
in 20 countries. In the early ’90s Princeton Softech was just one
of three software firms that were drawing national attention on the
Inc. Magazine "fastest growing company" lists. But unlike
Voxware and LogicWorks, which have gone public, the smaller Princeton
Softech chose the "be bought out" alternative over the IPO.
"We thought about going the IPO route ourselves," Allegra
has said, "but we’re a little too small and we thought it was
a little too early." Maybe that’s just as well. The founding CEOs
of Voxware and LogicWorks have both left their top positions.
Is that one of the reasons why Allegra chose an alliance rather than
an IPO? Allegra could not be reached for comment before press time.
He was still in the Bahamas.
— Barbara Fox
When nursing mothers get breast infections and take
antibiotics, they pass along the drug to their babies — an
but tolerable use of the drug. But when cows get udder infections
(mastitis) and are treated with antibiotics, the contaminated milk
must be poured on the ground, literally or figuratively, until the
antibiotics have passed through their systems. Mastitis — very
common and very infectious — is a drain on dairy farmers’ profits.
An emerging biotechnology company funded by Barbara Piasecki Johnson
hopes to clean up this milk infection problem. Nika Health Products
Limited has licensed its technology to Pharmacia & Upjohn for
lysozyme" for various animal health indications, including bovine
"Animal health represents a large potential market opportunity
for our technology," says Wojciech Piasecki, president of the
firm and the nephew of the heiress to the Seward Johnson estate.
are pleased to be partnering with a proven leader in the field."
Thomas S. Gifford of Century Capital Associates assisted Nika in this
Nika is engaged in discovery and R&D of proprietary platform
involving the treatment of infectious diseases. But the process of
drug approval is slow, even for animals. It could take four to six
years to get FDA approval for the drug for veterinary use.
This company does not have a financing problem. Because of the
Johnson backing, Nika’s executives have time to develop strategic
partnerships to increase market share, reduce development time,
manufacturing capability, and streamline product distribution.
"It is an interesting business model," says Ricky S.
chief counsel. "We would take pride in being a virtual
The company is located within the office of BPJ Holdings, Piasecki
Johnson’s firm on Lenox Drive. Research is taking place in
"This product is also in active research and development for human
use as well," says Stachowicz, who notes that it seems to function
like standard antibiotics. "We are running clinical Phase I trials
in Poland." Other potential products are a chemically modified
enzyme that has shown uses for the treatment of herpes in humans.
Stachowicz majored in biology at Rutgers (Class of 1984) and went
to Hofstra Law School. Piasecki went to Rider, Class of 1984, and
has master’s degrees from Georgetown University, Claremont Graduate
School, and the University of Wroclaw in Poland.
"There is a tremendous interest in developing high quality
for human and animal health," says Stachowicz. "It is not
uncommon to be able to introduce a medicine in veterinary field and
then use it in the human field as well.
"We want to get good results in clinicals and examine them
says Stachowicz. "When we are confident with what we have, we
will move forward."
— Barbara Fox
1009 Lenox Drive, Suite 115, Lawrenceville 08648. Wojciech Piasecki,
director. 609-921-0089; fax, 609-219-9295.
08540. Dan Naif. 609-419-4407; fax, 732-367-0097. Home page:
This firm does multimedia training — sites, web pages, CD-ROMs,
Internet — and provides turnkey systems and tools. "I work
with training departments and graphics departments to build
systems and sell tools and train on the use of the systems," says
He founded the firm eight years ago and usually telecommutes from
Jackson but is also a client of the Daily Plan-It. His clients include
Bristol-Myers Squibb, CNA Insurance, a major financial firm
in Princeton, and Fleet Bank — for which he does customer service
training and sales skills training.
Naif grew up in South Jersey where his father was a consultant to
the division of gaming enforcement. After Stockton State he worked
for Bell Atlantic as a systems analyst training consultant and
of custom applications. Then he went to Continental to run the
development group and do systems applications training. A member of
the ASTD trainers’ association, Naif has trained thousands of people
in software programs and computer literacy. "I am good at it,"
says Naif. "That’s why I went into multimedia. I have analytical
technical skills but I understand adult learning principles."
Plan It, Princeton 08540. Al Lanza, eastern regional manager.
fax, 609-720-0042. Home page: http://www.imperialtech.com.
If you are running a relational database with millions
of entries, and your search slows for even a nanosecond, you could
be losing money fast. Al Lanza has opened the eastern regional office
of Imperial Technology, a firm that pioneered in solid state disk
and disk cache systems for input/output operation performance
"Our access time to data is 300 times faster than regular disk,
which can do 75 input/output transactions per second. When you have
1000 customers lined up it makes a difference," says Lanza.
"Solid state disk and solid state cache devices are a hardware
solution to computer performance problems," says Lanza.
or Sybase will allow you to run a test to determine a bottleneck and
will allow you to take the hot files and put them off to a separate
device, a SCSI (Small Computers Systems Information) rotating magnetic
mechanical disk, which does 50 input outputs per second." This
company is one of the few makers of nonrotating solid state SCSI
which is computer memory. "Our solid state disk looks to the
as if it is another rotating disk, but it actually is computer memory.
Instead of 50 input/outputs it does thousands."
Lanza went to the University of Pennsylvania, Class of ’69, and has
worked for IBM, Bull, and Pioneer Standard. Imperial is a niche
that does have a couple of competitors, including Quantem Corporation.
The hardware is manufactured at headquarters in El Segundo, California
(310-536-0018) and the firm has more than 40 employees in four offices
and distributors worldwide.
Only a few firms that need very expensive but very fast data
— telemarketers, catalog firms, Wall Street firms, power stations,
and airlines — can profit from super speed at almost any cost.
Other potential clients have batch jobs that run at night but are
finishing late, after the start of the business day — or users
on a slow system with a response time of more than three seconds.
When users start colliding, the efficiency of each person goes down.
"One big catalog company told me that every second they can reduce
the time it takes to handle a customer call can save them $10,000
a year," says John Jory, the president. "Ninety-nine percent
are buying it for speed, and another 90 percent are buying it for
database applications," says Jory.
1st floor, Princeton 08540. Paul Maselli, managing partner.
When attorneys leave big firms to start little firms,
certain things usually happen: they usually take some clients with
them, they usually promise more personal, less-departmentalized
to their clients, and they usually work longer hours. What’s not so
obvious is the fact that they usually get better software.
Now that Paul Maselli, Perry Warren, and Guy Lanciano have left Stark
& Stark and opened a new practice at 600 Alexander Road, they should
have a shorter wait to get Windows 98 when Microsoft delivers it.
When Windows 95 came out, Maselli recalls, Stark & Stark was
to implement it because the 60-attorney firm would have needed to
get it for hundreds of machines. "On the other hand," says
Maselli, "we just opened our office, we have Windows 95. When
the new Windows comes out it’s going to cost us a few hundred
On a more philosophical level, this kind of efficiency allows a
firms to develop the art of "leveraging technology, not leveraging
people," says Maselli. "Firms that are more responsive to
client needs are firms closer to the leading edge of technology."
This new firm will specialize in small and medium-sized business
such as bankruptcy, commercial litigation, and securities arbitration.
The managing partner is Maselli, 38, who got his JD at Rutgers
Law School in Camden in 1986 and spent nine years at Stark & Stark,
where he was a partner.
Warren, 34, graduated with honors from the University of North
Law School in Chapel Hill (Class of 1993) before becoming an associate
at Stark & Stark. Lanciano has a law degree from Widener (Class of
1992) and advanced degree in taxation from New York University.
Another advantage to opening a smaller firm is that the attorneys
will encounter less conflicts of interest between clients. "You’re
not representing the big institutions," says Maselli. A
occurrence at Stark & Stark was having to turn down a prospective
bankruptcy client because the firm was already representing the bank,
— Peter J. Mladineo
08540. Peter Corcoran, president. 609-683-5600; fax, 609-683-3758.
Some reports have stated that only 10 percent of the
high tech jobs in the country are filled. With this statistic, you
might think that a high tech headhunter like Peter Corcoran would
be having a field day, right? Bad assumption, reports Corcoran,
of DanAshe and Company, which just took 400 square feet at 33 State
"People might think headhunting is really going great right
he says. "When there are too many mobs or not enough applications
or vice versa it really throws it out of sync. You really want to
have things in balance. It’s nice to have a lot of jobs but you need
the people to fill them in order to make the money." DanAshe
after Corcoran’s daughters, Danielle and Ashley), specializes in
salespersons to the software industry.
Corcoran, a 40-something with a degree from Villanova University,
started off as auditor for Peat Marwick and Mitchell. He started
in 1987. The problems arise when candidates become too mobile —
this can make them hard to place, even in an industry that desperately
needs workers. "It’s a very volatile industry," says Corcoran.
"There isn’t a lot of stability in terms of people being able
to stay with one company at one time, except maybe with the big boys.
For medium and smaller companies, the average is three years and
off, looking for another opportunity."
Still, if you’re in high tech sales, you might have a suitor in
"as long as your track record doesn’t get too choppy," he
says. "The good side of it is allows you to have movement, and
that creates opportunities, but if an applicant moves too much then
he becomes very tough to place. So you like to have a guy who can
hang in there for two, three, or four years. Then if he moves it kind
of works for everybody involved."
Villecco, president. 609-655-1200; fax, 609-409-1927. Home page:
Moving into 8,000 square feet at 8 Cedar Grove Lane, Cranbury, is
VComm, a "telecommunications engineering" firm. "We assist
people who are building or who already have wireless systems to
them to run better," says Ken Baranowski, director of business
development. "We supply the engineering talent."
This office has 18 employees, and the firm has another office in
with an additional 24 employees. The president, Dominic Villeco, and
other principals are located in Cranbury.
Baranowski explains that the company utilizes an in-house system of
assisting clients to meet objectives. "We like to talk to the
client, get an idea of what the particular aspect of the job is so
that there are quantifiable, demonstratable results by a certain
manager at Sadat Associates.
Joe’s Tomato Pie restaurant in Trenton.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.