#h#Princetel Inc.’s Banner Year#/h#
Agile local company making waves in the fiber optic market
A Princeton University grad is at the helm of Princetel, Inc., a successful fiber optic inter-connect products manufacturer. This nimble company’s ability to adapt to market opportunities kept it afloat after the telecom bust, and is making it attractive to local investors and employment candidates alike.
Company President Barry Zhang said Princetel was founded as a “typical telecom start-up to cash-in on the telecom boom.” As the market began its rapid descent, Princetel quickly realized it would need a change of direction to survive. Marshalling its experts’ skills, Princetel switched gears and moved into the special fiber optic niche markets.
“We saw specialty apps were poised to stay strong past the telecom bust,” Zhang said. “Princetel became an innovative fiber optic technology manufacture.”
Anyone who has watched a high-definition broadcast of an Eagles-Giants game from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia has benefited from Princetel’s technology. So have the military, oil service companies, medical device manufacturers and many others who turn to specialty fiber optic connectors, in particular.
Princetel’s main product line is fiber optic rotary joints (FORJ), which connect fibers that require “spinning” or rotation. In layman’s terms, the FORJ is similar to the spinning action that connects a garden hose to its holder. Garden hose holders store the hose on a spindle, which also releases the hose for use. It’s the rotary joint inside the spindle that allows water to flow freely while the hose is being unfurled. Similar technology allows for optic fibers to be used in a variety of applications where the connector needs to rotate or spin except there could be multiple fibers connected through a single FORJ.
FORJ enables football fans to enjoy the Eagles-Giants rivalry in high-def. The moving cameras in Lincoln Financial Field are connected to transmission stations or recording devices with fiber optic cable using FORJ. This enables the cameras to move great distances while being tethered to “base.”
“We also have FORJs in Iraq, on remotely controlled robotic vehicles equipped with cameras and arms,” Zhang explained. “In fact, we received a credit card order from a U.S. soldier in Iraq about two years ago who needed FORJs that could withstand the harsh desert conditions. Our FORJs enable the robotic vehicles to move freely while being tethered to the remote control base, allowing fiber optic cables to send and receive control signals, audio and video.”
While Princetel is one of only a handful of companies manufacturing FORJs, it is seeing unprecedented growth in this product line. Zhang says the Navy is using them in specialty submarines. Oil companies and oil service companies are using them on underwater vehicles for geophysical exploration. FORJs are in wind turbines that generate electricity, as well as medical devices that use fibers, which need to spin to capture images.
FORJs were used after Katrina hit New Orleans, as well. Giant, airborne blimps were turned into transmission stations to restore some communications after the devastating hurricane. Using FORJ to tether cables from the base station to the blimps’ communications gear turned them into temporary transmission towers.
Fiber optic components are another fast-growing Princetel product line. In fact, the agile company was able to accommodate a growing need for these specialty items. Zhang says there are many “common” components manufactured off-shore. Princetel focused on specialized components and those the off-shore manufacturers couldn’t handle. One such item is the laser beam combiner, which combines four lasers into one fiber. A query from a medical device manufacturer created this opportunity, which now is 40 percent of Princetel’s business.
Zhang’s journey to Princetel president started as a physics undergrad at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He then came to Princeton University, and earned his Ph.D in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1994 from professor Richard Miles’ group.
After graduation, Zhang caught telecom fever and started Princeton Optics, which eventually was acquired by ADC Telecom Communications. After a brief stint as engineering director, Zhang declined to relocate when ADC folded up shop in Princeton. He joined another start-up as an engineering vice president, but also declined the opportunity to move with that company to Pennsylvania. Dedicated to staying in the Princeton area, Zhang started working as a consultant for Princetel. Eventually, he bought the company and now sits at the helm of a profitable firm.
“This company started in 2000, but 2005 was our first break-even year,” Zhang said. “Last year was great, and this year is set to be even better. In fact, on Jan. 2, our backlog was 150 percent of our 2006 revenue. 2007 is shaping up to be a banner year.”
Princetel’s direction is sound and its operations are healthy. In addition to the Pennington office, it owns an operation in China. Yet Zhang is fiercely proud of Princetel’s small size (16 employees), and the company’s social responsibility record.
“You’re never too small to be socially responsible,” Zhang said of Princetel’s commitment to “doing the right thing. We buy materials from the right sources, right down to our recycled copy paper. We take care of our employees, who have had health insurance since day one. Last year, we introduced a company-matched retirement plan for all full-time employees. We completed ISO training, and are headed for certification. This is a highly professional outfit.”
Zhang has stayed in the greater Princeton area because of its nurturing environment and dynamic labor pool. He encourages fellow Princetonians to build and invest in shops locally. “We need to reach the critical mass for a vibrant startup environment,” Zhang said.
Princetel, Inc., 1595 Reed Rd., Suite 300, Pennington. 609-895-9890, Fax: 609-895-9552. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.princetel.com.
#h#Huntington Learning Center: Expanding#/h#
Providing children with supplemental educational to help them succeed is important. Working with certified teachers at an internationally accredited institution – Huntington Learning Center – offers parents a comfort level unmatched by similar programs.
Huntington Learning Center teachers are state-certified and hold degrees in their areas of expertise. The center itself is accredited by the Commission on International and Trans- regional Accreditation (CITA). Teacher-student ratios are small to assure individualized instruction is provided.
“Our CITA accreditation means we adhere to strict hiring practices, and meet exacting standards in terms of curriculum and programs,” said Colin Schreiber, executive director of the Lawrenceville Huntington Learning Center. “We’re proud to provide our students with effective programs taught by certified teachers.”
Huntington Learning Center’s program clearly is working. Nationally, Huntington is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Locally, Schreiber’s program is poised to expand to Hamilton in early February. Both the Lawrenceville and the new Hamilton facilities are 2,500 square feet configured to provide optimal learning environments.
Huntington Learning Center helps a wide range of students, from those struggling with their grades to those interested in moving from B’s to A’s. Huntington Learning Center also helps students to prepare for college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT, as well as preparation for the SSAT for private schools. The key to all these programs is individualized instruction, enabling students to reach their full potential.
“We offer supplemental education services for students ages 6 to 17,” explained Schreiber. “The focus is on helping students in the areas of reading comprehension, writing, mathematics, study skills and phonics so they can be successful students.”
The Huntington program is designed to bring students up to grade level – and beyond. “We do that in a systematic and holistic way; by grade level and skill, until the student realizes his or her full potential,” Schreiber explained.
That assistance comes in the form of an individualized education program based on the results of a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation administered by Huntington prior to enrollment. The evaluation covers reading comprehension, vocabulary, phonics and math skills, giving Huntington a clear picture of the student’s strengths and areas of concern.
Huntington Learning Center’s directors meet with parents monthly to provide comprehensive student progress reports, and with consent, will meet with the student’s school teachers to discuss the program and progress.
“This is unique to Huntington,” Schreiber stated. “But we believe success is nurtured through a team effort, and that includes the student’s school teachers. The results make it all worthwhile.”
It’s no wonder enrollments are up at the Huntington Learning Center. The positive encouragement from staff and teachers combined with individualized instruction based on comprehensive diagnostic testing is what Schreiber believe sets Huntington apart and continues to make its students successful in school and beyond.
Parents can learn more about Huntington at www.huntingtonlearning.com
Huntington Learning Center. 4120 Quakerbridge Road Lawrenceville. 609-514-0600. www.huntingtonlearning.com
Opening in early February 2007: Huntington Learning Center, Briarwood Shopping Village. 2450 Kuser Road, at the corner of Kuser Road and Yardville-Hamilton Square Road, exit 3 off I-195. Hamilton, 609-585-1007.