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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the November 6, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Princeton in China
If Don McLane’s factory in China makes cheap jewelry
for quantity sale in dollar stores, a Research Park-based firm has
a factory with products at the opposite end of the scale. From the
raw material of optical glass, Argyle International’s workers in Hangzhou,
China, make optical components such as prisms and lenses selling for
$500 to $1,000. "Our stuff is small volume, high value," says
Arthur Gillman, the president.
McLane recruits young men and women from rural areas to work for a
year or so in the city, but Argyle International’s 80 factory employees
are highly trained, Gillman says. "Many of our people are getting
recruited by international companies that are moving in, and we pay
a competitive wage."
Gillman is a physicist who worked in the arena of cosmology and theoretical
astronomy. He went to Tufts, Class of 1970, and has a masters in physics
from Princeton and a PhD from Rutgers. From 1981 to 1999 he worked
for LTS, a government contractor with an office in Trenton, most recently
as director of R&D. Gillman’s business partner, Lian Shentou, also
worked at LTS. Shentou had grown up in Hangzhou and went to college
there before coming to the United States for graduate school. The
pair founded the Argyle International in 1993 and went full time in
Like most optics firms, Gillman’s company has had to weather the telecom
debacle and as well as the general recession. "Everybody in optics
got caught up in the telecom business, which was buying 10 times more
than the entire world combined," says Gillman. "Those who
had concentrated on telecommunications went out of business. Then
came the general recession, and most of the optics suppliers are down
50 percent." Edmund Scientific, the catalog company in South Jersey,
is a competitor, though the business models differ. "We take returns,"
says Gillman, "but everything we do is custom made, and if we
make what you ordered, it’s yours."
More of a surprise is that Argyle was hit hard by widespread use of
the World Wide Web. Until four years ago, when the Web came to be
widely used for business-to-business purchases, Argyle enjoyed an
unusual competitive position. "We had the pricing of China, but
we talk in English and recognize contracts," he says. "With
the Internet the world got a lot smaller, and, in a sense, it hurt
us quite a bit." Now anyone willing to take a chance (and some
experts insist that Chinese factories still suffer from problems of
consistency) can deal with China directly. "You might be willing
to take a chance to pay $500 and save $1,500. Before the web existed
the little factories in China would have had absolutely no outlet."
08540. Arthur Gillman, president. 609-924-9484; fax, 609-924-2679.
Home page: www.argyleoptics.com
The Tianjin Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Tianjin,
China, has signed a letter of intent to pay an initial $35 million
to Senesco Technologies Inc. to license its technology for improving
fruit and vegetable crops. Senesco will provide training and support
and could receive additional payments and royalties on future sales.
"Senesco’s technology will enable the more efficient production
of crops on a national level," says Bruce Galton, president and
CEO of Senesco. "We are certainly quite excited at the prospect
of bringing our technology to the world’s most populous market."
It will take from three to six months to complete the agreement.
Suite 420, New Brunswick 08901. Bruce C. Galton, president and CEO.
732-296-8400; fax, 732-296-9292. Home page: www.senesco.com
Salaries paid by Drianna China are fairly good for coastal
cities in the eastern region, says Christine Casati, owner of China
Human Resources Group, based on Airpark Road. Pay is higher in the
east than in the north, yet workers are plentiful near Qingdao because
the farms are suffering from a terrible drought.
Casati is one of a handful of Princeton-based consultants — including
Lee and Leonard Newton, Thomas Pyle, and Margaret Hsu — who focus
on Chinese trade. Casati grew up in Evanston, Illinois, where she
studied Chinese in high school, thanks to a Ford Foundation grant
that paid for teaching unusual languages. She went to St. Mary of
the Woods in Indiana, Class of 1972, and then did graduate work in
Asian studies at Georgetown and in Taipei. After living and working
in China for several years in the early 1980s, and being partner in
a Princeton-based firm, she bought the firm in 1988 and has eight
"We are developing importing businesses in the areas of medical
supplies, dental supplies, and sporting goods," says Casati. She
sources from all over China for United States-based clients and major
providers whose identities are confidential. "In addition to our
core business — how to establish and manage operations in China
— we are recruiting senior executives to run businesses over there."
— Barbara Fox
08540;609-683-4521, fax 609-683-9670.
08540; business operations management, foreign representation, and
sales and marketing for American companies doing business in China.
Lee Eric Newton.. 609-452-2988, fax 609-452-2988. email@example.com
08540; marketing communications counsel to utility, financial services,
health and media sectors, Asian representation. Founded 1975. Leonard
Newton, principal. 609-924-0861, fax 609-924-6017. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
08540; Asian trade & finance specialists. Thomas H. Pyle, managing
director. 609-497-7550, fax 609-924-3890.
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