When CoMag moved from Manhattan, it chose Princeton Forrestal Village over six other locations in New Jersey and Westchester (U.S. 1, October 4, 2006). Though it lost some good employees, Mike Herrington, vice president of client services, was pleased with the results. “Every time you have a move of this magnitude,” says Herrington, “it is an opportunity to look at what do we do well and where we want to be. Do we need the old positions, do we create new positions, and what skills do we need to fill them?”
“The move really allowed us to go out and look for people who had the core competencies — who are more analytical and more proactive in finding opportunities to grow the newsstand business,” he says. Of the 11 new hires, nine were fresh to the business.
Comag Marketing Group, 155 Village Boulevard, Suite 300, Princeton 08540; 609-524-1800; fax, 609-524-1629.
Will Passano says that his decision to move to College Road has been validated. “We made the right move, clearly, from Jamesburg,” says Passano, president of Ascend Media Healthcare. Based in Kansas, Ascend Media has 12 publications in the medical, pharmacy, and dental fields (U.S. 1, June 28, 2006).
“Articles I saw earlier this month in U.S. 1 on Epocrates and Compass Healthcare validate this choice, because they confirm that this is an area in which like people are doing ‘like’ things. Specifically, Epocrates said, ‘The Princeton area is where a lot of our best people want to live.’”
“We are recruiting ‘pharm Ds’ and I feel more likely to be successful in that, because I can clearly state where ‘Princeton’ is,” says Passano. “When I was hiring a candidate from Denver, I would have had to explain ‘Jamesburg’.”
Ascend Media Healthcare, 103 College Road East, Third Floor, Princeton 08540; 609-524-9500; fax, 609-524-9658. Will Passano, president, healthcare division. www.ascendmedia.com
Dean Guida, CEO of Infragistics at Windsor Corporate Park, says he counts on his workforce to have team spirit: “When you’re winning and have great people, it feeds on itself. We have a coaching philosophy that attracts smart, passionate, and intellectual people. We teach everyone how to work successfully in teams.” Keeping the customer happy doesn’t hurt either. “We give out ‘delighting the customer’ awards, and twice a year we do a status survey of our customers.”
Guida’s 18-year old company creates reusable development tools so that corporate developers can customize off-the-shelf programs for displaying data. Guida bootstrapped the firm, runs it on product sales, turns away venture capitalists, and claims 35 percent growth (U.S. 1, May 24, 2006). With such clients as Morgan Stanley, Intel, IBM, and Infosys, Infragistics products need to go out bug free. Take extra time for quality testing, he advises.
He decries the decline in
engineering graduates: “It’s
critical for younger students to study engineering. Even though there’s a career path and lots
of money to be made, we constantly have trouble finding
employees, because the good people are already working. It takes a long time to find qualified people in any discipline.”
Infragistics Inc., 50 Millstone Road, Building 200, Windsor Corporate Park, Suite 150, East Windsor 08520; 609-448-2000; fax, 609-448-2017. www.infragistics.com
Heartland Payment Systems, a national credit card processing company, moved its 20-person corporate and accounting office to 9,300 square feet at Nassau and Witherspoon streets (January 11, 2006).
“We processed our first ‘billion dollar week’ the week before Christmas,” says Bob Baldwin, CFO, shown at right. In the nine months since the article, says Baldwin, Heartland moved from being the seventh-largest credit-card processor in the United States to the sixth largest. It grew from 970 to 1,230 sales professionals nationwide, and its small-to-medium size merchant client base grew from 106,5000 to 133,000. The overall employee base is about 2,000 people, and the staff on Nassau Street has added five more, including a general counsel/chief legal officer and a director of marketing.
Baldwin says Heartland has validated two assumptions. First, that it can be effective for the corporate officers to be headquartered in Princeton and have operations and IT departments in far flung locations (Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Frisco, Texas).
Second, that brand new technology would help undercut the competition. “That’s happening, says Baldwin. Several weeks ago Heartland rolled out a deal with Commerce Bank to offer merchants “next morning funding.” Typically the “receipt of cash” is two days after a merchant’s transaction. Now, if the merchant closes out by 11 p.m., the money will be in their Commerce accounts by the opening of the next business day.
“In 2006 we converted all our clients to our own proprietary processing platform, called Passport,” says Baldwin. “That allows us to introduce new features and functionality, such as the first one, the initiative with Commerce Bank.”
Heartland Payment Systems (HPY), 90 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542; 609-683-3831; fax, 609-683-3815. Robert Carr, CEO. www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com
#h#Hire From Craig#/h#
Bill Martin and Rusty Szerek made their reputations with RagingBull.com and then founded Indie Research on Witherspoon Street in 2002. Their investor newsletters (findprofit.com, nextinning.com, and bullmarket.com) were on Yahoo at the time of last year’s cover story inn U.S. 1 (August 30) and have now been added to the Bloomberg offerings. They have launched a new version of insiderscore.com, which uses proprietary algorithms to track insider trading for institutional investors.
Martin, shown at right, had hoped that the “buzz” from a cover story in U.S. 1 would help him to hire smart people. He got the buzz (“I was amazed at how well read U.S. 1 is”) but “finding experienced sales people has been more difficult than we expected.”
Some hiring lessons: Use Craigslist, which is free, rather than Monster board, which cost Indie Research $500 monthly. From Craig’s List Martin hired a quantitative analyst, some data analysts, and some salespeople. “The volume of resumes is a lot smaller on Craigslist, but the quality of people is higher — they are fairly Internet savvy and early adapators. For the most part Monster has been garbage, with so many automated resumes.”
Martin also belongs to Jumpstart New Jersey, the statewide member-led angel investor group, and is doing due diligence on his first deal, to be announced soon.
A side benefit of being tied into the Jumpstart network, he says, is the networking Jumpstart does with Princeton University’s engineering school, and at Einstein’s Alley events. Says Martin: “In the short term, that does not benefit my company but there are lot of unique skills in this area, and the intangible connections that you make create spontaneity, with interesting results.”
Indie Research LLC, 254 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542; 888-278-5515; fax, 208-275-7280. William C. Martin, principal. www.indieresearch.com
#h#Tap Teen Energy#/h#
The second time around was indeed the charm for Geri LaPlaca, who opened a recycling business, Your ReSource Inc., in Ewing (U.S. 1, February 15, 2006).
LaPlaca began her recycling career by joining the Trenton Materials Exchange, an innovative nonprofit founded on a shoestring and housed in a dingy warehouse on New York Avenue. After four successful years, TME folded, and LaPlaca started her own 501(c (3) organization, Your Resource Inc. Her first focus was used medical equipment in a program called Community Access to Rehabilitation Equipment (CARE).
She is still operating in a dingy industrial neighborhood (Industry Court, in Ewing) but thanks to a supportive landlord has attractive, modern space. And she has started new programs. With “Technotrash,” she distributes containers for collecting and secure disposal of small electronics, such as old CDs and DVDs, video tapes, PDAs, handheld games, etc.
Another new program, Dump&Run, encourages students to donate (not dump) slightly used personal items before leaving campus.
What she has learned: When giving an outreach talk, research the community group’s composition and focus, so you can direct your talk to their particular interests. Be flexible and entertain questions which the listeners may have.
And when you are looking for volunteers, contact high school or colleges, where students are eager (or required) to perform community service. Energetic young people often have fresh ideas.
Your ReSource Inc., 8 Industry Court, Ewing 08638; 609-530-1513; fax, 609-530-1514. Geri LaPlaca, director. Home page: www.yourresourcenj.org
‘Don’t give up if you believe,” says David Crozier, the CEO of Pyrometer, a manufacturer of precision temperature instruments at Windsor Industrial Park. Last year he told how, just after he bought the firm and moved it from northern New Jersey, he had to take a lengthy leave of absence to donate his kidney to his daughter. (U.S. 1, July 5, 2006). He reports that his daughter is doing well, and so is the business.
“We are in a much better position than before. Our costs are in line. The building is a manageable size for our size company and staff. We show continued improvement in margins and sales,” says Crozier. “More important, I believe we’ve found some niches where we feel market growth will occur and we have aligned ourselves with the dominant players in those markets.”
The move from Bergen County had helped Crozier weeded out the naysayers. “Mercer County is much more conducive to doing business,” says Crozier. “In my opinion it has a more reasonable workforce. Here, we are not competing with New York prices and attitudes.”
Regarding the “don’t give up” motto, Crozier had an investment banker friend who confided that, as he acquires companies, he looks at the owner to see if he is still “engaged” (i.e., a believer). “Because if he isn’t,” says Crozier, “they feel they’ll be able to acquire the company for far less as performance dips.”
“It’s my opinion that for small companies like ours, customers are looking for the same thing. In more than one way, we (the entrepreneurs) are also the top salesman. Some days it’s much more difficult than others, but tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity.”
Pyrometer Instrument Company Inc., 92 North Main Street, Windsor Industrial Park, Windsor 08561; 609-443-5522; fax, 609-443-5590. David W. Crozier, CEO. www.pyrometer.com
#h#Nail it the First Time#/h#
‘MedAvante’s primary focus is keeping up with demand,” says Paul Gilbert, CEO of MedAvante. The firm moved from 2,500 square feet to 11,000 square feet and is already planning to add another 10,000 square feet. MedAvante has grown from 40 employees to 53 staffers and expects to add at least a dozen in the next three months.
Medavante’s aim is to speed up mental health clinical trials by requiring fewer patients. Its video system employs, in its central location at American Metro Center, PhD clinical psychologists to assess patients in the trials (June 7, 2006).
What he learned: “When you get your early adaptors, deliver with excellence no matter what the cost. You have to nail it, with total commitment.”
MedAvante Inc., 100 American Metro Boulevard, Suite 106, Hamilton 08619; 609-528-9400; fax, 609-528-9401. Paul Gilbert, CEO. Home page: www.medavante.net
#h#Look Poor At First#/h#
Scott McCarty likes to start a brand new company in a downscale space, and then move to Class A space. Like McCarty’s first company, Quatern — which produces interactive voice response (IVR) systems to capture data for clinical trials (U.S. 1, June 7, 2006)— was incubated at 20 Nassau Street. “The space is priced very well for the Princeton market, and it is close enough to draw employees from this market,” he says.
He moved it to the American Metro Center late last year. He thinks the American Metro Center strikes the right balance between luxury and modesty — that is, for a company’s third location. “I always feel good about being in second place, always having to chase something,” he says. “If I don’t love my environment I work harder to not be in it.”
A bit of luxury is something to work for, but not too much luxury. “You don’t want to spend all your money on flash,” says McCarty.
Quatern LLC, 100 American Metro Boulevard, Suite 202, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-584-2650; fax, 609-584-2651. Scott McCarty, CEO. www.quatern-global.com
Marcus Carr, vice president of research at Novo Nordisk Research U.S., opened a 10,000 square-foot laboratory at the Technology Center of New Jersey in North Brunswick. It represented the first real big-time research, outside of Denmark, for Novo Nordisk.
The location decision was based on proximity. “Forty percent of the world’s drugs are made right along this highway,” says Carr (U.S. 1, April 5, 2006). The company had already established its North American headquarters on College Road East.
Other decision factors included financing from the landlord, the New Jersey Economic Development authority, and proximity to a highly trained workforce and universities that could collaborate in R&D. “In just six weeks, we recruited the first 21 people, 14 of whom are PhD level researchers,” says Carr. The staff size has grown to 28 people and he expects to hire soon.
Though now focused on how clotting factors affect hemostasis (bleeding), Carr plans to expand to completely new areas by the end of 2007. What he has learned:
“The process of globalization, in a company growing at a fairly rapid rate, is always challenging, but I think we are meeting the task. Other parts of our biopharmaceutical research unit are in Denmark and China, and we are in the midst of carving out our own niche.”
“Realizing that, if you are in discovery, you have to be aware of what everyone else is doing, we are instituting a much more organized sourcing and scouting program for ideas and research.”
Novo Nordisk Research U.S. (NVO), 685 Route 1 South, Technology Center of New Jersey, Building 4, North Brunswick 08902; 732-214-1550; fax, 732-214-2499. Marcus Carr MD PhD. www.novonordisk-us.com
#h#Heed Your Hunches#/h#
When Ram Iyer was the subject of U.S. 1’s cover story on July 12, 2006, his consulting firm, Argea, occupied incubator space at 12 Roszel Road. In December he moved to a more prestigious spot, 2,400 square feet at 5 Vaughn Drive.
Argea helps managers determine what aspects of their businesses could profitably and pragmatically be done by outside vendors. The three-year-old firm just opened an office in Delhi, and its partners come from California, Wisconsin, Atlanta, and Hawaii to work in the Vaughn Drive space.
Iyer’s advice to other entrepreneurs: “Stick with what you believe in, and you can reap huge rewards.”
He explains: He had always believed that companies in the “middle market,” would be most affected by globalization. (Middle market is defined as companies with annual revenues between $100 million and $2 billion.) “No one believed me, but suddenly it has come to roost,” says Iyer, who is now writing a book on outsourcing for the middle market. “Our vision was more than two years ahead of the market.”
But how do you know if your hunch will pan out? “Surround yourself with people who have deep knowledge of the space,” says Iyer, who likes to cite the members of his prestigious board. Last week he added another one, Vishy Srinivasan, former managing director of location strategies for JP Morgan. “If they are sticking with the idea it can’t be that bad,” he says.
Argea Inc., 5 Vaughn Drive, Suite 101, Princeton 08540; 609-734-9100; fax, 609-228-4014. Ram Iyer, CEO. www.argea.com