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These articles by Melinda Sherwood and Teena Chandy were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 16, 1999.
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Selling Our Heritage
For all the differences that exist between Princeton
and Trenton, the two towns have this much in common: neither has a
well-defined plan for drawing tourists. This is a naive mistake, says
Peggy Wall, president and CEO of the Annapolis Conference and
Visitors Bureau. "If the tourist business is doing well, everyone’s
business is lifted," she says.
Heritage tourism, which draws in the babyboomer generation, is among
the most lucrative areas of tourism. "Babyboomers are the most-traveled
segment of the population," Wall says. "They’ve been traveling
all their lives. They want experience and education and they want
to be able to find it without working hard because they have little
time to do it in," she says.
"Heritage Tourism: There’s money in our history," will be
the topic at the Mercer County chamber on Thursday, June 17, at 11
a.m. at the Trenton Country Club. Wall will share her experience coordinating
a large-scale, successful effort between business and historical groups
to revitalize the Annapolis economy. Cost: $30. Call 609-393-4143.
Wall, a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, earned a BA in political
science from Catholic University and a master’s in urban and regional
planning from Cornell. Before moving to Annapolis, she created and
operated the Inn at Sunderland, a 10-room bed and breakfast in Vermont.
Since joining the Annapolis Visitors Bureau in 1993, she has expanded
the annual budget from $170,000 to $1 million.
Most of the new income came from increased hotel taxes, which Wall
says hotel owners all supported. "Hotels actually asked to have
the lodging tax increase on the premise that one half of the increase
would go to the bureau," she says. It was viewed as an investment
that was sure to pay off.
There are 7,500 hotel rooms in the Annapolis area. In Trenton there
are none. Wall works with a staff of eight and dedicates a large effort
to marketing and destination sales. Trenton has a two-person staff
and a brochure.
Princeton has no organization dedicated solely to coordinating tourism.
Ramar Inc., a private event and party planning firm at 179 Nassau
Street, is the acting Princeton Visitors Bureau. It mainly siphons
calls to the Princeton Chamber, which distributes brochures.
"My understanding is that there are resources and history there
and nobody is working together and identifying themes," Wall says.
The absence of a hotel in Trenton is an anathema to her. "I was
very surprised to hear that there was no hotel," she says. "The
greatest single addition to the economic impact is to make a person’s
stay longer. You’ve invested in someone to get them there one day,
and it costs less to keep them there on the second day."
Local businesses need to team up with historical and cultural organizations,
says Wall. For businesses who want to get off to a start, she suggests
says Wall, and form partnerships. When you’re ready, take it one step
further: coordinate strategic hours of opening and closing and set
pre-paid prices — anything to make it easier for the tourist.
on the storefront as well.
to spread the word about your business — both in print and on
tourists think: `I don’t have to work to go to Mercer County because
Mercer County wants me to come. They’ve made my decision for me.’"
Whether you believe Mercer County has something to offer tourists
is hardly the point. As Wall puts it: "Palm Springs markets the
desert so I guess anything can be sold."
You won’t find it in a hotel room drawer, but "Business
@ The Speed of Thought" (Warner Books, 1999), the best-selling
book by Bill Gates, is rapidly becoming the bible of business.
Gates himself has already become a sort of Information Age prophet,
whose vision of business in the 21st century is affecting CEOs, entrepreneurs,
and consultants like Henry Lubas, director of Amper Consulting.
"I say it’s a bible only because everyone thinks Gates is the
definitive authority on technology," he says. "He’s proposing
uses of technology that are right on."
Lubas will discuss some of those concepts in "Implementing a Digital
Nervous System" on Thursday, June 24, at 8:30 a.m. at Pine Manor
in Edison. The sermon is free. Call Amper Consulting at 732-287-7849.
Lubas received a BS in accounting/computer science at Boston College
in 1981 before joining Arthur Young (of Ernst & Young) as one of the
first computer auditors. He is a CPA and received an MBA from New
York University in 1991. Before joining Amper — a division of
Amper, Politziner & Mattia — he worked for Pfizer.
The crucial relationship between business and technology was obvious
to Lubas early on. "The biggest reason I went into computers was
because I was interested in using technology as a competitive weapon.
It was something I heard about in 1984: using technology in innovative
ways to give companies true competitive advantage," he says.
Only in the past few years, Lubas says, have conditions been ripe
for a full-blown technological revolution. "A lot of companies
are striving to use technology but the problem is that historically
it’s been too expensive to deliver," he says. "Now it’s cheaper.
Software applications are more powerful and are cost effective. Even
small businesses can use it to garner competitive advantages. Gates’
book highlights a lot of the opportunities out there."
As Gates writes: "In many companies the middle managers can be
overwhelmed by day-to-day problems and not have information they need
to fix them. They may have reams of data in front of them — literally
reams of paper reports — that are difficult to analyze or correlate
with data in other reports. A sign of a good digital nervous system
is that you have middle managers empowered by the flow of specific,
actionable information. They should be seeing their sales numbers,
expense breakdowns, vendor and contractor costs, and the status of
major projects online, in a form that invites analysis as well as
coordination with other people."
If you want fulfill the Gatesian vision, Lubas suggests doing the
goals and a complete inventory of your company’s strengths and weaknesses.
first determine whether its problem pertains to software issues, infrastructure
or hardware needs. "We’ll get into a company that says `I need
accounting software,’ and we’re hesitant to do that until we get into
a real sense of where the company is headed," Lubas says.
can do is make decisions without consulting the people whose lives
you’re affecting," Lubas says. "You want people to buy into
the concept, or a lot of times you end up with failed projects."
The earlier you get people involved in the transition to digital,
the better off you are, he says.
In fact, involving employees is crucial. After all, the Information
Age is essentially about converting human intelligence to artificial
intelligence. "The concept of Business @ The Speed of Thought
is to use technology that will replace what was usually done by human
thought," says Lubas.
This may have "worker displacement" written all over it, but
Lubas assures us that there will be plenty of room for everyone in
the 21st century economy. People who were previously involved in processing
transactions, he says, will now become "value-added" members
of the organization. "Instead of circling invoices that need to
be shipped out, now you have tools at your disposal to spot trends
and analyze," he says. "Businesses need to adapt new technology
and individuals need to adapt."
— Melinda Sherwood
The global business environment has never been better,
says Beverly Pegnato of Pegnato International. "Trade agreements
like the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the WTO (World
Trade Organization) have brought down a lot of trade barriers, and
trade blocks like the European Union have made it easier for companies
to make an entry into foreign markets."
Foreign companies are not ignoring America either, says Pegnato. "This
is a great place, a huge market, and their entry has increased the
competition within America. If you’re not part of the global village,
you won’t survive." Many start-up American companies even find
it more profitable to enter European markets first, says Pegnato.
"It really depends on your product. Right from the initial stages
you should spend some time and energy exploring the possibilities
of doing business outside the country." Pegnato will conduct the
workshop, "Are You Competing or Just Participating in Exports,"
on Tuesday, June 22, at 10 a.m. at the Business Owners Institute in
Bridgewater. The workshop is free. Call 908-526-1500.
Pegnato majored in accounting at Rutgers University, Class of 1977,
and has been managing international business and finance for more
than two decades both in the U.S. and abroad. Five years ago in Nutley
she founded her consulting company to help businesses develop export
The United States government and foreign governments offer many incentives
for foreign trade that companies do not take advantage of, says Pegnato.
"The tax incentives for export businesses sponsored by the Department
of Commerce put into law in 1984 helps small businesses make more
money by paying fewer taxes." Foreign governments encourage investors
with incentives like the value added tax, which help you recover a
percentage — from 8 percent to 25 percent — of the money you
invest, says Pegnato. "For example if you go to Germany to do
a trade show and spend $100,000, you can recover about $15,000, which
is a significant amount of money."
At the workshop Pegnato will focus on market opportunities; financial
issues, such as pricing, foreign exchange, and tax-related issues;
and regulatory issues, including customs, local laws, and labor issues.
"Each of these issues are interdependent and each of them would
impact each other," says Pegnato. "You have to do the research
to find out if your widget has a market in that country, you have
to make a price for it so you can make a profit, and then you have
to deal with the regulatory issues to get your widget in there."
Approaches differ. A low-risk method would be to go through an export
management company or an export trading company, but this method has
low rewards, says Pegnato. "You don’t encounter the foreign buyer
or market directly, which reduces risk, but your lack of market intelligence
and market knowledge also precludes you from expanding and exploring
the full potential of that market."
On the other hand, says Pegnato, "you have multinational companies
that do their purchasing in one country, manufacturing in another,
warehousing in yet another country, and selling into a totally different
country. It is a complex business arrangement fraught with high risks,
but the rewards can be very high."
Pegnato will also cover foreign exchange issues. "You can lose
out on a good market opportunity by not being foreign exchange smart,"
says Pegnato. American companies may have to deal with currencies
other than the dollar to gain entry into new markets. "There are
ways you can capitalize on issues related to foreign exchange. When
you are dealing with a foreign buyer you have to understand what side
of the table the risk is on and develop strategies to manage the risk
Doing business in Europe became much easier after the formation of
the European Union, says Pegnato. "Before the EU you had to deal
with each and every country’s rules. Now if you have entered one country,
you have entered every country." There are differences in each
country, she adds, "but there has been a real push to harmonize,
normalize, and simplify rules and regulations. The Euro will allow
countries to function in one currency, and things you had to do 10
times, you will only have to do once."
Pegnato encourages businesses to consider expanding internationally.
"But plan, plan, plan before you do. Do as much research before
you invest, or you might find yourself in a deep dark hole." People
who have experience in exporting can be wonderful resources, says
Pegnato. "There is a wealth of information here in the U.S., both
from governmental and non-governmental sources."
Do not underestimate your foreign counterparts, and do not ignore
the cultural impact, cautions Pegnato. "Just because they don’t
speak English does not mean they do not have the ability to do business.
Culture cannot be easily analyzed or categorized, it is far more pervasive
and underlined and affects everything from the way you do business
to the relationships that you form."
Culture is embedded in laws and mores, and it forms part of the fabric
of a country’s legal system, says Pegnato. "For example, biotechnology
products have a tough time making an entry in Europe. A lot of Europe
has banned genetically engineered agricultural products because it
is contrary to their historical view of life."
Most American businesses seek out foreign distributors, and 70 to
80 percent of all initial relationships fail for cultural reasons,
says Pegnato. She cites the example of an American company that terminated
a longstanding relationship with a Japanese distributor and had to
face the consequences. The distributor took his case to the courts,
the finance ministry intervened, and the company could not export
any of its products to Japan until the problem was resolved.
"The American company thought they could change a long-standing
relationship just like that," says Pegnato. "You can do that
to a guy in Pennsylvania but it might not work in another country.
Americans are used to changing people or changing banks when they
feel like it but it is different in other countries," she says.
"You’re in it to do business, not to have legal problems, and
financial issues. You will run the risk of putting yourself out of
business if you do. If you are going to Japan to be a rabble rouser
that is different, but otherwise that is not your goal."
Be aware, and consider the culture of the country and translate that
into your business dealings with them, says Pegnato. "The American
perspective does not prevail all over the world. Think of that as
your premise and you will do well."
— Teena Chandy
Starting August 1, says Frederick F. Butler, businesses
can get energized in new ways. "There lots of ways to do new and
exciting things and save money on energy bills." Butler, a Democrat,
is the just-appointed commissioner of the Board of Public Utilities,
and he will speak to the Middlesex Chamber on Friday, June 18, at
8 a.m. at the DeVry Institute on Route 1 North.
In a panel entitled "Energy Deregulation: what will it mean for
you and your business," Butler will be joined by John S. Wisniewski,
an assemblyman from the 19th district, and John R. Murray, associate
director of facilities operations for Bristol-Myers Squibb. Murray
is also the energy council chairman of the New Jersey Business and
Industry Association. For $15 reservations, call 732-821-1700.
The New Jersey Builders Association will hear another take on energy
deregulation, this one from GPU Energy, on Thursday, June 17, at 7:30
p.m. at the Eatontown Sheraton. Frank Migneco, supervisor of
residential programs, will give a morning-long presentation on energy,
Y2k compliance, and new service issues. For the invited builder members,
the breakfast is free. Call Sharon Fullagar at 973-455-8389.
Only good things will happen with deregulation, says Butler: "Mandated
rate reductions will kick in on Saturday, August 1, exactly."
In Public Service Electric & Gas territory, all customers will get
a 5 percent reduction at 12:01 a.m. that day. Starting next year,
the first part of the gross receipts and franchise tax kicks in, and
that will add another 5 percent tax reduction. By year three of this
four-year transition period, the total rate reduction on public service
will go from 5 percent to 13.6 percent and then to 18.6 percent.
Everybody wants to compare energy changes to the telephone deregulation,
but that equates apples to oranges, insists Butler: "We are not
going to make the same mistakes again. It will be much more controlled."
to worry about arbitrary changing of a customer’s service without
permission. Slamming was and is a very big problem for telephone companies,
but the board is taking preemptive steps against it. "They would
be fined $10,000 per day, per slam," says Butler.
utility companies cannot operate without a state license. If they
misbehave, says Butler, "we can pull the license."
to telephone bills, says Butler.
worry that the pipeline will dry up, says Butler. The utility may
need to tighten its belt, "but it won’t come out of the charity
work. That is as much public relations for them as it is charity.
And a new societal benefits charge will be in the law."
The good news for the energy companies is that they will be able to
sell energy in the rest of New Jersey and will be allowed to offer
other competitive services, such as appliance repair contracts.
The bad news for the small contractor is that the energy firms are
now allowed to offer appliance repair contracts. "That is driving
some of the small contractors bananas, but hopefully the consumer
is better off," says Butler.
The good news for business clients is that they will be able to shop
for the energy. "They can purchase the kilowatt hours from whoever
can give the better price," says Butler, "or they can pay
more to get green energy. If enough people switch to green energy
we will all benefit. More windmills will go up. If a coal plant in
Pennsylvania sees its revenues down because people are using green
energy, maybe they will take one of their coal plants out of service."
A native of Linden, where his father was a purchasing agent and his
mother a legal secretary, Butler studied at Villanova, Class of 1968,
and has a master’s degree in international studies from Johns Hopkins.
He taught in the Washington, D.C., public schools, pursued PhD studies
in political science at Rutgers, directed capital budgeting for the
state treasury department, and taught at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute.
Along the way he has sung bass for Princeton Pro Musica, held elective
office in Dunellen and Plainsboro, and he is now vice chairman of
the Plainsboro planning board.
After 17 years on the staff of the New Jersey General Assembly Democratic
office, most recently as executive director, Butler announced his
resignation. Almost immediately, Governor Whitman put his name up
for the board job; he was nominated in February and sworn in on March.
"As a commissioner I am one of three decision makers, and it is
little less hectic," says Butler. "In the legislature we covered
A to Z, agriculture through zoos. I was staff. Now I have
Students seeking a masters degree in Business Administration
at the Rutgers Graduate School of Management have two new options
— E-commerce and Arts Management. "Electronic commerce is
a rapidly expanding field," says Howard Tuckman, dean. "Tomorrow’s
managers need to understand the technology of E-commerce, its potential
impact on the way business activities are managed, and apply traditional
management disciplines to it."
The new concentration in E-commerce requires course work in Internet
technology, and electronic commerce and marketing. A new course will
be offered next fall in the development of a virtual business.
"As the New Jersey Performing Arts Center broadens its own program,
the demand for well-trained arts managers has grown," says Pat
Kettenring, director of the school’s Business and the Arts Program.
"There simply aren’t enough qualified graduates to meet that demand."
The 12-credit concentration, the first of its kind in the state, is
for persons interested in a management career in the non-for-profit
sector of the performing and fine arts.
Other existing MBA concentrations include computers and information
systems, entrepreneurial management, finance, human resources management,
international business, marketing, professional accounting, and strategic
management. Call the Department of Management at 973-353-5656.
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