Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen Spring and Bart Jackson were prepared
for the October 22, 2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
High school students and their parents can learn about
the transfer programs that lead to a bachelor’s degree when Mercer
County Community College hosts an open house, "Planning for a
Four-Year Degree," on Wednesday, October 22, at 6 p.m. Call
for further information.
In addition to MCCC’s academic and transfer counselors, experts from
many of New Jersey’s four-year colleges present information. The open
house takes place in the college’s Student Center on the West Windsor
Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.
According to Carol Tosh, MCCC’s dean for enrollment services,
the college’s Dual Admissions Agreements provide students with the
opportunity to make a smooth transition to The College of New Jersey,
Montclair State, Rider University, Rutgers University, and the New
Jersey Institute of Technology. For students who are undecided about
where they plan to continue their education, Mercer maintains transfer
agreements with hundreds of four-year schools.
Representatives from the dual admissions colleges answer questions
about their schools and discuss how Mercer’s transfer students have
succeeded there. A panel including members of the MCCC admissions
and transfer offices present information on financial aid and
opportunities, and answer questions.
Seven area companies will be represented at New Jersey
Technology Council’s Growth Company Showcase on Thursday, October
23, at 8 a.m. at the Jersey City Hyatt. Greg Hanson, head of
technology banking at Wachovia Bank, gives the keynote. Cost: $75.
State Treasurer John McCormac discusses opportunities in an
afternoon meeting open only to angel investors, venture capitalists,
and investment bankers.
CEOs and CFOs of 30 regional public and private technology companies
make presentations. Princeton area participating companies include
Aereon Solutions and Quantiva at Princeton Forrestal Village; Barrier
Therapeutics at Overlook Center; Digital 5 at Quakerbridge Executive
Center; MicroDose Technologies on Route 1 North in Monmouth Junction;
StatementOne on Lenox Drive; and NanoOpto, a Somerset company with
technology developed at Princeton University.
A solid corporate vision is a wonderful tool. But
an eye on the ledger, it remains as airy as a fantasy without a bride.
Admittedly, the language of the ledger is strange to many and all
those numbers are off-putting to some. Yet the financial statement
has most of the information a business owner needs to determine just
how far he can reach and at what star he should be aiming.
Those seeking to gain sharper accounting translation skills will want
to attend "Using Your Financial Statements to Manage Your
on Thursday, October 23, at 11 a.m. at the Mercer County Conference
Center on the MCCC West Windsor Campus. Sherise Ritter, principal
of Hamilton-based accounting firm the Mount Ritter Group gives fiscal
advice to startups, established business owners, and investors. This
lecture is part of the day-long "Women in Business" seminar,
which begins at 8:30 a.m., and is sponsored by the College of New
Jersey’s Small Business Development Center and the New Jersey
of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO). Cost: $125. To register call
For a full list of speakers and further details, check the Mercer
Conference Center website at www.MCCC.org.
"Companies tend to be started by inventive entrepreneurs and
Ritter notes. "Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a feel
for numbers comes magically packaged among these other business
Using her own feel for numbers, Ritter has proved herself a valued
decision-guiding resource for owners and investors over the past two
decades. Born and bred in Hamilton, and still a Hamilton resident,
Ritter attended Rider University, graduating with a B.S. in business
and accounting. In l984, as a young CPA, Ritter joined the firm in
which she is now principal. It was then called Lee and Sexton.
in those days," she recalls, "business owners of surprisingly
successful companies would literally bring in their accounts in a
shoe box. Now, they bring the numbers in on a disk, but I’m not sure
there’s always a great deal more comprehension."
Today Ritter and the Mount Ritter Group have carved out a specialized
financial consulting niche, specializing in closely held companies,
yet their client list covers the full business spectrum. The main
education gap noted by the Mount Ritter Group lies in clients who
understand each spreadsheet, but cannot unite them for a full
picture. Like the old stereopticon, which photographed the same scene
twice at slightly different angles, each of several financial sheets
is required to gain a comprehensive picture of a company’s status
assets and liabilities on a given day. This essential tool gives an
accurate picture of your company’s immediate health. It also comes
in particularly handy when you want to determine just where you stand
after weathering a rough fiscal storm or after launching a new
But it is only a point on the chart of history. While it may provide
a viable voice at the planning table, it shouldn’t be the only voice.
flow over a given period, generally a quarter or a year. It displays
past activity and current trends. A summarized version of this goes
out each year to shareholders in public companies. On this sheet,
little facts come to light revealing exactly what it has taken to
get your company to where it is. Your earned income might show a great
boost in May, corresponding to an added operating expense in the
and wage column. Hiring those two seasonal sales people seems like
a sharp move. Now study the sheet. Did the income flow remain steady
after their short term contract ended? Do you need them back on full
of daily business dealings. Frequently, the income statement shows
simply the amount of cash that came to the table in, say, the past
fiscal year; the amount spent that year; and the resulting net profit.
While straightforward, the picture presented is not complete.
For example, many firms operate on the accrual method. When the
is delivered with an accompanying invoice for $50,000, that amount
is tallied under the income column, though the actual check may remain
"in the mail" for months. Additionally, in the changes of
cash flow statement, different uses of cash are separated out. That
new back hoe, which is generating income this year and beyond, is
not lumped in with the static operating expense budget, which merely
keeps the doors open.
too. Over 80 percent of those investing in publicly held companies
last year never looked at the annual report or any documentation
buying. Then they wonder in horror why their life savings plunge.
While there’s no such thing as guaranteed investment, Ritter insists
you can greatly enhance the odds by first giving your candidate a
little fiscal examination. Basically Ritter is a firm believer in
history. Study the sales line. Is the product itself consistent with
other high sales items in the market? Also have sales increased over
time? Is this a growing firm?
In matters of price, do more than check to make sure you are not
at the height of a stock’s historic range. Examine the price/earnings
ratio. Compare how this company’s financial values rate with industry
standards. Publications such as Moody’s and Standard and Poor have
the numbers already crunched for most publicly held firms, listed
by industry category.
Finally, Ritter advises, look within. Examine management. Do their
resumes display expertise at manipulating stock for the benefit of
senior management alone? How do they handle operating expenses?
firm that shows a $500,000 annual jump in operating expenses,"
says Ritter, "is probably not being run by capable people who
can control costs."
— Bart Jackson
Toward the end of the summer, Pat Fletcher’s
counselor at Lee Hecht Harrison told her that support groups for job
hunters in the Princeton area are getting crowded. The former Cyanamid
scientist was encouraged to form her own group, and she did.
The Career Networking Group, meeting on the fourth Tuesday of the
month, has its next session on Tuesday, October 28, at the First
Church of Ewing at 100 Scotch Road. There is no charge. Call
for more information.
Fletcher builds upon her own experience, along with outplacement
she received, in getting the group up and running. While it sounds
like the most tired of cliches, she says that the downsized people
she knows, and those she is meeting at her new group, tend to have
been comfortably employed at the same place for a long time —
10, or 15, or 20, or more years.
Despite all the press that rampant downsizing has received, these
terminated people never expected to be on the receiving end of a pink
slip. Few are prepared. Given the pressures of everyday life —
meeting deadlines, flying away on business, getting the kids to
and into college — this is hardly surprising. Managing the
routine is enough. Prudent preparation for job separation takes a
back seat. Until it happens.
Like other downsized professionals, Fletcher is seeing the world of
work with new eyes. Doubly so because her husband, Shahn, who also
worked at Cyanamid, was RIFed too. Their career directions were
altered by their employer. Their reaction, after considerable thought,
was to restructure their work lives to build in stability and cut
down on anxiety.
Fletcher, a West Trenton resident, studied biology at Trenton State
(Class of 1987). She joined Cyanamid not long after, working first
as a bench scientist and then running contract field studies. Her
expertise was in animal health and in crop health. Agriscience,
though, has largely left New Jersey, so she turned in another
after her layoff in 2001.
"I took a year to finish my business degree," she says. She
had been working on an MBA part time, but decided to attend Rider
full time in order to obtain the degree quickly. At one time, she
had considered going for a Ph.D., but she decided that the lifestyle
was too insecure. "This is just a real time of change in the
she says. "That’s the reason I decided not to go for the Ph.D.
You can still have a great career, but not stability."
Even Ph.Ds. are adding on an MBA, she has seen. The degree opens up
a host of management opportunities, but even the added flexibility
is no guarantee of employment, not now.
With jobs in agriscience neigh-on-to nonexistent in the Garden State,
Fletcher, the mother of Emma, a seven-year-old, signed on for a long
commute — to Nutley — to take on a contract job in human
R&D with Roche. "It was a little tough on the family," she
says, "but it was a nice transition. I wanted human health."
The contract ended just as summer was beginning. She took the summer
off, and is again looking for work in the pharmaceutical industry.
Meanwhile, her husband is launched on a far more extreme career
A chemist specializing in crop health studies, he had worked his way
up to more and more responsible positions during his 12 years with
Cyanamid. Downsized one year after his wife lost her job, he faced
an even greater quandary. He had not completed his college degree,
and while that was not a bar to advancement with Cyanamid, he knew
that it would make it extremely difficult for him to get a similar
job elsewhere in a tightening labor market.
He did some "serious soul searching," according to his wife,
weighing not only what kind of career he wanted to have, but also
about what kind of life both of them wanted for their family. His
solution: a career as a plumber.
Blue collar jobs are way out of vogue, Fletcher realizes, and she
is positively gleeful about the fact that most Central Jersey folks
relentlessly push their young toward four-year colleges. Few
means more work for those who enter the trades, she figures.
Shahn Fletcher, now an apprentice in Union 9, explored plumbing as
a career possibility by taking evening courses at Mercer County
College. There he found that the basic task a plumber faces —
analyzing a problem — is very similar to the work he enjoyed at
Cyanamid. He did well in his coursework, and with encouragement from
his teacher, pursued the union’s application and screening process.
He will be an apprentice, earning approximately 50 percent the rate
of pay for a master plumber, for five years. After that, says
"the sky’s the limit." Her husband is thinking ahead both
to owning his own business and to the possibility of teaching.
he loves his work, which, she reports with tremendous relief, provides
benefits for their family.
But benefits and the prospect of hefty earning power
are not the main reasons that Fletcher is delighted with her husband’s
choice. "We’ve balanced our career portfolio," she says.
The couple wants more children, and is expecting to adopt a child
from Korea within the year. Two parents in pharmaceutical jobs can
make family life difficult, especially now. Fletcher says increased
competition in the industry translates into long, unpredictable hours
for R&D employees.
"It’s very hard to plan ahead," she says. "You end up
flying by the seat of your pants to meet strategic deadlines. If
at the bench, you can’t project where your project will go. Things
happen that you can’t predict. It ends up being your life. You have
to give up a lot of social life and family life to do well at
The rigors are bad enough when one parent is involved, but maintaining
the routine of family life can get impossibly difficult when both
parents live by the ups and downs of a promising drug compound.
Beyond the long, unpredictable hours, there is now a constant anxiety
over job loss. With a career in plumbing, Fletcher figures her husband
will never have to worry about having work again. After having done
through a dual lay-off, she says this peace of mind is incalculable.
"It’s relieved tremendous stress from our shoulders," she
says. "When your job is not secure, there is background noise
every day sucking your energy away. Not to have to worry about it
With steady income flowing into her home once again, Fletcher is
energy into finding another pharmaceutical job and getting the new
networking group going. Even after a decade and a half in the industry
and with a new MBA to her credit, Fletcher knows her job search will
not be easy. She and her husband have stayed in close contact with
about 20 to 30 of their former Cyanamid clients. Some accepted jobs
in other states with BASF, which acquired parts of the company. Many
made the switch from agricultural science to pharmaceutical science.
Others moved into other careers, including teaching. Some older
seeing little future in the industry, opted for retirement.
Drawing on her friends’ experiences, as well as her own, Fletcher
offers these networking suggestions.
that are repeated constantly, this one tends to be ignored. "If
you’re sheltered in a company, you don’t know what networking
she says. This was the case with her, and with her co-workers. They
had plenty of notice that Cyanamid would likely be downsizing, but
"were in denial." Little time was spent building outside
as the end approached, and little time had been spent on networking
during years — or decades — at the company.
"I had never networked," says Fletcher. "I had my nose
to the grindstone. I realized that I had done myself a
into a networking group made up of people of a variety of ages from
a number of occupations. This diversity, she points out, means that
people can freely share contacts and leads without worrying about
protecting their own job prospects.
one Fletcher is starting provide "a safe place for people to go
to practice interview skills." When she first began outplacement,
Fletcher was shy about presenting herself to strangers. It is hard
to believe that now. She comes across as confident and unusually
and she credits networking practice in a safe arena for the change.
she points out, is all about rejection. Spend a little time at it,
and you begin to believe that no one would want someone like you.
Networking with a group reassured her that "my background has
Networking among friends, while productive, felt to Fletcher like
imposing. Sharing leads with a group of job seekers, on the other
hand, was nothing but positive.
it was all too easy to become discouraged about the difficulty of
finding a job. She was encouraged to think of the hunt as a project.
"It made immediate sense to me," she says. She realized that
a job search is very much like the work she — and most
— do. It is a project, and it has to be managed logically.
"The best thing you can do," she says, "is to give
afraid to even worry about, Fletcher is emerging from the termination
of both bread earners’ incomes with a whole new perspective on the
world of work. Priorities reassessed, and portfolio rebalanced, she
is ready to move ahead.
Business owners and the supervisors they hire need to
be careful not to let harassment into the workplace. How careful?
"Extremely careful," says Patrick Collins, head of the
labor and employment group at the Somerville law firm, Norris
& Marcus. Vigilance is essential, but it is not enough. A new court
ruling mandates proactive anti-harassment measures as well. This is
an issue for companies of all sizes. Collins points out that even
small companies, even companies with only one employee, can be sued
over harassment claims. Penalties, he says, "can be
Collins gives a free talk on "Anti-Harassment Training in the
Workplace: What Every Employer Needs to Know" on Wednesday,
29, at 8 a.m. at the Raritan Valley Country Club. Call Cathy Wolfe
at 609-722-0700, ext. 251, for more information.
Collins has been advising and representing employers and managers
for most of his adult life. This makes for interesting conversation
during family get togethers. "My mother was president of her union
local," he says, "and my father worked 30 years — almost
40 years — at Johns Manville."
Feeling no twinges of conscience for representing management —
even in union matters — Collins points out that new protections,
including whistleblower statues and anti-discrimination laws, didn’t
exist when his parents were working.
A graduate of Glassboro State (Class of 1979) who holds a J.D. from
Seton Hall, he clerked for an appellate judge for a year, and then
signed on with Norris McLaughlin, where he gravitated to labor law.
His only other job, aside from summers at Johns Manville, was
burgers during college."
In New Jersey, anti-harassment laws cover every protected class. Gays,
older workers, women, people with disabilities, members of minority
groups — nearly everyone in the workplace is protected one way
or another. What’s more, Collins says, an important consideration
for employers is that they can be liable for creating a hostile
even if offensive language or conduct is not aimed at anyone in
If an employee finds continual disparaging jokes about gays or
handicapped people or Armenians offensive, he can sue despite the
fact that he may not be gay, mentally handicapped, or Armenian.
gives the example of a man who emerges from his cubicle every day
to read from his Dirty Joke of the Day calendar. A woman sitting in
the corner, just barely within the calendar guy’s line of sight, could
sue for sexual harassment. Likewise, an employee with a gay brother
or a Japanese wife might take offense at negative comments about gays
or Asians, and despite the fact that no one was directing comments
at him, or even knew about his brother’s sexual orientation or his
wife’s ethnicity, could sue.
In many cases of harassment, a supervisor targets an underling, or
a group of underlings. These cases have always substantially exposed
the employer because the supervisor’s job is to act for the employer.
Cases involving one employee harassing another, however, were often
explained away by an employer’s statement that he knew nothing about
the conduct. Then last year the New Jersey Supreme Court, in Gaines
V. Bellino, ruled that an employer could not use this defense unless
he could show that he had provided anti-harassment training for his
If an employer needed an incentive to put an anti-harassment program
into play, this ruling certainly provides it. Here is Collins’ advice
on creating a harassment-free workplace:
about sending off an offensive joke or a profanity-laced response
to an E-mail," Collins observes. The girlie calendars have been
taken down from most office walls. The ethnic jokester’s water cooler
performances have been canceled. The gay basher has been silenced.
But while overtly offensive language and behavior is less in evidence
in most workplaces, off-color E-mails are flying through office
Employers must set up policies for office E-mail use that make it
clear that offensive language has no place in this office
Otherwise, the meek guy who takes pain to offer no offense to anyone
he encounters in office halls may well think nothing of letting loose
on the keyboard. "People are unbelievably careless," says
Collins. "They think that when you hit `delete’ the record is
The record most certainly is not gone. It sits waiting to bite its
When a supervisor is accused of harassment, his accuser’s attorney
will ask to see all of the E-mail he has sent. The missives may have
been intended only for the eyes of his college roommate on the West
Coast, says Collins, but suddenly, they can be evidence against him.
"He may be saying `I’m a perfect gentleman,’" says Collins.
He may be saying his accuser is crazy, that she is a gold digger.
But E-mails full of four-letter words and sexual jokes will strengthen
the case against him — and against his employer.
Chances are that the employer had never chanced upon an offensive
E-mail sent by the accused, but it doesn’t necessarily matter. It
may be enough that the behavior went on during work hours on work
equipment. An employer who can show, however, that he has promulgated
rules on E-mail use, and that he enforces them, puts himself in a
more favorable light.
superiors may get used to walking in on the noise, and it may seem
harmless enough. But Collins has seen cases where employees discerned
a pattern in the in-your-face management style. In their view, the
supervisor’s shouting was directly largely at women or at Asians or
at Jews. The yeller was setting himself up for a harassment suit.
relates, a black female Nordstrom’s employee accused two white males
of harassing her. "It went on for a long time, and she didn’t
tell anybody," he says. Finally, the woman snapped, and reported
the pair to HR. They were promptly fired.
The woman sued. Nordstrom’s defense was that it had an anti-harassment
policy, it had told employees to report harassment, it had told them
to whom they should report it, and it had done a prompt and thorough
"The court," says Collins, "said `you’re right.’"
when a new employee joins a long-established group. His co-workers,
perhaps of different ethnicity or sharing a different religion, may
freeze him out. If this newcomer receives a negative review, he may
be inclined to sue, stating that his poor job performance was the
result of a hostile work environment.
situation that gives rise to claims of harassment involves the
sent out to the loading dock to deliver a message. If the loading
dock crew is has cultivated a "just us guys" culture, complete
with sexual innuendo, they may behave in ways the lone visiting female
may find offensive.
a number of defendants have protested that they were "just joking
around." It absolutely doesn’t matter. Says Collins, "The
gee-I-was-only-kidding defense doesn’t work. The intent of the
is completely ignored in the analysis."
training sessions. Supervisors taking the classes sit up straighter
when he lets them know that they can be individually liable for
The knowledge that their savings and homes are on the line is a
incentive for them to keep their departments harassment-free.
harassment, says Collins, are "the biggest nightmare a company
can face." The courts have "incredible equitable power,"
he says. They can award lost pay and can force a company to rehire
an employee. It doesn’t matter if another person has been hired in
the meantime. That person may have to be bumped.
In addition, the courts can assess both compensatory damages and
damages. If the plaintiff wins, his company ends up paying his legal
fees, as well as its own legal tab. "We’re seeing seven-figure
awards," says Collins.
As crippling as the monetary awards may be, the damage doesn’t stop
there. "These cases are enormously time consuming," he says.
They’re also "extremely emotional," and do nothing to improve
they can to keep harassment claims at bay will draft anti-harassment
policies and procedures, and will provide anti-harassment training.
But that is just the easy part, says Collins. "The employer and
the managers set the example," he says. "They have to walk
The New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of
Industrial and Office Properties (NJ-NAIOP) hosts a seminar on the
Smart Growth debate, "Regional v. Home Rule: What is Our
on Wednesday, October 29, at 8 a.m. at the Woodbridge Hilton in
Cost: $65. Call 201-998-1421.
Bradley Campbell, commissioner of the New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection, moderates. Speakers include John
chair of the Somerset Regional Center Partnership, and president of
Title Central; Barbara Lawrence, executive director of New Jersey
Future; Mimi Letz, mayor of Parsippany-Troy Hills Township;
Robin Murray, deputy director of the Office of Smart Growth,
Dennis Toft, partner and head of the Environmental Department
of Wolff & Samson; and Eric Witmondt, CEO of Woodmont Properties.
management, where the decision-making authority should lie, and its
long-term implications. The speakers offer their opinions on the many
pending legislative and regulatory initiatives along with their impact
on the public at large and the real estate community.
Eric Kandel, Nobel Laureate in medicine, gives
a free talk on "Molecular Mechanisms for the Establishment and
Perpetuation of Memory Storage" on Wednesday, October 29, at 4:30
p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the Institute for Advanced
Study. Call 609-734-8037 for more information.
Kandel is a professor at Columbia University’s Center for Neurobiology
and Behavior and senior investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute. His 2000 Nobel Prize, shared with A. Carlsson and P.
was for "discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous
Kandel plans to discuss a general molecular mechanism, which emerged
from studies of sea slugs and mice, "whereby a transient
memory is converted into a stable, self-maintained, long-term
Shapes USA at Southfield Shopping Center in West
Windsor, sponsored a 10-woman team for the Komen Race for the Cure
on Sunday, October 19. Members of the fitness and nutrition club have
raised more than $1,000 in donations toward breast cancer research
from merchants in the shopping center as well as from friends and
and Office Properties selected the city of Asbury Park for its
fourth annual Community Service Day, this Wednesday, October 22.
has formed a partnership with the city, the NJ Department of Community
Affairs’ Adopt-A-Neighborhood Program, the New Jersey Department of
Corrections, and Interfaith Neighbors to refurbish the West Side
The partnership was scheduled to construct a tot lot, renovate a
and add landscaping and other improvements.
Co-chairs for this year’s event are Bob Klausner of the Shultz
and Russ Tepper of Matrix Development.
Only 5 percent of eligible Americans give blood. As
a result of the growth and aging of the population and with medical
advances requiring more blood for advanced cancer treatments,
and traumas, demand for blood products is growing at a much greater
rate than supply. In response, the Red Cross has launched one
of the largest initiatives in its history, a national campaign to
encourage regular blood donation.
On Monday, October 27, the Save A Life Tour 2003 comes to Red Cross
headquarters at 707 Alexander Road. This visit coincides with the
grand opening of the region’s first and only automated Blood Donor
Center, at this location. It is open to visitors from 3 p.m. through
7 p.m. on the day of the tour.
The Blood Donation Center optimizes blood donations through automation
and a more consistent donation schedule. A donor can either donate
whole blood or blood components through automation. After a whole
blood donation a unit is separated into its three main components:
red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Barring automation, it takes
six different whole blood donors to produce one unit of transfusable
Through automated donation, a donor is able to donate the components
needed by patients. For example, full units of all three components
or larger units of certain components can be collected.
The Blood Donor Center will have regular hours during the week and
on weekends. Call 1-800-Give-Life to schedule an appointment. In
to an ongoing need for donors, the Blood Donor Center is seeking
Corrections or additions?
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