Residents complain about effects of new business

By Nida Khan
Staff Writer

By Nida Khan
Staff Writer

MILLTOWN — A group of borough officials met last week with residents who have been complaining about a new restaurant supply business.

Borough Council President Gerard Cappella, Administrative Officer Thomas Bogdan and Business Administrator Richard Rydstrom met with residents of The Mill last Thursday evening to address concerns that the business, S.S.H., has been generating noise and creating other nuisance issues.

Residents told officials at the meeting that the business has been operating late into the evening, with trucks making deliveries and leaving their engines running idle for lengthy periods of time. The residents said the noise from the trucks and the business is intolerable.

"Operating a business with the amount of noise they have at 8, 9 at night is just unbearable," said resident Ellen Krant. "It’s almost like it’s a truck stop."

Bogdan said he had already spoken with the manager of S.S.H, Steven Mui, and that the company has been fined for violations, including littering, Bogdan said.

"We’re not simply ignoring the concerns of people," he said. "We understand the problems out there that we have to address, and we’re doing everything we can."

According to Bogdan, the company is allowed to operate under current zoning, and that the law does not place specific limitations on the hours of operation.

In addition to the noise levels, residents complained about pollution from trash dumping and instances of bad behavior from truck drivers.

Bogdan said S.S.H. is being issued cited regularly for individual violations such as littering. He was hoping to receive compliance from the representatives of the company, but said the matter will be taken to court again if necessary.

No representatives of S.S.H. were present at last week’s meeting at Borough Hall.

Cappella suggested that the business post a sign stating that all trucks must turn off their engines within 3 minutes of arrival.

Monday, there was a sign posted on the S.S.H. property that read: "Please turn off your engine, do not idle for more than ___ minutes," with no specific number posted at that time.

Mui said on Monday that he would like to work with borough officials in resolving any problems, and noted that he has been cooperative thus far.

"We try our best to lower the noise level, and cut down the working hours," he said.

Mui added that a sign posted at the exit of the business saying that all trucks must turn left only adds to the noise level as the trucks have to wait longer to make the left turn.

S.S.H. supplies equipment such as tables and chairs to restaurants.


Franchising workshop
scheduled for April 17

Business Franchising workshop scheduled for April 17

Franchising workshop
scheduled for April 17

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) Chapter 14 and Raritan Valley Community College, North Branch section of Branch, will co-sponsor a franchising and business-buying workshop from 7-9 p.m. on April 17 at the Fleet Bank Building, Franklin Boulevard, Somerset section of Franklin.

Instructor will be Jack Armstrong, president of Franchising Network of New Jersey.

Fee is $25 and includes materials and tuition. Each participant will receive a copy of the book Starting and Managing Your Own Business in New Jersey.

For more information and to register, call (908) 218-8871.

SCORE Chapter 14, a part of the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers free counseling to small businesses in Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon counties.

Prudential associates

earn national honors

Two Middlesex County sales associates from Prudential New Jersey Properties have been named to the company’s Chairman’s Circle and President’s Circle for 2002. The awards were presented during special ceremonies at the company’s annual sales convention held in Las Vegas in March.

The Chairman’s Circle Gold Award, which is given to the top 3 percent of sales associates, was awarded to Duke Chung of the East Brunswick office.

Prudential Real Estate Affiliates presents the President’s Circle Award to the top 5 percent of its residential sales professionals. This year’s recipient is Joan DeAngelis of the Metuchen office.

Deadline for LIHEAP extended to June 30

Gov. James E. McGreevey and Department of Human Services Commissioner Gwendolyn L. Harris have announced that the deadline to apply for grants from the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended from March 31 to June 30.

The program provides subsidies each winter to help low-income families pay for home heating costs.

Last year, New Jersey served approximately 125,000 households with funding of $64.9 million and an average benefit of $412.

For information on where to apply, New Jersey residents can call the Department of Community Affairs information line at (800) 510-3102.

Retail pro tells owners to go after ‘Over-44’ demo Speaker featured at Downtown New Jersey conference

Staff Writer

By clare marie celano

Retail pro tells owners
to go after ‘Over-44’ demo
Speaker featured at
Downtown New Jersey

Jon SchallertJon Schallert

There’s only one boss, and that’s the customer. That is the essence of a presentation given by Jon Schallert to an audience of guests who came to hear him speak on "Reinventing the Mom and Pop Concept" during the two-day Downtown New Jersey conference.

The conference, held June 12-13 at the American Hotel, Freehold, featured "field trips" around the borough and around Monmouth County, a bus tour, a home and garden tour of the borough, and workshops for participants.

Schallert, a nationally recognized retail expert, teaches business owners how to compete in today’s marketplace by adopting new business strategies. He told attendees that reinventing a "mom and pop" concept means they should think about how to make their business a "dominant destination."

"Business is so decidedly different today," Schallert said. "People will literally drive hundreds of miles for a specific item or product."

With humor and wit he referred to several examples of successful dominant destinations. One such business is Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Ore., which has four floors filled with every type of reading material. He said people will drive from almost anywhere to visit the store. Schallert also mentioned a general store which put itself on the map by selling candy from behind the longest candy counter in history — 116 feet.

"This is a high margin item that’s marked up at least four or five times. They don’t sell the candy by the pound either. They sell it by the piece," he said.

Schallert said the individual candies priced at 25 cents each ultimately rack up substantial profits.

"If you don’t turn yourself into a dominant destination, you are going to sink," he warned. "You are not your demographics."

Schallert told the attendees that today’s customer makes business operators "grovel."

"They’re pressed for time, and they never get what they want," he said, noting that the trends in business today will rewrite how business owners actually do sales.

According to Schallert’s statistics, today’s business owners should be marketing their merchandise to the nation’s largest group of consumers — adults over the age of 44. To do that, he said that business owners must only market certain things.

"People over 44 no longer buy because of a certain feature or benefit. They purchase something by intuition or memories," he said.

This over-44 generation of baby boomers is rapidly expanding, according to Schallert, who said the group is topping out at a record 22 million people.

"It’s like suddenly having the country of Canada move here," he said, laughing. "This generation of consumers buys with their hearts, and they are also the wealthiest group of people on the planet as well."

Although Schallert told audience members to "embrace all ages" in their marketing, he stressed the importance of the buying power of the "over 44" crowd. He also reported that people between the ages of 20 and 30 have had a drastic reduction in their population.

Emotional branding was next up on the agenda for the business owners.

"What is the emotion you want to come out of your company?" Schallert asked, adding that one must remain consistent in their emotional branding. "You need to tell prospective customers who you really are."

Advertising by word of mouth and first-person testimonials are two of Schallert’s favorite methods of increasing business. Referrals and telling a friend is another good strategy, he said.

Factors Schallert said should be taken into consideration when trying to transform a business into a dominant destination are items such as exterior signs and exterior glass decor. He suggested placing only the hours of the business and the type of charge cards accepted in the window. Too much in the way of sign advertising is distracting and will detract from selling the product, he said.

Having "non-selling" repeated contact at least four times establishes memory and a bond between a business and a customer, according to Schallert. He suggested thank-you cards as a way of establishing that bond.

"Send a card 48 hours after contact, another at one month, three months and finally at six months," he said.

In addition to marketing to a specific age group, Schallert advised conference attendees to increase their service to the point of extreme.

"Do the unnecessary, the unexpected and the undeserved," he suggested.

Citing an example of a one-hour cleaning service, he told the guests the business owner allowed customers to honk their car horn when they arrived and their cleaning would be brought to the car.

Another bit of advice was getting the staff of a business to cooperate and sing the praises of the business the same way the owner would.

In addition to Schallert’s presentation, Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, delivered the opening address to the two-day event. Gov. James McGreevey shared his thoughts with conference attendees on June 13.

Other highlights of the event included an interactive seminar which focused on using the arts as a mechanism for growth and featured a panel of people from the arts, as well as the Center Players theater group, conducting role-playing workshops and vignettes.

A tour of the borough highlighting its history took guests to the First Baptist Church, to the Court Street School and to the former Karagheusian rug mill, which once employed roughly half of the town’s workforce for more than 50 years. The former mill at Jackson and Center streets has recently been converted to a residential and commercial use structure.

A second tour, according to Jayne Carr, director of the Freehold Center Partnership, which hosted the conference, took participants to other towns that are in the process of revitalization. Asbury Park and Long Branch were destinations for the guests.