Friday, February 12, 2016

Archive: June, 2009

POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 2:30 AM

Forget for a moment the lagging economic indicators, such as employment, and realize that conditions are better than they were eight months ago.

Disaster has not occurred.

I’m not ready to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner outside the Federal Reserve, because the job is not done and the bill has not come due.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 2:30 AM

Put two big pharmaceutical companies together and people notice, but two large benefits consulting firms …?

Well, I only noticed this billion-dollar deal because one of the consulting firms is Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby Inc., which was founded in Philadelphia in 1934.

Now based in Stamford, Conn., Towers Perrin is one of those “quiet giants” in Philadelphia business circles. It’s been a major tenant in the Centre Square office building at 1500 Market St. since 1975. And that office remains its biggest, employing 1,016 people, or 16 percent of its total workforce.

POSTED: Monday, June 29, 2009, 3:15 AM

Amid the too-evident wreckage of capitalism's "creative destruction," signs of business creation continue to show up.

Three new companies won acceptance last week to the business incubator at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business.

An annual competition for admittance to the incubator had already brought 32 companies under the roof of Drexel's Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship since 2003.

The center's Web site lists 15 current residents of the incubator, such as Renaissance Scientific L.L.C., a competition winner two years ago that is developing a microbe- and sperm-killing condom lubricant effective against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Some of the rest ultimately failed, and eight have hatched from incubation, said Baiada Center director Mark Loschiavo.

This year's winners are:

Stabiliz Orthopaedics, whose organizing team of M.B.A. students - including Doug Cerynik, the director of research in orthopedic surgery at Drexel's medical school - are developing bone fasteners using bio-absorbable materials;

Ranter, a social-networking tool that one of its principals, 27-year-old M.B.A. student Brad Welch, calls a "stripped down application" for texting groups through a cell phone chat window;, a new run at the concept of business-to-business Web portals.

Each won a modest pot of seed money - Stabiliz Orthopaedics got the most, at $12,000 - along with space in the incubator, and access to mentoring and other support services there.

While they're not ignoring the recession, "I don't see them moping around," Loschiavo said of denizens of the incubator.

"From the entrepreneurs' perspective, they see the economy as just one of the many variables that they have to deal with, . . . one more challenge to overcome," the director said.

"It's going to be more difficult to raise funds in this economy," said Brian Schneck, 24, the other principal of the Ranter texting tool. "The good thing, development costs these days are very low."

He and Welch expect to have a beta version of their would-be Twitter-killer in three months.

Mike Armstrong is away. Contact Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or

Reid Kanaley @ 3:15 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009, 3:15 AM

Brian Ruby doesn't want you to take this the wrong way, but the recession has been good to him - or at least to his high-tech startup company, so far.

"This has been the absolute best time for us," Ruby, 25, said yesterday before the ribbon-cutting at his nine-person firm, Carbon Nanoprobes Inc., on Phoenixville Pike in East Whiteland, Chester County.

Because of the recession, Ruby said, he's been able to cut deals "that a year and a half ago we never would have been able to afford, and nobody would have funded."

Reid Kanaley @ 3:15 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2009, 8:41 AM

Our annual look at the region's Top 100 businesses is out today and in many ways reflects the struggles firms have faced as the overall economy shuddered to a halt.

The report takes the measure of local businesses in several categories - market capitalization, CEO pay, employment, total return on investment - to provide snapshots of the corporate landscape from different angles.

A look at the list of companies ranked by total return (on Page 31 of the printed version of the special section, and at is revealing.

Total return is the growth or shrinkage of an investment, including dividends and changes in the company's share price.

By that measure, only a dozen of the 100 public companies on the list had positive results for the 12 months ended June 8.

And the top five provide examples of what it has taken in this harsh climate to impress investors:

1. Republic First Bancorp Inc., of Philadelphia,which is merging with the former Commerce Bank of Pennsylvania to become Metro Bank, returned 64.6 percent in the year ended June 8. The Metro Bank combination is backed by Commerce Bancorp Inc. founder Vernon Hill and led by former Commerce executives hoping to repeat the magic of the old Commerce's growth.

2. Dorman Products Inc., maker of 92,000 low-cost aftermarket auto parts, returned 50.4 percent. In an era that has seen new-car sales evaporate and automakers nationalized, the notion is that people increasingly need parts to patch up the old wagon.

(Philadelphia-based The Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack came in at No. 10. Though its one-year return was just 2.3 percent, it was one of the golden dozen.)

3. J&J Snack Foods Corp. is the maker of snacks including soft pretzels - one of the region's signature comfort foods. Its one-year return was 37.5 percent. (Another regional comfort food contenter, Tasty Baking Co. of Philadelphia, was No. 6 on our list.)

4 Lannett Co. Inc., a maker of generic drugs, returned 26.7 percent for the year ended June 8. In calendar year 2008, Lannett shares climbed 62 percent as the company added new products and consumerism and health-care providers sought low-cost drug alternatives.

5 Destination Maternity Corp., the maternity clothing retailer, returned 19.3 percent as investors figured babies might be more predictable than the economy.

Mike Armstrong is away. Contact Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or

Reid Kanaley @ 8:41 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2009, 2:30 AM

It’s not surprising that executives who once ran a health-care company called Leprechaun L.L.C. would pick an unusual name for their next venture.

But Blood, Sweat & Capital L.L.C.?

Daniel C. Lyons, one of the four partners in the new private-equity firm, said he wasn’t sure who actually came up with the whimsical name. It was the winner from a contest the partners held among their friends and associates.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 2:30 AM
Filed Under: Financial Services

After the Obama administration last week announced its plan to overhaul financial regulation, the Office of Thrift Supervision is living on borrowed time.

It’s the only one of several bank regulators that would be eliminated as part of an effort to create a new National Bank Supervisor. And the OTS has been criticized by legislators for lax examinations that led to the failure of IndyMac Bancorp Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc.

But the OTS continues to walk its beat and dish out some loan justice, as a small Burlington County savings bank knows full well.

POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2009, 2:30 AM
Filed Under: Management, workplace

College commencements are largely over, the graduation cards have been opened, and now the hard part:

Finding a job during a time of rising unemployment.

Last week, Campus Philly held what it called an Opportunity Fair on the St. Joseph’s University campus that attracted 825 grads to network and meet representatives from 45 companies that had openings for jobs or internships.

About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter