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Police’s Safety Program Aimed at Saving Children’s
Lives in Car Accidents Internet Market Research Firm Boosts
National Clientele, Yet Small Town Feel By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — What started out as a homebased research marketing firm has evolved into a division of Campbell, Calif.based Talk City, a national online marketing services company.
Talk City felt online market research was the perfect expansion to fit in with its services which included online event production, customized online community, customer support and customer service.
Research Connections has been a leader in Internetbased market research technologies. The rapidly growing company provides consumer and businesstobusiness custom research exclusively on the Web, to a range of blue chip and dot. com clients.
Amy J. Yoffie, a 17year resident of Westfield, founded Research Connections, Inc. in 1986, an online market research firm. Initially RCI conducted online focus groups through America On Line. Ms. Yoffie holds the title of Vice President and General Manager with Talk City.
Realizing the need for sufficient technology in order to conduct legitimate market research via Webbased surveys and focus groups, Ms. Yoffie gradually brought her company to the point where it was 100 percent Internetbased by 1998.
Rather than building panels of people to interview online as her competition was focused on, Ms. Yoffie built her technology base first “because you can’t get good research out of bad tools.” The Internet tools are utilized to generate the highest
quality data possible for RCI clients. It was not long after this time that RCI outgrew its space in Ms. Yoffie’s home and moved to the 400 block of Central Avenue between West Coast Video and a Gulf station.
By 1999, Ms. Yoffie started to look for capital to continue the growth of RCI at which point her company was discovered by Talk City executives. Talk City has sales divisions in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and New Yor k .
In announcing the acquisition of RCI, Talk City Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Peter Friedman said, “the integration of these two companies will result in the most rigorous primary market research on the Web.”
Upon the marriage of the two companies, the company leased a 7,100square foot second floor space on East Broad Street that was previously occupied by PaineWebber. Currently, RCI has 12 employees. The space is large enough for around 30 employees.
Ms. Yoffie wanted to keep the company in Westfield. She liked the town’s placement along the Raritan Valley Train Line and its location in Central New Jersey which enables the firm to attract employees from both Northern and Southern New Jersey.
RCI staff can easily meet clients in New York City and Philadelphia via train and other cities via Newark International Airport.
The town’s large assortment of stores and restaurants, Ms. Yoffie noted, also makes the town attractive to its workers.
“Not being in New York means my overhead is much less. My recruiting costs are also lower,” she explained.
RCI, which can be found on the Internet at www. researchconnections. com has trademarked a number of online research tools such as Focus Connect, which helps a company evaluate new advertising campaigns; and Random Web, technology which boosts survey participation and helps generate responses from a cross section of visitors to a particular Web site.
In her 18 years in market research, Ms. Yoffie has developed several innovative research tools such as computerized mall surveys not to mention her online focus groups.
“Being part of Talk City we have two sales people who are dedicated to selling our services as well as about 20 other sales people who sell across all of Talk City services,” she explained.
Talk City has four business units: market research, handled by Research Connections; the advertising network, talkcity. com, an online chat line which includes 2,000 moderators, and the community business segment, a service which helps companies with their Internet site infrastructure to ensure a regular stream
of traffic to the various corporatebased Internet chat rooms. The fourth business unit focuses on events. Talk City works behind the scenes on Internet chat sessions which are organized by major news organizations such as a live chat sessions on ABC and NBC. Talk City’s staff screen questions for content before they post it on the Internet. They also are involved with online events such as launch of Chrysler’s PT Cruiser.
Chrysler engineers, marketing and design executives were available to answer questions via a live Internet chat session moderated by Talk City.
Other clients of Talk City and RCI include Kraft, Sears, Procter & Gamble, Intel, Microsoft and a slew of large advertising agencies. RCI also subcontracts with other market research firms for online research projects.
“We’re in the right place and the right time because what is happening is a lot of companies don’t want to build a lot of this stuff themselves, Ms. Yoffie explained. “So essentially we are a company that is a subcontractor, in a sense, to companies that want to do something (such as research, online events Internet chat sessions).”
Democrats Plan Commemorative Plaque To Honor Deceased Surrogate Ann Conti
By BRIAN JOHNSON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
MOUNTAINSIDE – Plans are moving forward to honor the late Ann P. Conti, a Mountainside resident and longtime Union County Surrogate, with a commemorative area in the borough. Mrs. Conti died in July of 1999.
A public presentation was made to the Mountainside Borough Council Tuesday night by Louis Thomas, a resident of Mountainside and active member of the local Democratic Party. Mrs. Conti, who served more than 15 years as Surrogate, was a Democrat. She was elected four times to the post.
Mr. Thomas said the commemorative area will be located near the Mountainside Public Library, located off of New Providence Road, and the historic Hetfield House.
The Democratic party of Mountainside proposed to honor Mrs. Conti’s memory because, according to Mr. Thomas, “she was an out standing woman who never said ‘no’
to anybody and who was strictly nonpolitical.”
The idea to honor Mrs. Conti, Mr. Thomas explained, began with the planting of a tree in her memory. A nonpartisan committee that was set up to make the project a reality received approval from the Borough of Mountainside to proceed with its plans.
Soon after, the group was awarded a $1,000 contribution from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. A county architect was brought in to add plans for a bronze plaque mounted in stone, along with foliage and a bench. The planting of a 15foot white oak tree in her honor has also been proposed. The committee has said it is looking to raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for the project.
The memorial plaque will read: “In Memory of Ann P. Conti, for Dedication to Bettering the Lives of the People of Mountainside and the Mountainside and Union County Communities. Ann P. Conti, Surrogate of Union County, 1982 to 1999.”
Members of the committee include Mr. Thomas and Karen MacQueen,
members of the Mountainside Democratic Club; Borough Attorney John Post and Police Chief and Acting Borough Administrator James Debbie.
The council unanimously voted to approve the purchase a new planter bench in front of the Mountainside Community Pool entrance with the donation of $1,000 from the estate of former Fire Commissioner Layman Parrigin. Mountainside will pay the cost exceeding the amount of the gift.
On another matter, the council resolved to reduce the Community Game Room refundable security deposit from $100 to $75 and add a $75 refundable security deposit for the Community Room cleanup.
Officials announced that Mountainside is looking to equip its borough police cars with a life saving instrument for breathing called a defibrillator. Mayor Robert F. Viglianti noted that two lives were saved recently by the use of this instrument.
He said Mountainside is one of the first towns in New Jersey to have operated the device.
WESTFIELD — It is 9 a. m. Wednesday morning at the Union County Police Station and there is a line of cars that reaches out to North Avenue. The cars are stopping by for a free safety inspection that includes checking children’s car seats.
The police have inspected over 1,000 seats so far and the lines grow as word spreads about the program.
“Traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death for children ages 514 and a vast majority aren’t even wearing a seat belt,” Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan said.
Mr. Sullivan added that since educating parents can help save children’s lives, the county would continue to do the inspections. Mr. Sullivan made his remarks during a recent stop at the County Police Station in Westfield to see how the program was doing and to unveil a new mobile Child Safety Seat Inspection Station that will be visiting Union County Municipalities to perform child safety seat inspections.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Certified Child Passenger Safety Seat Technician conducts each inspection, checking the car seats for safety and to ensure the
seat fits properly inside the vehicle. He also checks to make sure the seat is not on a national recall list. If it is, he informs the family and offers to take the seat and destroy it. He also provides a safe car seat the family can use until they replace one that has not passed inspection. In addition, he makes sure that seats are provided for all children in the vehicle and are appropriate for each child’s age, height and weight.
“Ever so often, in my role as an elected official, a program is created that is so positive that it makes me stop and say job well done. This is one program that will save lives and that is one I can fully support,” Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Alexander Mirabella said.
Union County Freeholder Mary P. Ruotolo, a Westfield resident, said that she is happy to learn that the county destroys seats that they have taken from families, because of recall or defect, so they don’t end up at a garage sale or passed down to be used again.
“This is such a valuable service and I hope all residents with children take advantage of it,” Freeholder Ruotolo said.
“Recent figures show that 320,000 children have been injured and over 2,000 killed in car accidents. Most weren’t even wearing a seat belt. We have to work hard to make sure that those figures decrease and children are safely belted into approved car seats,” Freeholder Chester Holmes said.
“I was just amazed to learn that most families have safe car seats but the seats are not installed properly. I invite all our families to come and have their car seats inspected,” said Freeholder Deborah Scanlon.
The Car Seat Safety Inspection Program is conducted all day on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
For more information about the program, please call the County Police Department at (908) 6549800 and ask to speak to Lieutenant Jeff Foulks.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)