In the first of a series of feature articles about the tech business climate in New Jersey, NJTechWeekly.com contacted Arun Verma, president and CEO of Data Inc., Montvale, N.J., and the company’s VP of Operations, Conrad Leao.
Privately held, Data Inc. is an IT solutions and services provider, supporting Fortune 500 clients across North America, Europe and Asia. The company says it expends considerable resources to understand its clients and their business needs before embarking on designing and developing customized technical solutions.
Recently CEO Verma was named a 2011 Ernst & Young NJ Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist. Here are their combined answers to our questions.
Data Inc. has been quite successful as a company headquartered here in N.J. What are the pros and cons, the good things and the bad, about being located here?
The state of New Jersey is unique, with its close proximity to city centers and a mix of industry verticals. Where else can you travel two hours from one city center to another and encounter Fortune financial clients, life science organizations, supply chain companies and other innovative organizations? Any company that does not have at least a presence in the state of New Jersey is missing out on quite a number of opportunities.
For Data Inc., it was simple. The company was established in 1983 as a part-time venture, … and when we expanded in the 90s, while maintaining a small office in New York City, locating and eventually owning a facility in northern New Jersey only made sense, given the geographic distribution of our clients at the time. We wanted to establish a beachhead for expansion locally and globally, and locating in New Jersey at the time made sense,… and expand is exactly what we did by commencing operations in the United Kingdom, India and Switzerland.
While we have realized myriad benefits from being located in New Jersey, we do see many different challenges. Regulations are still strict in New Jersey, and high taxes are also a burden.
While we maintain a debt-free operation and are secure with our client base, we do see our clients relocating their operations to more business-friendly states. This both provides us an opportunity for expansion into other markets and acts as a threat to us, with other, more local players in different geographies vying for a piece of the business, … thus increasing competition.
What does your company appreciate about the business climate in N.J., what do you think could be improved, and how?
While there are businesses relocating out of New Jersey, the climate for business opportunities has in fact improved, and it is all in how you work the opportunities you are provided. Hiring is up for our clients, and as a result of that, we find ourselves answering the call for more resources and potential project opportunities.
Our outlook is that the economy in general and the business climate for New Jersey in particular will continue to improve … despite some of the predictions out there. To that effect, we have stepped up our recruiting efforts for internal positions such as sales and recruiting, but in the end we are looking for the absolute right fit, … someone who can grow in their position and help the company grow. New Jersey definitely has a great pool of talent, but in the end we need people who can potentially fit in with our corporate culture.
New Jersey also benefits from having a vibrant array of associations and chambers of commerce dedicated to advancing business in the state of New Jersey. We have seen some great benefits from being a part of such organizations as the New Jersey Technology Council and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, which provide everything from business and partner networking to PR opportunities.
That said, while there are myriad benefits to being located in New Jersey, improvements can definitely be made on many different levels. The state needs, for one, to stop the exodus of businesses. As mentioned before, while the relocation of businesses poses an expansion opportunity for us, it also poses myriad challenges, … and on a more practical note reduces the amount of opportunities for local businesses such as ours.
Furthermore, it is no secret that New Jersey is a highly regulated state, and while the rules and regulations established in the past might have served their appropriate purposes, they now inhibit growth to a point where organizations are relocating away from the state, taking top talent with them. To that effect, state government needs to put the necessary mechanisms in place, whether relaxing taxes, rules and regulations or enhancing programs for small businesses, business incubation and education, to keep business and talent in the state.