July 23, 2005

Some Things Money Can Buy

The Best Companies Group, out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has determined that the PMK Group of Cranford, an environmental engineering and consulting firm, is one of the 50 “Best Places to Work in NJ in 2005”.

The Best Companies Group appears to be one those consulting firms that offers business conferences complete with training seminars which are touted as a “must attend for corporate CEOs, Human Resources professionals” and the like. Typically costing over a thousand dollars per attendee, with a reduced price for early bird registrants, they describe themselves as “an exciting new initiative dedicated to finding and recognizing New Jersey’s Best Employers”.

To be considered for the honor as a “Best Place to Work”, an employer needs to complete an organizational inventory, the employees complete an anonymous survey then all of the data is analyzed, for a fee of course, and the results are published in a magazine and posted on the web site. It seems that congratulations are in order as PMK placed 21st in their category, of 50 companies with between 25 and 99 employees, it is unknown how many other companies applied.

Recently PMK found themselves in the spotlight once again as the result of certain campaign contributions made during the recent school board election in Union Township. According to an Election Law Enforcement Commission official they may have gone over the allowable limit which a corporation can make to a campaign. PMK gave the slate of incumbents $5,000 of the $14,000 which they spent on their successful reelection bid. PMK officials have said that the contributions had nothing to do with contracts that the firm has been awarded by the Union Township Board of Education. Further, PMK Board of Directors member James Johnston insists that “there never has been and never will be” a connection.

Besides Union Township, PMK has a steady stream of customers to include the municipalities of Linden, Cranford, and Hillside to name a few as well as just about every county in the state of New Jersey. In fact the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is currently getting ready to award a no bid contract to PMK within the next week or so and in the year 2004 alone the freeholders awarded $829,800 in environmentally related no bid contract work. Besides having money coming in on a regular basis they also have been dispensing it rather freely. According to NJElec, PMK has made contributions in the neighborhood of $185,000 to political entities on both sides of the aisle, and all over the state since October 2001.

PMK’s business reputation appears to be excellent, delivering what they promise with only one instance of a fine paid to a government entity, involving a piece of testing equipment and that appeared to be a genuine accident.

Why play the game seems to be the question.

Just as the fee to The Best Companies Group ensures a spot on the “A” list, these political contributions can be viewed as an insurance policy to guarantee future work. What a shame. The PMK Group should have been allowed to make it totally on their own by virtue of their good business practices then they would have been able to use the insurance “premiums” as donations to a good cause or two thus making them a Best Company in NJ to Work for not only in ’05, but ‘04,’03,’02 and ’01 as well.