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Southern comforts Companies talk about advantages afforded by not being in tightly packed North Jersey

By , - Last modified: August 29, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Riggins Oil opened its doors in Vineland back in 1926, selling coal and animal feed out of a small, two-room office on South Main Road.

Nearly 90 years later, the company has grown (24) but never moved, and that location has become one of the company's strongest assets.

“We know South Jersey really, really well,” said Paul Riggins, CEO. “That has a great effect in your business, because you know the countryside. You know the area. You know the people. You know the governments you're dealing with. And North Jersey's just a different place.”

Many of the state's leading companies are based in Central and North Jersey. But South Jersey isn't a no man's land when it comes to business.

As Riggins expanded beyond coal and feed and into petroleum distribution, the company began converting nearby warehouses into office space, Riggins said. It opened a string of 26 gas stations in southern New Jersey and took advantage of Route 55, which was built just a quarter-mile from company headquarters in the 1970s.

The roadway offered more direct access to suppliers and distribution points without the road congestion and infrastructure problems that often plague the northern part of the state, he said.
Meanwhile, access to talent has kept media buying agency Compas Inc. (43) in South Jersey for more than 20 years.

“A lot of people literally commuted from the Philadelphia suburbs to New York every day,” said Stan Woodland, CEO and founder. “So we could attract a lot of talent and dramatically reduce their commute.”

The Pennsauken company specializes in media planning and purchasing for companies in the health care sector. Proximity to major companies in the field is another perk of Compas' location, Woodland added.: “The corridor of pharmaceuticals was right down our alley, and southern Jersey was very convenient to servicing them all,” he said.

Compas has a sister company, Communications Media Inc., with offices in Philadelphia and Manhattan, Woodland said, so he is well aware of the benefits of a major metropolitan presence. But he said he never considered moving Compas to a big city.

“We have clients literally all over the country, and we go to where they are,” Woodland said. Location is “becoming more and more flexible in the workplace, and more and more flexible in servicing clients, as well,” he said.

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