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Rochester Top 100: Firm finds healthy growth in consulting work

Rochester Business Journal
September 13, 2013

As a consulting and market research firm focused on health care clients, KJT Group Inc. of Honeoye Falls aims for an optimal balance between academic and corporate approaches.
 
For corporations the bottom line is a top consideration, so companies tend to focus narrowly on sales, President and CEO Kenneth Tomaszewski said. Academics delve more deeply and often arrive at more precise analyses but often do not regard time as crucial.
 
Like other KJT Group consultants and researchers, Tomaszewski, who has taught as a University of Rochester adjunct, has worked in the corporate and academic worlds and sees virtues in both approaches.
 
In forming KJT Group, he sought to marry the academic and corporate in an approach that meets real-world deadlines but provides the breadth, depth and fine-tuned analysis of an academic.
 
Michaela Gascon, vice president of research, describes the firm's methods as holistic. The factors its research teams consider typically include how well a product or service meets or does not meet a market need or how a product should be priced. Methods its teams employ can include quantitative, statistical analyses or qualitative devices such as focus groups as well as a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures.
 
A former colleague of Tomaszewski's at Harris Interactive Inc., Gascon started at KJT Group in mid-2007, a few months after its founding, as Tomaszewski's first hire.
 
The firm is sometimes asked narrow questions that it can answer without going deeper, she said. But often answering a seemingly narrow question requires a broader analysis than one might at first assume. How a client firm's culture affects its decision-making or how it is perceived in its market could be part of the answer.
 
Because KJT Group works exclusively in health care, few of its projects require simple answers, Gascon said. As a rule, health care products or services are not commodities whose worth or effectiveness can be measured easily.
 
Since starting the firm, Tomaszewski has seen it grow from some $700,000 in revenues to more than $7 million while its staff has grown to 44 full-time workers.
 
It recently established a branch in the Netherlands and is working on a South Carolina office.
 
KJT Group serves clients ranging from biotech and pharmaceutical firms to medical device manufacturers. It also helps providers evaluate services through measures such as patient- and clinician-reported outcome surveys and chart audits.
 
It does a small amount of work for third-party payers, including Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
 
Tomaszewski sees KJT Group's ability to break down, analyze and answer complex questions efficiently as the key factor fueling its growth.
 
In health care, the ultimate value that products or services provide is more of a determinant of their marketability than consumer appeal, he said. Drugs or devices need to do what they are supposed to do.
 
As health care costs mushroom, Tomaszewski expects cost increasingly to become part of drug and medical device companies' marketability equation.
 
"You're already seeing it in pharma," he said.
 
In the United States, health care reform rules making quality measures a factor in setting provider payments partly are driving this trend.
 
While the Food and Drug Administration currently asks only whether drugs or medical devices are clinically effective and safe, he said, it will sooner or later add cost effectiveness as a criterion for approval.
 
European regulatory agencies already take cost into account, and in an increasingly global economy, the influence of a market as big as Europe affects standards worldwide, Gascon said.
 
"It's why it was so important for us to open the Amsterdam office," she said.
 
Tomaszewski expects continued growth for KJT Group, but he is not sure how big the company should get.
 
At its current size, he said, the company's teams can comfortably and efficiently apply the methods he sees as the reason for KJT Group's success and the key to its future. It the firm gets too big and corporate, however, it could become less efficient.
 
"I like to think of us as a boutique firm," Tomaszewski said. "I'd like to keep it that way."

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.

KJT Group Inc.
Consulting and market research firm
2012 ranking: 84
Founded: 2007
Top executive: Kenneth Tomaszewski, president and CEO
Employees: 44
Website: www.kjtgroup.com
9/13/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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