DALTON -- Crane & Co. plans to eliminate approximately 55 jobs by the end of the year as part of a consolidation plan to rejuvenate the 211-year-old paper company's stationery business, Crane officials announced Wednesday.
The town's largest employer said the pending layoffs will gradually take effect until the consolidation is complete in early 2013.
Crane, which has supplied currency pap er to the U.S. gov ernment since 1879, plans to relocate its two stationery operations in Pittsfield and one in Dalton to its fourth stationery facility in North Adams.
Dalton officials said the news is a blow to the local economy.
"The 55 positions lost will have a significant impact on the town and Cen tral Berkshire," said Select Board Chair man John Boyle. "These are well-paying jobs not easily replaced."
Crane's stationery division employs 268 of the company's 850 workers in Berkshire County.
Crane said it will offer voluntary severance packages or other positions within the company to those likely affected by the downsizing. As of Friday, the displaced workers who want to stay with the company can apply for 20 positions being posted by Crane, company officials said.
Crane noted it already has moved its marketing and customer relations personnel from the Downing Industrial Park in Pittsfield to its stationery operations in the Hardman Industrial Park in North Adams.
The rest of the consolidation involves stationery distribution at Downing and stationery manufacturing in Dalton, both being relocated to North Adams.
Crane CEO Stephen P. DeFalco said the consolidation and layoffs are necessary to restructure the stationery operation in order to launch new products that will rejuvenate the Crane brand.
"The stationery market has changed substantially over the past five years," DeFalco said in a prepared statement. "The changes that we are making to our product and our operations will position the stationery division to be more competitive and relevant to today's consumer."
In late 2009, Crane & Co. announced a plan to consolidate its stationery division at Downing Industrial Park in order to avoid layoffs.
In the spring of 2010, the Pittsfield City Council ap proved a $500,000 grant from the Pittsfield Economic Dev elopment Fund and a Tax Increment Finance agreement worth $280,000 in city tax breaks to help fund Crane's estimated $4 million to $5 million project. How ever, the company decided to scrap the consolidation plan, and the council rescinded its votes for the municipal financing package.
In addition to supplying currency paper to the U.S. Treasury, the seventh-generation family-owned business manufactures paper products for items that include personalized notes, wedding invitations, birth announcements, bank note security and industrial applications.
What: Crane & Co. plans to cut 55 positions in its stationery division and consolidate operations in North Adams.
When: Early 2013
Why: Restructuring to launch new products. Workers will be offered severence packages or other positions in the company.