DALTON -- For the first time in some 200 years, the Crane paper manufacturing company soon will be operating without a member of the management team who bears the family name.
Douglas A. Crane, the company's vice president, and a seventh-generation member of the family that founded the firm in 1801, is retiring from Crane after 30 years with the company
Crane, who is 53, said he plans to stay at the company through the end of the year to assist with transition responsibilities. He then plans to do business consulting, including work that may involve his former employer.
"I just feel that it's time to go," Crane said. "I've certainly had a great career at Crane. I've been instrumental in a number of programs. I've certainly enjoyed my time with the company.
"Looking to the future there's still a few things that I need to accomplish in my business career, and in order to do that I have to step away from Crane," he said.
Crane also intends to remain on the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority's board of directors, a position that he was appointed to earlier this year -- "if they'll have me," he said.
Although Douglas Crane is leaving, members of the Crane family are still employed at the company. The most notable family descendant is Charles Kittredge, Douglas' cousin, who previously served as Crane's CEO, and now chairs the firm's board of directors.
But Douglas Crane said he is the last person bearing the Crane name to serve in company management.
He said the last time the company operated without someone bearing the Crane family name was in the early 19th century when founder Zenas Crane left the business for a few years to operate a general store then returned and bought out his partners. The Crane family has been in the paper business since 1770. Stephen Crane, Zenas Crane's father, operated a paper mill near Boston before the Revolutionary War that made cotton paper that was used to make Colonial currency.
Crane has been supplying currency paper to the federal government since 1879, and has been its sole supplier since 1964. One of the county's largest employers, Crane also manufactures stationery paper and nonwoven materials.
Stephen P. DeFalco, Crane's current CEO, said he wasn't surprised that Crane decided to retire.
"He's fully retirement eligible," DeFalco said. "He had a long and strong career at the company. I think he just got to the age and stage where he wanted to do something else. Everything lined up for him.
"We're going to miss him, and we wish him well."
DeFalco said that he has yet to develop a plan to hire Crane's successor.
"We'll probably be shuffling the senior team a little bit," he said.
DeFalco, who replaced Kittredge as Crane's CEO in 2011, is only the third person from outside Crane to run the company in the firm's 212-year history. Crane also operates a plant in Sweden, and at the time DeFalco was hired, more than half of the company's revenue came from the company's foreign operations.
In 2012, Crane purchased a stationery company in Maine and moved it to North Adams, where it consolidated the company's stationery division. In February, Crane officially unveiled a new $5.5 million facility in Pittsfield to house its technical materials division. DeFalco also announced then that the company would be known as Crane instead of Crane & Co. to end the confusion that customers were experiencing in identifying the firm's three divisions.
Despite the changes, DeFalco said Crane hasn't changed the way the company operates.
"We haven't dramatically changed our footprint in the Berkshires," he said. "We're just a bigger global company."
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