Crane unveils new high-tech facility in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD -- One of Berkshire County's oldest companies has a new name and a state-of-the-art facility to house a division that makes technical materials.
Crane & Co. on Wednesday officially unveiled its new $5 million facility in Ashuelot Park 2 off Hubbard Avenue. The company renovated a 30,000-square-foot, two-story building for use as a research facility and added a 30,000-square-foot production area. Crane has owned the structure since 2003.
CEO Stephen DeFalco also announced that the company will now be known simply as "Crane." The change aims to avoid the confusion that customers were beginning to experience with identifying the company's three divisions: currency paper, technical materials, and stationery paper.
Crane has become known for myriad brands and "we began to fragment ourselves," DeFalco said.
"When we'd put our business cards on the table, it looked like we were from three different companies," he said.
One of Berkshire County's largest employers, Crane is best known for being the sole supplier of currency paper for the federal government than for its technical materials division, which dates back to the 1950s.
In its technical materials division, Crane takes polymer fibers and inorganic fibers, such as glass, and turns them into use for water purification and air filtration systems, thermal, acoustical, and electrical insulation in home and office products, photovoltaic facilities, and the aerospace business.
Although the technical materials division comprises less than 15 percent of Crane's overall revenue, DeFalco said the new facility reflects the growth in Crane's total share of that business, which has doubled in the past five years and is expected to experience significant short- and long-term growth. About 60 percent of Crane's 90 Berkshire employees in the technical materials division are stationed at the new facility.
"This is sort of a world headquarters for this business," DeFalco said. "The business had been shifting from commodity products to higher and higher technology products that have driven a lot of growth. And, all of a sudden we said, ‘Hey, we need a facility that matches the new business.' "
The building project took 18 months from "concept to completion," DeFalco said. The new building is better suited to handle the technological advances that are beginning to dominate the field and gives Crane a modern facility to introduce to potential customers. According to DeFalco, 40 percent of the products that Crane manufactures in its technical materials division are shipped overseas.
Crane officials showcased the new building's state-of-the-art features. Besides the new equipment in the production facility, the office building contains sculptures, modern furniture and lighting, and a hallway where the walls resemble the inside of a commercial airliner. It's quite a step for Crane, which has been owned by the same family since its founding in 1801.
"I think it's kicked up a notch," DeFalco said. "But I think it's a reflection of Crane becoming over time more and more a technology company. So you have to have that look for your customers. You have to have a professional appearance for your customers.
"Secondly, it reflects the kind of employees we're attracting," he said. "We're trying to attract a very vibrant, technical workforce."
Following a tour of the new facility, Michael Vedovelli, the senior regional director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development in Springfield, said he was impressed.
"The Patrick administration has made manufacturing a priority for Massachusetts," he said. "Here we have a family business like Crane that's doing fine, doing it well, and doing it in Massachusetts."
"This is a perfect example of what happens when an old New England company with old New England values combines it with innovation," said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi.
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