Crane Stationery sold to Mohawk Fine Papers in New York
By Tony Dobrowolski, The Berkshire Eagle
NORTH ADAMS — Crane Stationery has been acquired by a New York state paper manufacturer that plans no reductions in the local workforce and will keep the company at its current production facility on Curran Highway.
Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. of Cohoes, N.Y., officially purchased Crane Stationery on Wednesday, and formally informed the firm’s approximately 270 Berkshire employees Thursday of the decision. Mohawk CEO Thomas D. O’Connor Jr. declined to disclose the purchase price.
The Crane Stationery division dates to the 1801 origins of the Crane company, which was founded by Zenas Crane.
The Crane legacy echoed loudly in the Berkshires on Thursday, as word of the company’s sale came on the same day as the announcement of the decision by the state Supreme Judicial Court approving the sale of the most valuable works of art in the Berkshire Museum, which were given to the people of the city of Pittsfield by another Zenas Crane, a descendant of the Zenas Crane who founded the paper company.
Founded in 1931, Mohawk Fine Papers is a fourth-generation, family-owned business that is North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes and specialty materials for printing, with global sales from locations in Europe and Asia.
“We have no intention of moving anything from here or eliminating any jobs,” O’Connor said. “We will work on growing the business and adding people over time.”
Mohawk and Crane will maintain their existing brand names and continue to offer their own products, while at the same time expanding products, offerings and challenges, according to Mohawk.
“I cannot think of a more fitting match for Crane than a family-owned company like Mohawk, which instinctively recognizes the timeless impact of perfectly crafted print on beautiful paper,” Crane Stationery CEO Katie Lacey said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing the Crane brand continue to grow under Mohawk’s exceptional leadership.”
Crane Stationery’s current leadership team — Lacey, Chief Financial Officer Kelley Hicks and operations manager Dave Garwood — all are retiring, but will remain with the company during the transition to new ownership, O’Connor said.
“We hope to grow our operations in North Adams,” O’Connor said. “We’ve got to spend the first six months here learning the business and seeing what they do.”
Three current Mohawk employees, Paul Biesiadecki, Dean Daigle and Bart Robinson, will oversee the transition. Biesiadecki will oversee the business operations; Daigle will manage the company’s operations, including finance, human resources and information technology; while Robinson will lead the sales and marketing teams.
Lacey, Hicks and Garwood took over the leadership of Crane Stationery three years ago, when those operations were spun off by Crane of Dalton, the sole manufacturer of currency paper for the federal government. Crane’s currency division was sold in January for $800 million, to a Connecticut-based diversified manufacturer of highly engineered industrial products.
Crane Stationery manufactures paper for boxed stationery, wedding invitations, holiday cards and other personalized products, and is a well-known brand in the stationery industry, which is what made the company so attractive to Mohawk, O’Connor said.
“It’s the most iconic brand in the industry; it always has been and it always will be,” O’Connor said. “We do much the same thing. There’s a lot of commonality with customers.”
In 2012, Crane Stationery joined forces with two other major stationery brands, William Arthur and Vera Wang Fine Papers. Mohawk also has acquired the rights to those two brands in the transaction.
Crane Stationery’s small corporate office in New York City will primarily become a sales and marketing office, O’Connor said. A small Crane Stationery facility in Kennebunk, Maine, that originally belonged to William Arthur will remain in its current location.
Mohawk currently operates paper mills in Cohoes and Waterford, N.Y., an envelope plant in South Hadley and a converting center in Saybrook, Ohio.
Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-496-6224.
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