Biz Briefs: Mr. Tire, Tax Holiday, Business Directory
|Don't worry, Mister Tire will still be here when the snow flies.|
Tired of Rumors
Larry Davis of Mister Tire in North Adams is assuring his many, many patrons that the 38-year-old family business is definitely not closing.
"It's come to our attention that the rumor about town has us closing our doors, or being sold to the highest bidder. We'd like to take the time to assure the community that neither of these things are true," the company posted on its Facebook page.
Rather, Davis will be spending less time at the shop, with his children Matt, Mike, and Tori, and general manager Scott taking over more of the operation.
"Larry's children will continue to provide the best service and pricing in the Berkshires," the post states. "As always we'd like to thank our loyal customers for their years of trust, and look forward to the future with you all."
After quibbling about the potential revenue loss, the Legislature on Friday passed a tax holiday weekend, just live everyone knew it would
This year's tax holiday is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16. Purchases under $2,500 will not be charged the state's 6.25 percent sales tax. It excludes vehicles, motorized boats, tobacco, meals and utilities.
The tax holiday has been instituted yearly since 2005, with the exception of 2009. The Legislature has been called on to make it an regularly occurring event, but lawmakers seem reluctant to give up the annual "will they or won't they" suspense.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli says the holiday is a boost to the economy, drawing in visitors from nearby states to spend money.
"Historically, we have seen people from neighboring states with higher tax rates come into southern Berkshire and Hampden counties to shop during the sales tax holiday weekend," he said. "While they’re here, they eat at our restaurants and make a day of it. That's money coming into these small towns that wouldn't be there otherwise.”
Supporting Hilltown Business
Next year's edition of the Hilltown Business Directory is soliciting listings. The 30-year-old directory published by the Hilltown Community Development Corp. is delivered the 16,500 households in 21 towns in Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin counties each January.
It annually lists more than 300 hilltown businesses and is designed to promote and support local business. "I had a tremendous response last year. I will definitely advertise again!" says one local business.
Reservation forms are available at www.hilltowncdc.org or from Seth Isman at 413-296-4536 ext. 112 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Sept. 14.
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New Berkshire Magazine Debuts This Summer
Berkshire Magazine joins the five regional magazines covering parts of Connectictut and Bedford, N.Y., published by Morris Media Group. Elements of the periodicals also appear as part of www.TownVibe.com.
Geoffrey Morris, editor-in-chief and publisher, isn't afraid to step in where the award-winning Berkshire Living tried and failed.
"They were putting out a good product and they were demonstrating there was an advertising market there," said Morris last week. "People loved the magazine. ... Advertisers and readers both want it."
Morris said his group has the administrative support and experience to operate the venture successfully. The existing five magazines have more than 150,000 readers, according to the group's website. A veteran writer and editor — he was executive editor of the National Review and did stints at Reader's Digest and MBA Jungle — Morris founded the publishing group in 2002.
"I'm very bullish on print," he said. "People want to pick it up, they want to touch, they want to look at the good quality photos."
The initial run for Berkshire Magazine will be 20,000 — 15,000 delivered and 5,000 available at newstands and other venues. Berkshire Magazine will publish eight times a year and speak, according to a press release, "with a local authoritative voice, report with an informed curiosity, and present powerful visual images."
On Thursday, Anastasia Stanmeyer was named the magazine's editor. The international journalist and her husband, a contract photographer for National Geographic, now reside in Otis, where she's working on an oral history of the town.
Morris said writers and photographers for the magazine will be Berkshires based. The magazine group is headquartered in Ridgefield, Conn.
"It's going to be a fabulous magazine and we really want to capture the heart of the Berkshires and show how great the Berkshires are," he said.
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Excelsior Printing Acquires Berkshire Information Systems
The Excelsior Integrated management team Shawn Ouillette, left, Julianne Fruscio, Brendan Burns and David Crane.
"For several years now, Excelsior Printing has worked with Berkshire Information Systems on various projects that mutually benefited our customers. We have grown to admire the capabilities of BIS and, especially, its people," said Excelsior Chairman David Crane. "When the opportunity arose to acquire the assets of the company and work more closely with its customers, we felt we had to act quickly. It is very exciting to establish a new company that complements our existing business and keeps important jobs in Berkshire County."
Berkshire Information Systems, a provider of fulfillment, inventory management and electronic commerce services, was founded by Andrew Chmura in 1973 in Pittsfield as Berkshire Computer Processing Center. Mr. Chmura died last June at age 69.
The new Excelsior Integrated is an independent company and continues to maintain its current customer relationships with numerous corporations, media companies and tourism offices. It plans to continue operating from BIS's facilities in Lenox Dale and from its offices in North Adams. BIS employees, about a 10, will continue in their positions.
"Our customers will now benefit from a tight integration with the capabilities or our new sister company, Excelsior Printing," said Shawn Ouillette, executive vice president of Excelsior Integrated and former BIS executive. "In the past when one of our tourism customers asked us to help them create a brochure or other marketing materials we would make suggestions of companies to work with, but ultimately had no real influence in the process. Now, with Excelsior Printing we can create integrated product offerings that allow for great value and outstanding service."
The joint capabilities of the two companies create a powerful combination from a customer's point of view, said Brendan Burns, CEO of Excelsior Printing. The newly formed company will provide customers with a streamlined solution for their marketing and business needs.
"Over the last several decades the printing industry has experienced a lot of pricing pressure due primarily to the proliferation of technology," he said. "Ultimately, this has benefited customers. What has been more difficult for customers is that they face their own competitive pressures and often need to manage three or more vendor relationships to support their marketing and business development needs."
Excelsior Integrated management will consist of Burns as chief executive officer and also as CEO of Excelsior Printing; Crane as chairman; and Ouillette as executive vice president. Julianne Fruscio is business development and marketing coordinator.
The acquisition is the latest since 116-year-old Excelsior Printing was purchased from Crane & Co. in 2005 by David Crane. It now provides printing, digital communications, mail and distribution programs. Specialty business divisions include SeedPrint, packaging for the seed industry, and Oatmeal Studios, greeting card publishing. For more information: www.excelsiorprinting.com.
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Berkshire Living Folds
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The award-winning Berkshire Living has folded, according to a report in The Berkshire Eagle on Saturday.
Publisher Michael Zivyak told The Eagle on Friday that a deal to sell Berkshire Living and its affiliated titles to Delaware lifestyle publisher Today Media fell through at the "11th hour."
iBerkshires called the Berkshire Living office several times last week but no one picked up and also left phone and email messages for Zivyak when it became apparent the magazine's website was no longer being populated.
The regional lifestyle magazine, "The Good Life in the Country," offered interviews and features on local cultural attractions and leaders, reviews of music, drama, art and restaurants, and spotlights on homes, shops and other local offerings. It was recognized not only for its coverage but its design.
The financially strapped magazine and its BBQ: Berkshire Business Quarterly suspended publishing late last year. The deal was announced in early February and the magazine was to be relaunched in the spring while its online entities continued.
The Berkshire Daily e-letter and weekend preview have continued to appear under Berkshire Living's editor Seth Rogovoy, although a notice on buying ads through BL was removed.
With the exception of some blog posts, most of the material on the website is dated; a lone listing for a Metropolitan Opera broadcast at the Mahaiwe is on the calendar. Zivyak's search for three salespeople is still on his blog and just a few weeks ago the magazine was searching for a graphic designer.
The Eagle caught Zivyak cleaning out the magazine's offices on North Street on Friday. He told the paper that Today Media had a "change of heart" and that an attempt to find another buyer failed.
The 17,500-circulation magazine was launched in 2004 with offices in Great Barrington and included BBQ, Berkshire Living Home and Garden and Berkshire Custom Publishing. It moved to Pittsfield a few years ago.
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Excelsior Brings Greeting Card Co. To North Adams
Photo courtesy of ExcelsiorOatmeal Studios' owners Joe and Helene Massimino sold the Vermont company to Excelsior. To the right is new owner David Crane with new General Manager Joseph Gallagher.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Excelsior Printing Co. will bring its newly acquired business to the city.
The Roberts Drive printing company announced Tuesday that it purchased Oatmeal Studios of Rochester, Vt., and will bring the inventory and warehousing to the city, which could translate into local jobs.
"The founders wanted to retire. We were in negotiations for about a month and finalized the deal last week," Julianne Fruscio, Excelsior's business development and marketing coordinator, said on Tuesday.
Excelsior has been printing Oatmeal Studios' greeting cards for more than 20 years. Oatmeal's sales team will be offered positions first and unfilled jobs could be filled locally. Additionally, Excelsior hired Joseph Gallagher to be the general manager to develop even more products and expand into other markets.
"We're really hoping to develop the brand Oatmeal more," Fruscio said. "It's a new direction for us because we are now specializing in greeting cards."
Though Excelsior has the ability to do its own design work, it will continue using Oatmeal's database of freelancers to design the cards. Oatmeal also accepts submissions on a daily basis, Fruscio said.
Oatmeal Studios was founded by Helene and Joe Massimino and has been creating and distributing greeting cards and notepads for more than 30 years. The greeting cards are printed with vegetable-based inks on recycled paper.
"We think it's a great fit," said Joe Massimino in a press release. "Excelsior has been a part of Oatmeal Studios almost from the beginning and they have a stationery pedigree of their own that will serve Oatmeal Studios’ customers well into the future."
In 2005, Excelsior separated from Crane & Co. and, in 2008, made a similar acquisition of SeedPrint. Excelsior now prints and ships seed packages while doing minimal design work.
Crane purchased the Excelsior companies — Excelsior Printing and Excelsior Process & Engraving — in 1970. Crane moved Excelsior Process & Engraving to the Robert Hardman Industrial Park in 1985 and then announced that it will close the Curran Highway location last year.
Excelsior Printing Co. on Roberts Drive was purchased by David W. Crane in 2005.
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