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March Business Events

Staff Reports

Networking events, workshops and seminars for the month of March are listed below. Got an upcoming business event? Send it to info@iberkshires.com.

Registration is due March 1 for the free half-day workshop "Why and How to Apply Lean Thinking to Your Business," to be held Tuesday, March 8, from 8 a.m. to noon at Intermodal Education Center, 1 Columbus Ave., Pittsfield. The workshop, sponsored by the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership and Berkshire Community College, is open to CEOs and "change agents" working in any industry. To register, contact Beth Lapierre at 413-236-5251 or elapierr@berkshirecc.edu, or go here.
Berkshire Young Professionals, a program of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, invites all young professionals living and/or working in Berkshire County to attend its upcoming Networking Social on Thursday, March 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Firefly, located at 71 Church St., Lenox. The event is free to BYP membership cardholders and $5 to nonmembers. The event includes hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and a door prize drawing. To register, visit www.berkshirechamber.com/byp, e-mail choyt@berkshirechamber.com, or call all 413-499-4000, ext. 26.

The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce will hold a Chamber Night event at Catamount Ski Area, Route 23, South Egremont, on Friday, March 4, from 3 to 10 p.m. Lift tickets are $15 (lessons are available for $10) and must be purchased in advance at the chamber's Visitor Center, 362 Main St., Great Barrington, or the chamber's business office, at 40 Railroad St., Great Barrington. Call  413-528-1510 for more information.

The Lenox Chamber of Commerce will hold a general membership meeting on Thursday, March 10, at 6 p.m. at the Lenox Town Hall. The guest speaker will be Michael F. Gaetano of Tanglewood British Motorcar Festival. Details, participation information and more about the upcoming festival, scheduled for June 17-19, will be discussed. Other items to be discussed include a possible by-law change to allow outside businesses to become chamber members, events for the fall and holiday seasons, and new membership rewards and benefits. For more information, contact Ralph at 413-637-3646 or info@lenox.org.

The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce will host a "Chamber Nite" event at Donovan Motorcar, 4 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, on Wednesday, March 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. Hors d'oevres will be served and a cash bar will be available. Registration suggested by March 11 to 413-499-4000, ext. 26, choyt@berkshirechamber.com or www.berkshirechamber.com.

Berkshire Creative will put on a SPARK! networking event on Wednesday, March 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Crissey Farm, Great Barrington. The free event, which includes a cash bar, is open to anyone in the creative field. RSVP here.

The Williamstown Chamber of Commerce will hold a "Networking Nite" at the Purple Pub, 65 Spring St., Williamstown, on Wednesday, March 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar will be available. RSVP to 413-458-9077 or info@williamstown.chamber.com.

Members of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce are invited to attend a free seminar on email marketing, to be held on Tuesday, March 29, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Orchards Hotel, 222 Adams Road, Williamstown. The seminar will be presented by Kevin Ellingwood, Jeff Stripp and Allen Jezouit from Berkshire Direct. RSVP is required to Judy Giamborino at 413-458-9077 or info@williamstown.chamber.com.

Members of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce are invited to attend a free seminar on online marketing, presented by Kevin Ellingwood, Jeff Stripp and Allen Jezouit from Berkshire Direct, on Thursday, March 31, at La Terrazza Restaurant, located at the Gateways Inn, 51 Walker St., Lenox, at 6 p.m. Light appetizers and a cash bar will be available. RSVP by March 29 to 413-637-3646 or info@lenox.org.

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Aladco Installs New 'Green' Washing Machine

Andy McKeever

Aladco contracted local companies to retrofit the 19th-century building to more energy-efficient technology.

ADAMS, Mass. — Aladco is the latest business to go green.

The linen company installed a new $700,000 washer expected to reduce water usage by 84 percent. The company tore out the equpment it had been using for 50 years and retrofitted its  19th-century Commercial Street building for the modern technology.

"It's really cool to see an old building get a third or fourth life," Kevin Ellingwood, the company's public relations spokesman, said. "This has been in the works for a year or so."

The Pulse-Flow washing system replaces four washing machines that held 400 pounds of laundry each with a conveyor belt system. Every three minutes, workers load 50-pound batches onto the corkscrewlike belt. The batches then go through the various steps of a wash.

"It took them a little while to get efficient using the machine. Workers used to just load it in and go get a coffee or something," Ellingwood said. "It will result in significant savings."

Previously Aladco used 10 washing machines that used 2.5 gallons of water per pound of laundry, using 1.5 million gallons of water per month. The new system uses .4 gallons of water per pound – reducing the monthly usage to 250,000 gallons. Additionally, the less water used, the less gas and electricity are required to heat it.

Berkshire Gas contributed a $50,000 rebate to Aladco for the project.

"The projected savings for this project of over 67,000 therms and nearly 1.7 million therms over the life of the equipment, are impressive, to say the least. To put this into perspective, the annual savings from this one project equates to the amount of natural gas needed to heat approximately 70 homes per year," Michael Sommer, manager of energy services at Berkshire Gas, said in a press release.

According to Ellingwood, Aladco is the first hospitality linen rental facility in the nation to make the change.

Additionally, Aladco recently introduced three new eco-friendly products: a lint–free microfiber wiping towel, microfiber mop system and the Environap, an alternative to disposable napkins for the same cost.

The company provides table and kitchen linens, bed linens, uniforms, entrance mats and dust control to restaurants, hotels, motels, hospital, medical service providers and schools and colleges.

More information on Aladco here.

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Gas Prices Up 50 Cents Over Last Year

AAA Southern New England

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — One week after showing no movement, gasoline prices in Massachusetts are back up this week, the ninth week out of the last 10 in which prices have risen, according to AAA Southern New England.

AAA's Feb. 7 survey of prices in Massachusetts found self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $3.119 per gallon, one cent higher than last week. The current price is a penny below the national average for self-serve unleaded of $3.12. A year ago at this time, the Massachusetts average price was $2.65.

The range in prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 26 cents, from a low of $2.99 to a high of $3.25. AAA advises motorists to shop around for the best prices in their area, and to make sure they and their passengers buckle up — every time.

Find the most up-to-date local gas prices with the AAA Fuel Finder by logging onto AAA.com and clicking on Gas Saving Tips & Tools.

Today's Local Gas Prices
Self Serve 
Grade Full Serve
$3.11($2.999-$3.259) Regular Unleaded $3.22 ($3.169-$3.269)
$3.22 ($3.109-$3.399)     Midgrade Unleaded $3.33 ($3.299-$3.369)
$3.33 ($3.209-$3.499)     Premium Unleaded $3.43 ($3.399-$3.469)
$3.55 ($3.459-$3.699)   Diesel    $3.61 ($3.589-$3.659)
AAA Fuel Saving Tip of the Week

Plan ahead. When running errands, try to combine multiple tasks into one trip. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles.

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1Berkshire Looking For A Leader

Andy McKeever

PITTSFIELD, Mass — The region's major economic agents formed 1Berkshire last spring to coordinate efforts. Now they're looking for a leader to turn paper goals into action.

The organization, a unified head for the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation, the Berkshire Creative Economy Council and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, has finished its fundraising and laying out its goals. Now to start making real impacts it needs someone to take the helm.

"This is going to be the leadership position for development and growth in the Berkshires," Paul Haklisch, current chief executive officer, said on Wednesday. "We're looking for a highly qualified executive."

Haklisch has led the organization's establishment as a volunteer. To finish the job, he needs to find his replacement. The coalition was announced in April and has been in the organizational phase for much of that time.

"My job is to help them take initiatives from paper and put them to action," Haklisch said.

Haklisch said he is not interested in taking it on full time.

The group has a list of projects to embark on, including advocating for low-impact cleanup of the Housatonic River, he said. Local officials, communities, environmental groups and agencies and GE are debating the best way to clean the river of PCBs dumped there by GE decades ago.

"Just because we haven't assumed a public profile, doesn't mean we haven't been doing anything," Haklisch said. "One of the big things we're doing is taking on a  principal advocacy role for the Rest of the River Project."

The job posting on Berkshirejobs.com lists the position's responsibilities, which include facilitating the collaboration of the four major economic forces with federal, state and local public officials, serving as spokesman, executing fundraising efforts and general oversight of the group.

The nonprofit has set its objective to promote economic growth in the county while developing "the Berkshires" brand and is funded by both public and private sources.

In April, the group announced that it would be a one-stop point to answer questions for prospective businesses and hoped to have a toll-free telephone number and website. So far, they have a minimal website presence.

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Excelsior Brings Greeting Card Co. To North Adams

Andy McKeever
Photo courtesy of Excelsior   
Oatmeal 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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