image description

Crane Officials Say Small Workforce Eyed to 'Preserve Legacy Brand'

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Crane officials say the company will not be completely shutting down but 85 percent of the workforce will be laid off effective June 19. 
 
Officials contacted workers by email late Wednesday to inform them that operations would be "winding down" but employees would continue to paid through June 19 and will continue to cover the share of group health insurance benefits through until June 30. Crane employs about 270 people. 
 
Thomas O'Connor, CEO and chairman of the board at parent company Mohawk Paper, said about 15 percent of workers will continue operations at the Curran Highway plant. 
 
"We announced to employees yesterday in a company-wide communication that operations as we know them will be changing, and that as of June 19th they would be laid off from Crane," he said in a statement. "We have identified approximately 15 percent of the workforce who will continue in their employment and will continue operations of the company."
 
 
Mayor Thomas Bernard said the email sent to employees on Wednesday created a high level of "uncertainty" about the future of the plant to local political and business leaders. However, he said his discussions with company officials had assuaged some of those concerns. 
 
In a statement on Thursday morning, he said that the "leadership team at Crane has made it clear that the company will remain open."
 
"I have spoken with them to understand more about how they came to this decision, how they intend to keep the company operating in North Adams, and their plan to keep as many of their employees working as possible," he wrote. "I also have been in contact with the governor's office, Senator Hinds, Representative Barrett, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Economic Development, and our local economic development and workforce teams to ensure that we bring every resource to bear to support Crane's employees and the company’s continuing operations in the weeks and months to come."
 
Bernard said the hope is that the company will be able to rebuild once the economy improves and hire back the people who are being laid off. His main concern continues to be the employees who are losing their jobs. 
 
"We're also going to do everything we can locally, statewide to collaboratively ensure that folks are taken care of, that people people can land on their feet, that they have access to every penny and benefits that they're there due through through this," the mayor said. "This is incredibly difficult."
 
Crane was able to obtain a federal Payroll Protection Progam loan that put "all 229 employees" back on the payroll with benefits as of May 4. The plant had furloughed a number of employees since mid-March.
 
"It has and continues to be a very challenging time for everyone. Hopefully one that we will never see again in our lifetime. This pandemic has proven to be the tipping point for us at Crane," O'Connor wrote. "We have worked hard to build towards the future by investing time, people and financing to grow this business. However, we need to protect the future of the company by reducing our work force to match the significant drop in business."
 
In the email to workers on Wednesday, the company had written that declining sales and the bankruptcy filings of its largest distributor, along with the novel coronavirus pandemic, had made current operations "unsustainable." 
 
O'Connor's statement said the goal is "to preserve this beloved legacy brand and ensure its survival through this global pandemic."
 
Updated with comments by Mayor Thomas Bernard at 12:20 p.m.
 
Communications from Crane Stationery to employees sent on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. We have removed one line that had a number for employees to call for information on benefits. 
 
As you may know, over the last two years we have been working on Crane Next, in an effort to expand capabilities and build for the future. However, during this process the market conditions have continued to weaken in our segment. Wedding invites continue to migrate online and our largest customer (Papyrus, with over 250 locations) filed for bankruptcy in mid-January.  
 
Now, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and the unanticipated and dramatic restrictions in gatherings, travel, and business operations on a local, national, and international level, have in turn caused enormous losses to Crane’s business. These losses could not be foreseen. Unfortunately, they have also proved to be unsustainable.   
 
Crane is a 220-year old iconic brand. However, in the face of these unforeseeable circumstances, we have had to make the very difficult decision to wind down operations at Crane.  
 
Many people have given their career to this company and helped it survive through different economies, management teams and philosophies. Crane has been considered in high regard for many decades due to the artisanship that you and your predecessors have accomplished. We thank you for your hard work and commitment.  
 
This letter will serve as notice that your employment with Crane will terminate, effective June 19, 2020.  Between May 4, 2020 and June 19, 2020, Crane intends to pay you weekly at your regular rate of pay based on your historical schedule, but you may not be required to work based on business needs. Crane is continually assessing operational need but cannot at this time precisely predict the level of staffing it will need during the next several weeks. Instead, the company will notify you on a weekly basis as to whether it will need you to work during the following week, either remotely or on-site. There are no bumping rights available for any affected employees and this letter does not alter the at-will employment relationship.  
 
If you are enrolled in group health insurance benefits through Crane, your coverage will continue through June 30th, with your share of the premium deducted from your pay. You will receive separate correspondence with additional information on benefits, including your right to continue group health insurance coverage under COBRA after June 30th.
 
We are sorry to have deliver this news but we thank you for your all that you have done and we wish you the best in the future.  You may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits after June 19th and we encourage you to contact the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (or if you work remotely from another state, the unemployment insurance department in that state).  
 
Sincerely,
 
CRANE STATIONERY, LLC
 
Dean Daigle
Chief Operations Officer
 
 
Press release sent by Mohawk Papers on Thursday morning, April 30, 2020, with minor punctuation corrections: 
 
Crane Stationery remains an operational business
 
In correction to a current news article, Crane Stationery is not going out of business. The company has sustained a shutdown since March 18th , creating challenges that necessitated significant adjustments to our business operations.
 
A Federal PPP Loan has allowed us to put all 229 employees back on the payroll with benefits as of May 4 th following a six-week period during which many experienced some period of furlough. Tom O'Connor, CEO and Chairman of the Board at parent company Mohawk Paper said in a statement, "We announced to employees yesterday in a company-wide communication that operations as we know them will be changing, and that as of June 19 th they would be laid off from Crane. We have identified approximately 15% of the workforce who will continue in their employment and will continue operations of the company."
 
"It has and continues to be a very challenging time for everyone. Hopefully one that we will never see again in our lifetime. This pandemic has proven to be the tipping point for us at Crane. We have worked hard to build towards the future by investing time, people and financing to grow this business. However, we need to protect the future of the company by reducing our work force to match the significant drop in business" he continues.
 
With the time to economic recovery and its impact on the stationery market and wedding industry yet unknown, these changes to the business were necessary. The goal is to preserve this beloved legacy brand and ensure its survival through this global pandemic. The artisans at Crane have been key to the 220-year history of the company, and Crane will be offering every possible support to all employees during this difficult transition. "We can't thank our employees enough for their commitment and service and will do everything we can to support them during these difficult times," said O'Connor.

 


Tags: Crane & Co.,   

Comments
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to info@iberkshires.com.

SteepleCats Shut Out on the Road

LYNN, Mass. -- Jake Gigliotti scattered six hits over seven innings to lead the North Shore Navigators to a 4-0 win over the North Adams SteepleCats on Thursday night.
 
Connor Bertsch went 2-for-4 with a triple to lead the Navigators' offense.
 
Alex Lane and Justin Sierra each had a pair of hits for the SteepleCats.
 
North Adams (4-16) will look to snap a five-game losing streak on Friday when it travels to Holyoke to face the Valley Blue Sox.
View Full Story

More North Adams Stories