My family's paper company has deep roots and an economic engine in Massachusetts. That's core to company identity and a competitive advantage.
Crane & Co. is famous for its stationery products.
In the late 18th century, an engraver named Paul Revere bought paper for the first colonial currency from the Liberty Paper Mill, opened by Stephen Crane. Crane's mill also supplied paper to the Massachusetts Spy--a subversive newspaper that circulated when the British occupied Boston--and made cartridge paper for cannons and rifles used by the Continental army.
More than two centuries later, the cannons are long gone, and Crane & Co. has grown into a global business. Yet my family's company still makes the paper for U.S. currency production--and given our special role in U.S. history, we still think it's important to continue to make many of our products here in the United States.
We do this for many reasons--our history, the quality of our products, the expertise of our people and the resources available. We can do it competitively because of the investments we have made in our people, our factories and our community.
Why History Matters
Despite the longevity of our company, it's still necessary for us and for every company--big, small, old and new--to have a connection with where, how and why it was started.
In 1801, one of Stephen's sons, Zenas Crane, opened a mill on the banks of the Housatonic River in Dalton, Massachusetts--and Crane & Co. has been there ever since.
Today, we have operations in Georgia, New Hampshire, New York, Boston and Sweden, but the majority of our U.S. manufacturing is still done in Western Massachusetts; we've been operating in many of the same mills for more than 150 years.
There is nothing more American than our currency, so of course we make the paper for the U.S. currency here in the U.S., and we have since 1879.
U.S. currency paper is the most durable banknote paper in the world--with the longest life span of any paper currency. Crane embedded silk threads in banknote paper in 1844 and has been a world leader in developing advanced counterfeit deterrents for banknotes ever since.
But currency isn't all we do here in the U.S. We produce exquisite stationery that has been used for more than a century all over the world.
We're still known for our 100% cotton paper and the unparalleled quality of our craftsmanship.
We also manufacture products that are used in a variety of industrial, commercial and consumer applications - from aircraft firewalls to solar panels to water filters and even surfboards.
Our customers can, and do, find these products all over the world--but they can't find that variety of expertise anywhere else in the U.S. That's our competitive advantage, because we've invested so much time and energy here to build the business. It is a main contributor to the success of our company and not easily replicable.
Another reason we're based in Western Massachusetts is pretty basic: water. Our 50 wells provide us with more than 1 billion gallons of pure water per year. Water is the key ingredient in making paper.
Over the years we've taken measures to reduce our impact on the environment. We created our first wastewater treatment facility in the 1950s; 70% percent of the energy used to make paper in Dalton comes from a facility that burns trash to create steam. We also compost the waste fibers from our paper-making process with municipal leaf and yard waste to create topsoil for land reclamation projects.
We have been doing business in the same location for more than 200 years--it's a community in which generations of our families and employees continue to live and work. It's our home. We do our best to keep it clean, give back and to keep it sustainable both for our neighbors and for our business.
While we have expanded globally over the past few decades, Western Massachusetts remains central to our identity and our expertise. It is home to products that are used all over the world.
By the way: My favorite product made in Dalton? It's a component in a circuit board that's now on the surface of Mars. It helps propel the Mars Rover.
ELIZA BROWNING is the vice president of Crane Digital, where she oversees the company's online business and digital strategy. Before joining Crane & Co., Eliza worked in digital media for news organizations including CNN, ABC News and the AP.