Crane & Co. Announces Sale Of Technical Materials Div.

Jun 5, 2014

Credit Crane

Berkshire-based Crane & Company has announced the sale of its technical materials division to a Georgia-based company.

The Dalton-based papermaker says its two mills in Pittsfield will stay open and all of the roughly 100 employees will remain. Neenah Paper Inc. will pay $72 million for the business. Bill McCarthy is Neenah’s vice president of financial analysis and investor relations.

“Can’t run a mill without employees so that is definitely the plan,” said McCarthy.

Crane’s spokesman Craig Conrad says the division has grown over the past 10 years.

“It has a very loyal, prestigious customer base,” Conrad said. “It has a very strong, dedicated employee team. The rationale for the sale was that the non-woven industry sector is experiencing significant consolidation. There are big major players like Neenah Paper that are building these global platforms. So it was the board’s and the management team’s belief that while Crane has done a great job growing this business to the current size, selling the business and allowing it to be part of a much broader company in this sector who can bring technical resources to accelerate its growth to the next level, is the right move. Neenah Paper is really the right company that can take the technical materials division to the next level.”

Conrad explains the products made in the technical materials division are used in water filtration.

“Technical materials provides a performance orientated, wet-laid, non-woven material primarily for the filtration end market,” he explained. “This material is also in environmental, energy and industrial uses.”

Neenah Paper was founded in 1873 in Wisconsin, where it has three manufacturing facilities, along with another in Michigan. Its headquarters are in Georgia. The company already employs more than 1,000 people in the U.S and more than 700 in Germany at three more manufacturing sites. The company’s annual net sales total $850 million.

Crane’s technical materials division creates annual revenue of $50 million. The company’s two other divisions employ roughly 1,200 people. At its headquarters in Dalton, the company makes currency for the U.S. government, something it has been doing since 1879. The company became the country’s sole supplier of paper money in 1964. Crane’s stationary division is in North Adams. A majority of the technical materials division is housed in a two-story building that was unveiled in February 2013. The $5 million project involved renovating the existing 30,000 square feet and adding another facility of equal size.

“The renovation of the building on Hubbard Avenue was primarily driven to be able to expand our operations,” Conrad said. “It’s been very successful.”

McCarthy says Neenah’s decision was based on Crane’s products, market position and strong relationships.

“Neenah has an existing filtration business in Europe,” McCarthy said. “It’s a market and a technology that we’re very interested in. They’re growing, dependable and profitable. So the Crane business has been very successful and was a very good fit with the type of acquisitions we were looking for.”

The companies expect to finalize the sale in early July. Crane has operated in Dalton since 1801, with papermaking roots reaching back to the 1770s in Boston, supporting those integral in the American Revolution, like Paul Revere, with bank notes and stationary.