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Interview with Crane & Co. CEO in October Issue of Inc. Magazine

For an article in the current issue of Inc. magazine, I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Charles Kittredge, the current CEO of paper-maker Crane & Co. and the sixth-generation Crane family member to head the business, founded in 1801.

Well known for its high-end stationery products, the company, based in Dalton, Massachusetts, has developed some lucrative sidelines over the years — among them, manufacturing currency paper embedded with high-tech security features for the U.S. Treasury, and literally printing cash for international clients that include the governments of Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, and a number of African nations. In this interview, Kittredge also discusses how experiments in using paper-making technology with new materials led to the development of a growing business unit that makes components for smokestack scrubbers and desalinization plants as well as office partitions and window shades.

In addition to its commitment to innovation, Crane is impressive for its commitment to family — a 10-member “family council” educates family members about the business, facilitates communication with company management, and generally keeps interest in the business alive — as well as to workers and the local economy. Crane has stuck it out in Berkshire County for two centuries now, and with 1,500 employees is now the second-largest employer there.

“When I say ‘family’ and talk about family to our customers and employees and community members, I don’t mean just the Crane family, but the generations of employees that have worked at the business,” Kittredge told me. “You’ll see brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles everywhere you turn, and they’re committed to the company just as my family is, and that’s really remarkable.”

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