Crane Stationery, which has roots in the Berkshires dating back to the early 19th Century, said it's laying off 85% of its workers at the paper company's North Adams, Massachusetts, factory.
Crane has about 230 employees at its plant. A spokesperson for Mohawk Paper, Crane's parent, said it had been making progress after its largest customer went bankrupt earlier this year. But the pandemic left them with less than 10% of normal business.
"We have worked hard to build towards the future by investing time, people and financing to grow this business," Tom O'Connor, Mohawk Paper's CEO and chairman of the board, said in a press release. "However, we need to protect the future of the company by reducing our work force to match the significant drop in business.”
North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard said the job cuts are a blow to the city, at an already tough time.
"The size of our community is such that the people who work at Crane aren't just employees; they aren't just numbers; they're not just a head count or a work force," Bernard said. "These are our friends, our neighbors, in some cases our family members."
Bernard said it's important to focus on what the Crane brand name means not just in North Adams or the Berkshires, but worldwide.
"Crane is a brand with a great reputation," Bernard said. "It's a mark of quality, and that quality and that reputation is rooted in the people of North Adams and in the people who work for that company."
Crane received funds from the federal paycheck protection program. This will help keep all employees on the payroll from next week through mid-June, when the layoffs are scheduled to take effect.
The company said the North Adams factory has been shut down since March 18, under Governor Charlie Baker's order closing all non-essential businesses.
Crane Stationery is no longer associated with Crane Currency in Dalton, which makes paper used for money. The stationery business was spun off in 2015, and purchased by Mohawk Paper.
At the time of the sale, The Berkshire Eagle reported a Mohawk official said there were no plans for workforce reductions at the North Adams plant.
Crane Stationery dates back to 1801, when the original Crane company was founded.