Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stationery Tour with Katie and Rebecca

I've been at this a long time, but I never tire of giving tours of Crane's stationery manufacturing facilities to members of the media and Crane's family of retailers. Yesterday was no exception, as I helped guide Katie Besch and Rebecca Levine from Sam Flax in New York.

The Sam Flax stores in New York are Crane Platinum Stationers, meaning they sell a lot of Crane stationery, and their business is booming. It became obvious early on that it's not just the allure of Crane papers at Sam Flax that account for their success. Selling stationery is a people business - a relationship business - and these two young ladies certainly have what it takes. And now, armed with a little more knowledge of all that goes into making these fine papers - look out!

We first toured Crane's Personalized Design Services in North Adams, where Katie and Rebecca were able to meet all those folks they talk with on a regular basis in Estimating, Order Entry and Customer Service. We toured all the printing areas, including engraving, thermography and foil-stamping, and saw some awesome stationery and invitations in the works.

Rebecca, left, and Katie pose beside one of Crane's envelope machines.

After a quick bite, we went on to Crane's Stationery Division, where boxed stationery is created. Here we chatted with Crane's borderers and gilders, and watched as paper was cut, lined, folded and glued to make a wide variety of envelopes. It's a fascinating process and it never ceases to amaze me the great care, attention and craftsmanship that goes into every piece of paper before it leaves for the stores.

Sharing a light moment with our Stationery Division tour guide Gary Brickle and hand-borderer Mary Ellen Palmer.

We had a great day, and I can't wait for the next trip to New York to visit Katie and Rebecca and the rest of the folks at Sam Flax.

Side Notes on a Tour

As I've mentioned before, I've been at this a while. I've lived in the Berkshires and southern Vermont all my adult life, and you get to know a lot of people over that expanse of time. Every time I tour around Crane's facilities, there are always personal interactions along the way. Yesterday was no exception: a press operator who was about to leave for the hospital to visit his brother who had just gotten out of surgery after an aneurism; an inspector whose brother had been laid off and was looking for tips on a job search; a lot of "How'bout those Red Sox" and "Celtics in Six!"

Just like selling stationery, making stationery is a people business. There are always stories - happy stories and difficult stories. I'm happy to be around to hear them.

The last story of the day came from Paul Gigliotti Jr., who operates an engraving press and who does much of Crane's blind-embossing. (I had known his dad many years ago when he would occasionally serve an ice-cold beer at the American Legion in North Adams to a tired newspaper reporter.) Paul is an excellent fisherman, ties his own flies and serves as a guide to secret fishing holes for a loyal group of customers. He shared this photo of one of his most recent successes.

1 comment:

Ms. Bliss said...

Mr. Bliss would like to know where Paul's fishing spots are!