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Which Issues Matter to You? Take the AIM Issues Survey

Posted by John Regan on Sep 26, 2016 7:30:00 AM

The two major candidates for president will debate tonight. Will they address issues that matter to employers?

statehouse.jpgThe Massachusetts Legislature will kick off its 2017-2018 session in January. Will lawmakers identify the public-policy challenges that most concern Massachusetts employers as they seek to grow, create jobs and generate economic opportunity?

Employers have an important role to play in the debate over how to improve the Massachusetts economy. How can you ensure that your opinions and good ideas are heard? Start by participating in the biennial Issues Survey from Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

The commonwealth’s largest and most powerful employer association wants to hear from you so it can accurately represent the interests of employers both large and small before Massachusetts state government. Which issues pose a threat to your business? What steps could Massachusetts take to improve the business climate? How can Massachusetts assure its global competitiveness in a world in which economic growth is becoming ever more concentrated?

AIM will use responses from the Issues Survey to construct a pro-growth Legislative Agenda for the 2017-2018 Beacon Hill session. Legislators rely upon the AIM Legislative Agenda to identify the issues of importance to the Massachusetts employer community.

All responses will remain confidential.

Why participate? As AIM’s Chairman Dan Kenary remarked at this year’s Annual Meeting:

“The late House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s maxim that ‘all politics is local’ has never been truer that it is today. And if all politics is local, the employer community represents a sleeping giant with enormous potential to drive sound public policy from the bottom up.  Call it entrepreneurial populism - those of us who risk everything to employ our neighbors in Boston, Worcester, Springfield or more than 348 other communities in Massachusetts must tell our stories to the representatives, senators and member of Congress in whose districts we operate.”

We stand at a singular moment in the history of Massachusetts as the forces of political moderation struggle to hold back furious attacks from progressive insurgents who see business and employers as the problem rather than a force for good. The ability of employers to ensure economic stability and continued opportunity rests entirely on their willingness of individuals to add their voices to the public debate.

AIM will publish its Legislative Agenda in January, immediately after President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord delivers his annual State of Massachusetts Business address.

AIM represents the interests of 4,000 companies from every sector of the economy.

Take the Issues Survey

 

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Massachusetts employers

Power and Collaboration on Beacon Hill

Posted by Rick Lord on Sep 21, 2016 4:27:48 PM

An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe, Business lobby holds new sway on Beacon Hill, accurately reports that Associated Industries of Massachusetts exerts unique influence on Beacon Hill on behalf of employers.

statehousedome.jpgWe do. That’s why your company is a member.

Unfortunately, the article also distorts AIM’s position on an important piece of legislation - the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – and contains a glaring factual error. I feel it is important to set the record straight.

The article reports that AIM opposed The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act during the 2015-2016 legislative session. But the article does not tell you that our opposition reflected legitimate concern among employers that the legislation duplicates existing law and provides an applicant or employee with the power to reject multiple and reasonable offers of accommodation by an employer.

The issue is similar to the recent debate over wage equity, in which AIM initially opposed a flawed bill meant to accomplish a goal we all supported. Far from exercising “veto power” over the House of Representatives, as one senator asserted to the Globe, AIM was able to work with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and the attorney general to develop an acceptable piece of legislation that we were ultimately proud to support and that Governor Charlie Baker signed.

The Globe article fails to mention that AIM has signaled the Legislature that we are willing to enter into the same type of negotiations on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. AIM executives told reporter Frank Phillips on several occasions that the association supports fair treatment of pregnant women and is open to discussions to eliminate provisions of the bill that would place an undue burden on employers.

The article also inaccurately reports that Cape Air, the business owned by retiring Senator Dan Wolf, D-Harwich, is a member of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. For the record, Cape Air has not been a member of AIM since 2003.

As member employers you should be proud of that AIM represents your interests with unparalleled skill and integrity. You should also acknowledge that the Massachusetts House of Representatives is developing workable legislation for the people of Massachusetts by working collaboratively with the business community.

The bottom line of the Globe article is that no organization is more prominent in public policy debates that AIM.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the article or AIM’s positions.

 

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts senate, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Three Companies Honored with Global Trade Awards

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Sep 19, 2016 7:30:00 AM

A global maker of security detection systems, a company that keeps pipelines flowing and a major producer of wire mesh are the winners of the 21st Annual Global Trade Awards from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council (AIM-IBC).

IBC.jpgThe 2016 Global Trade honorees announced this morning include REXA of West Bridgewater, L-3 Security & Detection Systems of Woburn, and Riverdale Mills Corporation of Northbridge. The awards recognize Massachusetts companies and organizations of all sizes that have demonstrated excellence in international trade.

“International trade plays a pivotal role in the health of the Massachusetts economy” said Richard Lord, President and CEO of AIM.

“That is why we are delighted to honor the achievements of these local winners, who set the standard for global business. We applaud their ability to be strategic and differentiate themselves to serve industries overseas.  These firms are making a significant contribution to Massachusetts’s reputation as a world trade leader. ”

The three Global Trade Awards winners will be honored during the AIM Global Trade Symposium & Awards Breakfast at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, October 6, from 8-11 a.m. Those in attendance will hear from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and a panel of business leaders about ways Massachusetts can succeed in a rapidly-changing global business world.

Ambassador’s Award - REXA
West Bridgewater

REXA designs and manufactures superior actuators, a device used by operators of pipelines, power plants and hydro dams to regulate the flow of water, steam or petroleum through industrial pipeline valves. Using innovative motion control technology, REXA actuators enable operators to open, close or adjust large valves from remote locations for normal usage or, in case of  emergency situations, to avoid spills or contamination. REXA technology is used in power generation, oil & gas, mining, metals, water and waste industries. A Japanese-owned company founded in 1981, REXA’s products are in high demand globally, with 40 percent of their products distributed internationally. www.rexa.com

Diplomat’s Award - L-3 Security & Detection Systems
Woburn, MA

L-3 Security & Detection Systems (L-3 SDS) is a leading supplier of security screening solutions, with more than 50,000 systems deployed and supported around the globe. Founded in 1986, L-3 SDS designs and manufactures cutting-edge products for secure facilities using advanced technologies such as 3-D computed tomography; automated, conventional and high-energy X-ray; radiation detection; active millimeter wave imaging; metal detection and more.   L-3 SDS engineers have improved airport x-ray scanners’ threat detection capabilities across the globe. www.sds.L-3.com

Chairman’s Award - Riverdale Mills Corporation
Northbridge, MA

Founded in 1980, Riverdale Mills Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality engineered, galvanized and PVC coated wire mesh fabrics. Riverdale Mills produces more than 3,500 sizes of welded wire mesh for the marine, aquaculture, security, farming and construction industries at its sole manufacturing facility in Massachusetts.

Riverdale’s marquee product, Aquamesh®, is a durable, rust proof and corrosion resistant wire mesh that is specifically designed to withstand the harshest subsea conditions. Aquamesh® is now used to build approximately 80 percent of all lobster traps fished in North America and Europe. Riverdale Mills WireWall® high security wire mesh fencing is used to protect the MIT Nuclear Reactor Lab, U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Port of San Francisco, Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Mexico, and the Vancouver Transit System.

The company is also one of the world’s leading producers of specialty PVC powder coating compounds.www.riverdale.com

The AIM International Business Council helps Massachusetts employers engage in international trade and expand their global business activities. Through seminars, referrals, and e-newsletters, the AIM International Business Council provides companies with the resources they need.  For more, visit www.aimnet.org/international.

Attend the Global Trade Symposium

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

Politico Editor: 2016 Election Highlights Blue-Collar Concerns

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 16, 2016 2:18:05 PM

Donald Trump has more social-media followers than the number of votes normally needed to be elected president of the United States.


It’s a statistic that Peter Canellos, Managing Editor of Politico, says helps to explain why the media coverage of the 2016 presidential election, and the election itself, is different from any other in history.

“These changes are themselves a major factor in the 2016 presidential campaign,” Canellos told more than 250 business leaders at the AIM Executive Forum this morning.

“We can’t establish the political dialog, as we did in the past, but we cannot ignore it.”

Recalling his work covering the 2002 presidential race when he was often the only reporter present when Bill Clinton and other candidates spoke, Canellos said that every word a candidate says today is recorded on a dozen iPhones, often held by representatives of the opposing campaigns, and posted online before any formal media outlet can post the story.

“Even if a news organization tries to exercise restraint, or tries to make decision about the news, the conversation is already galloping ahead without them,” said Canellos, who spent 26 years at the The Boston Globe before moving to Politico.

He acknowledged that many people were uncomfortable with the degree of control that “media mandarins” from The New York Times and other establishment publications once exerted over the narrative of presidential campaigns. The new reality of social media, he said, has recast the role of reporters to one of monitoring the veracity of campaign statements, tracking the connection between money and politics and looking at some of the issues “that candidates seek to avoid.”

Canellos believes the two major political parties will survive an election with two relatively unpopular nominees, but that each will change significantly.

“If you look at the history of the country the two parties’ positions have shifted dramatically. Who would have thought that the Democrats would be the party of Wall Street now? And the migration of working- class blue-collar voters to the Republican party seems to have accelerated strongly with the Trump nomination.”

The Democrats, according to Canellos, will have to sort out whether their future lies with the insurgent wing represented by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, or the establishment block led by Hillary Clinton.

“On the Republican side there will be quite an identity crisis. Even if Trump is elected, there will be questions within the Republican party about who they should be and what they should be,” he said.

Canellos said that early predictions that Democrats would regain control of the U.S. Senate appear to have been premature. Control of the Senate is now “a 50-50 proposition” as senators such as John McCain who trailed badly in the polls during the summer appear to be making up ground.

He believes the long-term legacy of the 2016 presidential election will be a sustained debate over the plight of middle-class workers, especially in traditional manufacturing areas now struggling to find new ways to grow.

“Trump has played   a role in putting that constituency front and center...Even some of the Democratic proposals like free college tuition and retraining through community colleges are responding to that constituency."

Topics: Economy, AIM Executive Forum, Policy

Communicating Sustainability Clearly and Honestly

Posted by Wayne Bates on Sep 13, 2016 8:55:17 AM

Editor's note - Wayne E. Bates, PhD, PE, is principal engineer with Tighe & Bond in Westfield and a facilitator of the AIM Sustinability Roundtable.

Many companies are making progress toward a sustainable business model with initiatives in areas like energy conservation, supply chain, employee engagement, water conservation and community involvement. A common question asked by these organizations is “what efforts and initiatives should we be communicating? To whom should we communicate these efforts? How much information should we provide?”

InnovationSmall-3.jpgThe decision to communicate sustainability programs depends on the nature of your organization, including the type of products or services offered and the interests of stakeholders both inside and outside your organization. Once a decision has been made to communicate, the type and amount of information communicated will depend on the desired level of transparency and stakeholder demands for information.

Sustainability communications should provide insight on where the company has been, where it is, and where it is going on the issue being communicated. For example, a communication on an energy conservation success story should be told in the context of the company’s overall energy goals and how the successful implementation fits into the sustainability strategy.

Most companies with sustainability programs do a decent job of discussing obvious challenges of meeting defined goals and targets. What is often not communicated well are the issues without a solution, initiatives that may be too costly, or initiatives that may take a long time to address. If you don’t acknowledge these unsolved, unfunded, or unplanned issues, someone else may.

Furthermore, if a stakeholder identifies an issue for you and you don’t respond, it may cause a disruption to your business and/or negative press.

Just ask Subway, the fast-food sandwich chain. In 2012 a food blogger reached out to Subway to find out why they use azodicarbonamide (ADA), a bread dough conditioning additive that had been banned in Europe and Australia for health concerns. After not receiving a response from Subway, in February 2014, the blogger publicly called the food chain out for using the additive. She made the point that ADA is used as a plasticizer in commercial products like yoga mats, and encouraged the general public to sign a petition.

The story went viral, the petition received more than 50,000 signatures, and Subway received an onslaught of comments through social media. In less than 60 days, Subway announced that it was removing ADA from its bread in US stores.

Knowledgeable stakeholders know when a company is overemphasizing accomplishments and not discussing certain material issues. Carefully balancing the communication of the goals and targets for on-going initiatives with the acknowledgement of future challenges will let stakeholders know where your organization stands and provide a better understanding of what to expect in future sustainability communications.  

Come join us at the next AIM Sustainability Round Table for a discussion communicating sustainability and hear from expert panelists.

Attend the AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Topics: Management, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

AIM Honors 11 Companies, Individuals with Next Century Awards

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 12, 2016 7:53:29 AM

Eleven companies and individuals who have made unique contributions to the Massachusetts economy have been named recipients of the annual Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Next Century Award to be presented at a series of regional celebrations in September and October.

The honorees range from a startup accelerator in Springfield to one of the commonwealth’s most passionate advocates for manufacturing to a company you would never believe is one of the largest government contractors in the nation.

AIM announced today that 2016 Next Century Awards will go to Unistress Corporation of Pittsfield, The Chamberlain Group of Great Barrington, Valley Venture Mentors of Springfield, Smith & Wesson of Springfield, Hanover Insurance company of Worcester, retiring Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Project President Jack Healy, MACOM of Lowell, Potpourri Group Inc. of Billerica, Analog Devices of Norwood, Coins n’ Things of Bridgewater and State Representative Patricia Haddad of Somerset.

“AIM created the Next Century Award to honor the accomplishments of companies and individuals creating a new era of economic opportunity for the people of Massachusetts. These remarkable people and institutions - world leaders in their fields – inspire the rest of us by exemplifying the intelligence, hard work and dedication to success that has built our commonwealth,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

Award winners will be honored at AIM regional celebrations in Pittsfield on September 20; the Hanover Theatre in Worcester on October 17; the Wood Museum of Springfield History on October 20; Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on October 24; and the Riverwalk Complex in Lawrence on October 26. Each event will run from 4:30-6:30 and is free to AIM members.

Here are summaries of each recipient, along with the date, location and registration link for the celebration when each will receive the award.

Unistress Corporation, Pittsfield | September 20, Interprint Inc., Pittsfield | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Unistress3.jpgThe future of Unistress Corporation is every bit as expansive as the sprawling New NY Bridge being built across the Hudson River with the company’s massive precast concrete deck panels.

Pittsfield-based Unistress, the state's only manufacturer of large precast/prestressed concrete structures, is working on the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge as part of a $70 million contract that is the largest in the company’s 48-year history. The project prompted Unistress to invest more than $6 million to expand its facilities on Cheshire Road and hire more than 150 new workers to bring its total work force to more than 500 people.

Manufacturing the deck of a bridge that will handle eight traffic lanes, four breakdown lanes, a bicycle and pedestrian path, state-of-the-art traffic monitoring systems and accommodations for either light rail or commuter rail is nothing new for a company that worked extensively on the Big Dig project in Boston. Unistress has also worked on parking garages, railway stations, and stadiums, including the new Yankee Stadium.

The $100 million-a-year company has completed more than 500 precast structures throughout the Northeast and has won numerous awards for excellence from its peers. The Unistress plant has been certified for more than 45 years under the Precast/Prestressed Concrete (PCI) Plant Certification Program.

Unistress is part of a family of construction companies that dates back to the nadir of the Depression in 1936. Italian immigrant Basilio Petricca struck out on his own and improbably won the opportunity to rebuild seven bridges over the Hoosac River that had been destroyed by a hurricane. Though he had never before built a bridge and used his pickup track as an office, Petricca got the job done and made the bridges passable again. 

“We don’t do a lot of cookie-cutter jobs. Construction managers who work with us know we can get even the most complex jobs done for them. They don’t ask us if we can do it—they ask when we can get it done,” said Perri Petricca, the current Unistress Chief Executive and the grandson of Basilio.

The Chamberlain Group, Great Barrington | September 20, Interprint Inc., Pittsfield | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

How does a group of high-end visual effects professionals working in movies and television end up improving the quality of medical care for millions of people?

Chamberlain.jpgIf you’re The Chamberlain Group in Great Barrington, you use your visual effects wizardry to make mimetic organs for surgical and interventional training.

Chamberlain’s life-like organs are used in the sophisticated simulation labs that medical schools, hospitals and medical device makers employ to train surgeons. The company’s mission is to “bring practice to the practice of medicine.”

The Chamberlain Group’s products are sold to more than 150 medical-device manufacturers and teaching institutions in 50 countries, including Russia and India, Asia and the Middle East, and in virtually all 50 states domestically. Their client list includes Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Cleveland Clinic, Lahey Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, and NASA.

Berkshire Business Quarterly magazine said, “The Chamberlain Group’s design ingenuity has been a breakthrough for the medical community. Models look, weigh, and feel just like real living tissue and provide a better training device than a cadaver, animal, or lesser-realized product would.”

Eric and Lisa Chamberlain launched The Chamberlain Group in 1999 after working for New York design firms that made miniature models and special visual effects for films ranging from Gandhi, Tootsie, and The Big Chill to Ghostbusters, Predator and Woody Allen’s Zelig. Medical schools and device manufacturers were beginning to move away from cadavers and animals in their training programs and the Chamberlains saw opportunity in the burgeoning simulation business.

It was a textbook case of nimble entrepreneurs adapting skills from one industry to a seemingly unrelated one. The result is a thriving enterprise with 23 employees working in an 8,500-square-foot design and manufacturing facility.

“When we began our work in anatomy in the late 90’s, there was no such thing as a ‘simulation industry.’ Without an institutional or disciplinary bias, with no set formula to follow, we have entertained all possibilities. We have held to the high standards of our visual effects work to inform our product development:  be excellent, try anything, stay nimble,” Lisa Chamberlain says.

The company earlier this year earned the 2016 Exporter of the Year designation for Massachusetts and New England by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Jack Healy | October 17, Hanover Theatre, Worcester | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

No one has done more to reinvigorate manufacturing in Massachusetts than John (Jack) Healy, who retired recently after guiding the Worcester-based Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC) for 17 years.

Healy had already logged a full career as a manufacturing executive at companies like LEGO and Presmet when he became founding Director of Operations for both MassMEP and the MAC in 1999. He quickly energized both organizations and set them about helping hundreds of small and medium-sized manufacturers implement growth opportunities through advanced manufacturing and management practices.

MassMEP has worked with 1,800 manufacturers since its inception, providing these companies with consulting, business and management advice through its professional project managers. The organization has also created job-training programs, established skill standards and associated testing, and advocated for manufacturing needs to policymakers. Healy geared these services primarily to the small manufacturing companies that have come to dominate the Massachusetts economy during the past three decades.

But Healy’s most enduring legacy will come from his efforts to address the critical shortage of workers with the skills needed by manufacturers to compete globally.  His accomplishments include the creation of an award-winning Mobile Outreach Skills Training (M.O.S.T) Program, which trains and recruits future workers with little or no prior manufacturing experience for entry level production jobs; and a comprehensive machinist training curriculum that extends from basic skills through bachelor’s degrees.

Those efforts have had particular resonance in Worcester and central Massachusetts, where manufacturing constitutes about $6.4 billion worth of economic activity. Manufacturing represents 19.9 percent of the private sector's gross domestic product in the central region compared to 12 percent statewide.

“If we lost manufacturing in the metropolitan Worcester area, we would be in tough shape," Healy told the Worcester Business Journal.

Congressman James McGovern of Worcester notes that Healy has played a key role in the ``Manufacturing Our Future'' effort in Massachusetts, which has served as a catalyst for developments like Worcester's Gateway Park.

MassMEP has received numerous awards under Healy’s leadership, including a 2011 Workforce Training Partnership of the Year Award from the Workforce Solutions Group, the 2011 John Gould Education & Workforce Development Award from AIM and the 2010 Group Innovator of the Year from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Hanover Insurance Group, Worcester | October 17, Hanover Theatre, Worcester | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The Hanover Insurance Group has a more than 160-year history in Worcester, but with a new chief executive at the helm and record results for its most recent year, the $5 billion company has its focus firmly forward.

The Hanover is the holding company for several property and casualty insurance companies, and one of the oldest continuous businesses in the United States still operating within its original industry. The company provides a wide range of property and casualty products and services to individuals, families, and businesses, and distributes its products through a select group of independent agents and brokers.

Together with its agents, the company offers specialized coverages for small and mid-sized businesses, as well as insurance protection for homes, automobiles, and other personal items. In addition, through its international member company, Chaucer, The Hanover also underwrites business at Lloyd's of London in several major insurance and reinsurance classes, including marine, property and energy.

The company has been successfully transformed over the past decade, from a predominantly regional insurer into a global property and casualty insurance player, writing business across the United States and in approximately 175 other countries. The Hanover currently employs approximately 1,900 people in Massachusetts – the vast majority in Worcester – and about 4,800 people in total.

The Hanover also has earned a reputation as a concerned and active corporate citizen, helping to create positive and lasting change in Greater Worcester and in the communities where its employees live and work. The company works with its many community partners to address a range of needs, placing a special emphasis on youth and education, donating millions of dollars each year to the United Way and to a host of non-profit organizations.

The breadth of The Hanover’s community involvement is underscored by the fact that it will accept its award in the renovated downtown theater to which it committed $2 million in 2006, as part of an initiative to stimulate economic development.

The Hanover launched a new chapter in its corporate history on May 16 when it named former Aetna executive Joseph M. Zubretsky as its new president and chief executive officer. Zubretsky succeeded longtime CEO Frederick H. Eppinger.

Zubretsky joined The Hanover after almost nine years at Aetna, where he served in a number of key senior executive positions, most recently as chief executive officer at Healthagen Holdings, a group of healthcare services and information technology companies.

Smith & Wesson, Springfield | October 20, Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Smith & Wesson has been a cornerstone of the Pioneer Valley manufacturing economy since Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson began to produce the Model 1 revolver in Springfield in 1856. The company’s storied history traces an arc from the old west to the Imperial Army of the Russian Tsar to outfitting thousands of laws enforcement officers in the United States and abroad.

But beyond its own success, Smith & Wesson has been a crucible of technology and skills that have fueled the development of a metal machining hub in western Massachusetts that now serves industries from aerospace to medical devices.

Smith & Wesson Corp. today is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of firearms. The company is expected to generate more than $900 million in annual sales in its current fiscal year.  It also employs more than 1,700 people, most at its sprawling manufacturing plant on Roosevelt Avenue.

Smith & Wesson has delivered tremendous organic and inorganic growth in firearms, and in 2010 moved 225 new jobs to Springfield as a result of its earlier acquisition of Thompson/Center Arms in New Hampshire.

In addition to growing its historical and sizeable firearms business, Smith & Wesson has recently expanded beyond firearms.  It acquired accessories maker Battenfeld Technologies in 2014, and in August of this year added Taylor Brands to its list of acquisitions.  Taylor is a designer and distributor of high-quality knives and specialty tools.

Then Smith & Wesson purchased a leader in laser sighting products, Crimson Trace.  Smith & Wesson paid $180 million in cash for both the Crimson Trace and Taylor acquisitions. 

In addition to Smith & Wesson’s rich legacy of supporting philanthropic efforts in the community throughout the decades, the company has more recently taken a visible role in addressing the critical shortage of trained machinists that is affecting all areas of Massachusetts. The Smith & Wesson Technology Applications Center was created at Springfield Technical Community College to host STCC’s manufacturing and engineering technology programs, which prepare students for jobs in modern, computerized precision-machine shops.  It’s is just one of many programs that the company has supported to help deliver economic growth.

Among Smith & Wesson’s best known products over the years have been the .38 Military & Police Revolver, now known as the Model 10, a firearm that has been used extensively by police forces and has been in continuous production since 1899; the Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver made famous by Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies; and the popular M&P line of polymer pistols and rifles.

Smith & Wesson Corp. is the main operating subsidiary of the publicly traded Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.

Valley Venture Mentors, Springfield | October 20, Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield |4:30-6:30 p.m.

Valley Venture Mentors is creating an entrepreneurial renaissance in a region replete with business success stories, from the first-ever gasoline powered motorcar and to the invention of the game of basketball.

VVM opened for business as a small, grassroots nonprofit in 2011 and has since grown to a community with more than a thousand mentors who have guided more than a hundred startups, from app developers to fair-trade wedding dress retailers. In 2015 those startups generated more than $10 million in revenue and investment and 222 jobs. 

In May, Valley Venture Mentors awarded $252,000 in funding to 12 companies in its second annual startup accelerator competition. The awards ranged from $6,000 to $50,000, with judges allocating the money following a four month long process of boot camps and pitching sessions.

Harder to measure is the amount of time and money that entrepreneurs didn’t waste thanks to the VVM community’s collective knowledge. Mentors are business executives from healthcare, energy, social services, engineering, finance, and other sectors; nonprofit board members; teachers, investors, lawyers, designers and developers.

Says one mentor: “I came to pay forward the help given to me when I was starting out. Next thing I know, I am learning almost as much as the startup I was helping.”

The organization believes that there is no better way to create transformational economic growth than to train, support, and invest in business startups. VVM is focusing some of that training and support this year on manufacturing by launching the nation’s first manufacturing accelerator in partnership with the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program administered by MassDevelopment, the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, and AIM.

The Manufacturing Accelerator brings small and medium-sized enterprises together with potential customers to discover new ways to do business. The accelerator’s intensive training program helps manufacturers learn the needs of potential buyers, validate the ability to deliver on those needs and how to communicate capabilities.

Coins N’ Things, Bridgewater | October 24, Gillette Stadium, Putnam Club | Foxboro | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Drive past the modest headquarters of CNT, Inc in Bridgewater and there is nothing to suggest that you’ve stumbled upon one of the nation’s largest government contractors. Even the quaint company name, maintained from its roots as a retail store for coin collectors, carries no hint of the scope and breadth of the operation.

CNT, a privately held, family-controlled business, is in fact the largest wholesale vendor of gold in the United States. In fiscal year 2011, the company became the U.S. federal government's largest supplier of precious metals, with government gold sales that accounted for about half of the $3.8 billion in contracts to supply silver and gold to the United States Mint during the year. CNT ranked number 39 on the list of the top 100 contractors of the U.S. federal government for that same fiscal year, with $1.89 billion in obligations from the government, all from the Treasury Department. That made the company the single largest contractor to the Treasury Department.

Founded in 1974 by Louis Oliari and his son, Mark, Coins N’ Things, Inc. (dba CNT) began as a retail shop dealing with coins, jewelry, stamps, and other ‘things.’ In the mid-1980s Mark grew the company into a precious metals wholesaler. Since that time, we have grown into the largest privately owned company in the precious metals industry. Currently, CNT is one of the largest precious metals wholesalers worldwide dealing with major governments and large retailers.

In 2002, the United States Mint approved CNT to become one of 11 businesses worldwide authorized to buy American Eagle silver bullion coins for distribution; at that time, qualifications for that authorization included a substantial retail customer base and net worth of at least $5 million. In 2009, CNT was authorized by the United States Mint to become an authorized distributor for the American Eagle gold, platinum, and palladium products; qualifications for this authorization included a net worth of at least $50 million. In 2010 the business obtained approval to sell gold to the U.S. federal government.

The business has about 70 employees, including Mark Oliari, his wife Patty, and their three children. Today, the CNT family of companies has grown to include, CNT Depository, Inc., CNT Lending, Inc., and Bay Precious Metals.

Analog Devices, Norwood | October 24, Gillette Stadium, Putnam Club | Foxboro | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

It may be the understatement of the year to say that Norwood-based Analog Devices is on a roll.

In the past four months, Norwood-based semiconductor company agreed to acquire competitor Linear Technology Corp. for about $14.8 billion, quadrupled its sales to Apple amid the ramp-up to the iPhone 7, announced a 6.4 percent increase in its quarterly profit, then paid $42 million for the Cyber Security Solutions (CSS) business of Sypris Electronics LLC., in Tampa, Florida.

Not bad for a 51-year-old company that already leads the worldwide data converter market with a 48.5 percent share.

Analog Devices manufactures analog, mixed-signal and digital signal processing (DSP) integrated circuits (ICs) used in electronic equipment. These technologies are used to convert, condition and process real-world phenomena, such as light, sound, temperature, motion, and pressure into electrical signals. The company services industries ranging from communications, computer, industrial and instrumentation to military/aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics.

In a business defined by innovation, Analog invests 19 percent of its $3.4 billion in annual revenue on research and development. The company employs 2,500 people at Massachusetts facilities in Norwood, Wilmington and Chelmsford, and more than 9,500 people worldwide. It maintains manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts, Ireland and The Philippines, and 30 design centers worldwide.

Analog was founded by MIT graduates, Ray Stata and Matthew Lorber in 1965. The same year, the company released its first product, the model 101 op amp, a hockey-puck sized module used in test and measurement equipment. Analog became a publicly traded company in 1969 and by 1996 reported more than $1 billion in revenue.

Analog’s acquisition of Linear Technology is viewed as a blockbuster as  chipmakers add scale amid record industry consolidation.

“The combination of Analog Devices and Linear Technology brings together two of the strongest business and technology franchises in the semiconductor industry,” said Vincent Roche, President and Chief Executive Officer of Analog Devices. “Our shared focus on engineering excellence and our highly complementary portfolios of industry-leading products will enable us to solve our customers’ biggest and most complex challenges at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds.”

Hon. Patricia Haddad | October 24, Gillette Stadium, Putnam Club | Foxboro | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

When Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo needed someone to conduct difficult negotiations with the business community this summer over a proposed wage-equity bill, he called upon Rep. Patricia A. Haddad.

Through weeks of negotiations on perhaps the most important legislation of the year, Haddad worked with Associated Industries of Massachusetts and other employer representatives to craft a bill that ensures that workers will be fairly compensated without regard to gender but instead according to the value they bring to the business enterprise.

The compromise legislation passed both House and Senate and Governor Charlie Baker signed the nation’s first wage equity law measure into law on August 1.

“Rep. Haddad was determined, respectful and insightful as she held together the negotiations and secured the support of the business community,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for AIM.

Haddad represents the people of Dighton, Somerset, Swansea and Taunton, and serves as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives. 

A member of the House since 2000, she has served on a variety of committees including Human Services and Elder Affairs, Health Care, Medicaid, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Rules, Ethics and Ways and Means. Haddad served two terms as Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education and prior to her recent appointment as Speaker Pro Tem, was Assistant Majority Whip.

Haddad is deeply involved in the economy of her region and of the commonwealth.  She has worked closely with AIM on issues of electricity policy and on labor law, and is the only member of the Legislature to be honored with the AIM Next Century Award for 2016.

The new pay-equity law promotes salary transparency, limits upfront questions to job candidates about salary history, and encourages companies to conduct reviews to detect pay disparities.  It explicitly recognizes legitimate market forces such as performance and the competitive landscape for certain skills that cause pay differences among employees.

Potpourri Group, North Billerica | October 26, Riverwalk Complex, Lawrence | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Potpourri Group earlier this year moved into a state-of-the-art, 450,000-square-foot facility in Littleton that will increase the company’s employment roles to 400 people during the business pre-holiday season.

Potpourri’s CEO, Jonathan Fleischmann is committed to his team and to Massachusetts. He notes, “Our new facility has been a ‘long time coming,’ with the company weathering the recession, completing several acquisitions, and conducting national location studies prior to receiving board approval to move forward.”

“The Potpourri management team is excited to be remaining in Massachusetts and finding a new home in Littleton in particular, retaining the ‘institutional knowledge of its great work force’ and in gaining the capacity needed to continue on our growth strategy,” Fleischmann said.

The company has even purchased vans so workers who lived near the former facility in Whitinsville would have an easy way to reach the new building.

“After several years of operating beyond capacity in Whitinsville, we’re finally graduating to a new level of scale and productivity,” said Fleishmann, who serves on the AIM Board of Directors. “We’re very proud to be achieving this by not only retaining, but adding jobs here in the commonwealth.”

Potpourri is a national, multi-channel, direct-to-consumer company headquartered in North Billerica. Founded in 1963, Potpourri started as a single brand and has expanded to 15 brands through organic growth and acquisitions. The company today is among the leading multi-channel direct-to-consumer companies in America, and offers thousands of products in the areas of home décor, apparel, jewelry, gifts, toys, travel, and pet accessories.

The company distributes close to 250 million catalogs and ships more than five million packages annually.

Potpourri is leasing the Littleton facility from Braintree-based capital partners Condyne & Affiliates. Condyne has invested approximately $35 million in the building and Potpourri has so far invested close to $9 million in capital expenditures. Builders broker ground in April 2015 and completed construction in February.

MACOM, Lowell | October 26 | Riverwalk Complex, Lawrence | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Think of MACOM as the roadbed for the information superhighway. The publicly held company – which makes semiconductors, components and subassemblies for analog RF, microwave, millimeter-wave and photonic applications – has become a global leader by satisfying society’s insatiable appetite for information.

That success translates into 400 jobs at the company headquarters in Lowell and 1,200 jobs globally.

The company’s technology increases the speed and coverage of the mobile Internet and enables fiber optic networks to carry previously unimaginable volumes of traffic to businesses, homes and datacenters. MACOM technology also enables next-generation radars for air traffic control and weather forecasting, as well as mission success on the modern networked battlefield

Headquartered in Lowell, MACOM has been a technology bellwether for Massachusetts since its founding as Microwave Associates in a Boston loft in 1950. MACOM today is certified to the ISO9001 international quality standard and ISO14001 environmental management standard. MACOM has multiple design centers, along with manufacturing, assembly and test, and operational facilities throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

MACOM has thrived in recent years by moving away from commodity markets for chips that go into appliances and automobiles and ramping up research and development to focus on higher-complexity products.

The company divides its revenue into three categories: Networks comprises 65 percent of sales and includes wired broadband, cellular infrastructure, and fiber optics. Aerospace and Defense, mainly radar and communication, is approximately 20 percent of sales.

In the defense sector, the company's fabrication plants are located in the U.S. and certified as a "trusted foundry" by the Department of Defense. The rest is composed of "multi-market," a catch-all for everything from industrial and scientific measurement to even medical, such as CAT scanners.

MACOM has also replaced low-margin products with more specialized high-margin products. The changes have boosted the company’s gross margin by five percentage points since 2011. Sales have also increased at double-digit growth rates.

Growth drivers on the horizon include the continued build-out of cellular and high-speed networks, including fiber optic networks where MACOM is increasingly building expertise, most notably with its recent acquisition of FiBest Limited, a Japanese supplier of optic sub-assemblies.

MACOM’s growth has created dividends for the communities in which it operates. The company attempts to align its core business values with initiatives that support the enhancement and revitalization of communities by providing needed infrastructure and access to programs for hunger relief, education, community development and military/veterans initiatives.

All of the regional award celebrations are free and open to AIM members, but registration is required.

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Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts employers

AIM Leaders Appointed to Three Key Commissions

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 7, 2016 12:06:17 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts and several of its member companies have been appointed to represent employers on three key state commissions looking at health-care costs, financial best practices and the future of manufacturing.

Lord.short.jpgRichard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer, was among 23 people named yesterday to a special commission studying the variation in prices among Massachusetts hospitals and health-care providers. The commission was established as part of a deal to avoid a ballot question that would have reduced health insurance payments to the state’s largest hospital network, Partners HealthCare, and given some of that money to lower-paid competitors.

Reports by the attorney general’s office and the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission have blamed rising health-insurance premiums in part on the fact that some academic teaching hospitals charge significantly more money for medical procedures than community hospitals with no better outcomes. Massachusetts residents obtain medical care at high-cost teaching hospitals far more frequently that people in other states.

Lord has been deeply involved in efforts to address the high cost of health care for more than a decade. He currently serves on the Health Policy Commission and was a charter board member of the Massachusetts Health Care Connector Authority. He was appointed to the special commission on price disparity by House Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading.

“Massachusetts is home to world-renowned hospitals and doctors, but we also know that up to one-third of all medical care is delivered inefficiently. I look forward to working with members of the commission to ensure that our unparalleled medical system is also affordable for employers and workers,” Lord said.

Others named to the special commission include AIM members Howard Grant, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lahey Health System; Deb Devaux, Chief Operating Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; Lynn Nicholas, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Hospital Association; and Lora Pellegrini, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans.

By statute, the commission will also include the secretaries for administration and finance and health and human services, the attorney general, and the executive director of the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) under the co-leadership of the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing Senator James Welch and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing Representative Jeffrey Sanchez.

Holahan.jpgMeanwhile, Katherine Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, was named to a three-year term as a member of the State Finance and Governance Board.

The board works to further transparency, accountability and best practices among state entities relative to investments, borrowing, or other financial transactions involving public funds. 

The panel is required to review any derivative financial product relative to transactions entered into by state entities, including any quasi-public entity, independent authority, or any state entity that is authorized to manage or oversee public funds. Examples of these entities are: the Massachusetts Port Authority; the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority; and the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

The final appointment was Brian Gilmore, Executive Vice President of External Affairs, who was named to another term as a member of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC).

Gilmore.jpgMade up of leaders from industry, academia and government, the AMC implements and evaluates state policies to support the competitiveness of Massachusetts manufacturers. Gilmore leads AIM’s manufacturing initiatives and has worked on policy and projects that allow manufacturing companies to be efficient, competitive and attractive paces to work for skilled employees.

The AMC addresses issues through five working groups: (1) Promoting Manufacturing; (2) Workforce & Education; (3) Technical Assistance & Innovation; (4) Cost of Doing Business; and (5) Access to Capital. The AMC also works in parallel with President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and with seven other states through the National Governors Association Center of Best Practices Policy Academy on Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation.

 

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Health Care Costs, Manufacturing

Business Confidence Falls for Third Consecutive Month

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 6, 2016 8:59:22 AM

Confidence among Massachusetts employers fell for a third consecutive month during August as companies remained uncertain about the vigor and durability of the economic recovery.

BCI.August.2016.jpgThe Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) declined one point to 54.1 last month, leaving it three full points lower than in August 2015. The confidence reading remained above the 50 mark that denotes an overall positive economic outlook, but optimism dimmed sharply on current economic conditions and employers’ outlook on their own companies.

The employer confidence readings are consistent with a recent weakening of consumer confidence in Massachusetts. The Mass Insight Consumer Confidence Index slid 10 points during the third quarter.

“The national and state economies continue to improve, but without the kind of momentum we have seen in previous recoveries. So employers remain confident overall, but circumspect,” said Raymond G. Torto, Chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

“One potential red flag is the degree to which employer confidence in their own companies has weakened during the past several months.”

The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009.

The index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

The sub-indices based on selected questions or categories of employer were mixed during August.

The Massachusetts Index, assessing business conditions within the commonwealth, rose 0.1 points during the month and 0.6 points over the year to 57.3. The U.S. Index of national business conditions, in contrast, dropped 0.7 points into pessimistic territory at 49.6 – 1.1 points lower than its level of a year ago.

Employers have been more optimistic about the Massachusetts economy than about the national economy for 76 consecutive months.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, plunged 1.9 points to 53.4 while the Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, rose 0.1 points to 54.89

The three sub-indices bearing on survey respondents’ own operations were also mixed.

The Company Index, reflecting overall business conditions, fell 1.3 points to 54.6, while the Sales Index lost 1.3 points to 54.3. The Employment Index managed a 0.1-point increase to 52.6.

The AIM survey found that nearly 39 percent of respondents reported adding staff during the past six months while 19 percent reduced employment. Expectations for the next six months were stable – 37 percent hiring and only 10 percent downsizing.

“Employer assessments of their own prospects and of current conditions have declined 4.8 points during the past 12 months and that is cause for some concern. The good news is that while employers' beliefs about future conditions are also declining, they are more bullish about future conditions than present ones,” said Katherine A. Kiel, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, College of the Holy Cross, and a BEA member.

Non-manufacturing companies continued to enjoy a significantly brighter outlook at 57.4 than manufacturing employers, who posted an overall confidence level of 51.2. One surprising development was that confidence levels that normally run higher in Great Boston than in the rest of the commonwealth were the same statewide during August at 54.3.

AIM’s President and CEO Richard C. Lord, a BEA member, called upon the two major presidential candidates to address the fragile nature of the economic recovery and offer specific plans for long-term economic expansion.

“The August Business Confidence Index is really a statement that employers are seeking leadership from the state and federal governments on issues like trade, taxes and economic growth,” Lord said.

“The election of the president and members of Congress is about the economic future of the nation and the ability of employers to create jobs and opportunity for people who need them.”

Topics: AIM Business Confidence Index, Massachusetts economy

Legislative Scorecard Paints Tale of Two Chambers

Posted by John Regan on Aug 29, 2016 7:35:05 AM


Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) today released its 2015-2016 Legislative Scorecardd, the most widely read report on the voting record of Massachusetts legislators on issues important to employers. AIM releases the Legislative Scorecard at the end of each two-year session to ensure that members know legislators’ records on key economic and public-policy issues, and to recognize lawmakers who understand the importance of a vibrant economy for all residents.

Scorecard2016.jpgThe 2015-2016 legislative session was a tale of two chambers. While the House of Representatives and Speaker Robert DeLeo successfully forged consensus on important measures such as wage equity and energy, the Senate hewed to a more progressive, ideological approach that produced a steady stream of bills with the potential to harm the Massachusetts economy. The divergent approaches are reflected in the Legislative Scorecard results.

Virtually every member of the House of Representatives earned grades of 50 percent or higher and 126 reps ended the session at 75 percent or better. The ratings were based on a dozen roll-call votes dealing with issues ranging from economic development to restricting the use of non-compete agreements.

In the Senate, meanwhile, only five of 40 members managed grades above 50 percent and a staggering 15 Senators posted scores of 18 percent. The highest score in the Senate belonged to Senator Don Humason of Westfield at 59 percent.

The Senate scores were based upon many of the same issues debated by the House, as well as additional votes on so-called wage theft and efforts to modify the commonwealth’s punitive treble damages law. Two key Senate votes – on energy and non-compete agreements – were not included because they were conducted as voice votes.

The Legislative Scorecard selects votes that reflect the objectives of The Blueprint for the Next Century, AIM’s long-term plan for economic prosperity in Massachusetts. The plan maintains that only a vibrant, private-sector economy creates opportunity that binds the social, governmental, and economic foundations of our commonwealth.

The Blueprint contains four specific recommendations against which AIM measures public policy issues:

  1. Develop the best system in the world for educating and training workers with the skills needed to allow Massachusetts companies to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy.
  2. Support business formation and expansion by creating a uniformly competitive economic structure across all industries, geographic regions and populations, rather than picking winners and losers.
  3. Establish a world-class state regulatory system that ensures the health and welfare of society in a manner that meets the highest standards of efficiency, predictability, transparency and responsiveness.
  4. Moderate the immense long-term burden that health care and energy costs place on business growth.
"We hope that employers find the Legislative Scorecard informative, and that they will share the results with your colleagues and associates," said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Massachusetts senate, Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Six Companies Earn Inaugural AIM Sustainability Awards

Posted by Michele Slafkosky on Aug 22, 2016 7:30:00 AM

Six Massachusetts companies ranging from a ski resort in the Berkshires to the largest grocery chain in New England have been named winners of the inaugural Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Sustainability Award. The award recognizes excellence in environmental stewardship, promotion of social well-being and contributions to economic prosperity.

AIM announced today that Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort of Hancock; PeoplesBank of Holyoke; W.D. Cowls, Inc. of North Amherst; Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc. of Sudbury; Gorton’s Seafood of Gloucester; and the Stop & Shop New England Division of Ahold USA were selected from among 33 nominations. The six companies will be honored at a series of regional celebrations throughout Massachusetts in September and October.

“These companies set the standard for sustainably managing their financial, social and environmental resources in a manner that ensures responsible, long-term success,” said AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord.

“Sustainability guarantees that the success of employers benefits our communities, our commonwealth and our fellow citizens. We congratulate our honorees and all the worthy companies that were nominated.”

Sustainability has gained widespread acceptance in recent years as global corporations such as Wal-Mart, General Electric and IBM make it part of their business and financial models.

The six honorees were selected by a committee that included the co-chairs of AIM’s Sustainability Roundtable - Johanna Jobin, Director of Global EHS and Sustainability at Biogen; and James McCabe, Sustainability Manager, Global Operations Group, Waters Corporation.

AIM initiated the Sustainability Roundtable in 2011 to provide employers the opportunity to exchange sustainability best practices and hear from experts in the field. That opportunity has attracted dozens of participants from companies such as Bose, Siemens, Coca-Cola, Boston Beer, MilliporeSigma, Ocean Spray, Analogic and Cisco.

Here are summaries of each recipient, along with the date and location of the celebration when each will receive the award.

Stop & Shop New England, Division of Ahold USA – October 24, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro

StopShop.jpgStop & Shop in April opened an innovative, state-of-the-art, Green Energy Facility in Freetown that uses a natural process called anaerobic digestion to convert inedible food that cannot be donated into clean energy.  The process produces up to 40 percent of the energy for Stop & Shop's 1.1 million square-foot adjacent distribution center, enough power to operate the center for four months of the year. 

Each day, 95 tons of inedible food from 208 Stop & Shop stores is brought to the 24,000 square-foot facility to be processed and converted into biogas.  The bio-gas fuels a generator that in turn, generates electricity providing power for heating, lighting and air conditioning systems in the sprawling distribution center.

“As a responsible retailer, one of our top priorities is reducing our environmental footprint, specifically through the conversion of food that would otherwise go into a landfill,” said Mark McGowan, President, Stop & Shop New England.  “The Green Energy Facility is a perfect example of our ongoing efforts to be greener in our operations.”

The Green Energy Facility is part of Stop & Shop’s strategic and long-term efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.  Today, Stop & Shop diverts 88 percent of its total waste from landfills with the goal to be “zero waste” by 2020.

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Hancock – September 20, Interprint Inc., Pittsfield

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort will add to its extensive renewable energy portfolio this season by installing high-efficiency snowmaking guns on its downhill ski facility in Hancock. The resort expects to be completely powered by renewable energy by 2017.

JiminyPeak.jpgThe 450 new snow gun heads will replace older, less efficient technology and will reduce the amount of electricity used for making snow.  The new LPXY snowmaking guns generate twice as much snow using half the amount of compressed air as the older model. Jiminy was able to take advantage of a National Grid energy efficiency incentive program to help offset a portion of the cost for the upgrade.

The project, along with the installation of LED lights on nine night-skiing trails, is the latest in a long history of environmental stewardship for the resort. Recent additions to the portfolio include a 2.3 megawatt community shared solar facility with Nexamp and a co-generation facility located in the Country Inn. These renewable projects are in addition to the 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbine for which the resort was awarded the Golden Eagle Award from the National Ski Areas Association.

Jiminy Peak is the largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England and a premier four-season resort in the Berkshires. The 167-acre facility includes extensive conference and wedding facilities.

“Controlling and reducing the snowmaking operating costs, maximizing snow production and optimizing the benefits of all capital reinvestments have long been the mantra of this organization,” the company says.

“Jiminy's policy of environmental awareness is seen in all of our activities. We seek to raise the environmental awareness of guests and employees, and to broaden their knowledge and appreciation through educational programs.”

Jiminy is also a participant in the NSAA Climate Challenge, joining other resorts striving to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and preserving the earth for future generations.

Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc., Sudbury – October 17, Hanover Theatre, Worcester

Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc. established in 1910, is a company that works and lives off the land, so it’s no surprise that the company spends a lot of time understanding and mitigating its impact on the environment.

Cavicchio is New England’s most comprehensive wholesale horticultural grower and distributor, cultivating and sustaining more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials and nursery stock, complimented by a premium selection of loam, mulch, stone, and landscape supplies.

The company operates 10 acres of state-of-the-art greenhouse space powered by computerized environmental control systems. Water usage has been addressed by installing flood floor systems to recycle water and by grading the fields (160 acres) so that irrigation water circulates back to irrigation ponds.

The company utilizes wood-fueled heating and cooling systems in its greenhouses year-round. The wood that fuels these boilers is chipped on-site from logs and cut trees brought in by landscape contractors.  The process provides a convenient way for customers to recycle debris and has eliminated the need to use fuel oil.

Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc. communicates, both internally and externally, the importance of not misusing the land they occupy, and has engaged customers by implementing free plastic-pot and tray recycling programs, recycling over 300 tons of plastic annually.  And, Cavicchio has dedicated 10 acres to composting and recycling of grass, leaves, soil, brush, asphalt, concrete and cement. Other environmental efficiency improvements include incorporating electric carts and replacing diesel-powered tractors.

PeoplesBank, Holyoke – October 20, Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield

PeoplesBank.jpgPeoplesBank is not only building environmental responsibility into its own future, but also helping others do the same.

The 131-year-old community bank based in Holyoke recently constructed LEED® certified branches in Springfield, West Springfield, and Northampton – the first of their kind in the area. LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

After building the branches, PeoplesBank initiated community education events to spread the word about environmentally friendly construction and building operation. It also installed electric-vehicle charging stations at three locations and held e-recycling events that have collected more than 100,000 pounds of material to date.

But the bank didn’t stop there. Using one of its core business capabilities, PeoplesBank has financed more than $100 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power in the region. The organization regarded tackling the sheer complexity of financing these projects as another opportunity to serve the community.

The bank even sponsors of a farmers’ market for associates, a program that led to the formation of an Environmental Committee to promote green values at home and at work.

“Through our commitment and actions to support environmental sustainability, we believe that we can make the region a healthier place to live, work and raise a family,” said Tom Senecal, PeoplesBank President and Chief Executive Officer.

 W.D. Cowls, Inc., North Amherst – October 20, Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield

Here’s proof of sustainability - W.D. Cowls Inc. has been continuously managing generations of the same forest land in western Massachusetts since 30 years before the Revolutionary War.

The North Amherst forestry, real estate and building-materials company has been working woodlands in the Pioneer Valley since 1741, through nine generations of family ownership. Cowls grows and harvests diverse mixed species - including pine, oak and hemlock - along with other forest products. It also retails lumber, paint, hardware and building materials at its Cowls Building Supply store.

The long-term sustainable view that has led Cowls to care for and maintain the same Massachusetts forest for more than 275 years led the company to create the largest private conservation project in Massachusetts history, placing a Conservation Restriction on 3,486 acres of timberland now known as the Paul C. Jones Working Forest. An additional 2,000 to 3,000 acres are due to be conserved during the next 12 months.

In a textbook definition of Smart Growth, Cowls uses revenue earned conserving outlying open space to sustainably develop downtown North Amherst.  Cowls’ generational Home Farm redevelopment is as sustainable as the company’s forest practices.

Every generation of the Cowls family since 1741 has built what was needed on the 20-acre Home Farm in North Amherst.   The site in the past has produced tobacco and onions, and housed such diverse operations as the Amherst-Sunderland branch of the Holyoke Street Railway system, a major dairy operation and the first electric sawmill in the country.

For this generation, the Cowls’ Home Farm is becoming a new town center called The Mill District.  The project already includes Cowls Building Supply; Atkins Farms Market in the old cow barn; The Lift Salon and Bread and Butter Café in the new Trolley Barn; and more than a dozen apartments.

The next phase of growth is about to begin.   North Square in The Mill District will feature 130 apartments and 22,000 square feet of restaurants, shops and services underneath.

Today, as the state’s largest private landowner, Cowls sets the bar for environmental and economic sustainability. 

Gorton’s Seafood, Gloucester – October 26, Riverwalk Complex, Lawrence

One of the most recognizable names in seafood discovered that reducing its environmental impact is a matter of degree – nine degrees to be exact.

Gloucester-based Gorton’s Seafood, for many years a leader in preserving the oceans that yield its products, utilized data and scientific analysis to determine that raising the temperature at which its frozen seafood was distributed would significantly reduce diesel emissions tied to climate change. So the company changed its recommendation for delivery temperatures from minus 10 degrees to minus one degree

The result was that the company’s carriers saved 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year, the equivalent of removing 85 cars from the road or planting 696 trees. Gorton’s was also able to smooth out significant swings in temperature to which its seafood is often subjected during the long journey from plant to grocery store to home freezer.

The program is part of a broader sustainability program at Gorton’s called Trusted Catch.  As part of that commitment to sustainability, Gorton’s currently sources 97 percent of its wild-caught seafood from fisheries that are certified as sustainable by a third party.

“As a seafood industry leader located in America’s oldest seaport, Gloucester, Massachusetts, we recognize that preserving our oceans and natural resources is not merely an option, it is a mandate. It is a mandate that we have followed for generations by partnering with a select group of suppliers and adhering to strict quality controls and standards that are among the toughest in the industry,” the company said.

All of the regional award celebrations are free and open to AIM members, but registration is required.

Register | Pittsfield

Register | Worcester

Register | Springfield

Register | Foxboro

Register | Lawrence

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Environment, Sustainability

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