AIM Honors Six Companies with Next Century Awards

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AIM Honors Six Companies with Next Century Awards

News | November 23, 2020
By: Chris Geehern

A century-old manufacturer finding innovative ways to thrive in Holyoke, a family business founded by immigrants from Mexico that has become one of the nation’s foremost suppliers of tortillas and a Boston non-profit creating economic opportunity for homeless teen-agers are among six AIM Next Century award honorees for 2020.

AIM announced today that 2020 Next Century awards will go to MOLARI Inc. of Pittsfield, Hazen Paper Company of Holyoke, E.T.& L. Corporation of Stow, Harbar LLC of Canton, Breaktime of Boston and Mainstream Global of Lawrence.

Next Century awards honor employers, community organizations and individuals who have made unique contributions to the Massachusetts economy and the well-being of the people who live here.

“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 inspire the rest of us by exemplifying the intelligence, hard work and dedication to success that has built our commonwealth,” said John R. Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“That dedication has never been more apparent than during the challenging year we have just experienced.”

Award winners will be honored during the week of November 30 through December 7 with tributes on AIM electronic and social media platforms. Honorees also received baskets of gifts donated by fellow AIM-member companies, including AIM face masks from AIS of Leominster, containers of hand sanitizer from Lancaster Packaging of Hudson and an all-natural cleaning supply kit from Force of Nature.

Here are summaries of each recipient:

MOLARI Inc., Pittsfield

The same determination and resourcefulness that have made MOLARI Inc. a key player in the Berkshire County economy since 1983 have allowed the company to continue providing home health services to individuals and skilled employees to companies in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MOLARI provides temporary and permanent employment services to businesses throughout the Berkshires, as well as in-home health care for seniors and disabled people and facilities staffing.

The company has kept people in the field this year by acquiring its own personal protective equipment and paying workers an extra $5 per hour so they can support their families while supporting those in need in the community.

The creativity is nothing new for MOLARI, which operates on the front lines of one of the most pressing issues facing employers in the Berkshires and beyond – locating and hiring qualified workers. The issue is particularly acute in the state’s westernmost county, which has seen its population decrease by 5 percent during the past decade.

The company is led by Gail Molari, Chief Executive Officer with more than 37 years of staffing experience. MOLARI employs approximately 220 people, making it one of the largest employers in the county.

“It’s a great place to work at if you’re looking for temporary work. They are very nice and treat you with respect. They try to make sure you got a job,” wrote one employee in an online post.

MOLARI owners and staff donate significant amount of time to the community, volunteering and sitting on local cultural and educational boards.

“We strive to help Berkshire County thrive,” the company says.

Hazen Paper Company, Holyoke

Hazen Paper Company may be approaching 100 years old, but the company has its sights firmly fixed on the future.

Founded in 1925 in one of the nation’s first planned industrial cities, Hazen has used relentless innovation and lean production to remain a cornerstone of the western Massachusetts economy.

The third-generation family company is a world-class paper converter specializing in custom holographic originations, film, foil, and paper laminations, specialty and gravure coatings, and rotary embossing. Hazen’s products are used in health and beauty packaging, entertainment and media packaging, golf ball packaging, bookbinding, lottery scratch tickets, merchandise tags, product labels, photo mounting, and ticketing applications.

The company employs 200 people and maintains a satellite manufacturing facility in Housatonic. President and Chief Executive Officer John Hazen is a member of the Associated industries of Massachusetts Board of Directors and his father, Thomas Hazen, served on the board for many years.

Hazen Paper’s emphasis on innovation led the company in 2005 to set up a holographic origination lab and design studio in Holyoke. Hazen acquired unique technology for creating holograms and rapidly developed the business and the derivative intellectual property. The company developed thousands of unique holographic designs and holds registered copyrights on at least a thousand originations. Hazen also holds several patents on the process it has developed.

The process has led the National Football League to select Hazen to develop holograms for the covers of the last 17 stadium-edition Super Bowl programs.

John Hazen said the image in a hologram is really in three dimensions. It’s not an image, really, but a texture that catches light.

“That’s what gives you the that flash of light, the color, the movement,” he told the Springfield Republican.

In 2007 Hazen expanded its Holographic lab and set up a new holographic embossing and metallizing plant on Main Street in Holyoke. The company also started an apprentice program to train the workers required for this high-tech factory. The program has trained more than 50 apprentices in the last 10 years.

Hazen started an internship program in 2010 with engineering students from Western New England University, several of whom now work full-time on the Hazen management team. Hazen has been proactive in helping to build the future workforce via the World Is Our Classroom program, whereby every fifth grader in Holyoke public schools visits Hazen for a full day of teaching and tours.

Hazen put on its innovation hat again this year when it became one of the first manufacturing companies in the state to pivot to making hand sanitizer. The company partnered with a distillery for bottling and labeling and then gave the product away to people who needed it.

E.T.& L. Corp., Stow

You might say that E.T.& L. Corp. has paved the way for the economic success of Massachusetts.

Drive down any of the roads that keep commerce moving in Massachusetts – Routes 128, 93, 95, 495, 190, 290, 140, 66, 62, 25, 101, 6 and 2 – and you are riding on the decades-long construction and engineering expertise of E.T.& L. Corp., which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Fly out of airports in New Bedford, Orange, Westfield, North Adams and Turners Falls and you take off from E.T.& L.’s work.

Driving to the Cape without the nightmare of the infamous Sagamore rotary? Thank E.T.& L. Corp. for that signature project.

Driving North on Route 93, the Methuen 93-110-113 interchange is another signature project reconstructed by E.T.& L. Corp.

E.T.& L. Corp. is one of the state’s most prominent construction companies, working on highways, roads, bridges, landfills, bike paths, site development and environmental projects. The family business, run by President and Chief Executive Officer Jennie Lee Colosi, has also undertaken a variety of “specialty” projects over the years, from airports to bridges to a private island.

The company employs between 75 and 150 people, depending on the time of year.

“Our employees are our most valuable assets. Without their dedication we wouldn’t be able to reconstruct the commonwealth” Colosi said.

The company was founded in 1945 as Eastern Tree and Landscape Corporation of Dedham. During the 1950s, E.T.& L. began a land clearing division and soon became one of the largest commercial land-clearing contractors in New England.

The following decade brought involvement in complete site preparation, land development and road construction. The work included excavation, embankments and storm-water control in addition to clearing and grubbing. The company changed its name to E.T.& L. Construction Corp. in 1964.

E.T.& L. Construction Corp. moved its headquarters and yard facilities to Route 117 in Stow, Massachusetts in 1971.

Beyond roads and bridges, the company successfully diversified into environmental projects during the 1980s and remains a major player in the field. E.T.& L. has undertaken dozens of site preparation projects for private clients and major corporations, projects that have included more than 120 expansions and closures of municipal and private sanitary landfills and wetland restoration and replication projects.

Colosi literally grew up in the business. She worked summers at E.T.& L., where she gained experience before going to college at the Georgia Institute of Technology for civil engineering. She returned to E.T.& L. and became president when her father retired in 1988.

E.T.& L. Corp. is the largest woman-owned construction company in central Massachusetts. The company is listed annually among the largest women-led businesses in Massachusetts and is one of four companies to make the list annually for all 20 years since the list began.  Colosi was also named Small Business Leader of the Year by the Worcester Business Journal in 2017.

E.T.& L. Corp. is fortunate to have continued working on construction projects during the pandemic as “essential workers.”

Colosi says she does not take this extraordinary achievement as a self-made goal. She believes her employees have supported her in this “long-paved accomplishment” and is thankful for the loyalty and hard work of all her employees for “a job well done.”

Harbar LLC, Canton

Harbar may be one of the most successful bakers of premium tortillas/wraps in the United States, but the company has never lost sight of its larger mission – to bring people together over Mexican food.

Founded in 1986 in Canton by Mexican immigrants, the company maintains its focus of producing authentic Mexican healthy tortilla products for the US market.

Inspired by Mexican tradition and culture, Harbar and its 170 employees produce a variety of healthy tortilla products, from traditional corn and wheat tortillas to specialty gluten free tortillas, sprouted grain tortillas and quinoa grain-free tortillas. The company sells its products under a number of trade names including the Mayan Farm, Wrappy and Maria & Ricardo’s brands as well as selective private label account brands.

Harbar places a heavy emphasis on food safety, quality and innovation. It’s an emphasis that has allowed Harbar to secure a long list of innovative products and food industry certifications such as – Kosher, Vegan, Whole Grains Certified Tortillas, Gluten-Free,  Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.

COVID-19 has created a challenging environment for Harbar, which has continued to operate as an essential business. The company has shipped products to all 50 states throughout the crisis and even had to develop its own personal protective equipment to adapt to the shortages in the market.

“This crisis gave us a sense of purpose in doing something that is helpful to so many people,” said Ezequiel “Cheque” Montemayor, the company president and a newly elected member of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Board of Directors.

Breaktime, Boston

Ten percent of young adults in the United States experience some form of homelessness each year.

Harvard undergraduates Connor Schoen and Tony Shu put faces to those numbers while volunteering at a shelter for homeless young adults in Harvard Square. People at the shelter needed a pathway to employment, so Schoen and Shu founded Breaktime, a transitional employment program geared towards young adults experiencing homelessness.

Breaktime doesn’t just serve coffee — it gives young adults experiencing homelessness an opportunity to gain professional work experience and engage with the community while working as front-of-house employees at a cafe. The non-profit organization promises to help young people launch their careers, nurture their talents, and serve their communities.

“Through this early intervention that focuses on financial and personal empowerment, Breaktime helps prevent long-term chronic homelessness and supports young adults in becoming changemakers,” the company says.

Breaktime offers a flexible year of “second-step” supported transitional employment to young adults experiencing homelessness. The organization supports these young people with professional and personal development along with one-on-one career mentorship to build social capital and equip them for the 21st-century workforce.

While foundational job training programs do exist, Schoen and Shu believe that young adults experiencing homelessness often encounter difficulty finding stable work after these programs end. Stable employment has been found to be the most critical factor in achieving stable housing.

“We’re actually imbuing our social mission to create job opportunities for people with barriers to employment throughout our entire supply chain,” Shu told Boston.com.

Breaktime has turned outward to help the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization is producing thousands of nutritious meals each week for people in need and for health-care and shelter workers in Greater Boston. The young adults at Breaktime are also preparing fresh groceries and produce to deliver to food-insecure populations.

“Through our programs, we have met some of the hardest-working and most resilient young adults. It is now more important than ever that we work to tilt the odds more in their favor,” Breaktime wrote in a recent blog.

Mainstream Global, Lawrence

Small companies can make a big difference. Mainstream Global of Lawrence is proving that point in the globally competitive world of information technology asset distribution.

Founded 20 years ago by brothers Juan and Luis Yepez, Mainstream Global is a value-added service organization providing sustainable reverse supply chain solutions to computer OEMs, contract manufacturers and service companies around the globe. The business specializes in Latin American markets.

In simple terms, the company acquires computer and electronic hardware from companies upgrading their systems, tests and screens the assets and then re-sells or recycles the equipment. The process requires scrupulous attention to data security, global logistics, quality control and environmental management.

Mainstream Global employs about 150 people, including 45 in Lawrence. The local facility reclaims or recycles 40,000 hard drives and 20,000 LED devices annually. Mainstream also operates in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil.

The company’s strategic approach to remarketing products allows it to maintain a network of industry customers to remarket large volumes of product without negatively impacting a regions market conditions or adversely affecting market pricing.

“When we’re able to process high volume … and re-sell that globally in six countries, nobody can do what we do in Latin America to that size and scope,” said Luis Yepez, Chief Operating Officer.

Mainstream Global may be relatively small, but the company has earned an outsized portfolio of key industry certifications. The business is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified to meet the highest of quality and environmental management system standards.  It is also R2:2013 certified and meets the OHSAS 18001 occupational health and safety management system.

The Yepez brothers have translated their success with Mainstream Global into significant investments to bring jobs to the City of Lawrence. They have bought and renovated about a half-million square feet of commercial space in several of the city’s most prominent buildings most recently purchased the Showcase Cinema site off Route 114.