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Ten Companies, Individuals to be Honored with AIM Next Century Awards

Posted on September 7, 2017

A sprawling Berkshire County factory turned world-renowned arts center, a company that has changed the way people interact with sound and a life-science equipment company that just built a $115 million campus in Burlington are among 10 organizations and individuals that will receive Next Century awards from Associated Industries of Massachusetts at a series of regional celebrations in September and October.

Combination.jpgNext 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 announced today that 2017 Next Century awards will go to TechSpring, the Baystate Health technology innovation center in Springfield; fastener manufacturer OMG Inc. of Agawam; biopharmaceutical company AbbVie of Worcester; Table Talk Pies of Worcester; MilliporeSigma of Burlington; state Senator Joan B. Lovely of Salem; Bose Corporation of Framingham; the National Lumber Family of Companies in Mansfield; home furnishings designer Annie Selke Cos. of Pittsfield; and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams.

“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 at the Wood Museum of Springfield History on September 28; Mechanics Hall in Worcester on October 5; the Riverwalk Complex in Lawrence on October 12; CBS Scene in Foxboro on October 19; and the Hotel on North in Pittsfield 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 and location of the celebration when each will receive the award.

TechSpring at Baystate Health | September 28 | Wood Museum of Springfield History

TechSpring, a health-care technology innovation center launched in 2014 by the regional medical services company Baystate Health, provides technology companies access to a live health system to test and validate digital-health solutions.

Funded initially with a $5.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, TechSpring calls itself a “collision space” where innovators in the health-care technology field can work with Baystate Health, gaining access to its data and to its expertise in return for developing technologies that help improve people’s health.

The vision, according to the organization, is “to create a vibrant innovation community with companies of all sizes, entrepreneurs, developers and non-profits, interacting informally and formally to create change in healthcare through technology development, assessment and deployment.”

It’s a project that has attracted high-profile strategic partners ranging from IBM and Dell to health-care companies like Premier Inc., Cerner, Careport Health and Medecision.

TechSpring operates four distinct programs:

  • TechSpring Projects: A pathway and process for technology companies to validate their health solutions in a real-life health-care context.
  • TechSpring Insights: A community of healthcare professionals, leaders and patients who provide feedback and insight.
  • Flexible work and event space for individuals or teams working in health care or technology.
  • Informatics Innovation Platform to facilitate interoperability and analytics development.

Among the companies and projects that have worked with TechSpring are Boston-based Careport Health, which developed a tool that helps hospitals establish collaborative relationships with their post-acute provider network to increase the quality, transparency and efficiency of patient care transitions. This spring, Careport was acquired by AllScripts, a leading health-care technology company.

Another success story has been Praxify, an India based start-up working with Baystate doctors on technology that lets them update paperwork from the bedside while conversing with the patient. Praxify was recently acquired by Athenahealth for $63 million.

In addition to the continued strong innovation collaboration with Cerner, TechSpring in April announced a partnership with InterSystems HealthShare� interoperability platform and J2 Interactive.  This allows technology leaders to have access to a living lab to accelerate their innovations.

Baystate Health is a $2.5 billion health system with more than 12,000 employees serving 800,000 patients in Western Massachusetts.

OMG Inc. | September 28 | Wood Museum of Springfield History

It is perhaps appropriate that one of the nation’s foremost manufacturers of fasteners has become a lynchpin of the Western Massachusetts economy.

Thirty-six-year-old OMG Inc. of Agawam has grown to $280 million in sales. Originally known as Olympic Fasteners, the company makes screws, washer plates, vents, metal edges, adhesives and construction equipment for commercial flat roofs like those over factories and big-box retailers. OMG Roofing is the market leader in Roof fastening.

OMG also makes FastenMaster, a line of screws for residential construction. The company sells FastenMaster at lumber yards and home centers around the country.  

Altogether, OMG manufactures a billion screws a year.

And the company is expanding its manufacturing presence in Massachusetts. OMG recently completed a $15 million expansion to add heat-treating equipment to its manufacturing operation on Bowles Road. That facility in Agawam also house warehousing, administrative offices, product development and even a wind tunnel for testing roof assemblies.

The Agawam plant has about 400 employees out of the company’s total of 560. Other plants are in Addison, Illinois, with about 50 employees; Asheville, North Carolina, with 50; Charlotte, North Carolina, with 15; and Rockford, Minnesota, where there are 10 to 15 employees. There also are warehouses across the country, as well as in Canada, China and in the Netherlands.

OMG is owned by Handy & Harman Ltd., a publicly traded company whose other businesses range from meat cutting, precious metals to power supplies.

But the measure of OMG’s economic influence goes beyond the number of people it employs and the compensation the company pays as it works to attract skilled people in a tight labor market.  OMG offers a benefits package that includes paid time off coming in the door, a company match on 401k contributions, a wellness program with both financial and physical fitness elements, tuition reimbursement, health, life and disability insurances.

The company also works to align its business activities with positive social values. Company employees are members of a shelter team with the American Red Cross and volunteer in various instances, most recently when OMG employees volunteered to coordinate local support for victims of Hurricane Harvey. OMG also maintains an employee-staffed Charitable Giving and Community Relations Committee, which promotes community giving and engagement activities throughout the year. OMG is a strong supporter of the American Red Cross, the Jimmy Fund and several other local causes.     



AbbVie | October 5, Mechanics Hall, Worcester | 4:30-6:30 pm

AbbVie’s large research and manufacturing facility in Worcester is perched on a hillside above the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and the UMass Medical School in what’s known as a hub of biotechnology, academic research and manufacturing.

A global pharmaceutical company, AbbVie employs around 29,000 people in 70 countries. The 450,000-square-foot AbbVie Worcester facility employs approximately 900 employees who primarily focus on immunology drug research, protein engineering, and small-batch manufacturing of biotech drugs for clinical trials.

Fifty miles to the east, AbbVie also operates its Foundational Neuroscience Center in Cambridge where approximately 50 scientists focus on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies.

In addition to their scientific passion to come up with new approaches to addressing today’s health issues, AbbVie employees have forged a strong presence in the community with the company’s worldwide Week of Possibilities program. This June almost 100 Abbvie employees spent a day rebuilding the science lab at Worcester East Middle School, assembling furniture, organizing new books and setting up new technology.

“Our employees look forward to volunteering every year,” said Lisa Olson, AbbVie vice president of immunology research, who is based in the AbbVie Worcester office. “We know the love of science starts early and giving students the right tools to foster that love is one small way we can give back to our community.”

Table Talk Pies | October 5, Mechanics Hall, Worcester | 4:30-6:30 pm

Some businesses are so ingrained in the culture of a city that it is difficult to imagine one without the other.

Table Talk Pies has been inextricably bound to the economic history of Worcester since 1924, when Greek immigrants Theodore Tonna and Angelo Cotsidas founded what would become an iconic baked goods brand for generations of New Englanders. It’s a relationship that appeared to be over when the company struggled in the 1980s but one that is now assured as Table Talk settles into a modern manufacturing facility in the South Worcester Industrial Park.

In 2016, the business posted nearly $100 million in sales, with 300 full-time and seasonal employees.

“My only regret is that my father and grandfather can’t be here to witness this great day,” Table Talk Pies owner Harry Kokkinis, who represents the third generation of his family to run the company, told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette at the groundbreaking for the new building.

“Not only are we able to build the type of building that Table Talk needs to expand, but it’s also in the place we want to be. … Worcester is so important to us, it has given us so much.”

Table Talk invested between $3.5 and $4 million in the new assembly lines and more than $5 million was spent on the building. The company also opened its first retail store in 20 years in January, decorated with old photos that tell the story of the company and the city that nurtured it.

It’s an extraordinary tale of rebirth for a family-owned company that almost didn’t make it to the third generation. After being sold in 1965 to Beechnut, the company changed hands several times before closing in 1984. In 1986, the Kokkinis family reopened Table Talk, focusing on selling snack pies to grocers and convenience stores. 

It’s been a growth story ever since as customers were again able to savor the company’s trademark 4-inch and 8-inch pies. The new one-story, open manufacturing facility be significantly more efficient than the maze of old buildings on Washington Street that housed the company for most of its history.

The relationship between Table Talk and Worcester extends to community involvement as well. The company focuses its activities on programs that address hunger, including St. John’s Food Pantry and the Worcester County Food Bank.

Senator Joan B. Lovely, D-Salem | October 12, The Riverwalk, Lawrence | 4:30-6:30 pm

At a time when compromise and collaboration are increasingly rare in American politics, Senator Joan Lovely of Salem this year brokered a landmark agreement between the business community and women’s advocates that led to passage of a consensus Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).

Associated Industries of Massachusetts credited Senator Lovely with developing a bill that created on-the-job protections for pregnant workers while giving employers the flexibility to run their businesses. Governor Charlie Baker signed the PWFA on July 27.

“It is easy to confuse opposition to a draft of a bill with opposition to the issue itself. AIM is always willing to work with those seeking honest and effective compromise. That is exactly what happened with this legislation,” said AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord.

Senator Lovely, the Assistant Majority Whip, is now in her third term as state senator representing Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem and Topsfield. She has served in the Massachusetts Senate since January 2013.

After raising a family in Salem with her husband, Senator Lovely went back to school to earn degrees from Salem State University and the Massachusetts School of Law. She served for 15 years on the Salem City Council, during which time she served as City Council president, acting mayor, and was the Council liaison to the Council on Aging and Commission on Disabilities.

In addition to her duties as Assistant Majority Whip, Senator Lovely serves as assistant vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and as vice-chair of two committees – the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities; and the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, which she chaired in her second term, overseeing the commonwealth’s first Public Records reform in over 30 years.

Outside of her committee work, Senator Lovely is the Senate Chair of the Ellen Story Commission on Postpartum Depression, and is a member of the Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Options. She is also a member of the Massachusetts Legislative Aviation Caucus, Boating Caucus, and Gateway Cities Caucus.

MilliporeSigma | October 12, The Riverwalk, Lawrence | 4:30-6:30 pm

MilliporeSigma, the life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is preparing to move into a new $115 million Life Science Center in Burlington that will serve as a major hub for its North American life science business.  It’s a singular vote of confidence for the Massachusetts economy and one that underscores the degree to which the commonwealth benefits from the global knowledge economy.

The 350,000-square-foot facility will include both the company’s M Lab�� Collaboration Center and North America’s only End-to-End Biodevelopment Center. The campus will also house a customer service and call center, labs and offices. It will be home to nearly 1,000 employees consolidated from several buildings in Billerica. The life-science business employs about 750 other people in Massachusetts who will remain at their current sites in Bedford and Danvers.

The company says its purpose “is to solve the toughest problems in life science by collaborating with the global scientific community ” and through that, we aim to accelerate access to health for people everywhere.” 

MilliporeSigma is a leading, global supplier of product and services for both research and applied laboratory applications, as well as for formulating, purifying, manufacturing, and quality-assuring drug therapies of biological and chemical origin. Its offering ranges from antibodies to multiplexed assay kits, instruments and software, as well as lab productivity chemicals. With a broad portfolio of 300,000 products, 65 manufacturing facilities worldwide, and an industry-leading eCommerce platform, MilliporeSigma serves more than a million customers in 66 countries.

It’s a business that runs on research and innovation ”  Approximately 1,500 people work in various R&D functions around the world. More than 2,100 products were launched in 2016, alone.

Bose Corporation | October 19, CBS Scene, Foxboro | 4:30-6:30 pm

Bose Corporation was founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar G. Bose, then a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Today, the company is driven by its founding principles, investing in long-term research with one fundamental goal: to develop new technologies with real customer benefits.

Bose innovations have spanned decades and industries, creating and transforming categories in audio and beyond.  From the company’s Wi-Fi home entertainment systems, Bluetooth speakers, wireless noise cancelling and audio headphones, to automotive sound systems and  professional solutions, and  Bose has changed the way people listen to music.

Bose Corporation is privately held.  The company’s spirit of invention, passion for excellence, and commitment to extraordinary experiences can be found around the world — everywhere Bose does business.




The National Lumber Family of Companies | October 19, CBS Scene, Foxboro | 4:30-6:30 pm

National Lumber Company has been providing quality building materials and services to builders across New England since 1934. Now known as the National Lumber Family of Companies with almost 700 employees, they have at least 200 employees who have been with the company for more than 10 years.

Both the owners and the employees engage in philanthropic activities in support of the communities they serve. The team includes trained professionals with experience in all aspects of building, who listen to customers and use their expertise to provide innovative solutions.

The organization encompasses nine lumberyards, six Kitchen Views cabinetry design showrooms, thirteen Benjamin Moore paint showrooms, the Reliable Truss and Components state-of-the-art truss and wall panel manufacturing facility, Pro Insulators installed insulation, and a modern millwork facility with custom workshop specializing in historic moulding replication. They provide products and solutions focusing on the success of their customers.

Family owned and operated since their grandfather founded the company in Roxbury, the company is now owned by brother and sister co-CEOs Steven Kaitz and Margie Kaitz Seligman. With the leadership of company president Manny Pina, National Lumber continues to innovate and grow to meet the needs of builders, contractors and remodelers.

In addition, homeowners can feel confident that whatever project they present, the knowledge they receive from the National Lumber team will help them do it right the first time.

National Lumber has consistently led the industry, from opening locations in strategic areas, to being involved in the development of truck-mounted forklifts. In the 1980s while competitors struggled and closed, belt-tightening and wise planning prepared the company for future growth.

They built an exemplary staff of outside sales and service personnel, created an inside sales support staff, and embraced developing computer and communication technologies, which still help them to work smarter, to be able to react quickly to an ever-changing industry. Keeping customers’ projects moving on schedule is important for everyone.

One comprehensive example of their continuing innovative solutions for builders is their exclusive RAPID FRAME� package of engineered floor systems. Their $1,000,000 investment in specialized equipment, means components arrive on the jobsite cut to within a 16th of an inch, with glue already applied to speed subfloor installation. Like a Lego kit, the instructions are included with all the pieces needed and ready to assemble. Contractors no longer require saws or glue guns. Plus, with no cutting required on the jobsite there is vastly reduced waste. Fewer labor hours speed up construction, making RAPID FRAME� superior to traditional framing.

Builders who work with National Lumber feel that they are part of their team, and have a measurable competitive edge by using cost-reducing construction techniques that improve building quality at the same time. In conjunction with roof trusses and wall panels manufactured to specifications and delivered to jobsites, builders complete their projects more profitably and on-time.

As the largest independent building materials dealer in New England, the National Lumber Family of Companies provides competitive wages and strong benefits for hundreds of families, who share in the success of the company. The entire National Lumber team supports the building industry, which is so vital to the economy of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art | October 26, Hotel on North, Pittsfield | 4:30-6:30 pm

The transformation of a vast complex of empty 19th-century mill buildings in downtown North Adams into the largest center of contemporary and performing art in the country at once symbolizes the change, resilience and hope that drive the Massachusetts economy.

North Adams confronted an economic cataclysm in 1985 when Sprague Electronics, which once employed 4,137 people on a site that makes up one-third of the downtown business district, closed its doors. Still an editorial in the North Adams Transcript was prescient when it wrote, “There is every reason to believe that a miracle is well on the way in these hills.”

Call it a miracle or something else, but the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art last year attracted 165,000 visitors and generated $22 million for the local economy. Those numbers are expected to increase this year now that the museum has opened a monumental new facility known as Building 6, adding 130,000 square feet of exhibition and performance space.

The new addition is being inaugurated with long-term installations by the artists Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson and most notably the air-and-space luminary James Turrell.

MASS MoCA exhibits art by both well-known and emerging artists, focusing on large-scale, immersive installations that would be impossible to realize in conventional museums. The museum also presents more than 75 performances year-round, including contemporary dance, alternative cabaret, world music dance parties, indie-rock, progressive bluegrass, outdoor silent films with live music, documentaries, and avant-garde theater.

The organization describes its role in expansive terms:

“If conventional museums are protective boxes, MASS MoCA strives instead to be a dynamic open platform”a welcoming environment that encourages free exchange between the making of art and its enjoyment by the public, between the visual and performing arts, and between our extraordinary historic factory campus and the patrons, workers, and tenants who once again inhabit it. That is, we strive to make the whole cloth of art-making, presentation, and participation by the public a seamless continuum��_ invigorating, enjoyable, and inclusive. We want you to feel at home here, whether it’s your 100th visit to a contemporary art museum or your first.”

MASS MoCA now employs 65 full-time people in a site that hosted manufacturing from the Revolutionary War until through mid-1980s. The facility was used during the late 1700s by small-scale manufacturers of everything from shoes to hats to milling machines, and then became the Arnold Print Works for 80 years before evolving into the headquarters of Sprague in 1942.

The idea of using the empty factory complex for cultural purposes develop amid conversations in the 1908s between then-North Adams Mayor John Barrett III and Thomas Krens, a former director of the Williams College Museum of Art, who eventually become director of the Guggenheim in New York. The transformation was eventually overseen by Joseph C. Thompson, who became MASS MoCA’s founding director and has been there since.

Annie Selke Cos.| October 26, Hotel on North, Pittsfield | 4:30-6:30 pm

Annie Selke Cos. may be the best-kept economic secret in Massachusetts.

The visionary designer has created what she calls a “spirited, design-driven family of companies” in the Berkshires through which she develops functional products for the home under the eponymous Annie Selke brand. She sells those products through brands such as Pine Cone Hill bedding, Dash & Albert rugs, Luxe, Fresh American and Annie Selke Outlet.

It’s an enterprise that employs 150 people in Pittsfield and spans multiple sectors of the economy, from retail to ecommerce to manufacturing and now hospitality. The company recently celebrated the opening of 33 Main, a “luxury lodging destination” in Lenox that showcases Selke’s home-furnishing designs.

“In an age where traditional brick-and-mortar retail is changing dramatically,” Selke told The Berkshire Eagle, “it’s about creating a brand-immersion experience like this where people can sleep in the sheets, use the pillows and rugs.”

Selke’s designs have been featured in hundreds of magazines, blog and social posts, and TV segments, and she is a popular speaker at design conferences and events. In 2011, Clarkson Potter released her first book, Fresh American Spaces, which encourages individual self-expression through decorating. She is also the founder of the informative and irreverent blog Fresh American Style, which offers tips on decorating, shopping, travel, how-to projects and more.

The Stockbridge native created her business in 1994 on an industrial sewing machine on the dining room table of her home in Richmond. She grew and moved four more times before buying the 175,000-square-foot mill that houses Annie Selke Companies and its 6,400 products today.

The company sells those products to 4,300 wholesale and design customers in 15 countries. Among them are giant corporations such as Wayfair and Neiman Marcus as well as small independent shops like Hudson Interior Designs in Boston.

Annie Selke Cos. attributes much of its success to a work force it says is creative, collaborative and responsible. The company maintains a strong commitment to support the overall well-being of employees through professional and personal development and to “honor the balance between work and home life.”