Nelson Gifford, center, former chairman and chief executive officer of Dennison Manufacturing Co. receives applause from former employees and their families during the Dennison employee reunion hosted by the Framingham History Center at Village Hall on Thursday evening. Daily News and Wicked Local Photo/Kathleen Culler.
By Danielle Ameden
Daily News Staff
Posted Dec. 5, 2014 @ 12:01 am
FRAMINGHAM – Just like generations from many other families, Pete Allen followed his dad, Dick, to work at Dennison Manufacturing Co.
They enjoyed good jobs, great benefits and a camaraderie that was second to none.
That bond between colleagues was as strong as ever Thursday as Allen reunited with nearly 200 of his fellow “Dennisonians,” more than 20 years after the company merged with Avery International and moved out of Framingham.
Gathering in Village Hall, employees hugged, heartily shook hands and teared up as they came together to celebrate a new Dennison exhibit at the Framingham History Center.
“You look around,” Allen said as the former co-workers caught up with each other and reminisced. “It was a place to earn your livelihood but it really was kind of a family.”
Employees proudly recalled their roles in helping Dennison, one of the town’s biggest employers from 1897 to 1990, make everything from its famous tags and labels to then-cutting-edge Elephant floppy discs.
Steve Jionzo, who worked at Dennison for 38 years, sings with his wife, Joanne, who worked at the company for eight years, during the Dennison employee reunion hosted by the Framingham History Center at Village Hall on Thursday evening. The couple met in 1962. Daily News and Wicked Local Photo/Kathleen Culler.
“What we did in innovation, creativity, technology, was to help businesses all over the world,” Bart Marmer, Dennison’s former general manager and vice president of retail systems, told the crowd. “We helped consumers satisfy needs.”
History Center Executive Director Annie Murphy said she was thrilled by the opportunity to preserve the company’s legacy. The exhibit, now on display, showcases so many “treasures,” she said, from scrapbooks to machinery to manufactured products.
“It’s important for us to know that Dennison has returned home,” Marmer said to cheers. “We can show the world, and more important, we’re damn proud of what we did.”
All together, the employees sang a song about the company to the tune of “Harrigan,” and applauded their beloved “Giff,” former chairman and CEO Nelson Gifford.
The 84-year-old, who led the company until the merger in 1990, fondly recalled wanting to take care of his employees, including by setting up a stock plan and giving them proper pay and bonuses.
“We had a wonderful company – unbelievable – with all these employees,” he said, and they deserved the rewards. “It wasn’t me – it was them. They earned it.”
Nelson Gifford, left, former chairman and chief executive officer of Dennison, and Jerry Tardif, who worked at Dennison from 1960 to 1996, enjoy the reunion hosted by the Framingham History Center at Village Hall on Thursday evening. Daily News and Wicked Local Photo/Kathleen Culler.
Arthur Bouley, 72, came from Woonsocket, Rhode Island for the reunion, proudly thinking back on his 35½ years on the job as a printer at Dennison. He made his living creating labels on wax paper that would stick to product bottles through heat transfer.
“I look back at how lucky we were to have a good job,” Bouley said.
The reunion was emotional for Dick Fotland, 81, of Franklin.
He was especially happy to see Gifford, who lent him a lot of support during his career.
“I’m almost crying,” Fotland said.
He worked in corporate research and development for Dennison for 17 years, helping create, among other innovations, a new printing process, and said people just “love this company.”
“You would love nothing better than to work for a company like this,” said Lou D’Amaro of Medfield, former president of stationery products. “You worked hard and you played hard.”
Burt Marmer, a former executive, speaks at the reunion Thursday night. Daily News and Wicked Local Photo/Kathleen Culler.
Sushil Bhatia, of Framingham, said he worked on several patents for Dennison, and products including a glue stick, sticky convention badges and a binding system for books.
He left the company with “extremely fond” memories and went on to open his own business, JMD Manufacturing, in Framingham and teach at Suffolk University.
Bhatia happily reconnected with Fotland Thursday, calling him “one of the brightest lights at Dennison.”
“The links we had with each other, they all come back,” he said.
Danielle Ameden can be reached at 508-626-4416 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @damedenMW.