For Immediate Release - March 13, 2013

Grossman Tours Lee Business Aided Through Loan Program

U.S. Armor Preserves 35 Berkshire County Jobs with Help of Banking Partnership

Treasurer Steven Grossman today toured the U.S. Armor, LLC in Lee, a recipient of a $350,000 line of credit made by Berkshire Bank and leveraged through the Treasury’s Small Business Banking Partnership.  The credit line, which is used primarily to finance inventory purchases for the company’s largest jobs, assisted in keeping U.S. Armor’s business operational and helped maintain 35 jobs in Berkshire County.

“Protecting and creating jobs is one of my top priorities as Treasurer, and I’m delighted that our partnership with Berkshire Bank has led to this great outcome,” said Grossman.  “Advanced manufacturing is a key driver of the Massachusetts economy, and I’m optimistic that the dedication and innovation of U.S. Armor’s leadership and workforce will help the company grow and prosper in the years to come.”

The Small Business Banking Partnership moves Treasury cash reserve funds typically held by large national and international financial institutions and deposits them in amounts of up to $10 million in Massachusetts banks.  In exchange for the infusion of new deposits, the banks sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signaling their intent to enhance their loan portfolios to small credit-worthy Massachusetts businesses.  

U.S. Armor is an advanced manufacturer that produces protective glass systems, including bulletproof, security, and architectural use glass.  Serving a broad customer base that includes the U.S. military, prisons, government buildings, hospitals and retail stores, the original company was founded in 1993 by Phil Martino under the name Protective Armored Systems (PAS).  Martino sold the successful business in 2007 to a Connecticut-based private equity firm.  The equity firm’s efforts were unsuccessful, resulting in the business being dissolved and liquidated in 2011.  Less than a month after the closing, local entrepreneur and the company’s lead salesman, Tom Briggs, purchased the company’s foreclosed assets, rehired most of the employees, and immediately began operations under the name U.S. Armor.  

Briggs, now the principal owner and company president, stated, “We are truly grateful for the partnership we share with Berkshire Bank.  Their unwavering support via a line of credit allows us greater focus upon servicing the customer rather than last minute scrambling when a receivable arrives later than expected.”

Berkshire Bank, headquartered in Pittsfield, has 73 full-service branches in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Vermont.  The bank, which prides itself on community involvement and investments in small business enterprises such as U.S. Armor, has been in business since 1846, and has approximately $5.3 billion in assets.  Berkshire Bank provides personal and business banking, insurance, and wealth management services.

Patrick Sullivan, executive vice president of commercial banking and wealth management at Berkshire Bank commented, “We are so pleased to partner with Treasurer Grossman on this important program that is helping to jump-start business and job growth throughout the Commonwealth. Supporting small businesses is a high priority for Berkshire Bank because we know that they are the lifeblood of the communities that we serve.”

All deposits that the Treasury makes in these community banks are protected through either insurance or collateral, and the interest rate on the money is comparable to what the Commonwealth receives at out-of-state financial institutions.