Special to The Herald
NEW BRITAIN - When the documentary “Celebrating the Tools that Built America” is shown Friday at the Hartford Marriott hotel during Stanley Black & Decker’s 175th anniversary gala, Stanley executives, workers and event sponsors will be seeing it for the first time.
Tim Perra, Stanley’s vice president of public affairs, said he wished he could talk about highlights, but to date, no one at Stanley has viewed the documentary.
“We’re all looking forward to the premiere,” he said.
SB&D is hosting the gala event for sponsors and friends of the company in support of the nonprofit Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network. Funds raised at the benefit will go toward CPBN programming.
Perra said the company is treating the event as the kickoff to a much larger celebration, and a preview of the work that has been done on the documentary. He said the film will air nationwide during 2018, Stanley’s anniversary year.
“There’s much more to come with respect to our 175th anniversary, and this is only the very beginning,” he said.
According to Perra, CPBN President and CEO Jerry Franklin “has a real passion for the Stanley story, and we’ve had several conversations about a documentary to memorialize our history over the years. With our anniversary approaching, it seemed like the right time for us to leverage CPBN’s network and work together on this film.”
Franklin told The Herald he wanted to have the documentary ready the month the company went public about its anniversary. He said he cautioned Stanley officials that he couldn’t produce a documentary like Stanley’s on a moment’s notice.
“Why don’t we produce the documentary this year and hold it for release until later in the year?” he asked SB&D President and CEO James Loree early in 2017. Loree agreed
The network will broadcast the documentary in Connecticut in September, then offer it to other public broadcasting networks around the country.
Franklin said the idea for the film dates to when Don Davis was chief executive at Stanley, from 1966 to 1988. In succeeding years, Franklin discussed a documentary with Dick Ayers, a CEO who retired in 1997, and former SB&D President and CEO John Lundgren, who left the company in 2016.
According to Franklin, Lundgren teased him that he was “sick of hearing him talk about a company documentary.”
Franklin pleaded, “John, before you retire, just crack open the door a bit for me here at Stanley. This story must be told.”
Lundgren and his his wife, Tamara, president and CEO of Oregon-based Schnitzer Steel Industries, may have been leaving for Fenway Park to root for their beloved Red Sox. Still, Franklin says, when the door “cracked open,” Don Allan, executive vice president and chief financial officer, was standing on the other side. Allan told Franklin he was sure that James Loree, Stanley’s incoming CEO, would be supportive.
“And sure enough,” said Franklin, “Jim loved the idea.”
CPBN hired Emmy Award winner Bailey Pryor of Groton. and Telemark Films to shoot the documentary. Telemark, under executive producer Pryor, has a reputation for high-impact sports films.
“We wanted to give Bailey and the CPTV team complete control and creative license,” Perra said. Cost of the film is expected to range between $100,000 and $200,000. Franklin is still negotiating the final price. He says Stanley “put no money into the [project]. We raised funds for the documentary from the sponsors, people who bought tables to attend Friday’s event.”
The three-part documentary opens with an animated look at “Fred Stanley,” and is called “The Early Years.” It is followed by “The Do-It-Yourself Years.” The third segment features Loree, who talks about the company’s future years, changes and technology. He has stated that “it’s going to be advisable to have more manufacturing in the U.S. … localized in all the geographies that we have around the world where it’s practicable.”
Franklin expects 500 people at Friday’s event; admission is $175. Though the original idea was to host the celebration at Stanley, he said a tent would be needed for all 500 people and the cost would be “astronomical. The Marriott knows how to host this kind of event.”
Perra added that the venue is also close to many of CPBN’s supporters.
Loree said in a statement that “just as our tools are often used by one neighbor to help another, we think it’s fitting that we kick off our 175th anniversary by helping CPBN, a vital Connecticut institution whose mission is to inform and inspire our community.”
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