Pittsfield’s Globe Manufacturing set to be bought for $215 million

  • Globe Manufacturing executives Don Welch (left), Gef Freese (center) and Rob Freese stand on the factory floor in Pittsfield. Cheryl Senter / Courtesy

Monitor staff
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pittsfield’s largest employer – Globe Manufacturing Co. – which makes professional firefighting gear, is being bought for $215 million.

MSA Safety, a publicly traded company headquartered in Pennsylvania, announced the all-cash deal this week.

Globe has been family-owned and -operated since 1887, when it was purchased by Courtland F.H. Freese in Lynn, Mass., and moved to Pittsfield. Since then, it’s grown into the largest manufacturer of turnout gear – the protective coats, pants and gloves that firefighters wear – in the country. It has more than 420 employees, and brings in about $110 million in annual revenues.

With headquarters and a 60,000-square-foot plant in Pittsfield, it is the area’s largest employer, and the town’s third-largest taxpayer.

None of that should change, said Rob Freese, Globe’s vice president of marketing and sales.

“Globe in its history has never had a layoff per se,” he said. “We pride ourselves on treating people the way we want to be treated.”

Freese will stay on, he said, as will his brother, Gef Freese, who oversees manufacturing, and Don Welch, the company’s president.

In addition to its Pittsfield operation, Globe has a manufacturing facility in Oda, Okla., and a footwear plant in Auburn, Maine, that it purchased in 2014.

With $1.15 billion in revenues in 2016, MSA makes a host of safety products, including thermal imaging cameras and breathing apparatuses for firefighters. What it doesn’t make is the kind of gear Globe specializes in – jackets, pants and footwear.

“When you combine all those products now, it means that MSA, with Globe, can provide complete coverage for firefighters,” said Mark Deasy, an MSA spokesman.

Provided the sale receives a green light from federal regulators, both parties say they expect the deal to close within the third quarter, which spans July to September.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)