Frederick, Md. – On Saturday, February 1st, Crowley Micrographics, Inc., dba The Crowley Company, marked its 40th year since incorporation. This Friday it wraps up a front-facing celebration of donating to 40 non-profits for 40 days.
"In an industry that has been somewhat decimated by new technology and consolidations, 40 years is no small feat," notes Kevin Crowley, chief operating officer and eldest son of the late Jerry F. Crowley, founder of the company.
Over the decades the firm has progressed from a one-man home-based operation in Chevy Chase, Maryland to an international corporation of 100+. The firm's corporate headquarters and digitization services division are in Frederick, Maryland with two manufacturing divisions, one each in San Dimas, CA and Basingstoke, UK. Global sales offices are in Connecticut, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Northamptonshire, UK.
From Past to Present
At the onset in 1980, Jerry Crowley was an independent sales representative for several micrographic equipment manufacturers. The generally large pieces of machinery could create, duplicate or process microform (microfilm, microfiche or aperture cards) from original loose or bound materials. For those charged with keeping permanent records – government, corporate, university and other archivists and records managers – microform was once the only legally-acceptable form of preservation. If stored properly, it is estimated that microfilm has a shelf-life of 500 years. Even today, there are instances in which microfilm originals are still required. Too big to carry, Jerry opened a small showroom in Rockville, Maryland to demonstrate the equipment.
As technology advanced, digitization became a driving force in the records management and archival preservation industries. Jerry added new technology to his showroom and sold both analog and digital units primarily to government clients.
"At some point when I was in high school," remembers Pat Crowley, today's company president, "Dad decided that the machines could be making revenue while sitting in the showroom. He hired me and a few of my friends to run the machines after school while he and my older brother, Chris, hit the road selling equipment. As they say, the rest is history."
Chris served as company president from 1996 until his passing in 2018, navigating its growth from analog to digital through acquisitions and the addition of custom manufacturing and software development.
Today The Crowley Company is the only three-pronged company in the industry: it manufactures and resells high-end scanners for all microform and print media types; has a digitization services bureau for those who prefer to outsource digitization rather than purchase equipment; and has a support services division that offers technical support and training on the equipment sold, custom manufacturing and professional services that go beyond standard digitization such as collection inventory and onsite project management.
"In short," says Kevin, "we make it, we use it, we support it. No one else in our niche industry can make that claim and I believe it's one of the main reasons we're still here."
Pat agrees, adding, "I know that it's common to also say we're here because of our people, but it's absolutely true for Crowley. We have several employees who have been here at least half of our 40 years. Their tenure, along with the new talent we've hired over the years, has created a fine balance that allows us to grow while being rooted."
A Fresh Look
As the company has evolved over the decades, so have its names and logos. What started out as Micrographic Multiple Listing Service then became J.F. Crowley, Inc. (the incorporation date by which the firm celebrates its official anniversaries), followed by Crowley Micrographics, which is now doing business as The Crowley Company.
Says Pat Crowley, "The start of a new decade in business seemed a good time to refresh our look and further define the three aspects of The Crowley Company. Many of our core vertical markets – libraries, universities, state and national archives, historical societies, corporations, publishers and the like – work with us in one area, such as hardware, and may actually be unaware of our broader services. Our new look underscores our unique diversity in the records management and preservations industries.
A website refresh is underway and will launch soon.
To celebrate its fourth decade, the firm created a "40 by 40" charitable giving campaign and asked its employees to recommend non-profit organizations that were personally meaningful. The suggestions came from all locations and spanned physical and mental health, community services, the outdoors and the library industry. From autism to cancer to housing to mentoring to domestic violence and beyond, the non-profits correlated with personal employee experiences as recipients, volunteers and end-users.
A full list of the non-profits and their tie-ins can be seen on the company's Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter feeds.
"This was a great exercise," says Kevin. "It gave us the opportunity to honor both the interests and passions of our employees while at the same time giving back to the communities in which we live and work. As we communicated the different non-profit support each day, it was yet another reminder to be grateful for what we have been able to create together."
About The Crowley Company
The Crowley Company is a world leader in digital scanning technologies manufacture and resale and provides an extensive number of digital document and film conversion services to the library, academic, publishing, commercial, government and archive sectors.