The instant New York Times bestseller about one man's battle to save hundreds of jobs by demonstrating the greatness of American business.
The Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's biggest wood furniture manufacturer. Run by the same powerful Virginia family for generations, it was also the center of life in Bassett, Virginia. But beginning in the 1980s, the first waves of Asian competition hit, and ultimately Bassett was forced to send its production overseas.
One man fought back: John Bassett III, a shrewd and determined third-generation factory man, now chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co, which employs more than 700 Virginians and has sales of more than $90 million. In Factory Man, Beth Macy brings to life Bassett's deeply personal furniture and family story, along with a host of characters from an industry that was as cutthroat as it was colorful. As she shows how he uses legal maneuvers, factory efficiencies, and sheer grit and cunning to save hundreds of jobs, she also reveals the truth about modern industry in America.
In her first book, winner of the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, Roanoke Times reporter Macy explores the effects of globalization on America's furniture manufacturing industry via the story of the Bassetts, a family from Virginia, whose Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's largest producer of wooden furniture. In the 1980s, cheap Chinese imports began to flood the U.S. market, prompting many domestic furniture makers to move their factories abroad. But John Bassett III fought back. A "larger-than-life rule breaker," J.B. III (as he was known) hired top trade lawyer Joe Dorn and convinced members of the U.S. furniture manufacturing industry to support him in filing a petition against China for unfair trade practices, ultimately saving his company, Vaughan-Bassett (an offshoot of the family business), along with hundreds of jobs. Macy's riveting narrative is rich in local color. It traces the history of the Bassett family and the U.S. furniture trade, from the "billowing smokestacks" of Southern towns along Route 58 to the imposing factory complex near Dalian, China, and eventually to Vietnam and Indonesia, where manufacturers sought ever-cheaper labor. Macy interviews the Bassett family, laid-off and retired workers, executives in Asia, and many others, providing vivid reporting and lucid explanations of the trade laws and agreements that caused a way of life to disappear.
Since I spent my entire working life in the furniture industry I knew most of the chapters in the book - I enjoyed it immensely.
Thoroughly enjoyed FACTORY MAN -- definitely not a dull try business book. Learn about the state of manufacturing in the USA -- definitely will make you stop and think about our future!
The first line of "Factory Man" is "Once in a reporter's life career, if one is very lucky, a person like John D. Bassett lll comes along." And if that reporter is Beth Macy, who never stops digging for the facts and is a great storyteller to boot, you've got a book you won't be able to put down.
The book tells the story of how globalisation affects the lives of everyone from the heads of furniture manufacturing empires to their maids and chauffeurs, from the factory workers to civic leaders in small towns across the South.
Billed as a business book, you might be expecting a dry analysis of economic trends. No! No! Meet John D. Bassett lll, a rich party boy in college, gutsy and bull-headed enough to buck industry trends and, well, I won't tell you what happens. Just don't miss that this book.