With over $500 million a year in sales, the Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's biggest wood furniture manufacturer. Run by the same powerful Virginia family for three generations, it was also the center of life in Bassett, VA-an unincorporated town that existed solely for the people who built the company's products. But beginning in the 1980s, the Bassett company suffered from an influx of cheap Chinese furniture as the first waves of Asian competition hit, and ultimately was forced to send its production offshore to Asia.
Only one man fought back. That man is John Bassett III, a descendant of the Bassetts who is now chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co, which employs more than 700 Virginians and has sales of over $90 million. In Factory Man, Beth Macy brings to life Bassett's deeply personal furniture and family story. As she shows how he uses legal maneuvers, factory efficiencies, and sheer grit, cunning, and will to save hundreds of jobs, she also discovers the hidden and shocking truth about industry and America.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2014 Beth Macy (P)2014 Hachette Audio
A digital media consultant and business strategist. I'm a lifelong lover of books in all forms.
One of the best audiobooks I've listened to. It's written by a journalist, and while it's a non-fiction account of the collapse of the domestic furniture industry, but it reads like a novel. It's riveting.
Very much like The House of Mondavi. A multi-generational account of a family owned business with all the intrigue that wealthy powerful families have.
JB III of course. He is the force behind the story. Reviewers have almost universally forecast that the book will become a movie. It's easy to see the appeal after listening to this audiobook.
The whole world turned against John D. Bassett, III. Even his extended family. He faced the criticism and shunning by lifelong friends and colleagues in the furniture business. But he never backed down. He feels a responsibility to the 700 people who rely on their jobs at Vaughan-Bassett to feed their families. He stands for something.
It's a portrait of a time and place that are largely forgotten now in our information driven global economy. As a lifelong resident of Virginia who was born in Galax, I have a great deal of pride in the history of the furniture industry and the Virginia families who created an engine of economy that employed workers for three generations. It's not easy being the last man standing, but John D. Bassett, III has rare grit and determination. Beth Macy has written a rare and wonderful story.
I would recommend this audiobook to a friend. It is both interesting and educational. All Americans should understand how we lost our manufacturing sector and what can be done. Factory Man gives insight into this timely topic.
Absolutely. I grew up in Bassett and left as soon after high school as I could get away. My parents did not work for any of the factories (a nurse and a teacher) so I really didn't know anything about the businesses or people portrayed in the book. For me it was a story about any of a hundred factory towns (furniture or otherwise) all over the country. The truth is (and always will be) that unskilled jobs will always transition to the low cost provider. It's how JD Bassett got his start in the first place. The other truth is that some businesses are run well and some aren't (just as the Enron employees). This is a well researched and written tale that is a great example of both of those truths.
For me it was very touching to know the story behind the naming of my middle school, Mary Hunter.
Of course it's "Little John", JB III. My Mom and Dad remember him being referred to as "Little John".
It could be any business in any town.
Beth Macy did an amazingly thorough job of researching this book and told a very compelling story that I believe was fair from all sides of the tale. She didn't seem to impose her own personal or political views which allowed me to analyze the story and come to my own conclusions. That's a hard thing for a writer to do and I really appreciated it.
Nothing comparable that I know of.
Jim Franklin nearly killing the auther.
It should be required reading for all of those like me and my family who live in the area but "ain't from around here". We've been here for 17 years, I served on the Henry County BOS, but I never knew just how much all these characters were interrelated. Now I know why the place is the way it is. Kudos to Beth Macey.
The narration was fine, particularly because of the light - but present - use of the Southern dialect where it could add something to the hearing of the words. The balance shown in the writing of this book is nothing short of a literary high-wire performance. The complications inherent in every element of the globalization question (i.e. the people who need the low-priced Chinese goods are the very people who are being hurt by wage compression and factory closures) were pulled out, examined and seen through the lenses of all those involved and then placed back into the scene. Macy beautifully avoided the lure of "solving" the problem or waxing political. She somehow found a perfect spot between describing the effects of the global economy on real people's lives and outlining the macro-level economic and geopolitical realities of the 21st Century. Now I have to go see if JDIII is still alive so I can send him a (reserved) fan letter.
Thank you, Ms. Macy. I'm better for having read your work.
Non-theatrical yet sensitive rendering. The narration fit the content of the book very well, which could not have been an easy accomplishment for Ms. Kalbli.
Factory Man - A great book, ruined by a no-talent filmmaker
I like Biographies about people from the back pages. Not much on Political Bios -- all the same to me with a few exceptions.
Author injects herself into story. Most of book is gossip on Bassett family. Not really a business book more like National Enquier.
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