Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town

Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town

by Beth Macy


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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316231435
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/15/2014
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 328,781
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Beth Macy is the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling books Dopesick, Truevine, and Raising Lazarus. Based in Roanoke, Virginia, for three decades, she has won more than a dozen national awards for her reporting, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard. She is a winner of the 2021 George Mason Award. Beth is the creator of the Audible Original documentary Dopesick: Finding Tess.Dopesick is being adapted into an original drama by Hulu and will star Michael Keaton. 

Table of Contents

Family Tree: A Virginia Furniture Dynasty xvi

Prologue: The Dusty Road to Dalian 3

Part I

Chapter 1 The Tipoff 9

Chapter 2 The Original Outsourcer 20

Chapter 3 The Town the Daddy Rabbits Built 36

Chapter 4 Hilltop Hierarchy 47

Part II

Chapter 5 The Cousin Company 69

Chapter 6 Company Man 82

Chapter 7 Lineage and Love 94

Part III

Chapter 8 Navigating the New Landscape 105

Chapter 9 Sweet Ole Bob (SOB) 115

Chapter 10 The Mount Airy Ploy 135

Chapter 11 The Family Elbow 145

Part IV

Chapter 12 Schooling the Chinese 159

Chapter 13 Bird-Doggin' the Backwaters 172

Chapter 14 Selling the Masses 184

Part V

Chapter 15 The Storm Before the Tsunami 201

Chapter 16 Trouble in the 'Ville 214

Chapter 17 Stretching Out the Snake 232

Chapter 18 The Dalian Dance Card 250

Part VI

Chapter 19 Gathering the Troops 269

Chapter 20 Mr. Bassett Goes to Washington 286

Chapter 21 Factory Requiem 297

Part VII

Chapter 22 Million-Dollar Backlash 309

Chapter 23 Copper Wires and Pink Slips 322

Chapter 24 Shakedown Street 338


Chapter 25 Mud Turtle 367

Chapter 26 The Replacements 375

Chapter 27 "Sheila, Get Me the Governor!" 389

Epilogue: The Smith River Twitch 401

Acknowledgments 411

Notes 415

Index 443

Reading Group Guide 453

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