The Longaberger Company

The Longaberger Company is an American manufacturer and distributor of handcrafted maple wood baskets and other home and lifestyle products. Its old corporate headquarters on Ohio's State Route 16 is a local landmark and a well-known example of novelty architecture, since it takes the shape of the company's biggest seller, the "Medium Market Basket".[1] As of January 2021, the building was on the market for $6.5 million after a planned hotel project fell through due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.[2]

The Longaberger Company
TypePublic
XELB
FoundedDresden, Ohio, US (January 1, 1973 (1973-01-01))
FounderDave Longaberger
Headquarters,
United States
Key people
Robert W. D’Loren (CEO)
ProductsBaskets, Home Décor, Furniture, Wellness, and Jewelry.
OwnerRobert W. D’Loren
ParentXcel Brands www.xcelbrands.com
Websitewww.longaberger.com

Longaberger was one of the primary employers in the area near Dresden, Ohio, where it was founded; at its peak in 2000, it employed more than 8,200 people and had $1 billion in sales.[citation needed] The company later moved to Newark, Ohio. A family-owned and operated business, the Longaberger Company was started by Dave Longaberger in 1973. Longaberger used multi-level marketing to sell products. The company had about 45,000 independent distributors (called Home Consultants) in the United States who sold Longaberger products directly to customers.

HistoryEdit

In 1919, J.W. Longaberger accepted an apprenticeship with The Dresden Basket Factory. Although the Dresden Basket Factory closed during the Great Depression, Longaberger continued to make baskets on the weekends. He and his wife Bonnie Jean (Gist) Longaberger eventually raised enough money to purchase the closed basket factory and start a business of their own.[3]

One of J.W. and Bonnie's children, Dave, opened J.W.'s Handwoven Baskets in 1973. Starting in 1978, the company began selling Longaberger baskets through home shows using a multi-level marketing model. Each basket was handmade, signed, and dated by the maker.[citation needed] At its peak, the company employed more than 8,200 people, not counting its direct sales consultants.[4] A combination of a recession and changing tastes in home decor combined to send sales, which peaked in 2000 at $1 billion, to about $100 million in 2012.[5] In 2013, the company was taken over by CVSL, Inc.

In May 2015, Tami Longaberger, who had led the company since her father died in 1999, resigned as chief executive officer and director of the company.[6]

In February 2016, the company said it would sell the Basket Building and move its employees to Longaberger's factory in Frazeysburg, Ohio.[7]

As of April 2016, there were fewer than 75 full-time and part-time employees; about 30 of those still made baskets.

On May 4, 2018, a note was sent out from a sales force supervisor that the company had ceased operations.[8]

The Longaberger brand was revived in 2019 when its intellectual property was purchased by Xcel Brands, led by Robert W. D'Loren, and a licensing agreement was reached with basket-weavers Dresden & Co.[4][9][10] Tami Longaberger and her sister took part in the firm's re-launch.[11]

Basket BuildingEdit

The seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building was designed by The Longaberger Company, and executed by NBBJ and Korda Nemeth Engineering. The building opened in 1997.[12] The basket handles weigh almost 150 tons and can be heated during cold weather to prevent ice damage.[13] Originally, Dave Longaberger wanted all of the Longaberger buildings to be shaped like baskets, but only the headquarters was completed at the time of his death.[citation needed] The company stopped paying property taxes on the building at the end of 2014.[14] Employees moved out in 2016.[14]

In December 2017, the building was purchased by Steve Coon, a Canton, Ohio–based developer who owns Coon Restoration, and his partner, Bobby George, of Cleveland.[15] By November 2018, the pair had put it up for sale.[16] In 2019, the building had not sold and Coon announced plans to turn the building into a luxury hotel and has been working toward having the building added to the National Register of Historic Places.[17]

On October 20, 2019, Heritage Ohio – the state's official historic preservation organization – held the first tour of the building since its 2016 closing as part of fundraising efforts. More than 600 people participated. Executive director Joyce Barrett said, “People were in tears and hugging each other” because "they were so happy to be back in the Basket.”[18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Sullivan, Mary Ann. "Longaberger Company Home Office". Art History Webmaster Association. Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  2. ^ Mallett, Kent. "Longaberger basket building won't become hotel, on market for $6.5 million". NewarkAdvocate. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  3. ^ The Longaberger Company (n.d.). "The History of The Longaberger Company". The Longaberger Company. Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Studach, Mel (January 1, 2020). "Longaberger Baskets Are About to Get a New Lease on Life". Architectural Digest. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  5. ^ Tim, Feran (April 25, 2013). "Longaberger's new owner intends to fill basket with more direct-sales companies". The Columbus Dispatch.
  6. ^ Mallett, Kent (May 5, 2015). "Tami Longaberger resigns as company CEO". Newark Advocate. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  7. ^ "Iconic Longaberger headquarters to close". Dayton, OH: WHIO-TV. Cox Media Group National Content Desk. February 27, 2016. Archived from the original on February 28, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  8. ^ Feran, Tim. "Longaberger said to have gone out of business". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  9. ^ Weiker, Jim (November 13, 2019). "Longaberger brand to live again on QVC". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Edelson, Sharon (July 30, 2020). "Beyond Baskets: Xcel Launches A New, Digitized Longaberger". Forbes.
  11. ^ Reddick, Geoff (July 22, 2019). "Longaberger sisters announce potential comeback for iconic basket maker". abc6. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  12. ^ The Longaberger Company (n.d.). "Longaberger Facts & Features". The Longaberger Company. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  13. ^ Zurcher, Neil (2008). Ohio Oddities (2nd ed.). Cleveland: Gray & Company. ISBN 978-1-59851-047-8.
  14. ^ a b Mallett, Kent (July 8, 2016). "Longaberger empties famous basket building next week". Newark Advocate. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  15. ^ Bruner, Bethany; DeVito, Maria (December 29, 2017). "A 'big vision' in store for Longaberger basket building". The Newark Advocate. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  16. ^ Feran, Tim (November 27, 2018). "Giant Longaberger Basket Building Again For Sale". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  17. ^ "Longaberger's Big Basket building to be turned into hotel, owner says". WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports. October 21, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  18. ^ Imbler, Sabrina (November 5, 2019). "The Strange Second Life of Ohio's 'Big Basket' Building". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved November 7, 2019.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°3′49″N 82°20′48″W / 40.06361°N 82.34667°W / 40.06361; -82.34667