Longaberger Basket Company

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In November 1991, David Longaberger revealed his company plans to the Newark Area Chamber of Commerce. Longaberger’s dream entailed his company growing so large, and profitable enough to employ around 32,000 workers by 2010. His hopes were that at least a fourth of those numbers would be residents of Licking County.[1]

Before the giant Longaberger Basket offices were built in Newark, the largest basket was located in Dresden, also having been designed by David Longaberger. The basket was 23 feet high (including the handles), 48 feet long, and 11 feet wide. The basket greatly helped Dresden’s economy and significantly changed the little town as hundreds of tourists traveled to see it. [2]

Longaberger has taken great interest in the satisfaction and the well-being of its employees. In 1995, they introduced a family center that could care for up to 450 of the employee’s children. Their goal was to provide their employees some peace of mind, allowing them to work hard knowing that their children are receiving the best care.[3] In 1999, the facility received one of the most highly prestigious child care awards, an accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. At the time, only 7 percent of child care programs received his award.[4]

Due to a need for space, Longaberger introduced a corporate office move to Newark, Ohio in October 1995. At the time, Longaberger had approximately 5,000 employees in various offices throughout Dresden, Ohio.[5]

In the summer of 1997, rumors started spreading that the new corporate office headquarters was sinking due to its size, but they were dismissed and brushed off by the construction party.[6] A few months later, the construction of the building was completed, except for minor interior details such as carpet and decorations. The move-in date was set for December 1997.[7]

Longaberger faced a safety lawsuit when OSHA received reports that an employee lost four fingers while trying to clear a jam in a ripsaw. OSHA argued that Longaberger had neglected several safety rules during the incident and the lawsuit was placed for $215,000.[8] Longaberger also received another safety lawsuit, filed by a construction worker that was electrocuted while on the job. The plaintiff filed that the supervisors were unqualified in training and understanding proper safety precautions, citing that it was a failure on his supervisor’s part that lead to his electrocution. The lawsuit was set for $250,000. [9]

Scenic Ohio, a dedicated beautification group, gave the Longaberger Basket a passing grade, citing that “Longaberger deserves thanks from the community for its efforts, which includes the maintenance of 34 miles of roadway through Licking and Muskingum counties.” [10]

In order to increase efficiency and accuracy of orders, Longaberger decided to open a new distribution center that would be ready for use by 2000. The facility was imagined to have newly updated technology and began moving toward a paperless environment. With the new facility, Longaberger hoped for the capability to produce and send out more than 50 million products a year.[11]

In July 1998, David Longaberger announced he would be stepping down as chairman of The Longaberger Company. In his place, he has appointed his daughter, Tami Longaberger to fill his role. David Longaberger’s decision was based on allowing himself enough time to work on the company’s charity projects while his daughter took care of the company responsibilities.[12] Over the years, Tami Longaberger hired other members to act as president, to take care of day-to-day operations of the direct-selling basket maker throughout the years.[13]

The 2000 Oscar winners were awarded Longaberger baskets that were made in Newark, bringing acknowledgment and more tourists to the area.[14] They became so popular that they were also given in the 2001 NAACP Image Awards.[15]

In March 2001, Longaberger Company received a Merit Award for architectural design at the Longaberger Homestead. The award was received from the Ohio Chapter of American Society of Landscape and Architects. Longaberger was one of the 11 selected out of the 44 applicants.

Starting in April 2001, Longaberger started to feel the effects of the “sagging economy”. Sales were dropping and to compensate, they needed to make some cuts in their employees. In April, they laid off 400 employees and later announced they would be laying off an additional 800 in September.[16] However, Longaberger was able to reduce the 800 layoffs to 500 through increasing sales, even though some would have to take a pay cut. [17]

Briefly in 2002, Longaberger employees argued over whether or not Longaberger should be a part of a union. Those opposing the union worried about what could be lost through unionization of the workers. They cherished the way that the company had treated them and provided for them.[18] At the time, weavers were making about $15 per hour, and many of the positions came with benefits. The company believed that with these things in mind, the employees would decide not to unionize.[19] However, the employees that were pro-union claimed that the company was unfair towards its employees, especially the pro-union ones. They cited that the company retaliated against those that wish to unionize.[20] Longaberger denied these accusations, stating that Longaberger Company has abided by the law, every step of the way.[21]

In 2003, The Longaberger Company began moving their products internationally. They moved to start distributing baskets in Canada as a response to decreasing sales the past three years.[22]

Unfortunately for the Longaberger Basket headquarters, the Longaberger Company decided to leave the building in early 2016. Several businesses and individuals of the community have voiced their concerns about what is to become of the building. Several already have ideas for the basket’s future including turning it into a museum or a hotel. Others think it should be bulldozed and changed into something more practical.[23]



  1. Jeff Bell, “Dave Longaberger has big plans,” The Advocate, November 21, 19991.
  2. Stephanie Mehta, “David Longerberger’s weavers have turned a sleepy burg into a huge tourist draw,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 1995.
  3. Heather Homan, “Longaberger introduces family center,” The Advocate, September 23, 1995.
  4. Kent Mallett, “Longaberger’s Family Center receives honor,” The Advocate, April 25, 1999, 1.
  5. Rodney Washington, “Longaberger plans to move corporate office to Newark,” Business First, October 23, 1995.
  6. Brent Snavely, “Basket not sinking, Longaberger says,” The Advocate, June 4, 1997, 1.
  7. J.J. Thompson, “Longaberger delays move to East Main Street headquarters,” The Advocate, September 6, 1997.
  8. Patrick Jackson, “Longaberger Co. may face stiff penalty over accident,” Thomson News Service, September 21, 1997.
  9. “Man nearly electrocuted on the job files suit against Longaberger Co.,” The Advocate, July 1, 1998.
  10. Kent Cahlander, “Longaberger lauded by beautification group,” The Advocate, January 26, 1998.
  11. Jeremy McLaughlin, “Longaberger plans distribution center,” Thomson News Service, July 24, 1998, 1.
  12. Janet Tebben, “Longaberger steps down, daughter takes over,” July 31, 1998, 1,2.
  13. Kent Mallett, “Longaberger hires president,” The Advocate, October 2, 2009, 1.
  14. Advocate staff, “Longaberger baskets to join Oscars,” The Advocate, March 24, 2000.
  15. “Longaberger baskets given at 32nd NAACP Image Awards,” The Advocate, March 8, 2001.
  16. Kent Mallett, “Longaberger lays off 800,” The Advocate, July 17, 2001, 1.
  17. Kent Mallettt, “Longaberger reduces layoffs to 500,” The Advocate, September 27, 2001, 3A.
  18. Brian Gadd, “Employees angered by union efforts speak out,” Gannett News Service, February 21, 2002
  19. Kent Mallett, “Longaberger weavers average $15 per hour,” The Advocate, February 24, 2002, 3A.
  20. Brian Gadd, “Union claims Longaberger acting unfairly,” Gannett News Service, March 5, 2002.
  21. Brian Gadd, “Longaberger denies steelworker’s claims,” Gannett News Service, March 8, 2002.
  22. Kathy Thompson, “Longaberger sales going international,” November 12, 2003.
  23. Maria Devito, “What should happen to the Big Basket?,” The Advocate, April 10, 2016, 1, 9.