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Longaberger: An American Success Story Hardcover – 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although many businesspeople may not yet be familiar with Dave Longaberger and the hugely successful basket company that bears his name, they probably should be. The story of the man and his enterprise, as told in Longaberger: An American Success Story, is as informative and inspiring as any likely to pass their way. In fact, this plainspoken memoir--prepared with business writer Robert Shook shortly before Longaberger's death from cancer in 1999--ought to be required for all entrepreneurs who think they really know what makes the business world go round.

In its pages, Longaberger candidly relates how he first learned to share and do his part as one of 12 children in a small house in tiny Dresden, Ohio--and how seemingly major drawbacks like epilepsy, stuttering, learning disabilities, and lack of a college education never deterred him. He tells how he kicked off his entrepreneurial career with a restaurant and grocery-drugstore before opening the basket company in 1973 as a part-time family affair, and how its workforce ultimately grew to 8,000 while revenues hit $1 billion. Longaberger fully explains overcoming his difficulties and learning the real secrets of business by shoveling snow and toiling in a grocery store as a youngster, and then selling baked goods and working in a factory as a young man. He also shows how this knowledge, and his penchant for the unconventional, became invaluable when he went into business for himself. The story includes Longaberger's rationale for the moves he parlayed into success, and offers his specific management principles along with advice on how and why to implement them. At its heart, though, Longaberger's message is deceptively simple. "If you remember nothing else about this book," he writes, "I hope you realize that if a small-town boy like me can make it, anyone in America who's willing to work hard should be able to earn a darn good living." --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The son of a basket-factory worker, Longaberger saw a market for fine handcrafted baskets in 1973, as the popularity of handmade crafts began to take hold. By 1999 (when Longaberger died of cancer), he had built a billion-dollar corporation employing 8,000 people. Longaberger, who graduated from high school at 21 and had learning disabilities and a severe stutter, certainly did not fit the profile of the typical CEO, yet from the evidence he was an exemplary one. He proudly proclaims that he learned about customer service and sales from driving a bread delivery route and running a restaurant and grocery store. Following his own vision, he built the company from its smalltown roots in Dresden, Ohio, at the same time that he developed a unique direct sales network. Engagingly folksy and self-deprecatingly funny, he champions facing adversity and growing stronger from it. The feel-good story of a very likable man applying his talents and making a big difference to his town and his family (he groomed his two daughters to succeed him) should engage readers on its own. Meanwhile, those searching for humane models for running a successful company will benefit from the 18 straightforward management principles that emerge from his success. As the man who believed a job should be at least 25% fun (it was a corporate policy), Longaberger, consummate salesman, also can't stop himself from saying that his favorite sport was basketball.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; 1st edition (2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0066621054
  • ASIN: B00008NRHK
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,744,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Sharon L. Forgy on March 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In a time of downsizing and a slowing economy, here's the tale of a man and a company who did things right and experienced phenomenal results. Dave Longaberger tells the remarkable story of raising his daughters and growing his company to a billion-dollar business. He weaves a delightful, but enlightning tale, of hard work, perserverence, dedication, and success. With little more than handshakes, promises, and a few devoted employees willing to work for months without pay, Dave made his family name synonomous with quality American handmade baskets.
If you've become cynical, skeptical, or downright depressed you need this book! Dave reminds us that "walking the talk" and being genuinely interested in people are the skills that bring us to personal, and often professional, success. You'll love reading about his fantasy-cow, Flossie, and later, as president of Longaberger, how he dealt with an arrogant salesman. Dave's integrity, business instincts, practical jokes, and love for his parents make a fantastic story and once you read it, you'll wish you could have worked in that old, hot, drafty woolen mill with him - or at least known him.
Buy a copy for yourself and one for your boss!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
David Longaberger is an American hero. What a great role model he is for young people just starting out in the business world. He's proof that the free enterprise system is alive and well. Only in America could the Longaberger Company happen.
Since my husband passed away, I took over the family business with my son and daughter, so I read with great interest how Dave developed his two daughers, Tami and Rachel, to follow in his footsteps. As the expression goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. What outstanding women they are! Now, like their dad, will serve as role models for millions of self-employed women, and men.
This book can be enjoyed by both men and women of all ages. This book is a classic because its message is timeless.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkably heart-warming business book.
The Longaberger company's mission is "to stimulate a better quality of life" and that's just what it has done since being founded by Dave Longaberger and his family in 1973. The obvious products of the company include high quality hand-made baskets and pottery, but the family has always sought to improve life for everyone associated with the company, including the community where it is based.
The book is an autobiography of his life, and an official history of the company. Mr. Longaberger passed away on St. Patrick's day in 1999, and the book was taken through final editing by others. The company continues under the leadership of his older daughter, Tami, as CEO. His younger daughter, Rachel, heads the Longaberger Foundation.
Mr. Longaberger was a simple man in many ways who was deeply committed to other people. This book should be evaluated as a portrayal of his ideals and practices, rather than as a typical autobiography.
I was reluctant to grade the book down at all, because clearly Mr. Longaberger and his company both deserve more than five stars. The book does wander more than necessary, and the management advice is hard to absorb because there is so much of it.
Anyone can and should be inspired by this story. It is a modern real-life saga of the American Dream fulfilled.
One of 12 children, he grew up in a decent, hard-working, but poor family. Saddled with a stutter, epileptic seizures until he was 12, and a learning difficulty that kept him in high school until he was 21, Mr. Longaberger saw setbacks as simply a way to prepare him to accomplish more. He always had his eyes open for opportunity and was willing to put his full efforts and resources behind his ventures.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic book. A must read for all business owners. Dave Longaberger is a down to earth real person. His stories and the history of his company are fascinating. I can't put it down.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While many successful business folk claim to be 'self made' men, the beauty of Dave Longaberger's life is that he was always willing to acknowledge those that influenced him and supported him in his quest to fulfill his dream of rebuilding the basket industry in the United States. In the process of making that dream a reality, he also created a vision of stimulating a better quality of life. Longaberger not only lifts up examples of the role his family, friends and employees played in his success, but also the role his naysayers had on his business. He triumphed over the negative viewpoints of others and gives full credit to those that pushed him to be an even better version of himself. It isn't often the IRS is praised in print by someone they threatened to shut down! It is a testament to Longaberger's belief in himself, his people and the American Dream that his story is in print as an example to all of us on how to be the best person we can be. That success followed his years of trial is the icing on the cake. I'm glad to say I feel I know this man after reading his story. Share it with anyone you know that believes that good prevails, kindness breeds kindness and the American Dream is for all of us.
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