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Review: Factory Man

October 28, 2014

Factory Man

John Bassett III is that rare breed of executive who cares about his community and the people who live in it.  His family’s once thriving furniture business was struggling because of illegal dumping (selling products cheaper than they’re produced) by Chinese manufacturers.  Faced with several options – close Bassett Furniture, outsource the manufacture of their goods to China, or fight – he chose the latter because he was concerned about the people who worked for the company.

Bassett formed an alliance with other manufacturers and took his battle to Washington.  Through his hard work and determination, he has managed to keep some furniture manufacturing jobs in this country.

Factory Man by Beth Macy is a meticulously researched book that covers the history of the Bassett family, some background on globalization (including NAFTA), and the story of JBIII’s fight against imports.  Even though I found some of the Bassett family’s history confusing (many of their names are similar), I found the book as a whole fascinating.  It was refreshing to read about one person fighting a giant and winning!

Since my husband works in manufacturing, I try to be conscious of where items I purchase are manufactured.  Macy reinforced my beliefs when she referred to a paper by David H. Autor,

We all get slightly cheaper goods as a result of imports, to the tune of between thirty-two and sixty-one dollars per capita, he noted in a groundbreaking 2011 paper.  But the benefits of trade are shallow and widespread, while the disadvantages are concentrated and long term for those displaced.

That’s what Bassett found too.  He just couldn’t look someone in the eye and tell them they were no longer needed after years of loyalty.  After all, there were no jobs to retrain them for.  JBIII was blunt and demanding but he fought for the people of his company and I admire him for that.  This is a must read for anyone interested in globalization, manufacturing, or trade.

The audio version of Factory Man is narrated by Kristin Kalbi and I thought she did a great job.  I do wonder if I would have followed the Bassett family tree a little better in print but that had nothing to do with her narration.  The audio lasts approximately 14 hours.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2014 5:33 am

    This sounds ground breaking news.

  2. October 28, 2014 7:36 am

    I haven’t heard of this one, it certainly sounds interesting.

  3. October 28, 2014 8:03 am

    Interesting! And yes, I think I follow who is who better with print.

  4. October 28, 2014 8:51 am

    On the surface, a book about a family who owned a furniture company doesn’t sound like THE most interesting topic, but I’m sold. The globalization and trade angle sounds fascinating.

  5. October 28, 2014 11:48 am

    This sounds like an interesting book, and one that would definitely work better for me on audio. I might need to borrow a print version, too, so I can refer to the family tree.

  6. October 28, 2014 2:04 pm

    This is the first time I’ve seen this book, and it does sound interesting! I like stories about family owned small(er) businesses fighting for what’s right!

  7. Patty permalink
    October 28, 2014 3:53 pm

    This sounds very interesting!

  8. October 28, 2014 5:31 pm

    John Bassett III sounds like a great person. We need more businessmen like him in the U.S.

  9. October 28, 2014 8:18 pm

    Kathy, this does sound fascinating! I’m glad you enjoyed this audiobook.

  10. Beth F permalink
    October 29, 2014 5:52 am

    Wow! I would have passed this one by. I like listening to these kinds of books but I often check a print version out of the library so I can follow along with the names and dates.

  11. October 29, 2014 4:48 pm

    I would be in for the print version of this one as well. It sounds really interesting!

  12. November 2, 2014 1:14 am

    This sounds like such a fascinating read. I’ve been into nonfiction lately but haven’t come across this one before.

  13. November 2, 2014 4:26 pm

    JBIII AND Beth Macy spoke at SIBA and it was fascinating to hear from both of them.

  14. November 3, 2014 11:53 am

    I have to find this for Jason!!

  15. bookingmama permalink
    November 4, 2014 7:18 am

    Interesting story!

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