On August 21, 2009 by Kelly

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a blogger day at the Longaberger Basket Homestead. Fortunately for me it was an Ohio bloggers day which meant many of my favorite women (aka Big Deal Moms; twitter hashtag: #basketcases) were there too! It was so much fun.  I took my sis with me (she was a great mule help as she ended up carrying most of my things for the day) which was also a special treat. We started at the Homestead with introductions and then a stop at the basket-making factory where we got to make our own baskets. I went with a “winter” theme: blue’s with snow flakes and snowmen. Our personal assistant, Kristie, helped a lot but we got to make a basket of our own which was so cool. Next we went on a tour of the facility and learned all about what they do, how they do it, why they do it, and much more. Here are the 4 big take away messages I left with that day:

1. It’s all about the employees

From the basket making helpers to the tour guide, you could tell these people loved their job. For all of them it was more than a job it was family. I didn’t meet anyone who hadn’t worked for the company for less than 14 years. In fact, my basket weaving teacher had worked at Longaberger for 16 years and had met her husband there. They married 14 years ago and have two children.

All of them emphasized the employee input that was given on a regular basis. They also had a lot of pride in talking about how employee contributions, ideas, and craftsmanship have contributed to new methods of production and increased effectiveness. There was a tremendous amount of pride and employee buy-in.

2. Renew, reuse and recycle

I can’t count the number of times we were shown process’ that included creating the least amount of waste. From the wood that is bought to the way it is cut, to the scraps that are reused or recut so that they can be used again. There are very few steps in the start to finish process of making a basket that allow for “waste”. There is a lot of pride in not letting our earth’s resources go to waste.

3. Hand crafted not mass produced

Each Longaberger basket is hand made by a basket weaver. No assembly lines here. A basket weaver gets to choose the type of basket that they will make in a 3 day period and for 3 days they work on making those types of baskets. What baskets they make are contingent on what orders are coming in. Sounds like a great plan for not getting bored. At least you know if there is a basket that you don’t really like making, you only have to make it for 3 days before moving on to something else.

Employees also seem to take a lot of pride in the making of each basket. They initial each one and there is a quality control system as well. If there is a problem with a basket? No problem. The employee signs their basket so you know exactly who to go to. The basket weavers also get paid by the basket they produce which gives them extra incentive to do it well.

4. Made in America

There was also great pride that every Longaberger product is completely crafted from American produced materials and parts. From the machinery to the raw materials. This company has prided itself on finding resources it can use withing the United States.

In addition to all of these great principles, the Longaberger Basket Homestead is a great place to visit with your family. They have a gift shop (that is more like the size of a small mall) with all of their products displayed for you to try out. They have several restaurants. They have an opportunity to schedule a basket-making experience and tour just like we took. They also have a factory outlet if you really like their stuff and want to find some discounted items. If you are in the Ohio area (east of Columbus) consider making a stop over at the Homestead. Your kids will love it too! Here are some other great pictures from the day: [nggallery id=38]