DRESDEN, Ohio (WCMH) — A manufacturer in Ohio has announced plans to bring back the iconic Longaberger handcrafted baskets.
Dresden and Company announced on Facebook on Wednesday that the company a license agreement to manufacture the baskets in a deal with New York City consumer products conglomerate Xcel Brands, Inc.
“From our first meeting, it was clear to me that Mr. D’Loren is a marketing genius. He has innovative ideas for Longaberger that include leveraging social media to drive sales through existing sales channels; we are fortunate to be included in his plans for a quick start and a fast-moving venture,” said Jim Lepi. “This is an amazing opportunity for Dresden and Company as well as the Village of Dresden. I know that we can coexist and support one another in the best interest of the Longaberger Brand as well as that of Dresden & Company.”Jim Lepi, Co-Founder and CEO of Dresden and Company
Robert D’Loren, Xcel’s chairman and chief executive officer, said:
“I am very familiar with the Longaberger Company, community and family, having served on the company’s board of directors for two years beginning in 2006. We’re excited to build the long history of this brand and its engaged customer and home sales associate community. The Longaberger Company is known throughout the country and we’re looking forward to bringing this brand into the future.”
At Longaberger’s peak, it employed more than 8,000 people and had an estimated $1 billion in annual sales.
In the village of Dresden, basket making is a skill that a lot of people take a lot of pride in.
Now they are happy they can start making these Longaberger bread baskets once again.
“You learn the way the basket goes together and every basket goes together pretty much on the same line,” said Mary Senter.
For nearly 30 years she has been crafting Longaberger baskets by hand.
“It’s been very good for supporting a family.”
But when the company decided to file for bankruptcy protection, it took away her way of living.
“It left us a little edgy, but we all did what we had to do to push through with what we could, help each other out.”
Thanks to Dresden and Company getting the license to manufacture the baskets again, that has changed.
“Dresden and Company has over 35 employees, so that’s fantastic for a brand new company especially in a village this size, and if we can hire 35 more we would be happy to do so,” said Brenton Baker who is the director of marketing at Dresden and Company.
This deal brings basket making jobs to a community that knows a thing or two about making baskets.
“As soon as they said we’re bringing a few back I was like sign me up,” said Senter. “I’m coming back.”
Now she and others can get back to taking pride in weaving the iconic Longaberger baskets together, while smiling, and putting the final touch – which is their signature– on each basket made.
“I’m home, I’m back home,” said Senter. “That’s just how this is, this is home for us”
Baker said there is no timetable on how long they will be able to create these baskets workers here told NBC4 they hope this tradition last forever.