A look back in the wake of the closing of the direct-sales juggernaut
Friday’s news that the Dresden-based Longaberger Company would cease operations for good did not come as a huge surprise to those who had been following the disheartening saga of the basket maker that was once a direct-sales phenomenon. The company had struggled to regain its footing after the death of its charismatic founder, Dave Longaberger, and changes in the market coupled with legal battles between Longaberger’s daughters and JRJR Networks, the company (formerly known as CVSL) that had purchased Longaberger in 2013, further added to the uncertainty.
It was just a little over a year ago that John Rochon, Jr., the vice chairman of JRJR who succeeded Tami Longaberger as CEO of the Longaberger Company, told Columbus Monthly’s Dave Ghose that the brand was poised for a turnaround. Rochon Jr. brashly predicted that Longaberger, then operating with a workforce that had shrunk from 8,000 to 200, would once again become a $1 billion brand within five years. “This is a brand that should be in every corner of the Earth,” he told Ghose. “It will be in every corner of the Earth.”
But two lawsuits against JRJR filed by sisters Tami Longaberger and Rachel Longaberger Stukey resulted in judgments earlier this year totaling $4.85 million. There were other troubles for the company as well; in April, the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of JRJR shares and shortly afterward, two other JRJR-owned companies were shuttered. Last Friday, Longaberger sales consultants received a note advising them to stop placing orders. “Longaberger, at this time, has ceased operations,” the note said.
To learn more about the rise and fall of the iconic Ohio business that was once headquartered in “The World’s Largest Basket,” read our April 2017 feature, "The Longaberger Basket Case."