Dave Longaberger, 1934-1999
Dave Longaberger was never one to accept limitations. He struggled through school (and went through fifth grade three times!), yet he was determined to graduate. He stuttered badly as a young man, but took a job as a door-to-door salesman to overcome that affliction. And he began a successful business - The Longaberger® Company — with a vision that Americans would still appreciate the handcrafted quality of the baskets his father had woven for years.
But if you had asked Dave what he considered his greatest accomplishment, the answer would have been no surprise to anyone who knew him. "What gives me the greatest pleasure is having the ability to make a difference in peoples' lives." Longaberger's company mission statement, To Stimulate A Better Quality of Life™, is a reflection of his proudest accomplishment and continues to this day.
Through Longaberger, Dave helped make a difference for thousands. The company has enabled tens of thousands of independent home consultants throughout the U.S. to be their own boss, to run their own business, to set their own standards for success. In and around his hometown of Dresden, Ohio, Dave and his company have provided jobs — and career opportunities — to thousands of employees.
Dave's entrepreneurial skills date back to the early 1960s when he purchased a local diner in Dresden, complete with two booths, two tables and eight stools. Later he acquired a defunct grocery store and reopened it so local residents wouldn't have to drive 15 miles or more to purchase a loaf of bread. Through those early business ventures, Dave discovered three key elements he still says are essential for success: listening to others, having trust in others and maintaining a sense of humor.
Dave kept those three points in mind when he came up with the idea of selling baskets; just like those his father, J.W. Longaberger, had hand-crafted 20 years earlier. It was that successful idea which truly gave him the ability to make a difference in the quality of life for so many.
"People appreciate personal service and high quality," said Dave. "That's what Longaberger is all about. Our associates come to your home to help you understand the unique heritage of our products, and we work hard in Dresden to ensure those products are of the absolute highest quality."
Dave was known for his friendly demeanor and unpredictable sense of humor, and he encouraged others to keep a lighthearted attitude as well. "Every day should be at least 25 percent fun!" is one of his most widely quoted principles.
Dave passed away on March 17, 1999, from renal cell cancer. Through his vision of the future and the many initiatives he began at The Longaberger Company, his legacy will continue.
To learn more about the extraordinary life of Dave Longaberger, read "Longaberger: An American Success Story." Published by Harper Collins, this autobiography was launched in March of 2001.