How a Virginia factory owner battled the Chinese and won

Yahoo Finance

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the U.S. alone has lost close to 3 million jobs, according to the AFL-CIO and Economic Policy Institute. That's because American manufacturers can't compete with cheaper Chinese imports, and there are a lot more of them after China joined the WTO. So many U.S. companies laid off workers and closed factories.

John Bassett III, a third-generation furniture factory owner in Virginia, refused to do that. He decided instead to take on the Chinese.

"He's absolutely relentless, “says Beth Macy, author of Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local -- and Helped Save an American Town.

Bassett traveled from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to northern China to visit a factory that made knockoffs of the furniture his factory made. Bassett pretended to be interested in doing business with the Chinese manufacturer, who was willing to supply Bassett with furniture provided he closed his own factory.

Not a chance. Bassett returned to the U.S. and organized a group of other U.S. furniture makers to file a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, charging Chinese manufacturers with dumping products -- selling them for less than the cost of production. He eventually won, saving 700 jobs in the process and a small Virginia town.

But winning trade complaints is not the only reason Bassett has succeeded.

"In his factory he's constantly coming up with ways to make things cheaper, quicker, more efficient and to inspire his workers to be the most productive workforce," Macy tells Yahoo Finance in the video. One example: a "speed delivery system" that gets his product to market far faster than the Chinese-produced furniture coming by container ship from Asia.

"The Chinese are not super people," Bassett told his workers. "They cannot suck the ocean dry!"

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