The Longaberger Factory Store in the Tanger Outlet Center in Jeffersonville, Ohio on Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2012. Zach Gray/The Advocate / Zach Gray The Advocate
NEWARK — The Longaberger Co. is moving toward becoming part of a public company, signing a letter of intent to join an umbrella corporation that is expected to add more direct-selling companies to its ranks.
- President and CEO Tami Longaberger announced the move Friday at a national meeting of sales leadership in Columbus. The deal, when finalized, will make way for better growth opportunities for the basket maker, including potential for more jobs near the company’s headquarters in Licking County, said Russell Mack, a spokesman for the company.
- Longaberger will be the first company to join publicly-traded Computer Vision Systems Laboratories Corp., which was acquired by direct sales mogul John P. Rochon in September. Its name will change to CVSL Inc. and it will become an umbrella company under which more direct-selling companies are expected to join, Mack said.
- Mack said CVSL has fielded interest from dozens of other direct-selling companies that are expected to join CVSL this year.
- Longaberger will remain unchanged in how its operates, including retaining Tami Longaberger as president and CEO. However, the company will be majority-owned by the CVSL group, of which Rochon, Tami Longaberger and Mack are board members.
The move was praised by Tami Longaberger as an opportunity for its network of independent sales consultants to own part of the Longaberger brand.
- “One of my Dad’s dreams was to make it possible for all of our extended family to own a piece of this company we love,” she wrote in a letter to its sales force. “I have found a creative way for Longaberger to be part of a public company while preserving 100% of our identity.”
Joining a public entity also will afford Longaberger better opportunities to grow than it would as a private company or going public on its own, Mack said.
Mack said exploring sales opportunities overseas will be easier under a public entity, and he said future members of CVSL could benefit each other by pooling resources.
Mack said one such example of shared resources is leasing out more space to its future CVSL partners at Longaberger’s manufacturing and distribution centers in Muskingum County, which the company has previously said is underused.
The company recently has taken steps to put its 700 acres of land and facilities to better use. In November, the company announced its plans to attract companies there to create more jobs.
Longaberger also brought on sports merchandising company Fanatics Inc. in November to use the facilities, which was expected to create 300 jobs.
- Longaberger’s employment and sales have dipped since it hit high marks of 8,000 people employed and $1 billion in revenue in 2000. The company’s 2012 revenue was more than $100 million.
In December, Longaberger said it had added 175 full and part-time jobs in the previous three months, mostly in basket making, shipping and the company’s call center.
The company reported five consecutive months of increasing sales, year over year, and just had completed its biggest recruiting month since 2008. It now employs about 600 workers, almost all of whom work full-time.
Longaberger announced in 2012 it would return its pottery production to the U.S., a move that was well received by its sales force and customers who had balked at the company’s commitment to its brand as an American-made company.