WITH THESE HANDS takes us into the factory in the last days and weeks of production. Retired CEO Clyde Hooker, Jr., the son of Hooker Furniture's founder, tells of how, as a five-year-old boy, he blew the whistle on the first day of operation in 1924. Later, he headed the company through years of expansion and innovation, implementing employee participation and reward policies that made Hooker one of the best companies to work for in the Southeast. His successor, Paul Toms, tells of the tough decisions that the company had to make in the face of globalization and heightened competition.
Perhaps the most compelling part of WITH THESE HANDS is the interviews with ten factory workers. Although they are losing their jobs, rather than harbor bitterness, they understand that the company did everything it could in the face of globalization. Their words share their pride in their work:
Lane Nunley builds prototypes for chests and tables before they move into production. A furniture builder for his entire career, he can operate every piece of machinery in the plant.
William Stanley is one of 50 people in the world who know how to run a mechanical tenon machine – "and if anyone can do it faster, I haven't met him."
Toni Jamieson, who worked at Hooker for 18 years, remembers when she first started work there: "After a year, they issued us stock in the company. That meant I wasn't just an employee, I had part-ownership in the company.”