Willie Grant likes to get his hands dirty – and he’s grateful to say that for the past three years, he has had the opportunity to wake up every morning and do just that.
As a maintenance tech at the Homestar factory in Statesville, North Carolina, Willie holds one of the most important jobs on the plant: He fixes the machines that make it possible to produce up to 7,000 units of ready-to-assemble furniture daily.
“My role here is to see that Homestar succeeds,” Willie says. “These are good people, and I don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
But hard economic realities often make meaningful work difficult to come by. Willie knows from personal experience how hard it can be to lose a job with no warning. In 2008, he faced a series of layoffs because companies were shutting down their factories in the U.S. and sending the work overseas. As a family man with strong sense of responsibility to his wife and four children, he felt helpless to care for the people he loves the most.
When Willie began looking for work again, he had already lost trust in the companies offering him work – he even rejected a job offer with a factory that ended up shutting its doors to American workers only six months later.
“When you’ve been knocked down like I have, it’s really hard to build that trust in a company,” Willie said, “but I’m not a failure, I’m a provider.”
Finally in 2013, Willie’s brother told him about Homestar, a new company committed to hiring American workers and promoting employees from within. After going in for an interview, he recognized something special – and thanks to the commitment Walmart has made to source an additional $250 billion in U.S. products from suppliers like Homestar, Willie and his coworkers can again do the most important work in their lives: provide for their families. Now, they have something to work for again – something to be proud of.
“Every day is not peaches and cream, but we know we have something to fight for,” Willie said. “Walmart coming together with Homestar, it’s a great feeling … It gives us that feeling that we have security now. It gives us that drive to come to work every day and do what we do, and do it the best. Just the thought of knowing that the product we make, here in America, is on the shelves at Walmart – it’s an amazing feeling.”