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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Millie Tripp, August 12, 1994. Interview K-0112. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Holding onto her job through a merger and a plant closing

Tripp avoided losing her job when the White Furniture Company merged with another manufacturer because she was a highly qualified employee. Here, she describes her shock not only at the merger but also that she and some select coworkers would have to drive an hour to work. She briefly describes also some of the changes the new owners made in the years before the plant closed.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Millie Tripp, August 12, 1994. Interview K-0112. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
How was it that you did not lose your job?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Oh, you mean when the merger came?
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Uh, huh.
MILLIE TRIPP:
Of course, when they bought us out all of us stayed for a good while, and then when they were going to make a corporate office at High Point, Richard Hinkle then was president of White's and he's the one making the decisions, and he took several of us from White's who were in certain positions and decided that we were the ones to go rather than the ones from the other companies such as Hickory. Those people lost that position, their jobs in that area. He said in talking with the people in the field that they by far rated us--everyone he talked to that knew, everywhere he went--felt that they were, by far, the best in the business. And of course, he worked with us and knew what we did, I guess. He gave us some extra . Well, nobody was more shocked than we girls that they asked to go. There were five of us, I believe. So they called us one at a time down to tell us what was going to happen. We knew nothing about it. We were as shocked at that as we were when they told us the plant was closing. None of us would have ever thought of driving that far to work.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
How far is it?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Fifty-five miles. So it's an hour each way.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
It's a long way.
MILLIE TRIPP:
Yeah, so they did say that they would buy a van and we'd chip in on the gas and maintenance. So it didn't cost us anything to go except an hour each way. It was either that or you were out a job. I'm not sorry. I didn't know how sheltered we were until we went to High Point, though. We were country girls. What were some of the things that made you realize that? Well, the girls came in and just told things that went on and did and all around. It just amazes you that other people don't live like you do. We were--. All of us said, "Well, it's an education." Still today, it seems like there's something coming up all the week days every week that keeps you--some excitement going or whatever. There were more changes than we were used to.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
When did you hear that White's was going to close? You mentioned that it being .
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, the people from Hickory--they were trying to buy us—I'm saying Hickory, wherever they were from, certainly some of them were Hickory--came in the conference room, and I know all the bosses and their wives which was unusual were all at the meeting so I assume they were all a part of ownership. We knew then that something was certainly going to happen. I understood the different factions of the company would like to have bought it themselves, but for some reason, I don't know, they never worked it out. So anyway, when it was sold then we were shocked, you know, what's going to happen? You hear the conglomerates and they could have come in and moved new people in or whatever, but they didn't. The new owner's made lots of changes, some for the better and some for the worst.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
What sort of changes?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, they came in and revamped the plant, for one thing. They remodernized. The plant was old and needed that and cleaned up, just did a lot of things of that nature that needed to be done. And, of course, each management brings its own theories of what ought to be done, what dealers to sell, and that kind of thing. They made changes in all areas of the plant.