Photo Details

Photo detail

April 8, 2012

In this Friday, March 16, 2012 photo, Lincolnton Furniture Company human resources manager Karen Padgett talks with employee Johnny Lail during a break on the floor of the factory in Lincolnton, N.C. Padgett worked her way up from the shipping department to human resources manager, spending 35 years with Cochrane and its successor. When the factory closed, Padgett was adrift. "It was such a loss," she says. "If you have a death in the family, you feel like you just can't pick up and go forward. That's how I felt. ... I knew I needed to work. I knew I was still vital enough to do something, but I didn't know what I would do." She was just starting to scope out job prospects when Jerry Cochrane called. She knew immediately she wanted the job, but had a moment of hesitation. ìBeing out of work strips you of your confidence,î she says. ìI felt, 'Oh, gosh can I do this?' I just needed somebody to reassure me." (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)