Richard Joshua Reynolds, who was born in 1850 and died in 1918 and who was the son of a tobacco farmer from North Carolina, managed to become the richest man in his state by the time he died, due to the huge success of the tobacco company he founded in 1875, which was branded after his name. Having expanded hugely from its home town of Winston Salem in North Carolina the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is currently the second largest cigarette producing company in the United States.
The success story of Reynolds himself as an entrepreneur is similar to a fairy since he left his father’s farm with nothing and opened his first small tobacco shop producing just a few pounds of tobacco in his first year. However, his business expanded rapidly with increased production volumes and he soon became the largest employer and taxpayer in Winston-Salem. Indeed, the town owes him a lot, as huge parts of its were actually literally built by him, since he had bought many acres on which he built cheap residences for his factory workers.
R.J. Reynolds is rightly considered one of the most successful companies worldwide, not only in the tobacco industry but in general terms. The brands it manufactures and promotes are extremely popular all over the world and enjoy instant recognition, while they remarkably hold 5 of the 10 top selling brands in the American market. Its most popular brand is the Camel brand, but the R.J. Reynolds company also owns the Salem, Pall Mall, Winston and Kool brands. As part of its global operations R.J. Reynolds is also the brand manufacturer of many other less well known cigarette brands such as Barclay, Misty, Carlton, Belair, Tareyton, Capri, Viceroy, GPC, Monarch, Now and Vantage.
As the anti-smoking campaign across the globe has met new heights R.J. Reynolds has come under heavy fire both from smokers suing the company for damages to their health due to smoking as well as from various organizations accusing the company of promoting cigarettes and smoking to young people, mainly due to the use of the figure of Joe the Camel as a cartoon and as the logo on the packs of the Camel brand. However, despite the difficulties and the economic crisis which has also affected the sales of cigarettes worldwide the company has shown remarkable resilience and still continues to thrive because it offers quality cigarettes at competitive prices. Moreover it was clever and innovative enough to enter the smokeless tobacco marker and consolidate its position in this segment as well, since it currently owns and manufactures the two leading smokeless tobacco brands Kodiak and Grizzly dip.