R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

  • 1874: R.J. Reynolds arrives in Winston, buys lot next to railroad tracks.
  • 1875: Reynolds builds his first factory, employing 12 black workers, turning out 150,000 pounds of tobacco the first year.
  • 1879: Employs 75.
  • 1880: Average wage in Winston is $.81 a day. Farmers are recruited to grow tobacco, increasing crop production 20 times by 1889.
  • 1890: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco is incorporated.
  • 1910: Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad is completed.
  • 1914: The company sells 425 million cigarettes a year.
  • 1917: R.J. Reynolds is the richest man in the state, paying $66,000 in state taxes. He moves his family to a 1,000 acre suburban estate. Many in the community follow Reynolds out of the city. In-town homes are abandoned for Country Club Estates, Buena Vista, Ardmore, Granville, Crafton Heights, Melrose, West Highlands, Westover and Westview. The company buys 84 acres in East Winston building 180 houses that it sold at cost to employees.
  • 1918: R.J. Reynolds dies. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company employs 10,000 people working in 121 buildings.
  • 1921: Over 18 billion cigarettes sold. “I’d walk a mile for a Camel” ads first appear.
  • 1928: Construction of the Reynolds building begins at Fourth and Main Streets; completed in less than a year and was Winston-Salem's tallest building for over 3 decades.
  • 1929: Office staff move to new 22-story building, built on the site of Winston’s first city hall. The building wins an award from the National Association of Architects for the best building of the year and cost $3 million.
  • 1930: Winston-Salem produces more tobacco products than any other city in the world.
  • 1934: James A. Gray Jr., born and raised in Winston, becomes president of Reynolds Tobacco. The company employs 10,000 and pays one fourth of the city’s property taxes. Gray serves in the N.C. Senate from 1917-1920, helping create legislation for state income tax. Gray lets it be known that divorced executives will not progress in Reynolds Tobacco Co.
  • 1954: Winston cigarettes are introduced.
  • 1958: Reynolds Tobacco becomes the nation’s leading cigarette manufacturer.
  • 1960s: Diversification into food and other non-tobacco businesses begins.
  • 1961: Whitaker Park cigarette plant opens.
  • 1970: R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc., a new parent company is formed.
  • 1980: Construction and modernization program for manufacturing facilities is begun.
  • 1982: RJR Plaza Building is opened.
  • 1985: Nabisco Brands is acquired.
  • 1986: Parent company is renamed RJR Nabisco. Tobaccoville Manufacturing Center is opened.
  • 1989: Merger completed with Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR). The deal valued at $25 billion, marks the largest corporate transaction in history.
  • 1991: Returns to the stock market.
  • 1995: KKR divests its remaining holding inRJR Nabisco
  • 1999: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc. becomes an independent, publicly traded company with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as its wholly owned subsidiary.
  • 2000: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc. acquires its former parent, Nabisco Holdings.
  • 2009: Reynolds buys Swedish company, Niconovum , which makes nicotine gum, pouches and spray products.
  • Feb 2009: Reynolds American announces that its fourth-quarter profit fell 13 percent. President and Chief Executive Susan M. Ivey said she expects a challenging year but did not provide guidance for 2009.
  • Dec 2009: Reynolds American Inc. announces it will take a charge of about $47 million in the fourth quarter to pay for severance and related costs for about 400 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco employees who are taking buyouts.
  • May 2010: Announces the closing of two cigarette plants, one in its headquarters city Winston-Salem and another in Puerto Rico — as it adjusts to declining demand for cigarettes.
  • Oct 2010: Announces Reynolds American’s Chairman and CEO Susan Ivey plans to retire in February 2011.
  • Mar 2012: Announces that it will eliminate about 10 percent of its workforce, or about 540 jobs, by the end of 2014 as it works to align its costs with changing dynamics within the industry.
  • Apr 2012: AFL-CIO's Executive PayWatch report says that Reynolds American Inc.'s CEO, Daniel M. Delen's compensation for 2011 was $8.5 million.
  • Jul 2012: The Company will begin a test market in the Des Moines, Iowa, area of a nicotine gum under the Zonnic brand aimed at helping people stop smoking.
  • May 2013: Reynolds Ceo Daniel Delen retired and was paid $10.5 million in compensation.
  • 2013: Revenue: $8.2 billion; employees: 5,200. 2,000 in the Triad.
  • Mar. 2014: Talk of a potential Reynolds American purchase of Lorillard. Reynolds could offer $18 billion to $22 billion.
  • Apr. 2014: The Reynolds Board of Directors elected Susan M. Cameron as president and chief executive officer, effective May 1.
  • July 2014: Both Reynolds and Lorillard confirm acquisition talks. (Reynolds to acquire Lorillard). The combined companies employ 3,850 Triad workers.
  • July 15, 2014: Reynolds American and Lorillard announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement in whichReynolds has agreed to acquire Lorillard in a cash-and-stock transaction currently valued at $68.88 per Lorillard share, or a total of $27.4 billion.
  • Aug. 2014: Kentucky BioProcessing, a company owned by Reynolds American, made an experimental drug, ZMapp, from tobacco plants to treat the Ebola virus.
  • Aug 8,2014: Dr. Robert Corwin, trustee for the Beatrice Corwin Living Irrevocable Trust filed a lawsuit in Guilford County Superior Court seeking to block the Reynolds American purchase of Lorillard Inc.
  • Aug. 18:R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co (both subsidiaries of Reynolds American Inc.) sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the way they assess Tobacco Trust Fund fees.
  • Dec. 19, 2014: US District court Judge ruled that 10 plaintiffs could resume their class-action lawsuit regarding Camel Cash, a promotion used from 1991 to 2006.
  • Nov. 2015:Susan Cameron, CEO of Reynolds American Inc., has been inducted into the N.C. Business Hall of Fame.
  • Dec. 11, 2015:Reynolds American Inc. announced that Richard E. Thornburgh resigned Dec. 7 from the company's board of directors. Thornburgh had served as an independent director since December 2011 and was a member of the audit and finance committee.
  • Oct. 2016: Reynolds announced that Susan Cameron will step down as chief executive on Jan. 1, 2017. However, she will not leave the company. but will return to her duties as executive chairwoman for four months before transitioning to non-executive chairwoman in May.
  • Oct. 21, 2016: British American Tobacco PLC made a nonbinding offer of $47 billion to buy the remaining 57.8 percent of Reynolds stock that BAT didn't acquire through its July 2004 sale of American subsidiary Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. to Reynolds.

Sources: RJ Reynolds Tobacco web site; Winston-Salem A History, by Frank V. Tursi, 1994; Winston-Salem Journal; News & Record archive; Triad Business Journal




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