New Challenges for Management
The period begun by independence from the old American Tobacco Company and marked by the Camel revolution posed major challenges for Reynolds management. Two events had a dramatic effect: the illness and death of the company's founder and World War I. The first brought changes at the top; the second affected both demand and materials. Increased demand mandated changes and refinements in manufacturing processes. In addition, the company led efforts to lower freight rates and eliminate expensive shipping requirements. The Camel cigarette--one of the most successful tobacco products of all time--brought the firm to financial prosperity; whereas the Smokarol fiasco occasioned an aberrant failure. Such challenges begin and end with the company's leaders.
Independence from the old American Tobacco Company is dated from 22 February 1912--a day of jubilee. Quite fittingly the office force began work at the sound of a whistle, timed by Robert E. Lasater's watch, at 8:00 A.M. instead of 7:00 and 7:30 as in former years. One newspaper reported that this momentous step "on the part of the great company" had been taken "without a suggestion . . . by the employees." 1 At this time officers and directors were as follows:
|R. J. Reynolds||President|
|William N. Reynolds||Vice-president|
|Bowman Gray, Sr.||Vice-president (sales)|