Being able to overcome looking on any task as put on me as hard or disagreeable, and finding real pleasure in working out a task that others would not do.
-R.J. Reynolds' secret of success, 1906
R.J. Reynolds played a key role in the industrialization of the New South. In 1875 at age twenty-five, he left his father's plantation in Patrick County, Virginia, to establish his own tobacco factory in Winston, North Carolina. His business grew steadily and in 1888 it was incorporated as the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The 1890s saw powerful trusts absorbing one business after another. By 1899, one of the trusts, J.B. Duke's American Tobacco Company, became a majority stockholder in R.J.'s plug tobacco business. But Duke, also a Tarheel, agreed to retain R.J. as president. After ten years, the U. S. Circuit Court declared Duke's trust a monopoly, and it was dissolved, leaving Reynolds Tobacco once again an independent company. In 1907, R.J. Reynolds launched Prince Albert smoking tobacco, and in 1913 Camel cigarettes. New use of tobacco blends and pioneering advertising propelled both brands to first place.
R.J. was known for his fairness in business dealings and for taking a personal interest in his employees, both black and white. His genuine concern for their welfare was said to be crucial to the success of the company and gained him the reputation of being the most democratic of men.
Because of the wealth that the company created, the city's businesses, hospitals, orphanages, colleges, and churches flourished. Not only did he open doors to economic development in the region, he also started a legacy of family charitable giving which continues to make a significant impact.
Reynolds Homestead in
Critz, Virginia, R.J.'s 1843 boyhood home.