R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

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R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR), based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and founded by R. J. Reynolds in 1875,[1] is the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. (behind Altria Group). RJR is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc. which in turn is 42% owned by British American Tobacco of the United Kingdom.



Early history

The son of a tobacco farmer in Virginia, R. J. Reynolds sold his shares of his father's company in Patrick County, Virginia, and ventured to the nearest town with a railroad connection, Winston-Salem, to start his own tobacco company.[3] He bought his first factory building from the Moravian Church and established the "little red factory" with seasonal workers. The first year, he produced 150,000 pounds of tobacco; by the 1890s, production had increased to several million pounds a year.[3] The company's factory buildings were the largest buildings in Winston-Salem, with new technologies such as steam power and electric lights.[3] The second primary factory building, built in 1892, is the oldest Reynolds factory still standing and was sold to Forsyth County in 1990.[3]

At the beginning of the 1900s, Reynolds bought most of the competing tobacco factories in Winston-Salem.[3] The company produced 25% of America's chewing tobacco.[3] 1907's Prince Albert smoking tobacco became the company's national showcase product, which led to high-profile advertising in New York City's Union Square.[3] The Camel cigarette became the most popular cigarette in the country. The Reynolds company imported so much French cigarette paper and Turkish tobacco for Camel cigarettes that Winston-Salem was designated by the United States federal government as an official port of entry for the United States, despite the city being 200 miles (320 km) inland.[3] Winston-Salem was the eighth-largest port of entry in the United States by 1916.[3]

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