In 2010, three of the most famous brands in America, Reynolds (think aluminum foil), Presto (think sandwich bags) and Hefty (think trash bags), joined together as one company: Reynolds Consumer Products. The match made sense commercially, but blending companies is never easy.
“Ownership put these together and said, ‘Now you’re a company,’” notes Dan Keefe, executive vice president of human resources for Reynolds Consumer Products. “But it’s like finding three guys who are strangers and saying, ‘You are now brothers.’ It was just about that hectic for the start-up. There was no common language, no common practices and, frankly, no common products.”
The challenge for the company’s executives, including Keefe, was to integrate those pieces of business to the point where, Keefe says, “it’s on its way to becoming one of the most successful companies in America.”
Keefe, who works out of Reynolds Consumer Products’ home office in Lake Forest, Illinois, joined the company as VP of HR in 2011 with a long career in HR and manufacturing on his résumé. He assumed his current title in 2018, and his team includes HR, legal, EHS, and communications. He says he finds value in structuring his department that way.
“It’s a little unique having these under one umbrella, but a real offshoot of that is getting to the right outcome in a variety of issues, both strategic and tactical,” Keefe notes. “Having high-quality expertise from multiple perspectives is invaluable. It makes us much more likely to get to the right outcome.”
The company’s biggest focus is on safety. The company has a world-class safety record for food contact manufacturing and continues to press for zero accidents. “We want people to go home from work in the same healthy condition they arrived,” Keefe says. “We work very hard to make it a part of the culture.”
The reason the company is thriving comes down to culture. “Developing a culture that people want to be part of has been the lynchpin of making us successful,” he says. “We do all things you should do in terms of recruiting, talent acquisition, and retention, but our biggest sell is being part of the Reynolds culture.”
He stresses the unique opportunity of joining a $3 billion company that is relatively new and still developing and notes that the people who come in have a chance to make a real impact, and in turn, the company seeks employees to make immediate contributions to creating the culture.
“We talk a lot about owning your own career,” he says. “If you were looking for a new job, you network and market yourself. We want people to think about that internally, owing their career inside Reynolds just as if they were looking for new opportunity outside.”
The company’s learning and development group has expanded opportunities, he says. One of the primary ways employees contribute to the culture is through an internal group called Strategy Integrators, who are a team of thirty-four cross-functional employees who discuss the coming year’s strategies with all salaried employees and seek out their insights.
“That has been an incredible investment of time, energy and money, but it ensures our whole group is aligned, and we get feedback about how to improve the company and what matters to people,” he notes, adding that for the past five years, the company’s action plans have been set by feedback from Strategy Integrators’ recommendations. “We don’t hire outside advisors. We prioritize the feedback we get from employees, and the results from that are just outstanding.”
One of the things that matters most to the company is work/life balance, and CEO Lance Mitchell tells employees he wants to make sure family life prospers and thrives as much as their careers. The entire executive team makes it a priority and leads by example with their own families.
“It’s a win-win, because that balance is essential,” Keefe says. “When employees are engaged with work and family, everything works better.”