Dear Friends of Universal,
I am pleased to announce that Universal Corporation celebrated its 100th anniversary on January 25, 2018. It is an important milestone for our Company, and a testament to the long-running and continued support and importance of our vital communities— employees, investors, customers, and growers.
Throughout our 100 year history, we have been finding innovative solutions to serve our customers and meet their leaf tobacco needs. We have grown from a collection of leaf tobacco dealers in the United States to a global business that spans five continents. We are proud to be the leading global leaf supplier and the recognized industry leader. I believe that we accomplished this feat by operating throughout our long history with integrity, honesty, and a focus on quality. We are a vital link in the leaf tobacco supply chain.
We are looking forward to our next 100 years and seek to build on the many lessons that we’ve learned on our journey thus far by seeking opportunities to leverage both our assets and expertise. We will continue our commitment to leadership in setting industry standards, operating with transparency, providing products that are responsibly-sourced, and investing in and strengthening the communities in which we operate. We thank you for your continued support.
George C. Freeman III
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
Strategic Market Position
We work closely with both our customers and suppliers to ensure that we deliver a product that meets our customers’ needs while cultivating a strong sustainable supplier base. We balance purchases of leaf tobacco against customer demand and maintain global procurement and production operations to maximize supply chain efficiencies.
Strong Local Management
Having strong local management in all of our key supply origins allows us to identify constantly shifting market conditions. Empowered local management coupled with global coordination is critical to affording the necessary flexibility to quickly adjust our decision processes in order to continually deliver high quality, competitively-priced products and services.
Customers expect a sustainable supply of fully-compliant, traceable, competitively-priced product, and Universal leads in delivering these products. Among other initiatives, Universal invests in training farmers in good agricultural practices that encompass crop quality, environmental stewardship and agricultural labor standards.
Universal operates on five continents and maintains a presence in all major flue-cured, burley, oriental and dark air-cured origin markets. This global presence allows us to meet our customers’ diverse leaf requirements while minimizing the effects adverse crop conditions and other localized supply interruptions.
Financial strength is critical and enables us to fund our global operations efficiently and to facilitate investment when suitable opportunities arise. Managing interest expense and capital costs provides a competitive advantage, affording us flexibility when responding to customer requirements and market changes.