Message from the Chairman

Dear Friends of Universal,

Welcome to our new website. It‘s the first visible manifestation of the reintroduction of the Universal brand. This is an ongoing process that will have new items appearing throughout 2016 and beyond. As you peruse the site, I hope you will see our Company’s focus on our vital communities - investors, customers, growers and employees – and on the future.

Over the months ahead, you’ll be seeing more of our branding program as we close in on our 100th anniversary in January of 2018. Our goal is to culminate this branding process in time for this big date, which I hope will be a cause for celebration among the various communities vital to our success. And, for our leadership team, it serves as a time to reflect on our rich history which will guide us as we begin the next hundred years.

In many respects, this process provides a unique opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our core values and beliefs that define our Company. Likewise, it offers an opportunity to highlight the management strategies that will guide us.

As you surf through our website, you’ll notice frequent references to the “Ripple Effect.” Simply, it’s a phrase that reminds us that every decision each of us takes, whether immediate or long-term, has continuing, sometimes unintended, impacts on the communities we both serve and on whom we depend. In fact, it’s so intertwined with our brand proposition that we’ve incorporated it into our refreshed logo, which should serve as a constant reminder to all of us to be mindful of the lasting impacts of our actions.

In closing, let me thank you for your interest in Universal. Our leadership team joins me in inviting you to journey with us on the pathway to the future. If that future is as interesting and productive as our past, it will be quite a ride!


George C. Freeman III
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Key Operating Strategies
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Compliant Product

    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.

  4. Diversified Sources

    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.

  5. Financial Strength

    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.