All About Grief, Inc.: An Analysis of a Leader in Industrial Containers
Greif, Inc. has been producing industrial-grade containers for over 140 years. Beginning as an ambitious cooperage shop in Cleveland, Ohio, Greif has grown over the years to become a global name in the production and distribution of intermediate bulk containers, board products, and packaging accessories. Currently, Greif ships and conducts business globally, operating of 290 total locations worldwide, in at least 43 countries. Internet-based resellers help increase the company’s global reach, including through sites like eBay. The company also maintains a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
This article provides an overview of Greif, Inc., from its history to its mission statement, and offers an analysis of the company’s efficacy in executing its mission statement, goals, and maintaining its position as an industry leader. The analysis will identify key areas of Greif’s operation and seek to provide a detailed look at how the company fares in each of these key aspects.
Founding and Development
The company now called “Greif, Inc.” began life in 1877, a history that Greif proudly proclaims on its website and in its promotional material. Charles Greif and Albert Vanderwyst founded the company in that year, in Cleveland, Ohio. Greif and Vanderwyst was a cooperage, specializing in the production of wooden barrels and similar materials for the safe transportation of goods across the country in the wake of the Civil War. Three Greif brothers joined the company, whereupon it was renamed the Greif Bros. Company and, later, the Greif Bros. Cooperage Corporation. Production expanded to include steel drums and ultimately relocated to Delaware, Ohio, under the leadership of John C. Dempsey.
Over the following five decades, the Greif Bros. Cooperage Corporation continued to expand and evolve its production lines, transitioning from cooperage to a full-fledged manufacturer of corrugated steel containers, drums of fiber and steel, and then continued to acquire new lines for its business, including containerboard manufacturing in 1978. By 2001, the company’s size doubled with the acquisition of the international Van Leer Industrial, also changing the company’s name to Greif, Inc.
Future acquisitions continued to expand Greif’s presence and product offerings, including the largest company in the production of Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers, making Greif now the largest producer of FIBCs in the industry.
Greif Objectives and Mission Statement
Greif produces containers for the transport and storage of many different types of content, but one of the most important is chemical storage. Because of the environmental costs of such business, Greif heavily promotes partnerships and programs aimed at reducing the global footprint of the industry while maintaining a high level of production.
Specialists in Storage: Analyzing Greif’s Products and Services
Greif, Inc. offers a wide variety of products and services related to packaging and storage. The company began as a cooperage specializing in the production of wooden barrels for the transportation of post-Civil War goods, but soon expanded to include a robust offering of packaging, containers, and storage solutions.
While Greif’s primary product includes industrial-grade IBCs (see below), the scope of their offerings is substantial, including:
Greif, Inc. offers a wide variety of products and services related to packaging and storage. Their primary product includes industrial-grade IBCs (see below), but the scope of their offerings is substantial, including:
- Intermediate bulk containers.
- Drums of plastic, steel, and fiber.
- Industrial bags.
- Water jugs.
- Container liners.
- Board products (containerboard, paperboard, including recycled).
- Corrugated products (sheets, specialty containers).
- Packaging closures, protective packaging, consumer packaging.
- Tubes, cores, and construction products.
Greif’s IBC Products
As noted above, Greif specializes in the production of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). IBCs are multi-purpose industrial-grade containers of large size, typically with integrated pallet base mounts. IBCs come in composite forms of metal and/or plastic, as well as rigid or flexible designs to accommodate a wider variety of materials. Greif’s IBC offerings also include containers meant to ship hazardous materials, shielded gas-proof containers, and long-term storage solutions.
Greif also offers regulation-complaint food packaging IBCs for the transport and long-term storage of food products. The company serves the flavor and fragrance markets with specialty containers in IBC form, as well as specialty fiber, plastic, and steel drums. The company’s flexible products include FIBCs, container liners, and related products for handling specific food market requirements. Paper products, recyclable and non, and bins also serve specialty needs in the food and beverage industries.
EarthMinded Life Cycle Services
In addition to their own IBC distribution, Greif does remanufacture and recondition drums, IBCs, and other containers on a global market. Through their EarthMinded lLife Cycle services, they offer both a range of remanufactured and reconditioned products as well as accepting used products for the purposes of reconditioning and recycling them.
One seemingly unrelated service, that ties back into Greif’s dedication to environmental concerns, is land management. As part of their land management services, Greif offers a range of land improvement, assessment, and sustainability resources.
Greif maintains hunting habitats in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, through which it offers hunting leases. The dozens of properties on offer cater to a variety of hunting needs, including deer, wild turkey, and more.
Greif, through the Soterra subsidiary, also offers property assessment and development services. Soterra actively harvests timber properties while implementing sustainable regeneration efforts. Some of these properties are available for recreation and investment as well as private development.
Full-scale habitat management is another of the services that Soterra offers to owners. They create development plans as well as offer food plot management advice to create long-term sustainability in client properties. Their timber harvest goes to serve some of the manufacturers which depend upon Greif’s own products.
The Greif Way: Analyzing Greif’s Brand
Greif’s branding efforts focus on building a culture of inclusiveness, customer satisfaction, and high standards in personal, business, and ethical categories. As a result, Greif has often focused its branding on the sustainability of the company’s efforts, as well as its high standards, culminating in the company’s manifesto, -œThe Greif Way,- first published in 1998.
The Greif Way
A collection of principles that Greif proclaims to guide its business direction, the Greif way is an exploration of the company’s values and mission statement. The manifesto heavily emphasizes several key areas:
- Guiding Business Principles: A strong focus on ethical conduct in business, as well as sustainability in human and natural resources, and a culture of unified purpose within the company itself. “From the many, we are one: Greif.”
- Business Standards: Greif claims a high emphasis on accountability within the company itself and by the individuals that make up its workforce. Diligence in safety regulations is also stated to be a top priority.
- Customer Standards: Greif aims to consistently deliver top quality products and services to its customers.
- Shareholder Standards: The company’s high standards continually increase the company’s worth to shareholders.
- Supplier Standards: Greif also maintains high expectations for its suppliers, holding them to the same high standards to which the company professes accountability.
- Overall Support: The Greif Way outlines expectations that cover safety in the workplace, equitable treatment for all employees without discrimination, and competitive professional rewards for those the company employs.
Greif focuses on sustainable efforts, strongly emphasizing teamwork and the company’s positive interactions with the public. The customer satisfaction rates show an increase in the success of this portrayal: a quality standard-focused, ethically-oriented business development.
Progress-focused branding is the major focus of the company’s social media presence. Greif’s website and social media offerings typically showcase positive gains both in the industry and with its partnership events or award gains. Some examples follow, which the articles below will examine in greater detail:
- Heart Walk of Central Ohio: Greif partnered with the American Heart Association for their annual Heart Walk. Pete Watson, Greif’s President, and CEO, also served as the event’s chairman for the walk. On YouTube, Twitter, and their own website, Greif emphasized the positive nature of this event and what participation therein meant to the company.
- Supplier Sustainability Award: Greif’s efforts in sustainability earned the company an award from a Belgian chemical company, Solvay Group. Solvay credited Greif’s contributions with aiding their own conservation efforts via recycled IBCs and programs. The company touts its environmental responsibility as a plus through social media efforts like these.
Greif, Inc.’s communication style is one of its strongest brand components, examined in more detail below, and in the relevant analysis article. The company has long built its brand based on quality and forward-facing positivity, and its efforts thereby have produced measurable results.
Talking the Talk: Analyzing Greif’s Communications Styles and Methods
Greif does maintain a healthy, active presence on social networking platforms. Their social media presence includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as a YouTube channel with promotional and educational videos. On Twitter, Greif shares awards and news with a semi-frequent posting rate (8 times in September 2019, but not again until December of the same year).
Greif’s Facebook presence is considerably stronger, with frequent posts each month focusing on positive reinforcement and an emphasis on sustainable products and practices. They also heavily feature Greif’s favorable press reviews and participation in events, such as a partnership with the American Heart Association and participation in its annual Heart Walk. Greif also participated in trade fairs and industry events in Latin America with attention toward customer service improvements.
Greif is openly communicative of the company’s achievements and often centers the messages around the accomplishments of individuals or groups within the larger company. With its emphasis on the positive gains, Greif portrays the company as one that cares both about its own responsibilities toward the planet, its people, and the bottom line, and the achievements of the people who make up the company.
Like Facebook, Greif maintains an active presence on LinkedIn. Much of their content focuses on Greif’s participation in events, such as industry forums and trade fairs.
Greif’s website is information-dense. Despite this, the layout is satisfactorily organized to offer the company’s focus on positive, progress-based content. Its local and ancillary websites, including social media accounts, maintain a high level of quality in language and content delivery. Much of its space is given toward highlighting Greif’s participation in the high-profile events mentioned in this overview: trade fairs, partnerships with progressive organizations, and the company’s own efforts in reducing energy consumption as well as sustainable products.
The focus on achievements in the company’s news sections uses clear, concise language. Individuals and teams are given full credit for their accomplishments, and throughout these articles, Greif strongly stresses the openness of communication within the company itself. The company favors transparency in discussing the doings of its people, and also often uses high-profile events as a method of communicating the company’s overall goals.
Example: In a September horse jumping event in France, Greif sponsored the event while debuting the company’s ability to print high-resolution images directly onto steel drums. The event was successful in both the entertainment venue as well as the promotional aspect in which Greif participated.
Overall Communications Efforts
Greif’s overall communications style is one of openness and encouragement. The company projects an image of confidence and progress in both industrial and personable arenas. Its website offers a large volume of information about the company’s history, policies, and market trends.
The wealth of information offers glimpses into every aspect of the company, from its foundations to its plans for the future. Greif’s overall goals align closely with the trends that led the company to its 140-year run, and its ability to communicate the company goals and values plays a large role in its continued success.
Global Presence: Analyzing Greif’s Distribution Network
With the acquisition of the Van Leer industrial packaging division, Greif’s distribution network expanded across the globe. A variety of resellers on the internet offer refurbished Greif products, but the company enjoys a substantial global presence. Currently, Greif maintains more than 290 active locations in 43 countries across the world and employs more than 17,000 employees.
Greif’s exceptionally diverse portfolio also lends the company a robust presence in the stock market and investor relations. While Greif maintains rigorous standards in regards to the company’s own facilities and production networks, its requirements for suppliers differ. Their supply agreements and purchase orders do require suppliers to warrant that products purchased by Greif are produced in compliance with all laws and regulations, but do not currently have any requirements that the suppliers certify their product complies with laws regarding slavery and human trafficking.
Greif, Inc. in Summary
Grief is a worldwide leader in packaging and storage solutions for a variety of materials, from chemicals, food and beverage, to paper and industrial byproduct. The company maintains facilities across the globe, all guided by Greif’s strong vision and communication efforts worldwide. Greif also offers timberland management services in both the United States and Canada, including hunting habitats and food plot management.