By Al Shams
The Atlanta area has many small, independent, family-owned businesses that have made a meaningful contribution to economic growth and to the lives of their workers. This article profiles one of those companies, RLR Industries Inc.
RLR Industries is a Mableton-based, full-service plastics processor. In its 100,000-square-foot facility, it produces a wide range of sophisticated plastic covers for all types of lighting needs.
The products include simple covers, hotel sconces, designer lighting covers, and large, high-tech commercial applications. RLR’s primary skills lie in being highly innovative and creative, maintaining high quality standards, delivering on quick turnaround times, and being attentive to customer needs.
In 1949, Daniel Lewis, a World War II veteran, graduated from City College of New York with a degree in chemistry. He also earned advance degrees in management and polymer chemistry.
Dan worked with several companies in the growing U.S. chemical industry as well as with companies working on space propulsion systems.
In the mid-1950s, Dan began to focus on plastic applications for the lighting industry. In 1956, seeing an opportunity in this industry, he and two associates formed RLR.
The company over the years occupied space in Chinatown, Brooklyn and finally Long Island.
As other companies entered the business, Dan realized that being in New York was a large disadvantage for RLR. He wanted the company to continue profitable operations and to be a career option for his two sons.
After much serious thought and analysis, he decided to move the company, his family and many key workers to Atlanta.
The Lewis family views the decision as a key for the company and one that has produced many benefits.
In New York, many RLR workers were able only to rent housing; in Cobb County, they are able to purchase modest homes. The area has offered many families great educational and employment opportunities.
The company employs approximately 120 people, including about 12 on the senior management professional team. Dan retired many years ago; his two sons, Andrew and Stewart, lead the company today.
The Lewises believe in incorporating Jewish values in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. Their dealings with customers, employees and the community reflect that belief.
For their customers, they endeavor to do their best to meet a client’s needs in a fair, competitive, respectful manner.
Employees are at the heart of the company’s operations; they are treated as team members in a respectful, fair, understanding and humane manner. On many occasions, employees have had special needs, and the company has responded positively to those needs.
This management style has paid great dividends. The company’s employees have low turnover, high productivity and a flexible attitude when the company needs their help.
In the game of life and business, issues are rarely one sided; we each need each other. The Lewis family has a long history of supporting the Atlanta Jewish community as individuals and as a company. They also have supported the community at large in numerous efforts.
In our economic system, the primary goal of a company is to be profitable, but as we have seen, a company can accomplish other goals while being profitable. Companies can be a source of dignified human activity (work), provide products and services that enhance life, and make a positive contribution to the community.
RLR Industries has checked the above boxes.
Job well done; G-d smiles.
Al Shams is a Sandy Springs resident, a former CPA and an investment professional with more than 30 years’ industry experience. If you have suggestions for Jewish-led companies that are doing well and doing good, contact Al at 770-804-3125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.