Business Profile | Rich Grimley

March 2014 View more

Rexam, North American Beverage Can, CEO


Photo by Michael Hudson

Photo by Michael Hudson

You joined Rexam in 2001 and have held several positions within the organization. As CEO of Rexam’s North American beverage can business, what is your proudest accomplishment so far?

I am proud of our people and the team we have built across our more than 2,000 employees in North America. Through education, training and recruiting some of the best people in our local communities, we’re effectively aligning together to deliver on our safety, quality, and financial objectives to provide quality beverage cans to our customers and solid returns for our shareowners.

Rexam serves some of the largest and most recognized beverage brands in the world. What are some of the biggest trends in the design and functionality of beverage containers?

What once was a standard 12 oz. beverage can market packaging large beverage brands in soft drinks and beer bought in large packs at a time has diversified to include many different sizes, shapes and functionality options. Just as consumers have increasingly sought variety in their beverage choices, they seek variety in their package options. In just the last decade, we’ve seen the slim can become an iconic shape for the energy drink market and the 24 oz. can become the recognized size for ready-to-drink tea and single serve beer. We are also leading the way with a re-sealable can option called the Rexam Cap Can, currently packaging numerous energy drinks. Our company is fortunate enough to be the major beverage can supplier for some of the biggest beverage brands in the world.

How important is recycling in the beverage can market?

It is very important. The aluminum beverage can is the ideal environmental and sustainability choice in beverage packaging. The can is recycled at more than double the rate of any other beverage package, recently achieving a 68 percent recycle rate in the US. Also, the beverage can is infinitely recyclable, meaning it can be recycled and returned to retail shelves in its original form within 60 days. So it’s good for consumers to know that when they buy beverages in cans, they are buying the best environmental choice in the market.

 How has technology and innovation changed the way beverage cans are produced in North America?

Technology and innovation has played a major role in increasing efficiencies and product advances across the market. Twenty years ago, we made cans at about 1,000 a minute. We’re now making them in excess of 2,000 a minute. We’re also using much less aluminum when we make a can, supporting the industry’s environmental superiority by doing more with less. In fact, as an industry, through these advances, we’ve reduced the carbon footprint of a beverage can by more than 45 percent. And, of course, innovation has sparked the ability to create re-sealability options as well as inks and finishes that give the can texture, color and graphic capabilities that attract attention on shelves like never before. It’s just not your grandparent’s can anymore.

You were recently named to the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). Tell us about your appointment and your involvement with MSI.

This was a step indicative of Rexam’s commitment to support our role in the Chicagoland area. The Museum initiates numerous community and education improvement efforts and we’re fortunate to sit at the table of such a respected organization. It’s direct involvement like this that complements current efforts of ours such as our annual beverage recycling drive at all of our locations in which we donate all proceeds to local charities. Our recent drive in the Chicago area generated more than $30,000 for such charities as the Ronald McDonald House.

You were raised in the Chicago suburbs and now live in the suburbs with your family. What do you enjoy the most about living in the Naperville area?

This is a great city to connect with your neighbors and raise a family. Knowing Naperville as long as I have, I am so very proud to call this city my home. We have the best of local flavor with establishments that cater to any need, and the ability to enjoy Chicago whenever we like. Of course, if we could do something about winter weather, that would be desirable.

When you’re not busy working as CEO, what are some of your favorite things you enjoy doing during your down time in Naperville?

Spending time with my wife Diane and our kids and enjoying the dining establishments in the city are at the top of the list. I also follow our local sports scene and remain a major Bears and Blackhawks fan. My wife is also a big Cubs fan and if we could deliver a winner from the Northside, then the Grimley family would be that much happier.