Cerrowire, Sonoco Drive Tiger Launch Success


Tiger Launch students (l to r): Levi Swann from West Point High School; from Hartselle High – Jaycob Pepper, Jordan Lawrence, Jakeb Little and Cain Gullion


Hartselle, AL — The synergy between two local employers was a key factor in accelerating the expansion of Hartselle High School’s Tiger Launch program. Sonoco Reels and Cerrowire count on skilled workers to help manufacture their products. Because both firms’ parent corporations are included on the Fortune 500 list, company culture prompts them to deliver quality products and act responsibly with regard to workplace safety and community involvement. The Tiger Launch program became a catalyst for forging a strong business relationship between Sonoco and Cerrowire. That connection, in turn, helped the program grow by 266 percent after its inaugural year.

Cerrowire manufactures a wide variety of copper building wire. Sonoco Reels makes wood, steel and polyfiber reels on which wire and cable are wrapped, transported and stored. Tiger Launch is an apprentice-style program that helps acquaint high school juniors and seniors with skilled labor environments through part time employment and mentorship.

As Hartselle High School was introducing the program to local businesses in 2018, Cerrowire was seeking a new supplier to fulfill its growing need for reels across North America. Although they and Sonoco had been neighbors for decades, business had not developed between them. When Tiger Launch took shape, both companies chose to participate. In the process of integrating the program within their operations, people from Sonoco and Cerrowire identified some promising benefits in forming a business relationship between their firms. Tiger Launch became a conduit for cooperation and advancement of those opportunities.

“We were able to offer Cerrowire the reel features, quality and quantities that their customers were needing more and more of,” said Dave Winebarger, VP and general manager at Sonoco Reels and Plugs. “Having the Tiger Launch program kick off at the same time provided us with another good resource for potential new staff.”

Winebarger also praised the school for the way they mentor its participants in workplace safety, coworker courtesy, industry practices and decorum.

“At Cerrowire, our culture is centered on Build. Engergize. Inspire,” Cerrowire President Stewart Smallwood stated. “Being able to inspire students through the Tiger Launch program is one way our company is able to give back to our community. We are pleased to also see a business relationship with Sonoco grow from our involvement.”

The student program has been a great success for both facilities, not just in numbers of students, but also in preparing them for a more satisfying employment experience. “What we are learning from these younger workers will help us understand the expectations and motivations of today’s evolving workforce,” Smallwood said. “We want to keep the work environment and the opportunities we offer our neighbors relevant to the changing needs of our staff and their families.”

Sonoco expects to have 24 students working with them this fall and eight more have committed to Cerrowire.

“Committing to your first job anywhere can be scary,” said Matthew Williams, plant manager at Sonoco, Hartselle’s largest industrial employer. This program introduces young people to the workplace side by side with their peers. That experience goes a long way in building the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to move forward in that job, with another company or on to higher training and education opportunities.”

Cerrowire and Sonoco both have hired some of last year’s graduates as staff members while they continue study in college.

ABOUT SONOCO:  Founded in 1899, Sonoco (NYSE: SON) is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and displays and packaging supply chain services. With annualized net sales of approximately $5.4 billion, the Company has 23,000 employees working in approximately 300 operations in 36 countries, serving some of the world’s best known brands in some 85 nations. Sonoco is committed to creating sustainable products, services and programs for our customers, employees and communities that support our corporate purpose of “Better Packaging. Better Life.” The Company ranked first in the Packaging sector on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies for 2019 as well as Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies.

ABOUT CERROWIRE:  Headquartered in Hartselle, Alabama, Cerrowire is a copper wire manufacturing company with plants in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Utah. We supply building wire and cable throughout North America for commercial, industrial and residential use. Our products are available through electrical distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. Cerrowire, is a Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway company (NYSE: BRK.A).


Cerrowire markets through a number of quality retailers and manufacturer’s representatives.