Rich Wuerthele, Crayola’s President & CEO, was the first guest of a video interview series the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is conducting with new corporate leaders at some of Lehigh Valley’s leading companies and largest employers.
Since 2019, more than a dozen companies and institutions have announced new leaders responsible for corporate or Lehigh Valley operations. Many of these executives are newcomers to the Lehigh Valley and had limited experience with the region before coming here.
Crayola employs about 1,500 people in Lehigh Valley and 75% of their products are made here in Lehigh Valley. The company’s manufacturing facility in Forks Township makes 13 million crayons and 2 million markers each day, generating 90% of the crayons used around the world.
Here are a few excerpts from the video interview linked below.
Why did you decide to move to Crayola and what attracted you to the company?
“I was more enamored with the notion of working for a privately held company and running a business, leading an iconic brand that has had a great history of success, but great potential for the future. The more homework that my wife and I did about the Valley and the location, it appealed more and more to us.”
In May, you launched Colors of the World. Can you talk about that project?
“We know our products are used to help children express themselves. We made multi-cultural crayons in 1992 in an array of product so kids in every shade color and skin-tone could express themselves. More recently, Crayola launched “Colors of the World” and developed a box of 24 crayons, markers and various coloring books that represent different skin tones and captures 99% of all skin tones in the world.”
Can you talk about manufacturing and operating here and the advantages of doing that?
“Being local has enabled us to be nimble and responsive … That’s a great attribute to be able to manufacture here locally. We need skilled labor; we’ve got the right pool of folks here. We need dynamic marketers; we can get those folks here. We’ve got and have put all the technology in, and we have profit margins that we’re very comfortable with that allow us to compete around the globe.”
Before joining Crayola in January, Wuerthele was CEO of Home Fragrance Division of Newell Brands, where he was responsible for the popularity of the Yankee Candle brand.
Wuerthele has worked with several iconic brands throughout his career, including Black & Decker, DeWalt, Coleman, and Rubbermaid. He has a degree in business management from Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.