Ch-Ch-Ch Changes by Frank Seltzer
The IPCPR is officially leaderless. Bill Spann, who came in as CEO to run the premium cigar group two years ago, has left. Spann turned in his resignation last week and it was effective on Saturday. Spann said the main reason was that he was commuting.
“My staff and many of our members know that I have been apart from my family each week since I took this position in July 2011,” said Spann. “We fully intended to move to Columbus, but unfortunately the town’s size did not afford my spouse the career opportunities she required.”
IPCPR will now look for a new C-E-O. In the meantime, board members say IPCPR board president Finnie Helmuth will be helping to run the organization while the search is underway.
Caldwell says Bye, Christian Adds Another
Robert Caldwell who was partnering with Christian Eiroa in the Wynwood cigar line has left the company. According to the company’s website:
Wynwood Cigar Factory a part of the Fabricas Unidas family has opened its doors in the Wynwood art district of Miami. The concept of the Wynwood Cigar Factory came from the minds of Robert Caldwell and Christian Eiroa and features a unique environment for cigar smokers and art lovers alike.
Robert has been a pioneer in the cigar industry for over 5 years. He started The Hotel Humidor Company to service the cigar needs of the hospitality industry. He co-founded The Wynwood Cigar Factory with Christian Eiroa with a dual purpose of educating consumers and manufacturing only the finest, most unique cigars possible. Eiroa joined together with Caldwell with a purpose of building a luxury cigar brand different than any other.
A statement is expected in a couple of days, but insiders say creative differences were the reason and Christian says he wishes Robert well in his new venture.
Meanwhile the Tabacleras Unidas (or Fabrica Unidas depending) coop that Christian is running is keeping busy. He still has his line of cigars like the CLE Corojo and he is also busy with the Pura Soul being championed and blended by Robert Wright. Robert was V.P of sales for the old Camacho and was a national sales manager with Davidoff as Eirora’s Camacho was being sold. Now he is back with Christian and came up with the Pura Soul brand. (He says the name represents his background having been born in Costa Rica yet growing up in New York) The blend is all Nicaraguan and he says it is a medium bodied cigar with full flavor and a clean creamy finish. Pura Soul comes in 5 sizes, 5” x50, 6” x 48, 6” x 50, 7” x 52 perfecto and a 6” x 60 with prices running $6.95 to $8.95. The Pura Soul came out at the IPCPR trade show last summer but just started shipping in the last couple of weeks.
Another new cigar is coming out in the next week or so from Grace Sotolongo who joined Christian right before the trade show. Grace is expected to debut her cigar the Hechicera or Sorceress in early October. She says samples are already on the way. Hechicera is another Nicaraguan blend and comes in four sizes, 4.5” x 50 robusto, 5.5” x 44 box pressed corona, 6” x 52 toro and a 6” X 60 toro gordo. Grace describes the line as medium bodied. From the press release:
The beautiful art featured in Hechicera is the work of Grace’s dear friend Ninoska Perez Castellon. Ninoska is a journalist, radio talk show host, political commentator and a respected leader of the Cuban exile community in Miami. And recently launched her new career as an artist.
Swisher Cuts Back
Who says taxes don’t kill jobs? Swisher International maker of Swisher Sweets says it is laying off another 250 people from its cigar making operation in Jacksonville. The company already had laid off 150 last year. According to the company, the jobs will move to their operation in the Dominican Republic.
“We’re seeing a shift of a lot of cigar manufacturing to the Dominican Republic and also an influx of low cost cigars being imported into the country that are driving prices way down,” said Joe Augustus, senior vice for global affairs for Swisher. “So, the pricing pressures need to be addressed to maintain our competitive position in the marketplace.”
Regulatory pressures also factored in.
“The way our tax structure is set up, it’s less expensive to be an importer than it is to be a domestic manufacturer,” Augustus said. “We’re seeing a lot of imported products paying much less in tax revenues than we are.”
The company wants to keep as many jobs in Jacksonville as possible since it has been there since the early 1900s, but sometimes other factors get in the way.
Nebraska No Smoke
Cigar bars may be a thing of the past in Nebraska….
A Nebraska judge has upheld the constitutionality of the state’s smoking ban. The ban was passed in 2008, but a challenge from a pool hall saying the ban illegally infringed on its rights as a private business and cut its revenues. The judge said nope the state can screw you…well not in those exact words.
And since that ruling, the state Attorney General says he plans to file an appeal to remove the exemptions in the state smoking ban that allow for cigar bars, motels and other businesses the right to smoke legally.
You cannot compromise with these people. If anyone thinks getting an exemption is the way to fight smoking bans, they are simply crazy.