Company History of Altadis U.S.A. Inc.

 Company History of Altadis USA

A Slice of Americana

Since the discovery of America over 500 years ago, cigar smoking has been an integral part of American history and folklore. The early Native Americans smoked crudely rolled leaves of tobacco, and at one time the tobacco leaf was used as currency. Over the years, cigars have become associated with numerous American celebrations: births, birthdays, personal and business accomplishments. In politics, the cigar imagery portrayed in backroom caucuses is familiar to all. In short, cigar imagery has been woven into many aspects of American life.

The company known today as Altadis U.S.A. had its beginnings in 1918 when Julius Lichtenstein, President of American Sumatra Tobacco Co., leaf specialists, brought together six independent cigar manufacturers. The six had been competing for sales in local markets with regional brands. Achieving full cooperation among the six was a slow process, and it wasn't until 1921 that the Consolidated Cigar Corporation, predecessor to Altadis U.S.A., was officially formed.

One of the original six, G. H. Johnson Cigar Co., manufactured a brand called Dutch Masters. This became the new corporation's flagship brand. Over the years, through constant promoting and national advertising in print, and later television, Dutch Masters was built into one of today's biggest dollar volume cigar brands in the United States. The brand was by promoted by such famous celebrities as Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar and Danny Thomas.

In 1926, Consolidated purchased the G.H.P. Cigar Co., makers of the El Producto brand, which was promoted by the late actor and comedian George Burns. Even after his tenure as brand spokesman ended, Burns remained intimately identified with the trademark, smoking a reported 250 El Producto Queens a month. In all of his personal appearances through age 100, he was never seen without has favorite El Producto cigar.

Julius Lichtenstein made additional acquisitions over the years. Then, in 1945, he was succeeded by Alfred Silberman. When Alfred died in 1948, his son, Samuel "Buddy" Silberman became President. His name became legendary in the cigar world.

In 1956, the company acquired Muriel Cigars from P. Lorillard. The brand's ad theme - "Why don't you pick me up and smoke me sometime!" - featuring commercials starring Edie Adams, became legendary. In the 1970's Susan Anton succeeded Edie Adams as the Muriel girl.

The purchase of Muriel sparked dramatic growth in market share and profits, drawing the attention of Gulf & Western which acquired Consolidated Cigar in 1968. This marked a new era of expansion. The company entered the premium, hand-made cigar business through the formation of the Cuban Cigar Brands division in the Canary Islands. Pepe Garcia, a major Cuban manufacturer whose factory in Cuba was nationalized by the Castro regime headed the division and expanded it by acquiring Moro Cigar Co. and its Primo Del Rey trademark. In the early 70s, Consolidated became a factor in the pipe tobacco industry with the purchase of Sutliff Tobacco Co., manufacturer of Mixture 79 and other pipe tobacco brands.

In 1983, Golf & Western sold Consolidated Cigar Corporation to five of its senior managers. Sixteen months later, the company was purchased by MacAndrews and Forbes, the holding company controlled by Ronald Perelman. Mr. Perelman installed Theo Folz as President and CEO in August, 1984. Theo was "born" in the cigar business, and under his leadership a new structure and culture began to emerge. Corporate politics were replaced by an emphasis on product quality and humanism. In 1986, he acquired the assets of the American Cigar Company, which included the Antonio y Cleopatra, La Corona and Roi Tan cigar brands. In addition, Consolidated purchased Milton Sherman Tobacco Co. and the pipe tobacco brands of Iwan Reis & Co. <

Folz surrounded himself with a sound management team, people who, like himself, had deep and prideful backgrounds in tobacco as well as people with strong experience in engineering and finance. In November 1988, he and five members of upper management, along with Vestar Capital Partners, purchased Consolidated Cigar from MacAndrews & Forbes. Within several weeks of closing the deal, they made three more acquisitions: Te-Amo cigars and other brands from Te-Amo / Geryl Corp., Royal Jamaica Cigars from Jamaica Tobacco Co. and Century Tobacco's pipe tobacco products.

Corporate headquarters were moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where general policy decisions are made. However, under the new culture, more decision-making power was delegated to local managers.

Early in 1993, the company was repurchased by MAFCO Holdings Inc., Ronald Perelman's personal holding company. Because of the previous positive relationship between the two companies, management transition was smooth, and there were no changes in personnel, responsibilities or company direction. In August, 1996, Consolidated Cigar Corporation began selling shares to the public.

Then, in January, 1999, the company entered a new and exciting phase: Consolidated Cigar was purchased by Societe Nationale D'Exploitation Industrielle des Tabacs and Allumettes - SEITA, the former French tobacco monopoly. The merger of SEITA and Consolidated resulted in the world's largest cigar company and positioned Consolidated Cigar to be a truly global company in the 21st Century.

In December 1999, Consolidated Cigar Corporation / SEITA entered into an agreement with Spanish tobacco giant Tabacalera S.A. This new tobacco company was named ALTADIS, S.A. ALTADIS stands for Alliance Tobacco Distribution. As a result of this merger, Hav-A-Tampa was brought into the fold and new facilities were added. The new enterprise became the world's largest cigar company with over 7,000 employees worldwide. In September 2000, the parent company purchased 50% of Habanos S.A., owner of most of the Cuban trademarks in the world and franchiser of the Casa del Habano shops. The final merger, resulting in today's company, was completed in early 2008 when Altadis S.A. merged with Imperial Tobacco, headquartered in the UK.

Today, Altadis U.S.A. operates production facilities in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida. The company also has production affiliations in Mexico, Brazil and Holland. Because of its superior buying clout, Altadis U.S.A. is able to purchase the finest tobacco leaves from all over the world. Distribution in the United States is conducted through Altadis U.S.A.'s own field sales organization selling through a network of tobacco and candy distributors, direct buying retail chains and specialty tobacco shops.

The company owns an enviable stable of trademarks. Hand-made brands include: A. Turrent, Cabinet Selección, DaVinci, Don Diego, Don Melo, Edición Limitada, Gispert, Havana Sweets, H. Upmann, Henry Clay, Juan Lopez, Las Cabrillas, Maria Guerrero, Montecristo, Omar Ortez Originals, Onyx Reserve, Playboy, Playboy by Don Diego, Por Larrañaga, Primo Del Rey, Quintero, Quintessa, Romeo y Julieta, Royal Jamaica Gold, Saint Luis Rey, Santa Damiana, Santa Rosa, Seijas Signature, Te-Amo, Trinidad, Vega Fina and more. Domestic and premium machine made-brands include AyC, Backwoods, Black & Blue, Dutch Masters, El Producto, Hav-A-Tampa, Muriel, Phillies and others. The company is also the largest supplier of private label pipe tobacco in the U.S.

The company's mission, simply stated, is to provide the highest quality products at a fair price in every category, to give the best service to its customers and to provide an outstanding working environment for its employees.


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