Slice of Americana
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
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.
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
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
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.