Breaking News: Gary Hyams, Former CAO Chairman, Leaves General Cigar

General Cigar just announced that as a result of completely acquiring CAO International today, former Chairman of CAO Gary Hyams will step down. So when companies merge, it’s commonplace for duplicate positions to be streamlined. I guess Gary’s role was just made obsolete.

Just before he left, Gary said, “Being at the helm of CAO for the past four years has meant a lot to me and I am proud of what my colleagues and I have accomplished. I have great faith in Dan Carr and his team, and I leave CAO fully confident that they will continue to enhance and grow the brand.” What a nice guy. It does sound like Gary left on good terms. I wonder if he has any non-compete agreements in place. I’d sure like to see Gary continue in the world of cigars.

On the flipside, Dan Carr said, “Gary is a strong leader who is responsible for bringing international prominence to CAO. I am grateful to him for his dedication to the company and to all that he contributed toward the integration of General Cigar and CAO into the new Scandinavian Tobacco Group. Gary has done an exceptional job of preparing my staff and me for the future and we remain committed to continuing the momentum that he and his colleagues have built with CAO.” Nice. Essentially, Dan said that Gary did such a good job; we’re just going to let him go.

Here’s what the Press release said about Gary’s history and contribution to the cigar industry:

In 2007, Hyams was highly instrumental in the acquisition of CAO International and was appointed Chairman. Under his leadership, CAO has grown to become a highly successful company in the competitive premium cigar category. He retained the culture of the company and implemented many successful new brand launches including America®, Lx2® and La Traviata®, which has received the highest acclaim of all CAO brands to date. Mr. Hyams was also heavily involved in the 2009 acquisition of the Toraño and Olivas cigar factories in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Mr. Hyams has been an advocate for the cigar industry, having been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Cigar Association of America (CAA) and having served as Chairman of the Imported Tobacco Products Advisory Council (ITPAC) in the U.K.

His distinguished career in the industry began in the U.K. at “Loretta Cigars London LTD,” which Mr. Hyams later came to co-own. Loretta Cigars was noted for building the Henri Wintermans, King Edward and Ritmeester brands, and was also an agent for Macanudo®, Don Tomas®, CAO and the cigarette brand “Natural American Spirit.”

Upon the sale of Loretta Cigars to Henri Wintermans, Mr. Hyams became managing director in the new company, Henri Wintermans U.K. Upon the Acquisition of CAO, Mr. Hyams held the distinction of being the only general manager/managing director in Scandinavian Tobacco Group to hold that position in two different countries.

What do you think about this merger? Lots of key former CAO people have left since the merger. Sometimes the value of a brand is found in its people. Do you think that General Cigar is letting go much of the value of the CAO brand by letting its people go?