There is no strict set of guidelines as to what makes a company rise to the level of being deserving of this award; it is not based on sales, number of cigars produced, having the best cigar of the year or trade show booth space.

Rather, the one constant that we look for is finding the company that truly captured our attention over the past 12 months. It’s a combination of above-average releases, company growth and development, increased awareness by consumers and other intangibles that come together to show that a company is in a much better position than it was this time last year.

While numerous companies had a successful 2014, none seemed to do it in the way the Crowned Heads did.

The team of Jon Huber and Mike Conder added a new regular production line in Jericho Hill and an impressive list of limited editions, headlined by Las Calaveras, for which Crowned Heads partnered with My Father Cigars. Then it released The Angel’s Anvil, their first exclusive for the Tobacconists’ Association of America, a group of some of the most prominent retailers in the country. It also had the Mason-Dixon Project, a two-cigar project that had a Northern Edition and Southern Edition and were shipped to retailers in the corresponding part of the country. For a local feel and thank you to the retailers of their home state, they developed Tennessee Waltz and only allowed retailers in the Volunteer State to sell it.

On an even more limited level, it created The Buckingham for Cigar Federation, Hecho con Corazon for the Hickory Cigar Club and the Arrington Vineyards Double-W. By the time December came to a close, it seemed like there was a new release coming from Crowned Heads every few weeks and ranging from incredibly small and focused to a number that would get a nationwide release, giving consumers cigars that they could likely find fairly close to home while also giving them some things to chase.

The majority of those new releases also showed off a growing relationship with the My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua, an addition that has seemingly given the company a new palate of tobacco to experiment with, creating and producing the bulk of this year’s releases with. They still maintain their relationship with E.P. Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza S.A., so having two first-rate factories to utilize could prove to be very interesting in 2015, and based on Huber’s social media presence there are a good number of releases on deck, including the Jericho Hill Shots, a new size of the J.D. Howard Reserve and the second edition of Las Calaveras, so the calendar is already filling in nicely with Crowned Heads releases.

Huber and Conder have been carving the path of Crowned Heads for approximately four years now, and while we can debate about what year has truly been the best for the company, there’s no denying that this has been the year with the most impressive collection of releases in terms of quantity and quality. 2014 also set the stage for what could be an equally impressive 2015 for the guys from Nashville, and that’s what earned them our Company of the Year award for 2014.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.