A.J. Fernandez Cigar Co. has announced a pair of new additions to the company, as Bernie Rodriguez has been named the company’s new director of operations, while Frank Santos has been hired as the company’s marketing director.

According to a press release issued by the company on Friday, Rodriguez will head up the U.S. distribution of the company’s cigar brands. He comes from a background in the U.S. government, holding several management positions over 32 years of service, 12 of which were with the U.S. Navy.

“I’m very happy to have Bernie on our team,” said Abdel J. Fernandez in a press release. “His wealth of knowledge and management experience from his time spent working for the U.S. government is fascinating.”

Rodriguez will be taking over the position previously held by Ricky Somoza, who resigned at the end of November.

Santos brings more than 20 years of cigar industry experience to his role, including several years with Toraño and stints with Puros Indios and PDR Cigars.

“I’m carefully creating an experienced and passionate team to help my brand and distribution’s growth,” Fernandez noted about the hires. “I believe wholeheartedly that like-minded individuals that carry the same goals as I do will help me concentrate on what I do best, which is bring you the best tasting cigars in the world.”

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 MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.