George Gershel a longtime employee of Consolidated Cigar Co. and its successor Altadis U.S.A. has passed away at 89 due to a non-curable disease. A statement provided to halfwheel by Theo Folz, the former head of Altadis, says that Gershel passed away in Rougemont, Switzerland beside his wife, Yolanda.
He joined Consolidated in 1961 after graduating from Cornell University and serving in the Army. By that point the Hartford, Conn. native had already worked as a tobacco broker and managed a farm. In 1977 he was promoted to senior vice-president and retired from the company in 2008 as executive vice-president after 47 years of service.
During his tenure the company experienced major changes. In 1968, Gulf & Western bought the company and shortly opened the Tabacalera de García factory in La Romana which Altadis U.S.A. still uses today. It is now the world’s largest cigar factory.
Fifteen years later, Gershel and four other executives purchased the company for $120 million. In 1986, Consolidated purchased American Cigar Co., which owned the Henry Clay, Antonio y Cleopatra and other brands and in 1989, it acquired Te-Amo.
In 1999, SEITA, the French tobacco monopoly, purchased Consolidated. In a separate deal, it acquired the rights to Tabacalera S.A. and merged Tabacalera’s Havatampa with Consolidated to create Altadis U.S.A.
JR Cigar and Santa Clara, Inc. were acquired in 2003 and the group was purchased by its current owner, Imperial Brands, plc, in 2008.
Gershel is survived by two daughters, a son and multiple grandchildren.