Villiger Cigars North America Appoints Rene Castaneda as New Head


Villiger Cigars North America has a new head, Rene Castaneda.

The company has reached an agreement that will see Castaneda take over as president for the North American operations of one of the largest cigar manufacturers in the world.


News of the move was first reported by Cigar Aficionado.

Castaneda’s arrival comes less than two months after the company dismissed almost the entirety of its U.S.-based staff after the abrupt resignation of Shawna Williams, who served as the vice-president.

When asked about taking over at Villiger a few weeks ago, Castaneda indicated that he saw potential in the 128-year-old brand, but thought that it need to change its approach to the U.S.

“My leadership style is ‘hands on,’ I lead from the field not from a desk,” said Castaneda to halfwheel. “So, If I commit to the challenge, it will be because we will be ready to create a real and strong space in the US market for the Villiger brands.”

While Villiger sells over 1.5 billion cigars globally, its U.S. success has been limited. In 2012, Roy MacLaren was tapped to run a new, committed effort to premium cigars in the U.S. He was dismissed in November 2014.

Castaneda recently served as the vp of sales of the Orleans Group and previously served in a similar role for Miami Cigar & Co. He did not return an email seeking comment about the announcement.

Update — The original version of this post indicated Shawna Williams was dismissed, she in fact resigned.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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