STEVE BAILEY, PRESIDENT, CORNELIUS & ANTHONY
What do you have planned for Cornelius & Anthony in 2018?
One of the first things we will do in 2018 is to attend the TPE [Tobacco Plus Expo] show in Las Vegas. The TPE show is another opportunity to increase awareness of our products with the retail community. Consumer acceptance of our products throughout the U.S. and the world has been phenomenal. Our efforts in Europe and Africa are producing excellent results, and we are excited to watch the business continue to grow. We have received so much positive feedback from consumers we plan to introduce two new premium cigar lines and launch those at IPCPR.
Are you encouraged or discouraged by the state of the industry heading into the new year?
We are cautiously optimistic about the long-term health of the premium cigar industry. The industry, led by several trade groups, has done a good job educating the new administration and Congress on our plight. We believe premium cigars are enjoyed by adults; therefore the regulations being imposed upon the industry are nothing more than one group of people deciding what another group of people can or cannot do. We have a fundamental problem with this approach, and it does not have a place in our society built upon constitutional protections. We do not believe these regulations will save one single human life, so we strongly support an exemption for premium cigars. We believe common sense will eventually prevail.
Why should retailers have Cornelius & Anthony products in their humidors?
Tobacconists wake up every morning, open their store, deal with employees, deal with the public, [and] deal with cigar representatives and a host of problems for the primary purpose of making money. That’s why most of them are there every day. In order to be profitable, you must have what consumers want. The boutique cigar industry has grown because we create fantastic artisanal, handmade products, and our products sell.
Cornelius & Anthony has grown because consumers love what we are doing. Our brands have been created using the best tobacco on earth, and we combine a sense of nostalgia with real-life family history in tobacco into our packaging.
We are also one of the easiest companies to do business with in the industry. We offer a 100 percent money-back satisfaction guarantee in writing to all of our customers. To our knowledge, no one else in the industry has this much confidence in their product. Retailers really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by having our products available in their humidor.
What do you like to do outside of the cigar world?
I am busy in the tobacco industry every day. I am president of S&M Brands Inc. We make cigarettes and filtered cigars for the mass market. I am vice president of Golden Leaf Tobacco Company, which supplies different varieties of tobacco worldwide; thus I don’t have a lot of extra time. I do enjoy competitive bass fishing, and I spend what little extra time I have doing that. The time away from the office is mostly on the weekends during the spring and fall.
If you weren’t in the cigar industry, what would you be doing?
I’d be building something. I love taking concepts from idea to reality. It’s the most rewarding thing in life to see an idea transform into something real. It’s like watching a child being born and having the privilege of being a part of that child’s life, guiding them through life’s challenges.