Cigar Association of America’s Longest-Serving Chairman Steps Down

The longest-serving chairman of the Cigar Association of America has stepped down after serving five years in consecutive terms as leader. Javier Estades, who is also CEO of Tabacalera USA, the nation’s leading premium cigar company, first was elected chairman of CAA in 2016.

At the cigar trade association’s annual meeting Friday, Estades was heralded for his leadership and commitment to the cigar industry. “There are some people in life who just get it,” said Craig Williamson, president of Washington, D.C.-based CAA. “We call them naturals, and for naturals, it just clicks – the long days, hard work and often tiring tasks comes easily.

“For the past five years, the Cigar Association of America has been helmed by a natural – Chairman Javier Estades of Tabacalera USA. Javier’s caring personality, willingness to serve others, and deep understanding of our industry all contributed to his success as Chairman.”

And make no mistake about it, Williamson said. “Javier served as our Chairman during a rough and tumble time for our industry, while simultaneously running one of the most successful premium cigar companies in the world. His affable demeanor and steady hand have been critical to our continued efforts. As his time as Chairman comes to a close, we owe him a great deal of gratitude.”

IN FINAL REMARKS AS CHAIRMAN, CITES CAA ACCOMPLISHMENTS

In his final remarks as chairman, Estades pointed to a number of hard-earned victories and accomplishments over the last half-decade for the cigar industry by CAA.

I believe I am passing a financially sound and strong association to my successor, John Miller,” Estades said. “During my tenure, we faced a perfect storm of unprecedented regulatory intervention by the FDA, increases in taxes at state and federal level, a divided industry, the Covid-19 pandemic and more. Despite it all, here we are – alive and kicking and very proud of what we have accomplished.

This is due to our focus on building outside relationships with organizations that value partnering with us to fight for you – our members – and the industry,” he said. CAA also expanded and diversified as reflected by creating leadership roles for industry partners in the mail order, distributor and importer segments “which shows that we value these industry segments and also gives these industry members a voice,” he said.

Estades also pointed to a big win in the high court in Illinois and other litigation as a result of coalition building among like-minded trade associations as well as a strong state government relations program. Some of the cigar industry’s biggest wins have been at the Federal level. “These include having health warnings thrown out, any product testing put off for the foreseeable future (or longer) and eliminating the recent SE deadline for premium cigars. We still have challenges ahead, and CAA stands ready to continue fighting against improper, overreaching efforts by FDA,” he said.

Over the last five years, CAA has had a more than 90+ percent winning track record on fighting issues that would have negatively impacted our members and the industry,” he said, acknowledging supportive elected officials, CAA leaders including Craig Williamson, individual CAA staffers, legal counsel and others.

CAA ACKNOWLEDGES ESTADES’ LEADERSHIP AND SUPPORT

On behalf of CAA, we are grateful for Javier’s friendship and leadership over the past five years,” Williamson said. “Whether it was his relentless promotion of CAA, the fierce advocacy work on Capitol Hill, or his commitment to leading us through challenging times, Javier has been a natural leader in so many ways. For that, we are thankful. While his time as Chairman may be ending, I know he will never stop fighting for our industry.”

Estades responded to Williamson’s remarks in his typical modest, humble, yet poignant way.

Sometimes you get change right, and some other times you fail, yet what matters most is to have a clear vision, to build a powerful team to keep on trying and to take calculated risks,” Estades said.

As a Spaniard who arrived in this great country with my wife nine years ago, with many ideas and much energy, being the first non-American to serve as Chairman of the largest cigar association in the U.S. has been truly amazing,” he said. “I’ve had great support from CAA’s president, from the CAA staff and from my fellow board of directors. My family and I feel very proud. Again, it has been an honor,” Estades said.

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The Cigar Association of America is a national trade association representing cigar manufacturers, importers and distributors, as well as other major suppliers to the industry. The organization takes pride in working on behalf of the entire industry. Originally founded in 1937, the CAA can trace its roots back to other predecessor organizations founded before the turn of the last century. CAA is the oldest advocate for the cigar industry.