General Cigar announces that CAO President Tim Ozgener has decided to pursue personal business interests in his hometown of Nashville, TN, thus moving on from his 16-year career in the premium cigar business.
Ozgener, son of company founder Cano A Ozgener, joined the original family business in 1994 and has since been instrumental in building one of the most renowned and respected brands in the premium cigar category.
Dan Carr, president of General Cigar said, "We remain committed to CAO and are grateful to Tim for his contributions, not only to the brand but also for sharing his knowledge with the people who will continue his legacy. While we will miss Tim's insight and passion, we respect his choice and wish him well."
Gary Hyams, chairman of CAO International commented, "It has been a privilege to work with Tim over the last three and a half years and to have had the opportunity to share in his passion for CAO. I wish him and his family all the very best for the future."
Ozgener commented, "It is with a heavy heart that I leave CAO. I look back at my 16-year career with the company with great pride and I will miss the friendships that I have made over the years in the premium cigar industry. I am confident that the team at General Cigar will carry the CAO brand to new heights and I wish them the utmost continued success."
Tim Ozgener was named president of CAO in 2006. He is largely credited with bringing innovative packaging, new flavor profiles and unique marketing concepts to the brand which has continued to thrive since the company's inception during the cigar boom.
Here is Tim Ozgener's personal statement:
Today, I find myself in need of clarifying several matters pursuant to the recent press release that was distributed regarding my departure from CAO. It is true that after 16 years I am stepping down from my position at CAO and will no longer be involved with the company effective immediately. The reasons that lead me to this most difficult decision, however, may not be as transparent.
The reality of the matter is that due to the recent merger between Scandinavian Tobacco Group (ST) and Swedish Match, a decision was made to fold CAO into General Cigar Co. (GCC), resulting in a physical relocation of CAO headquarters to Richmond, VA, from its current location of Nashville, TN. After conferring with my family, my decision was made to remain in Nashville.
Furthermore, while I have stepped down from my role as CAO President, it is a misnomer to say that I have completely abandoned the premium Cigar industry. While I am leaving the manufacturer side of this great business, I will continue my efforts on the political and social fronts in aiding to lobby against egregious anti-smoking legislation and taxation wherever and whenever I am able, as I have done during the past several years. In addition, I will continue to serve on the board of several trade organizations.
In closing, my wish is that the CAO brand will continue to prosper and grow under the watch of General Cigar Co., and that CAO loyalists will continue to enjoy their brand of choice for years to come. As I stand upon the closing page of this chapter, however, I do so with a desire in my heart to make certain that the epilogue is written with accuracy and goodwill.