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Tim Ozgener Leaves CAO, Possibly Cigar Industry Altogether

Almost immediately following Sam Leccia’s unexplained departure from Oliva Cigar Co., CAO’s president, Tim Ozgener, has decided to leave the company, and with that, the cigar industry altogether. This is due to the company’s impending move from Nashville, TN to Richmond, VA, a result of the merger between Swedish Match and Scandinavian Tobacco.

“It is with a heavy heart that I leave CAO,” said Tim Ozgener, son of company founder Cano A. Ozgener, in a press release. “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 feel confident that the team at General Cigar will carry the CAO brand to new heights and I wish them the utmost continued success,” Ozgener continued. He explained in a Cigar Aficionado interview that his and his family’s roots are in Nashville. “I’m pretty well established in Nashville,” he said. “I’m not willing to uproot my family. Nashville has been a great city,” he added.

Ozgener is responsible for the majority of CAO’s innovative packaging, like in the Sopranos, LX2 and MX2 series. After leaving the company, he plans to pursue his own business interests in the Nashville area, which have yet to be revealed.

The merger between Swedish Match and S.T. was finalized in late April this year, and marked one of the largest joint ventures in cigar history. I can only wonder what kind of effect this is going to have on all of the brands involved, but I don’t think much will change; most of the higher ups in each company are staying, and will continue to oversee operations as usual.

Dan Carr, president of General Cigar, offered only support to Ozgener. “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,” he commented in the press release. “While we will miss Tim’s insight and passion, we respect his choice and wish him well.”

Though at present it appears that Ozgener will pursue non-tobacco endeavors, I can’t imagine that anybody could make such a U-turn after an impressive 16-year career in the industry. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes that he’ll eventually do something else with cigars, but even if he doesn’t, we wish him the best.