SS February 2016

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24 SMOKESHOP February 2016 in 2012. Earlier, he served as director of marketing of Xikar, Inc., having joined in 2009 with nearly 25 years of sales and marketing experience at several Coca-Cola companies. > Gran Habano has hired John Gonzalez as vice president of sales. In his new position, Gonzalez will work closely with owner George Rico to manage the company's sales team and lead the design and implementation of sales promotion programs. A sea- soned sales and marketing executive, Gonzalez brings 45 years of profes- sional experience implementing sales supervision and managing top-line revenues in domestic and international markets. Prior to joining Gran Habano, Gonzalez served as vice president and general manager for Kuuts LLC/ Tabacalera Zapata LLC, directing management of operations and supervising sales and marketing for four years. Prior to joining Kuuts, he served as vice president of sales for eight years at My Father Cigars, Inc., developing and introducing product lines, managing independent sales agencies, developing private label brands, and lead- ing startup sales with international distributors in several European countries. > Daughters & Ryan, Inc. has hired Michael Rubish as national sales director. He brings many years of sales expe- rience in the pipe, cigar, and tobacco industries to his new position, including nearly seven years as national sales man- ager at Savinelli USA, where he built the company's premium cigar and expand- ed its pipe and accessory sales, and nearly three years as an account execu- tive at tobacco trade magazine publisher Speccom International. Rubish is based at D&R's Kenly, N.C. corporate office. > Kristoff Cigars has hired Andy Scharfman an in-house sale representa- tive responsible for southwest sales ter- ritories of California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Previously, Scharfman served as vice president of sales and marketing for Cesar Cigars and earlier as a San Diego-based cigar broker rep- resenting a number of premium brands. > Nate McIntyre has joined Miami Cigar & Company as a regional sales manager responsible for southeastern region. Previously, McIntyre served as Eastern U.S. sales manager for Cubanacan Cigars, and prior to that as national sales direc- tor for House of Emilio. McIntyre is also owner of Percy Ray Cigars, which he founded in 2015. Gonzalez Rubish Scharfman Diana Silvius Gits, 81 Diana Silvius Gits, the founder of Chicago's Up Down Cigar retail store who rose to prominence over the course of her 50-year career in the indus- try, died January 22, 2016, in her Old Town, Chicago home. She was 81. Silvius Gits' entry into the cigar indus- try happened almost by accident, she told Smokeshop magazine in a December 2001 cover story. Having taught art at Gross Point University-Ligget, a college prep school in her native Detroit from 1956 to 1958, Silvius Gits moved to Chicago's north side in 1962 with her husband Gerald Gits to open a retail art gallery. "I discovered after a while that the art gallery busi- ness really doesn't make enough money to support itself," Gits' explained of her decision to add other mer- chandise, and in 1965 open a "general store" that sold a few tobacco products—pipes at first, followed later by cigars and tobaccos—among an array of items, from glassware to candles to paper dresses. Customers quick- ly took interest in the tobacco products, and so did Gits. "The stuff I was selling were just things," recalled Gits of the random merchandise. "They were boring. Cigars are interesting. If you are going to sell a cigar, there are a million things you can talk to your customers about—the cigars, the families that make them, the variety of tobacco leaves, tobacco blends." The eclectic gallery-turned-general store grew into Up Down Tobacco, and Git's mission was nothing less than to be "the best high-grade specialty tobacco store in the world." She immersed herself intently into the industry, studying it and parlaying her friendly, cus- tomer-oriented personality into a thriving business, an approach she replicated in building her store team. Silvius Gits passionately engaged her customer base to promote the store, forming the Chicago Sons of Briar (SOBs) in the late 1980s, a club that met monthly at the shop, and later sponsoring the Chicago Cigar Connoisseurs club, dinners, parties, and other events for regular custom- ers, dedicating an outdoor patio to monthly summer events and an annual three-day fete around Thanksgiving. She was the first woman president of the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America (RTDA), today the IPCPR, and a member of the board of the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA). Silvius Gits is survived by two daughters, three grandchil- dren, and 30 nieces and nephews. Industry NEWS

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