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|Products||Cigars; Smokeless Tobacco|
Swisher (formerly Swisher International, Inc.) is a leading tobacco manufacturer whose cigars and smokeless tobacco brands include one of the largest-selling cigar brands in the world, Swisher Sweets.
Swisher has manufactured tobacco products since 1861 and ships more than two billion cigars a year to more than 70 countries. The company operates worldwide, with its headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. It has manufacturing facilities in Wheeling, West Virginia and Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Swisher traces its roots back to 1861 when David Swisher, a merchant out of Newark, Ohio, received a small cigar business in settlement of a debt. David and his four sons began to sell cigars across the Midwest from their “rolling stores” or wagons. The cigars were rolled by hand every day in a one-room “manufactury” in Newark.
In 1888, David's sons, John and Harry, bought the company from their father and renamed it Swisher Brothers. The company experienced great growth, and by 1895 the business had grown into three factories that employed over 1,000 people who hand-rolled as many as 300,000 cigars per day.
In 1913, John bought out his brother, Harry, took on his own son, Carl, and renamed the company to Jno H. Swisher & Son. About ten years later, Carl selected Jacksonville, Florida when looking for a new home for their growing business due to the area's climate, shipping facilities, and proximity to raw materials and markets. Swisher has been headquartered in Jacksonville ever since.
In 1923, Swisher was the first company to order rolling machines, which transformed the business by cost-effectively mass-producing cigars of great uniformity. The “fresh work” machines[clarification needed] went into operation in Jacksonville on June 20, 1924, and by the end of the 1920s, Swisher was making 100 million cigars a year. Swisher was also the first to wrap individual cigars in cellophane and the first to come up with a simple device for removing the cellophane by pulling the cigar band.
By 1927, the Ohio facilities were closed and consolidated into the Florida operation. Even during the Great Depression, business was good and Swisher was hiring hundreds to keep up with the demand for its cigars. Swisher's hiring record earned the company Forbes magazine's Certificate of Merit for having “the vision, courage, and faith in America's future to make large investments in the face of Depression problems.”
During the same period and largely due to its investment in money-saving machinery, Swisher was able to cut the price of its King Edward Cigar from 5 cents each to 2 for 5 cents; it had been introduced in 1918 at 10 cents. Sales soared, and by the early 1940s, King Edward was the world's number one cigar. By 1941, the Jacksonville facility was the largest cigar factory in the world under one roof. It also housed the nation's first industrial children's nursery, which opened in 1939.
In the following years, Swisher expanded by opening other facilities for handling, processing, storing, and shipping the huge quantities of tobacco needed in Jacksonville. In 1958, the machine-manufactured Swisher Sweets brand was introduced, and by 1964, the company was making four million cigars a day that were being shipped to all 50 states and to 47 foreign countries.
Swisher acquired Universal Cigar in 1986, maker of the low-priced machine-rolled Optimo.
In 1966, Swisher was purchased by William Ziegler III's American Maize-Products and he became chairman of the company, where he remained until his death in 2008. He was CEO by 1992 and changed the name to Swisher International. By 1995 Ziegler sold his American Maize-Products and kept (or bought back) Swisher, then took it public as Swisher International Group in December 1996.
In 2014, Swisher acquired Miami-based Drew Estate Tobacco Company that produces a variety of hand-rolled brands such as ACID, Herrera Estelí, Kentucky Fired Cured, Liga Privada, MUWAT, Natural, Nica Rustica, Nirvana Cameroon Selection, Tabak Especial, UnderCrown, and Java by Drew Estate. John Drew had started the company in 1996 with a 16 square feet (1.5 m2) stall at the World Trade Center. The Drew brand went through some upheaval after the acquisition, and John Drew was brought back as its president in 2016.
In August 2020, Swisher International, Inc. announced the rebranding to Swisher.
Swisher Sweets Original and Diamonds are the #1 and #2 best-selling large cigar in the U.S. Together, they account for more volume than the next five competitive large cigar items combined.
Jacksonville University connection
The Swisher name has a long-standing history with Jacksonville University since its charter in 1934. Carl S. Swisher was the University's first major donor and benefactor. The Swisher Gymnasium, Swisher Library, and Swisher Theatre all represent donations from the Swisher family or company. Swisher's executives and employees have been active volunteers across Jacksonville University's campus for the past 75 years.
- David Savona (8 February 2013). "World's Biggest Cigar Producer Eyes Premium Market". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- Brendan Vaughan (1998). "Swisher International Group Inc. Switches Gears". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- David Savona (27 July 2008). "Swisher Head William Ziegler III, 79, dies". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- Andrew Nagy (May 2017). "The Brand Man Returns". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- Andrew Nagy (30 January 2017). "Jonathan Drew Named President of Drew Estate". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- Blake Droesch (3 November 2017). "John Miller Named President of Swisher International". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
- "Swisher International, Inc. is now SWISHER". https://swisher.com/. Retrieved 2 September 2020. External link in
- Swisher Foundation Gives Transformational Gift to Jacksonville University
- Jacksonville University Gets $6 Million Gift From Swisher Foundation