|Photo linked from Reyes Family Cigars|
The cigar industry lost one of its legenary names as Rolando Reyes, Sr. has passed away last night. Reyes was the founder of Reyes Family Cigars that has such brands as Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. He was 89 years old.
Reyes’ roots come from cigar rolling. Originally from Cuba, he started working at age 14 at the Jose L. Piedra cigar factory in Pinar del Rio. He eventually moved to Havana where he worked at the H.Upmann factory learning from the great Jose Gener. By the time he was 21, he had established his own factory called Los Aliados.
When Fidel Castro began nationalizing cigar factories, the Los Aliados factory was taken over – including all of Reyes’ personal belongings. The government forced Reyes to go work in the El Rey de Mundo factory, but when he refused, he was sent to work in the rice fields. Reyes’ ended up emigrating to the United States where he had to start from scratch.
Once in the United States, he opened up a small cigar shop in Jersey City, New Jersey where he rolled cigars. He eventually rebuilt his operation and to meet increased demand in production, he relocated to Union City, New Jersey. He eventually expanded operations to Miami and the Dominican Republic. By 1989, he moved all production to Danli, Honduras.
The Reyes Family Cigars’ web-site has a detailed history of Reyes’ journey from Cuba to the United States.