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News: Rick Rodriguez to Retire from STG.

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CAO Blender – Ambassador Steps Down after More Than 20 Years in the Company


March 11, 2022 (Richmond, VA) – Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) announces that Rick Rodriguez, blender/ambassador of CAO is retiring from the company on April 29, 2022.

Rick Rodriguez

Rick joined General Cigar in January 2000 as a sales representative in Florida. In 2005, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime by Edgar Cullman, Sr., to participate in a rigorous cigar master training program. Rick became immersed in cigar making, learning the art of blending from titans of the handmade cigar category including Benji Menendez, Daniel Nuñez and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo.

After years of studying, most notably with Benji Menendez from 2005-2008, Rick went to join the blending team of La Gloria Cubana in 2008 when Ernesto Perez-Carrillo left General Cigar to start his own company.

With STG’s acquisition of CAO in 2009, Rick’s role would expand again, this time earning him the coveted position of  blender and ambassador of CAO.

For the past 13 years, Rick has spearheaded blend development for CAO, working alongside CAO’s Nicaraguan team. Together, they amassed a slew of high ratings and accolades for their innovation-forward releases including: Pilón, Flathead, the Amazon Basin Series, Session, Bones and others. The new offerings created by Rick and the CAO team have made waves in the competitive premium cigar landscape, thanks to a winning combination of unique tobaccos, processing methods and arresting packaging.

When not working on blends or consulting on new products, Rick has spent countless hours on the road, spreading the gospel of CAO to devoted cigar enthusiasts across the world. Whether at cigar shops or special events, he has captivated CAO fans with his tobacco knowledge, which he often peppered with a travelogue of his adventures from the road.

Rick Rodriguez said, “This job has been a dream come true for me and so much of it seems like fate. From the moment Edgar Cullman, Sr., offered me the job to study under the company’s cigar masters, I knew how lucky I was. When I write my life story, and maybe now I will, my time in the cigar business will be a huge part of that story. Looking back, I still to this day ask, ‘why me?’ Now, as I get ready to step down, I’m able to answer my own question. Thank God it was me.”

Régis Broersma, Senior Vice President of Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s North America Branded and Rest of World Division and President of General Cigar said, “Rick brought a lot to the party; he was a terrific blender with a great palate. The word ‘passion’ gets overused in this category yet with Rick, it fits. He loved his work. He loved being around people, sharing his passion for CAO and he loved to tell a story. While we’ll miss working with Rick, he’ll always be part of the STG family.

Rick concluded, “Twenty-two years is a long time. It would be too hard for me to list every person by name that has supported me in my career, but what I can do is say thank you to Niels Frederiksen, Régis Broersma, Benji Menendez, Daniel Nuñez, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, every CAO fan, every shop owner and store employee, and everybody I’ve had the honor to work with throughout my time at General Cigar and STG. Thank you so much. For everything.”

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