J.C. Newman Cigar Co. proudly announces that Aimee Cooks has been promoted to Vice President and General Manager of its historic El Reloj cigar factory in Tampa, Florida. In this new position, Cooks will oversee all manufacturing responsibilities, including tobacco fermentation, cigar rolling, aging, and packing. Additionally, she will be responsible for the warehousing and shipping of imported J.C. Newman and Arturo Fuente cigars that are distributed from El Reloj. Cooks becomes one of the handful of cigar factory general managers who are women.
“Aimee has been an important and trusted member of our family for more than two decades,” said Eric Newman, third-generation owner, and president. “Bobby, Drew, and I could not be happier that she is now leading El Reloj.”
First hired in 1997 by the late second-generation owner and Cigar Aficionado Cigar Hall of Fame member Stanford J. Newman, Cooks began her career as J.C. Newman’s director of human resources. By working with every employee in El Reloj, Cooks learned the skill and tradition of handcrafting cigars from the ground up. A decade ago, her role expanded to include quality control. Today, Cooks is now a well-respected cigar connoisseur and assumes responsibility for the entire factory.
“I am honored to be named Vice President and General Manager of El Reloj and thank Eric, Bobby, and Drew for their confidence in me and to Stanford Newman who was my first mentor,” said Cooks. “I am grateful to other cigar industry colleagues, in particular, the women in our industry whom I have learned from throughout my career. I look forward to continuing working for the Newman family in the industry that I love.”
When El Reloj was built in 1910, it was considered to be the largest and finest cigar factory in the world. Today, this iconic building is a cornerstone of the Ybor City National Historic Landmark District and is the last operating cigar factory in the “Cigar City” of Tampa, Florida. Under Cooks’s supervision, J.C. Newman rolls more than 60,000 cigars per day at El Reloj, both by hand and by hand-operated antique cigar machines from the 1930s. In celebration of its 125th Anniversary last year, J.C. Newman restored El Reloj and opened a three-level cigar museum, an interactive theater showing old cigar films, and a space to host cigar-friendly events. J.C. Newman offers guided factory tours on weekdays and will open a Rolling School where it will teach cigar enthusiasts how to roll and blend their own cigars next year.