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The First Family of Tobacco

For decades, the Oliva family of Tampa, Florida, has been supplying tobacco to many of the world's top makers of premium cigars.
Michael Kaplan
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 10)

CA: How many in your family are involved in your business today?

Oliva: My youngest son, John, joined the business in 1970 after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in engineering. My oldest son, Angel Jr., joined the company in 1974. He graduated from the University of Florida too, but with a degree in architecture. And then my grandson Johnito [Oliva's face lights up]--he works very hard, always traveling, always working hard. We are very close.

CA: I find it impossible to ask about your business, without turning our discussion to your family. [Oliva smiles.] Your career spans 60 successful years. And when your family gathers on Christmas Eve, there are 250 people present. It's obvious that both have brought you a great deal of pleasure.

Oliva: I told you before how proud I am to see my children live with honesty, loyalty and integrity, the things that Meca and I have taught them. I believe Oliva Tobacco has allowed us to achieve and do more good than we could ever have imagined or dreamed. It was those challenges that pushed me to do more.

CA: What are your challenges today?

Oliva: It's not so different. Maybe just that it is bigger now.

CA: You mean Oliva Tobacco Co...?

Oliva: No--the world. The future is in the generations that follow. For this reason I dedicate a large part of my financial resources to help organizations like The Boys and Girls Club, the Children's Home, the University of Tampa and other institutions that guide young people to a good and productive life. Oliva Tobacco Company has provided scholarships to people who are now doctors, professors and engineers. This is not just in the United States. We also do this in Central and South America, where opportunities are not as many.

CA: You are not a common man, Mr. Oliva. You are unique and blessed in your life, and I thank you so much for sharing your life with me today. [Oliva smiles shyly.] You have to admit, you've had quite a life.

Oliva: It was just my life...that's all.


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