The torch has officially been passed. Longtime general manager Hendrik "Henke" Kelner, who oversaw all of Davidoff's tobacco-related aspects in the Dominican Republic, is now moving up to a more global role within the company. The tobacco veteran has been succeeded by Hamlet Espinal, who was previously head of operations at Tabadom Holding, Davidoff's cigar manufacturing subsidiary. Kelner will remain vice chairman of Tabadom's board.
"Hamlet has worked with me for 16 years," Kelner told Cigar Aficionado. "I'm sure he will do a good job. I have an excellent relationship with him, and he has a great commitment to the company."
Espinal started his career in Tabadom's blending room and from there learned many facets of Davidoff's cigar-making operation. Last year, Espinal was promoted to vice president.
"As we transition the operational responsibility to Hamlet, Henke can dedicate his time to more strategic roles where he is an extraordinary partner to me," said Davidoff CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard. "Hamlet has been a key member of the management team for many years. As such he has learned from Henke Kelner every aspect of our operation in the Dominican Republic."
Some of Kelner's new global roles will include government relations, corporate affairs, chairing the blending and tasting panel at Tabadom and conducting educational tasting seminars around the world.
"As long as I am near tobacco I will have enthusiasm," Kelner said. "After 46 years of passion and family tradition, I cannot imagine a life without it."
Kelner was the key person behind transitioning Davidoff cigars from Cuba to the Dominican Republic and is responsible for most of blends found within the Davidoff portfolio today.
Tabadom Holding (which includes the Cigars Davidoff factory) manufactures all of Davidoff's cigars, including Davidoff, Davidoff Nicaragua, Avo and Zino Platinum. Tabadom's agricultural arm is responsible for growing, harvesting and processing tobacco.
Davidoff is owned by Swiss corporation Oettinger Davidoff AG.