José Oliva, former CEO of Oliva Cigar Co., is stepping down. Now that he’s been sworn in as Florida’s Speaker of the House, Oliva has decided to dedicate more time to politics—but that doesn’t mean he’s out entirely. It simply means that he’s taken more of an advisory role with the company bearing his family name.
“Most of my time is consumed by the role of Speaker,” Oliva told Cigar Aficionado. “My official title at Oliva is president and chairman of the board. My role is that of a senior advisor to the team I assembled to lead the company.”
Oliva has been in the family business since his father, Gilberto Sr., and brother Gilberto Jr. started Oliva Cigar in 1995. By 2010, Oliva was the head of sales and served as the face of the company, but it wasn’t until 2011 that he turned to politics.
Looking to fill a vacant seat in the Florida House, Oliva won both primary and general elections, becoming a State Representative for the state of Florida. During his time as both politician and cigarmaker, Oliva Cigar Co. was purchased by J. Cortès Cigars N.V., a Belgian company that specializes in machine-made cigars. The acquisition was made in 2016, giving J. Cortes control of an entire portfolio of highly rated, handmade cigars, including the Oliva Serie O, Serie V and Serie V Melanio (Cigar Aficionado’s 2014 Cigar of the Year).
With José Oliva more involved in politics, Cory Bappert, 39, has been appointed to the role of CEO. Bappert previously served as vice president of Oliva. Longtime CFO Paul Alcazar has also retired, replaced by Oswaldo Carrera.
The moves became official on January 1.