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Winter, 2008

TPI Man of the Year:
Guido Vandermarliere

Staff Report

When deciding who would be this year’s TPI Man of the Year, we knew we would be looking for a man who personified the industry. Someone who spent their career building their business and could be called an icon of the field. The staff of Tobacco Products International feel that, under these guidelines, there could not be a better candidate than this year’s honoree. Tobacco Products International is proud to name its choice for Man of the Year: CEO and President of J. Cortès Cigars, Mr. Guido Vandermarliere.

In 1924, Maurits Vandermarliere began a humble business, Ets. Vandermarliere NV, from the confines of a small tobacconist shop in the small village of Moen in southwest Belgium. In 1965, Maurits’ 24-year old son, Guido, joined his family cigar company, where he - along with three brothers and one brother in law - ran the daily management of the company. Guido was placed with the responsibility of developing an export division for the company. At the time, the business had no outlets outside its home base of Belgium, and had an output of 18.5 mn sticks. Soon after, Guido took the helm of the company’s international goals, the business opened into its first foreign market in Luxembourg, and after a few decades, the company can now boast a production of 416 mn sticks, which can be found for sale in over 80 countries world wide.

With its signature J. Cortès line of cigars, and its popular line of Neos small cigars, Guido Vandermarliere’s leadership has grown his humble family business into a global tobacco empire. In 1986, Guido founded the UTP (United Tobacco Processing) factory in Sri Lanka, which today employs over 950 workers and is managed by Guido’s son, Frederik. 1992 saw the opening of UTP Indonesia in East Java.

In 2006, Guido bought the company shares from his siblings to become the sole owner of the company, officially re-dubbed as J. Cortés, named for the company’s signature lines of cigars. But Guido’s vision has gone even beyond cigars. In 1984, Guido jumped into the RYO market with his purchase of NV Gryson. With the accumulation of other, small RYO manufacturers, Gryson has been launched into a global player, exporting to over 45 countries, and with last year’s production volume of more than 2,500 tons.

Mr. Vandermarliere is the president of the Belgian Tobacco Federation, TABASERV, where he presides over the cigar division. He is a Founding Member, Board Member, and Treasurer of ECMA (European Cigar Manufacturing Association). And now, he can also include in his list of accomplishments the designation of being the 2008 Tobacco Products International Man of the Year.

Mr. Vandermarliere is married to Marie-Thérèse Malysse, and has three children: Katrien, Sofie, and Frederik.

    1965: Guido joins Ets.Vandermarliere NV, founded by his father in 1926. His focus will be on developing an export division. The total sales at that time was 18.5 mn sticks..

    1968: First export market was opened : Luxemburg.

    1975: Take over of the Neos Sigarenfabriek in Handzame.

    1979: Take over of TAF S.A. in Liège (owners of the brand name J.Cortès, Taf, and Don Carlos).

    Early ‘80s: Restyling of the J.Cortès line to the well known blue design.

    1986: Founding the UTP (United Tobacco Processing) factory in Sri Lanka.

    UTP is a pioneer in producing bobines with tobacco cuts for wrappers & binders, a real cost effective innovation in the cigar making industry.

    Guido was one of the driving powers behind this technique. 950 Employees produce there today more then 2 bn cuts. The factory is managed by Frederik Vandermarliere, Guido’s son.

    1988: Opening of the new company head quarters in Zwevegem-Moen and the new production facilities.

    1992: Founding UTP Indonesia.

    2001: Vandermarliere NV celebrates its 75th Anniversary. During three days, the Vandermarliere family invites employees, customers, suppliers, press, and many friends for a memorial celebration party with various events.

    2006: Guido Vandermarliere takes over all shares from his two partner brothers. The company name is changed into J.Cortès Cigars Company NV.

    2007: The company produces up to 400 mn sticks sold in over 80 countries world wide. J.Cortès Cigars NV is a multinational with a 100% family character where now the third generation has taken its first steps.

Guido Vandermarliere and the RYO company Gryson:
    1984: Take over NV Gryson : production 100 tons of RYO + building new production facilities in Ieper.

    1989: Take over Covemaeker in Houthulst (RYO manufacturer).

    1991: Take over D’Heyghere in Menen (RYO manufacturer).

    2003: Take over Arvic in Wervik (RYO & cigars manufacturer). Through the years the company was built out as an international player exporting to over 45 countries. The production reached a volume in 2007 over 2,500 tons.

    President of the Belgian Tobacco Federation TABASERV. He also presides over the cigar division within TABASERV.

    Founding Member, Board Member, and Treasurer of ECMA (European Cigar Manufacturing Association).

    Married to Marie-Thérèse Malysse Father of Katrien, Sofie & Frederik.

Tobacco Products International - Winter, 2008
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