Cornell & Diehl: A story of growth continues : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Cornell & Diehl: A story of growth continues

Firm merged and co-located with Laudisi Enterprises

by William C. Nelson

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With bales of tobacco coming in and tins of finished product ready to go out, the Cornell & Diehl warehouse is a busy place.

Fans of tobacco blending house Cornell & Diehl (C&D) may already know some of its back story. In the early 1990s Craig and Patty Tarler bought themselves an old, somewhat obscure and declining tobacco blending company in New York City with roots that went back more than 100 years. The company didn’t amount to much when the Tarlers found it. They transported their new acquisition, lock, stock and barrel, in the back of a van to their home in Pennsylvania and tucked it away in the cellar. There they took Craig’s middle name and Patty’s maiden name to re-christen the company Cornell & Diehl, and they set about reinvigorating the enterprise as a labor of pure love. Four years later the Tarlers moved to Morganton, North Carolina (the couple wanted to be closer to their children and grandchildren), and their little blending company moved with them—still but a home-garage business.

However, C&D kept growing. Pipe smokers simply loved the blends, and the Internet was opening a whole new retail frontier. By 2005 the Tarlers decided they had to find more spacious quarters if their company was to keep up with demand, so they moved the operation again, this time into a 5,500-square-foot building in Morganton, which gave C&D renewed breathing space and a bolstered production capacity. This has been the C&D pattern: always a story of innovative blends and uncompromising quality, which helped ensure growing popularity and revenue.

And C&D always seemed to find a way to step up to the production demands that came with growth, although at times the company barely kept pace.

The passing of Craig Tarler in 2012 saw his son Chris step in to continue the family

Cornell & Diehl’s Jeremy Reeves, Colin Noto and Aaron Wilson inspect drying racks full of cubed Burley.

Cornell & Diehl’s Jeremy Reeves, Colin Noto and Aaron Wilson inspect drying racks full of cubed Burley.

business. But there still remained the nagging question of how to ratchet up C&D’s capacity to the level that customers were demanding. Therein lies the story of a new and hopeful chapter in the continuing arc of expansion that this imaginative brand has always demonstrated. As before, it involves a physical move, this time to a spacious, block-long building that houses the headquarters of C&D’s new partner, Sykes Wilford’s Laudisi Enterprises, better known to most pipe smokers as the people at Smokingpipes.com. In January 2014, C&D was merged with Laudisi, and in the spring of this year the C&D physical plant was relocated to Laudisi headquarters, a 30,000-square- foot facility in Longs, South Carolina, 6 miles inland from Laudisi’s famous retail outlet Low Country Pipe & Cigar. So the pattern continues: As in the past, just when the company really needed it, C&D has again found a way to grow. Workers who had previously staffed C&D at its Morganton facility were mostly approaching retirement age; the only Morganton staffer who chose to make the move to South Carolina was Chris Tarler, and he remains with C&D as brand manager. The entire Laudisi enterprise is a confirmed beach family now.

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Category: Fall 2015, Feature Article

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