An Urban Jacksonville Legend: Swisher InternationalSeptember 17, 2010 20 comments Print Article
New Springfield's Swisher International's 86-year-old cigar factory is the largest in the world, in terms of size and production, covering nearly 700,000 square feet, employing 1,100 and producing as many as 8.5 million cigars a day.
About Swisher International Group, Inc.
Swisher International Group, Inc. is the largest manufacturer and marketer of cigars in the world. Established in Jacksonville in 1924, Swisher produces produces premium and mass market cigars, little cigars, and various smokeless tobacco products under numerous brand names, including the company's two most famous brand names, King Edward and Swisher Sweets. Domestically, Swisher manufactures its cigars in New Springfield (Jacksonville), and at a smokeless tobacco products facility in Wheeling, West Virginia.
David Swisher, a merchant out of Newark, OH receives a small cigar business, as part of a debt settlement.
Hundreds of cigars are rolled by hand every day in a one room "manufactury."
Harry and his brother, John H. Swisher, purchase the company from their father. The two rename the company Swisher Brothers.
Swisher Brothers grows to three factories, over 1,000 employees and makes as many as 300,000 cigars per day.
Left to right: David Swisher, inside Jacksonville plant in 1924 and John H. Swisher
John buys out his brother Harry's half of the company, and brings on his own son Carl. Jno. H. Swisher & Son is established.
After an exhaustive search, Carl selects Jacksonville as the new site of the company headquarters. The country's first "fresh work" rolling machines turn on at the Jacksonville headquarters, mass-producing cigars that are superior in uniformity, appearance, and quality. Swisher then becomes the first to wrap individual cigars in cellophane, and first to come up with a simple device for removing the cellophane by pulling the cigar band.
The Jacksonville plant is doing so well that the Ohio facilities are closed and consolidated into the Florida plant.
Inside the Jacksonville plant in 1946.
During the darkest days of the Depression, at a time when most companies are letting people go, Swisher hires hundreds. Swisher's hiring record earns the company Forbes magazine's Certificate of Merit for having had "the vision, courage, and faith in America's future to make large investments in the face of Depression problems.
Swisher builds the nation's first industrial children's nursery on the top floor of the Jacksonville headquarters. The King Edward Nursery won nationwide acclaim, with professional trained nurses and attendants on staff around the clock.
The King Edwards Nursery in 1948.
Swisher's King Edward becomes the world's number one, best selling cigar.
The Jacksonville plant is now the largest cigar factory in the world under one roof.