2017 Community Service Person of the Year - Craig Reynolds

Craig Reynolds - President, Cigars International - Humble Roots

In the shadow of the Bethlehem Steel Stacks is a plain, rectangular building that looks like it could hold three indoor football fields. It could be a record repository or a book warehouse, but instead it’s a cigar aficionado’s heaven.

It is a place where a cigar smoker could spend eternity sampling and enjoying premium handmade cigars that use tobacco from around the globe.

Made by expert tobacco craftsmen, the cigars come in every size, shape and even flavor imaginable. From the traditional flavors of leathery and earthen notes to more exotic flavors such as margarita, cherry blossom, key lime and mango, Cigars International’s 50,000-square-foot temperature- and humidity-controlled warehouse not only has them all, it has them in enormous quantities — over 40 million, to be exact.

“Our warehouse is probably one of the largest humidors in the world … outside of Cuba,” said Craig, the president of Cigars International. It’s the largest internet distributor of premium cigars on the planet, employing more than 400 people here in the Lehigh Valley.

Part of that distribution network is a group of developmentally disabled adults who help to assemble variety packs of cigars. The workers are assisted by job coaches who escort and help them complete job duties and earn a paycheck.

The workers punch in and punch out, follow the dress code and adhere to standard work practices and policies just like everyone else. Because of this opportunity, they develop a deep sense of pride and add great value to the product line at CI.

“I have empathy for people that have no voice or does not get enough help from the government,” said Craig, who has been with CI since 2009, becoming president in 2011. “So, I do what I can to help wherever I can.”

That he does. His modeling of giving back inspires those around him, and his quiet demeanor and relatability make him appreciated by colleagues around the Lehigh Valley and world.

It’s a long way from Craig’s beginnings, raised by a single mother in the hub of Brooklyn, his mother forced to stand in line for free services, food and medicine. Having to take on the role of “man of the family” earlier in life than planned, Craig early on developed a deep sense of responsibility.

“When I was growing up, we received a lot of help from the people in our neighborhood,” he said. “I always remember that and try to help the community in any way I can.”

Helping the community is exactly what Craig Reynolds does – and why he was chosen by the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants to be the 2017 Community Service Person of the Year.

Craig has been on the Minsi Trails Council Boy Scouts board for six years, where his focus is cultivating support for the annual golf outing. Additionally, Craig supports our servicemen and servicewomen through Cigars for Warriors, sending cigars to soldiers overseas.

He also opens employment opportunities to people with disabilities and supports local golf outings, galas and fundraising initiatives. He even brought in the LifePath chorus to perform at the Cigars International holiday party. (The choir was thrilled!)

Craig and Cigars International also are generous supporters of LifePath. Each year at Cigar International’s annual CigarFest, Reynolds donates proceeds from the companywide raffle to LifePath. This is no small amount, totaling more than $520,000 over the past dozen years.

Despite running the largest cigar distribution center in the world and being a philanthropic supporter to many nonprofit organizations, Craig makes family a top priority. He and his wife Sandy, who have been married 39 wonderful years, have a son and daughter whom they love and adore and a beautiful granddaughter, Daphne, who is the apple of Craig’s eye.

And, of course, he still remembers his humble roots and not to let his ego ever get the most of him – that he’s really “just a guy from Brooklyn.”

Craig will be honored at the 2017 LifePath/PICPA Thanksgiving Benefit and Awards Luncheon held the day before Thanksgiving at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Breinigsville, PA. Click here for details, tickets and sponsorships or email akaiser@lifepath.org.

written by Annette Kaiser