• May 23, 2024

Cigar Industry Loses a Legend: ‘Fritz’ Bossert

 Cigar Industry Loses a Legend: ‘Fritz’ Bossert

Fritz Bossert

Fritz Bossert (right) - Photo: Timothy S. Donahue

It is with sadness that we report the passing of Friedrich “Fritz” Bossert, former CEO of Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Co. and retired regional director of Universal Corporation’s Dark Air-Cured Group. He passed away on May 12. Bossert was a legend in the cigar industry.

Bossert spent 22 years at Universal. He started as vice president at Gebrueder Kulenkampff, a German subsidiary, in 2002, and in 2005, he was promoted to the position of senior vice president of International Operations and Sales for Lancaster Leaf. In 2009, Bossert was elected Universal’s regional director of its Dark Air-Cured Group and, at the same time, was elected the CEO of Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Co.

A subsidiary of Universal, Lancaster Leaf specializes in producing dark air-cured tobacco, which is primarily used for making cigars. Bossert was a well-known and popular friend of the cigar industry, and his numerous contributions will always be remembered.

George C. Freeman III, chairman, president, and CEO of Universal, said that Bossert’s expertise and professional approach in the dark air-cured market fostered trusted partnerships with Universal customers, particularly during the cigar industry’s recent growth years.

In a note to Universal’s global operations yesterday, Freeman stated that Bossert was a giant in the dark air-cured industry because he was so passionate, knowledgeable and, above all else, he was a gentleman.

“That is how he approached life as well. Fritz valued loyalty and courtesy and the importance of relationships and friendships. He loved people, so he was just as comfortable attending a black-tie gala as he was standing in the middle of a wrapper field talking to a farmer,” stated Freeman. “I will dearly miss his wisdom, sense of humor, his courteous manner, and his friendship.”

Fritz Bossert

Mark Ryan, president of L.A. Poche Perique Tobacco and a longtime friend of Bossert, said he was devastated by the news of Bossert’s passing. 

“Fritz was brilliant, professional, avuncular and a dear friend to many in our industry,” said Ryan. “He was always available to listen to our concerns and provide helpful insights and guidance. Fritz was an exceptional human being, admired by everyone in our industry, and I wish I could be more like [he was].”

During a 2020 trip to Cuba with Tobacco Reporter, Bossert taught several media members the art of rolling cigars by hand. Bossert was also well known for handing out his own unique blend of cigar, affectionately referred to as “Fritz Sticks.”

A global traveler, Bossert was responsible for managing Lancaster Leaf operations in several countries, including Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, and the United States. His insight and impact on the tobacco industry will continue well into the future. He was also a wine aficionado.

In a recent article commemorating his retirement, Drew Estate paid tribute to Bossert’s instrumental role in developing its MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured line, a testament to his deep understanding of fire-cured tobaccos. Furthermore, Bossert’s expertise was pivotal in sourcing the Connecticut tobaccos that are the backbone of the Liga Privada brand, a testament to his unparalleled knowledge and influence in the industry.

Bossert had a deep understanding of tobacco and was especially experienced in tobacco’s journey from farm to factory. George Cassels-Smith, CEO of Tobacco Technology and a longtime friend of Bossert, praised Bossert’s understanding of the industry and his willingness to share his experiences.

“It is rare that an individual with so much knowledge of tobacco and our industry shares so freely with customers and shares connections to facilitate great products in the marketplace,” said Cassels-Smith. “Fritz was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge, contacts, and know-how, wrapped in a warm-hearted gentleman. His shoes will be hard to fill, and his presence will surely be missed by everyone he touched.

“Fritz was a legend in this industry and an approachable old-soul gentleman through and through. My heart goes out to his wife, Claudia, his daughters, and all of his friends worldwide; he was a huge positive to everyone he met.”