To know Sykes is to know that his interests lie primarily in pipes, technology, and...the 11th century Mediterranean? Born into an academic family, Sykes entered college assuming he would continue in that tradition. But life has a funny way of turning a history major from Vanderbilt expecting a career in academia, into a successful pipe retailer. During his freshman year of college in 1998, he was hired to work in a local tobacco shop. And thus began a love affair with tobacco and pipes that has not diminished across his years in the tobacco business. It was about this time that everyone thought that the internet would change everything and that company book values were measured in 'eyeballs', and Sykes saw an opportunity to combine his love of pipes and technology. He founded Smokingpipes.com in 2000 while he was still finishing up his degree, with the hopes that it could become a hub for pipe enthusiasts around the world to find high quality pipes. "Technology should augment the personal touch, not replace it" says Sykes, about almost everything (and occasionally entirely out of context during meetings, which is how we know he's been napping). He has experience in every capacity within the company, seeing as how he was the company in its infancy, but his main responsibilities include sales, vendor relations, overseeing finances and operations, coding, and making high level decisions about restaurants on business trips.
Having studied art and poetry at CalArts in Valencia, California, Ted admits freely that his initial impulse to pick up a pipe had more to do with cultivating his pretentiousness as a blossoming young artist than it had to with his desire to smoke fine tobacco. Fastforward ten years and Ted's thoughts on pipes and tobacco are as sober as his critique of conceptual art. After years in a local rock band in Stockton, California, and six years with Starbucks Coffee, Ted came into the company as Sales Manager. Presently, as Chief Operating Officer, Ted supervises the various divisions that compose Laudisi Enterprises. This means he has a hand in Smokingpipes.com, Laudisi Distribution, Cornell & Diehl, our Marketing department, our Shipping department, and our IT department. He’s a pretty busy guy anymore.
If one were to idly wander through the Smokingpipes offices, your first impression of Lisa might simply be that of a quiet, diminutive, friendly lady sitting behind a contrastingly large desk. The reality is that she sits behind that large desk because she is the rock of Smokingpipes - while Sykes is brainstorming with John or Ted, or trotting off overseas to meet with pipemakers and work out some crazy deal, Lisa's the one making sure we have things like electricity, shelter, fresh coffee beans by the sack-full, and paychecks.
Originally from Reading, PA, Lisa relocated to South Carolina on account of her love of the beach, and ascended to her current senior position (rather literally) from being manager of our first-floor brick & mortar pipe and cigar shop, Low Country Pipe and Cigar.
Aside from her official duties as the Smokingpipes matriarch, Lisa also serves as our resident expert on all matter Disney-related, as evidenced by the hefty dream-vacation itinerary she provided Adam with when he took his wife to Disneyworld. (And which turned out, by all accounts indeed, to be a rousing success.)
After more than seven years of direct involvement in Laudisi Enterprises, and as VP of Sales for four years and GM of Smokingpipes.com for two years, Tony left at the end of 2009 to continue to pursue his education in Atlanta, GA. Tony managed day-to-day operations at Smokingpipes.com for two years, so we're constantly finding ourselves calling to ask questions, mostly beginning 'where the ____ is...'. He's also involved in strategic planning for the company, and joins us for major company events, such as the Chicago Pipe Show.
Born in Arley, Alabama (roll tide), Joshua came to South Carolina in 2005 to start graduate school. He taught for seven years while he earned his PhD in early American history. While writing lectures and a dissertation which focused on the religious and cultural history of colonial America, Joshua found pipes to be his constant companions. What free time he had, he spent reading about pipes and tobacco, and restoring estates that he picked up in antique stores. He comes to us having taught on a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of South Carolina, and a background in wine sales. His interests include food and wine, cooking, reading and writing history, and a secret love of Victorian ghost stories, which are to be read by the light of an oil lamp and accompanied by a pipe, naturally.
Until mid-2011, Alyson was manager of the combined Merchandizing and Marketing departments. Since then, she's taken on a variety of management roles, including setting up our new recruiting and hiring processes in 2013. More recently, she's been involved in early-stage new project development. Although she has lived in the South since 2002 (leaving behind New Jersey), she refuses to eat grits or say "y'all," though she has developed a fondness for sweet tea and fried chicken. She is a self-diagnosed ailurophile, but we secretly think she's just building a cat army.
Tracy and her husband David set out together to Myrtle Beach when they were both just nineteen and have made a pretty good run of it down here. David has owned and operated his own income tax and accounting practice since 1994, which Tracy continues to help out with part-time. She herself ran her own mortgage broker firm from 2003 to 2009, and her considerable experience in purchasing, accounting, and inventory control has quickly proven valuable here at Smokingpipes, where she enjoys being able to utilize her skills - not to mention our relaxed environment and the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of an industry that's entirely new to her. When they aren't busy with, well, business, she and her husband enjoy getting out and back to nature, camping and hiking with their three children.
Originally from Mississippi, John found his way to South Carolina by way of his education; first receiving a bachelors in Fine Art/Photography from Delta State and then his masters at Clemson. Finally realizing that he was born a pipe smoker (who knew?) during his first week of employment, John feels complete now that he has the outlet to nuture his newfound hobby. John is a movie buff, a cat person and a mediocre juggler. He also loves the taste of burnt cheese.
Originally from Langhorne, PA, Michael moved to Myrtle Beach to be closer to his parents. He was an Operations Specialist in the Navy, working with Tactical Data Systems and as a Tactical Air Controller, having been deployed a number of times to the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, South America, and Baltic Sea. The wealth of knowledge gained from his education in systems and network administration has lead him to work for businesses small and large, such as hospitals, car dealers, real estate offices, and even Dell. Now that he is at Smokingpipes, however, he has realized a growing interest in pipes and tobacco. When he isn't on the job, Mike spends his time at the beach, playing video games, or with his parents.
Mathew is a transplant from Connecticut where he worked for Big Y Supermarkets and Fed-Ex. He received his degree in English from Eastern Connecticut State University. When not wrangling a myriad of projects, Matthew enjoys baseball, alternative rock, cult television shows, and reading anything he can get his hands on.
Greg has lived in the Myrtle Beach area since 1988, certainly long enough to be considered native, and has spent much of that time with his wife, Cheryl.
Calvin Miller was born in Saint Louis, Missouri to military parents. Imagine their surprise when he decided to pick up a colored pencil set instead of a cap gun. After graduating from Winthrop University with a degree in Visual Communications, he immediately immersed himself in everything to do with advancing technology and marketing trends. His passion is to continue to make art relevant in today’s growing mediums while making a ton of money. Calvin enjoys short walks on the beach, smacking while eating, Guinness, video gaming and watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reruns. Calvin dislikes splinters and videos about parasitic organisms.
Kathryn, or "Kat" for short, is a South Carolina native who has been in the Myrtle Beach area over 14 years. Often accused of "Facebook-ing too much," it's fitting that her work here revolves somewhat around social media. She also greatly enjoys patching together videos for YouTube, and helping showcase the updates. Having recently achieved her BA in English and MA in writing at Coastal Carolina University, she is looking forward to doing some creative writing in her off time, and not feeling the need to over-caffeinate. She also loves novels (magical-realism particularly), photography, Irish whiskey, and traveling with her husband, Dennis. Sadly, her love of travel has not given her the aptitude for direction. It is a well-known fact that she is often lost and surrounded by cats and Disney merchandise.
A graduate of Atlanta's Oglethorpe University, Chris Johnson relocated to the Myrtle Beach area with his wife Katy and their little daughter Maeve shortly before joining the Smokingpipes.com team, and has since become quite the budding pipe enthusiast. This latest pursuit joins his already long-running interests in surfing and the art of aquascaping. What's more, he's also followed in another great Smokingpipes.com employee tradition: conspicuous beard-growing.
Following in the Smokingpipes tradition of unorthodox career paths, Pete Kogler capped off a twenty-six year long run as a touring musician by earning a business degree focusing on marketing and graphic design. (That's not to say he's stopped playing music, though; along with boating and fishing, it still makes up a healthy chunk of his free time.) And as a native of Buffalo, NY, Pete's furthermore added to our other great tradition, that of welcoming into our bosom those who have migrated (fled?) to the Myrtle Beach area from the Northeast.
Katie works in the Marketing Department to ensure that your pipes, cigars, tobacco and accessories look as beautiful on the web as they do in person. Part of the Smokingpipes.com Jersey faction, Katie moved to South Carolina with her family when she was just two years old.
Kelly originally hails from Montgomery County, Maryland, and only relocated to South Carolina about a year previous to her joining the Smokingpipes team. Though she and her husband originally moved here to be closer to his grandparents, it's proven fortuitous for Kelly, someone who loves the color green (which we have plenty of), as well as wearing flip-flops -- something she'll do as far into winter (which we have very little of) as she can. In her spare time she enjoys just about all manner of music, thriller and horror novels and movies alike, cooking, and playing with and caring for her family dogs -- all half-dozen of them.
Originally from the foothills of North Carolina, Andrew, or “Andy,” grew up on a tobacco farm—where he watched his great grandfather cure and prime Virginias as a boy. Naturally, he soon developed a love for pipes and pipe tobacco. After taking up the hobby full-time during his undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill, Andy searched for a way to consolidate his love for pipes and his ambitions as a writer. Luckily his search led him across state lines to join us here at Smokingpipes.com. As a bilingual writer and Hemingway enthusiast, he enjoys both reading and writing short-stories in English and Spanish. He has developed an addiction to buying musical instruments; his favorite of which is the banjolele. His musical interests include Latin Reggae and Bluegrass—and, well, everything in between. Andy loves Spanish food, and since his return from Seville, Spain in 2012, has been tirelessly searching for jamón ibérico. When he’s not writing, he enjoys gardening, tea sipping, coffee gulping, traveling, learning new languages and watching his beard grow.
Eric's humble beginnings with Smokingpipes.com started with data entry where his love of pipes grew and eventually merged with his creative writing talent. He now describes about 75% of the pipes and smoking accessories that go up on the website every week. Eric is another member of our New Jersey faction, and is a fan of smoking latakia, cheap cigars, and silence. In his own words, "Animals adore me, women giggle school-girlishly at me, and men want to know what I could have possibly been thinking."
A survivor of the untamed bushland of rural Australia, Adam escaped for the safety of Sydney the day after he graduated high school — a date that happened to coincide with his eighteenth birthday. As so many young people do though, he fell in with a rough crowd. A sword wielding, armour wearing, pipe smoking gang of medieval-battle reenactors. Soon after he met his wife, Chana, he lost the armor but kept the pipe.
Recently Adam combined his love of the pipe with a new found passion, photography, which is how we found him and dragged him, kicking and screaming through customs, to South Carolina.
Born and raised in San Diego, Shane and his wife, Lisette, plus their Beagle, Bubba (who is a good boy), relocated to South Carolina to join us at Laudisi. It was when we asked his hobbies and he responded: "whiskey, tobacco, writing, moving across the country, and listing my hobbies," that we knew we would get along just fine. He plays several instruments adequately, but maybe none masterfully, and loves the music of David Bowie, Ornette Coleman, and Rachmaninoff. His favorite foods include albacore, espresso, Laphroaig of any variety, McConnell's Scottish Flake, watermelon, rye (both marbled, and distilled), and soft-boiled quail eggs. But especially clam chowder. He proudly supports Chelsea Football Club, and Boba Fett is, hands down, his favorite bounty hunter.
Bill has been living in the Low Country for 27 years which makes him the closest thing to a "local" that we have. Originally from Ohio, Bill has a Bachelor's degree in Business and over 16 years retail experience. A frequent cigar smoker, Bill also owned a beachfront bar for four years. Bill's pride and joy are his wife of 25 years, his two children and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
A native of Geneseo of western New York, Cyndy moved down to Georgia following college, working in the restaurant industry for several years before becoming a full-time mom to three (wonderful) children. Later on down the road she would make use of her acquired child-wrangling skills as a school bus driver, then, following that, as a customer service representative. Eventually she decided a change of scenery was in store, and, like so many with a similar urge, she chose South Carolina as her destination.
Hadassah Hallman, also known as HaHa to her friends, can be easily identified by her gorgeous warming smile and easily remembered by her caring, cool, and cheerful personality. Hadassah was born in Panama and raised in South Carolina and Texas. She comes from a background in hospitality & tourism but desired a more peaceful environment, somewhere far away from tourists and ugly uniforms. Embracing how vastly different her new home at Smokingpipes.com is, she hopes to venture further into the pipe world. Hadassah is currently pursuing her degree in the Paralegal field. She is the proud mother of a brilliant daughter, who is just as quirky. Hadassah enjoys reading in the shower, binge bargain-shopping, comedies with happy endings, and horror movies that actually frighten her. Her favorite author is Stephen King and her favorite girl band is the Spice Girls.
Born and raised in Southern Maryland, Katie moved to Myrtle Beach in 2012. Although she misses family and friends (Wawa Stores!), she's happy to be free of the Capitol Beltway, and has enjoyed the mild winters and laid-back atmosphere of the south. She is excited to be part of the SPC family; she says, "from the moment I walked in for my first interview, I felt like I was home." She lives with the love of her life, Buddy, plus a dog, and two nefarious felines. When Katie isn't here at Smokingpipes, she enjoys reading, especially sci-fi and comics, video games, jigsaw puzzles, Star Wars Legos, hand-binding books, and anything involving art/craft (which is why she finds pipes and pipe making so fascinating). She also says she could eat tacos every day of her life, and that her mom is her hero.
Kaye comes to us with extensive experience within the customer service industry. Throughout her 27 years of customer service experience, she served 13 years in the Air Force, worked within the restaurant and hospitality industry, and spent her last eight years as a customer service representative and sales coordinator for a newspaper company. Born in Virginia, Kaye moved to South Carolina in 1977. Basically, she'll do anything to be outside; yes, even yard work. And in what may be the greatest example of yin and yang, she owns both a poodle and a Harley.
Comments? Questions? Straightforward, hardcore, no-nonsense customer service? Mark's your guy. His mission is to guarantee your experience with Smokingpipes.com is so good that you’ll want to have another experience with Smokingpipes.com. His genial manner and positive attitude are infectious around the office (which is a great change of pace in this era of bird and swine flu). Mark is yet another member of the New Jersey faction, but we don't hold that against him. Before Mark joined the SP.com team, he worked in the trucking and logistics industry where he was a Safety Director. His hobbies include music, movies, spending time at the beach, friends and family.
Ryota is our man in Tokyo. He handles customer service for our Japanese customers, providing the same service in Japanese that we offer in English from our main offices in South Carolina. An avid pipe man, Ryota fell in love with pipes while attending Keio University in Tokyo. Since then, he's become involved in pipe clubs and shows in Japan. We first met him at the Chicago Pipe Show in 2011 and he joined the team at the beginning of 2012. A California native, Ryota relocated to Japan to attend college, and now resides there helping to bridge the gap between Smokingpipes.com and its Japanese customers and suppliers.
Keith Toney was born in Marion in the western NC foothills. A life-long avid reader, he took up pipe smoking around 1990 when he was working as a historian/licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg NMP, thinking it fit the image, and to emulate two of his literary heroes: Mark Twain and Shelby Foote. While the pipe didn’t turn him into a literary giant, it did spur a passion for pipes and all things pipe related. By 1995 Keith was working in a tobacconist, and has been employed in the industry since that time. After over nine years at Cornell & Diehl, Inc. he's decided to bring that experience and expertise to our customer service team. Keith is married and has two children and two grandchildren; when not spending time with them, he enjoys reading, American history, golf, and UNC Tarheel sports.
Another Californian transplant, Chip Kushner drove here from San Diego with his two Wheaten Terriers, Zelda and Zero. Chip's journey into pipes began with the aid of dear friends Jeff Gracik of J. Alan Pipes and Neil Hunt of Captain Hunt Tobacco on San Diego Bay. His very first tobacco was Dunhill 965, and, fittingly enough, his first pipe was a 1960 Dunhill 120 Shell Briar. As his collection grew, so did his passion for all things pipe related, eventually founding the San Diego Pipe Club, where he met future coworker Shane Ireland.
In his free time, Chip enjoys collecting everything from pipes, to animation art, to single malt scotch, to vinyl records and automatic Swiss watches. He also enjoys listening to music (Jazz, Blues, the American songbook, and classic rock are his favorites), attending pipe shows, and driving his 1988 BMW 325i convertible, weather permitting. Given his extremely social nature and knowledge of pipes and tobaccos, he's a natural fit for our Customer Service department, where he waits ready to help you find the right pipe and tobacco to fit your tastes — dressed to the nines in his best smoking attire, of course: a smoking jacket and a fez.
Forgive the cliche', but Adam's passion for pipes definitely goes to 11. And you realize that when you ask him a question about pipe bits and his twenty minute answer doesn't include a comma or a breath. Adam's duties here include, but are not limited to, inspecting all new and estate pipes for drilling, fit and finish, construction, and cosmetic issues. He also enjoys writing weekly condition statements along with pipe descriptions, mainly estates. He is, to put it mildly, meticulous in his research and would rather quit smoking a pipe than sell something below quality to a fellow smoker. Adam is also a celebrated pipe maker, creating and crafting some of our more sought after pipes. He is an industrial design graduate of Purdue University, and has designed pieces such as office products, furniture and cars. Adam's future in pipes was cemented when, as a young child, he refused to watch Frosty the Snowman because he couldn't fathom why a snowman with a magic hat would choose a corncob pipe over a patent sandblast.
Romeo has called some amazing cities "home." Originally from Bucharest, Romania, he has also lived in Sélestat on the German border of France, St. Augustine, Ft. Knox, Anchorage, and Spartanburg, before settling here on the border of Coastal North and South Carolina. Romeo's hobby is not only pipe smoking, but also cleaning and restoring. When he isn't at what he refers to as his dream job, or doing other pipe-related activities, he enjoys taking his daughter, Georgiana, to Ocean Isle Beach for walks and star gazing. Good food is in their genes, he says. The two often cook traditional Romanian food together, since nothing tastes better to him than the food he grew up with.
Aside from her duties as a member of the shipping department, Janice is enjoying her introduction to the world of pipes, cigars and tobacco. After serving as a retail sales associate within our store, Janice now fulfills the duties of shipping supervisor, where she oversees the process by which all of your orders get to you in a timely manner. She and her husband came to the beach from the northern Chicago suburbs, preferring to experience snow through the magic of television.
Add yet another new name to our (increasingly long) list of NY/NJ/Philly area expatriates: Aaron Young. Aaron comes to us from Piscataway, NJ, and confesses to being a huge TV and movie buff, as well as a huge fanatic for football, and the Raiders in particular. He made the move down here to the Myrtle Beach area's warmer climes on the advice of our own Bill Westfield, and has not regretted it. Along with Janice, Deborah, and Cassidy, he helps see to it that all your orders are put together, packed up safely, and shipped out with efficiency.
As the second person we've hired with the name Aaron J. Young, we're lucky that he prefers to go by Joe. Coming to the Smokingpipes shipping department from a very different career, Joe is a veteran of the Air Force, where he worked on survival equipment and evasion tactics. Joe is accompanied by his wife, Lyndsey, and his four-year-old son, Ivan. He loves movies, especially sci-fi, and is a huge fan of Doctor Who.
Vallin's first day of work with Smokingpipes also happened to correspond with our monthly birthday and anniversary party. After meeting the entire crew at once, and getting to know us over sandwiches and cake, Vallin determined that he never wants to leave. Born and raised in Longwood, NC, he is 29 years young and a kid at heart. He loves watching cartoons, playing video games, and working on cars -- especially Hondas. He is quite happy to be joining the SPC shipping department.
Originally from Ohio, Steven is a big fan of Ohio State. He moved to South Carolina in 1999, though, so he's more than adapted to the area. He's an indiscriminate animal lover too; Steven's a friend to many and known to go out of his way to help critters in distress. In his time off, he loves movies of most genres, likes to play Call of Duty, and enjoys Rocky Patel Cigars. He has a teenage son named Jashawn.
Though born in Australia, Michael, in fact, comes to us from all over the globe, having lived in New Orleans, Houston, Concord, California, and Trinidad before moving to Cary, North Carolina in 1963.
He's worn his fair share of hats, as well. In the past, he's worked for the Division of Employment Security of North Carolina, managed two businesses, an auto shop and a full-service station, in addition to a career in landscaping.
Luckily for us, he relocated to Sunset Beach in July of 2014 and, soon after, found his home with us here at Laudisi. When he's not working, Michael likes to hike along the Appalachian Trail or take a ride on his Harley Road King.
David and his wife recently moved to the Little River area from Charlotte, NC where they lived for 14 years. He is originally from New London, Connecticut. A veteran of the Army, David served during the first gulf war. These days, his passion is playing golf; if he isn't at home or with us at work, you can find him out on the greens. He enjoys smoking pipes and cigars and loves movies and television, particularly action and sci-fi.
After growing up in the dry, desert scrubland of San Diego, Ca., Andrew desired a change of environment and a more relaxed lifestyle than the typically busy Californian rush. Luckily, that change led him to us here at Laudisi, where he, together with the rest of our shipping department, now helps to ensure all your packages and shipments arrive safe and sound. When he's not at work, you'll likely find him at the beach, enjoying the warmer water of the Atlantic. Andrew enjoys cheesy comedy films, spy thriller novels, world cultures, and WWII military aircraft.
Originally from New England, Judy has been migrating south for the past 25 years. We're thankful she kept rolling, though, because she brings valuable experience and education to our brick and mortar, Low Country Pipe and Cigar. From her background in retail and merchandising, which includes 14 years as a manager for JR Cigar, to her time at East Carolina University where she earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Business Administration, we have no doubt she'll do great things here. She and her husband, Steve, have been married for over 39 years and have two children: Jesse and Carly.
Thomas comes to us with over 20 years of sales experience in various areas: insurance, auto, and cellular services. An easy-going fellow, he enjoys getting to know his customers, what they like, and what they don't. It's rare to catch him without a pipe or cigar, but, when he isn't at work, his passions include golf and motorcycles. With his cheerful attitude and joking nature, you can always count on Thomas to lighten the mood.
A native of Charlotte, NC (where his three beautiful daughters still reside), Barry moved to the Myrtle Beach area seven years ago, thanks in part to the greater opportunity the Grand Strand allowed for two of his favorite pleasures: beach music and a good round of golf. He comes to us with over 25 years of experience in outside sales, covering everything from residential renovations, to log homes, to funeral expenses. When he isn't otherwise busy taking care of our customers or working on his game, he also enjoys running, hitting the gym, home cooked meals, or simply relaxing with a cold beer and a quality maduro cigar.