DUNMORE, Pa. — Avanti Cigar Company's history in the Scranton area dates back almost a century.
Then known as Parodi, the cigar company opened a factory in the Electric City in 1930 before moving to Dunmore about a decade ago.
Now, the company's manufacturing is moving again, this time out of the country.
"Most folks always remember the Parodi brand and the building on Main Street in north Scranton," said Bruce Reddock from the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. "I think it brings back memories to a lot of folks who grew up here, who remember those products."
Avanti Cigar Company has made cigars in a building at the Keystone Industrial Park in Dunmore for about a decade.
But now, the company plans to move production to the Dominican Republic.
A lawyer representing several Avanti employees shared a letter with Newswatch 16.
Dated July 6, the letter details the company's plans to close the plant at the end of this month, telling 17 employees they'll soon be out of a job.
The letter cites rising costs, higher employee wages, labor shortages, and turnover as reasons for the move.
"It's always a tough situation when you have a company that has been such a staple in our community and a driving force in our local economy really take that next step into the global marketplace, which ultimately results as a loss of jobs to our community," Reddock said.
Avanti cigar products are hot items at Dunmore Cigar, a few minutes down the road from the plant.
"We sell thousands of dollars worth of Parodi's every week. It's popular. It's just a popular cigar in the area," said John Azzarelli, the store owner. "People like to take them out and smoke them cutting their grass, golfing; they use them for everything."
Azzarelli keeps his shelves stocked full and despite the move, he expects they'll stay that way.
"It's unfortunate for the jobs that are going to be lost, but I'm sure we're still going to have our local distributor," he said. "We have a long history with them, so I'm sure we won't have any problem with supply."
The impending closure marks another change for the Keystone Thompson building, a facility that once housed RCA. Reddock wants the plant to remain productive.
"Hopefully, we can partner and identify an alternative tenant for them and identify opportunities out there," he said.
The letter Avanti sent to employees last month indicates all but two workers will be eligible for severance packages, receiving one week's pay for every five years of employment and two months of health insurance.
Newswatch 16 reached out to Avanti Cigar Company representatives for comment but, as of publishing, has not heard back.
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