This month, Fighter Country Partnership newsletter features Mr. David Haddad, president of Fumar Cigars, Inc. He was inducted into the Luke Air Force Base’s Honorary Commanders program in November 2010 assigned to the 309th Fighter Squadron–the “Wild Ducks.” He and his partner, Honorary Commander, Mr. James “Bubba” Moffett, owner, Crescent Crown Distributing, hit the ground running committing themselves to supporting programs that benefit military families not only at Luke Air Force Base but the military as a whole.
Background: David Haddad was born a military brat on September 6, 1961 at McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas, where his father, a U.S. Air Force captain, was stationed. He is a University of Denver graduate with a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration degree. Mr. Haddad is described by many as a self-styled showman cigar bard and entrepreneur with a flair for renaissance. He has been collecting rare cigars and one-of-a-kind spirits for nearly three decades. He founded Fumar Cigars in 1996 with operations in 10 states and 26 markets providing cigar services to more than 300 resorts from coast to coast. In 2006, he established a cigar retail store and private club in the Deer Valley Airpark.
Mr. Haddad says that Fumar Cigars is a cigar company with a purpose. When asked what that meant, he explained, “I have always known since starting Fumar Cigars in 1996 that we were destined to be different. We are actually in the hospitality industry–we just happen to sell cigars. Our core business provides more than 300 luxury resorts with all of their cigars and cigar rolling shows. This platform provided me with a series of contacts and friends that empower Fumar and “Friends of Freedom,” our foundation dedicated to the support of military families. It gives us the ability to tap into a pool of goodwill and resources from the hotels to provide rooms and banquet facilities for events that we produce throughout the year,” he said.
“We have several major partners that donate in excess of $250,000 a year in benefits for our programs,” explains Mr. Haddad. “From coast to coast, we have access to luxury resorts for military families, wounded soldiers and volunteers. This has given me the opportunity to add value to programs unachievable without my network of contacts. Our purpose is to be good corporate citizens and to deliver the excellence that being an American demands.”
Mr. Haddad is a charter member of the USO Advisory Council and president of Friends of Freedom. He is a strategic partner as of 2009 with American Airlines Veterans Initiatives Programs gathering school supplies for Iraqi school children with Gary Sinise and Operation International Children, a division of People to People International whose chief executive officer is Mary Jean Eisenhower, one of Mr. Haddad’s most valued partners in supporting the troops.
At Easter 2009, Mr. Haddad completed a mission to Iraq to deliver 20 tons of school supplies to Iraqi children along with 7,000 pairs of Crocs shoes and 7,000 cigars for the first-ever “Cigar Social” in a war zone. David held socials in nine forward operating bases throughout Iraq and at bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, USS Eisenhower off the coast of Bahrain and at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Thanksgiving in 2009, he delivered another 15,000 cigars to Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion outside Kandahar, Afghanistan.
He is the committee chair and co-sponsor of the “Wounded Warrior Getaway to Las Vegas” with American Airlines taking 125 severely wounded servicemen and their caregivers from Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital to The Venetian for an all-expense paid “break” from the rehab centers. Partners in this amazing program for 2010 included Clint Black, Gary Sinise, Rich Little, Terry Fator and Sheldon Adelson, and the chief executive officer of the Sands Casinos.
In July 2009, he delivered two complete driving ranges to the troops of Camp Victory and Camp Sather, Baghdad, with the help of the U.S. Golf Association. Communities in Scottsdale and Golf Week Magazine readers donated 100,000 golf balls, 402 golf clubs and five driving mats.
When asked what it is like being an Honorary Commander at Luke, he explained, “It is truly an honor and a privilege.” My partner in this command is Bubba Moffett , and between us, we have made every opportunity to support and show our appreciation to the military. The people in the 309th Fighter Squadron are absolutely the best! I have learned what a caring family is. The squadron has a cohesive nature to it that is very enriching and both the spouses and the airmen are important to that feature.”
The Honorary Commanders program provides many opportunities and events for these selected community and business leaders. Mr. Haddad explained that one of the most memorable events so far in his two-year term was the graduation of a new class of fighter pilots.
“It was really humbling and it made me so proud,” he said. “The graduation ceremony was moving on a visceral level. To see the young men with such commitment, honor and pride, represent me as a citizen, getting to know them and watch them develop, makes me alive with spirit. It drives me to recommit my desire to grow as a father, husband and businessman,” he said.
The 309th Fighter Squadron affectionately gave Mr. Haddad a new name–a call sign of “Willie Pete” during a naming ceremony.
Mr. Haddad is a father of three, Molly, 13, Adam, 17, and James 24, and is married to Judy for 14 years. He and his family have committed themselves to programs to support the Luke AFB family. For the past three years, he produced Fumar’s Friends of Freedom Day–a Celebration of Patriot Day.
“This day of remembrance is commemorated with fun and food and frolic and, of course, fine cigars for all, honoring our service members and first responders,” Mr. Haddad said.
Mr. Haddad explained that more than 75 companies donate to the day of music, boxing, food and beverages, while bringing in Luke AFB’s airmen and the National Guard to salute those who serve. More than 1,200 people came the first year and 3,500 to the second year with New York Metropolitan Opera star Chuck Taylor singing God Bless America, The Go Daddy Girls, national recording stars from Branson, Missouri, local bands, Air Force Reserve Commander (retired) Lieutenant General John Bradley, Bondurant School of Racing and dozens of other attractions to celebrate Freedom. In 2010, many high-level political members, including Senator John McCain, came to speak, entertain and thank our troops.
“We gathered more than 5,000 blankets for Operation Lamia Relief for Afghanistan and hundreds of pairs of Crocs shoes for refugees and airmen families at Luke AFB,” Mr. Haddad said.
“We try to include key players from the base at the Patriot Day event and have invited all of the airmen to attend at no cost,” he explained. “In fact, my host commander, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lasica, commander of the 309th Fighter Squadron, played a pivotal role in our Patriot Day program by presenting the Freedom Award to two WWII Fighter Aces. We do this to show our citizens’ support and to integrate the airmen to the city at large on a social basis. Without the help and support of Fighter Country Partnership and the base team, a lot of what we are doing would not happen,” he continued.
“We also organized field trips for the airmen to our cigar club and to Bubba’s warehouse for the experience of seeing out operations and how they work,” he said. “It is easy when you are in the beer and cigar business to gain interest.”
As a result of Mr. Haddad’s support, he was able to provide a scholarship grant for an airmen’s family from the Patriot Day contributions. He also provided more than 500 cigars with the “Ducks” logo on it and underwrote a charity for the Ducks called the “Prohibition Party.”
Mr. Ron Sites, President and Executive Director of Fighter Country Partnership, stated, “David’s support for the military as a whole over the years has been incredible. As an Honorary Commander, he has found a greater understanding of what Luke AFB is to our community and nation. That knowledge has also allowed him the opportunity to directly support the programs and services that FCP funds annually through our FCP Top Ten program. It is involvement and awareness like David has acquired that provides FCP the privilege of being successful in our responsibility of supporting the men, women, families and mission of Luke AFB.”
“I love this gang,” Mr. Haddad said. “I am thankful that my family and I get to participate in the Honorary Commanders Program. I appreciate the leadership of Fighter Country Partnership for the support they provide to the Honorary Commanders program and to the men and women of Luke. I am proud to be a part of this program.”