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Hillsborough Biographies

ANTUONO, Valentine M.
Transcribed from:  The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol. 
II, page 210, 1923.

ANTUONO, VALENTINE M. is one of the most conspicuously successful cigar manufacturers in
Florida. He has built up a business by study and consecutive efforts from practically a one
man shop to an industry requiring a large plant, several hundred employees, and with an output
that is famous for its quality and quantity.

Mr. ANTUONO was born in Italy in June, 1874. He attended common schools in his native country,
and at the age of twelve, in 1886, came to America and for a time lived in New York City.
He learned the cigar maker's trade, and was one of those who came to Tampa when the cigar
industry was in its infancy. While working at the bench he steadily cherished the ambition
to get into business for himself, and after about fifteen years he succeeded in establishing
his first shop in a little back room on La Fayette Street. He worked at the bench himself,
and set the pace for the two or three cigar makers he was able to employ. He placed the output
with distributors such as he could secure, and without advertising the famous Val and C. H.
S. brands were left to establish their own reputation, and for twenty years these brands
have been recognized among smokers and among cigar makers as possessing the finest characteristics
that can be put into a cigar. For several years Mr. ANTUONO made cigars as well as handled
the executive details of his business, and gradually the factory was enlarged, and subsequently
he bought a large factory building and this, too, has been increased in capacity. By 1918
his plant was recognized as one of the largest of its kind in Tampa. In that year, because
of a feeling of unrest among labor, Mr. ANTUONO attempted to interest employees in his business
by organizing the C. H. S. Cigar Company and selling stock on credit and easy payments to
the employees. However, the workmen did not show appreciation of this opportunity to secure
a part ownership in the business, and soon afterward they went out on strike. The stock was
then bought back by Mr. ANTUONO, who now continues the business under his own name. He worked
fourteen years at the bench as a cigar maker and has practical knowledge of every technical
process involved in the production of a high class cigar. This long experience has made
him a leader in the industry, and for years he has been a staunch advocate of the open shop
policies in the cigar industry. He stood practically alone in this attitude among Tampa
manufacturers until the recent general strike in the factories, at which time all the manufacturers
adopted Mr. ANTUONO's policy and the open shop is now regarded as a permanent feature of the
cigar industry in the Tampa District.

Mr. ANTUONO has achieved substantial success in his business career, owns much valuable city
and suburban property, including his fine town home and a delightful summer home at Indian
Rock. He for a number of years represented the Italian Government as consular agent in Tampa.
He is affiliated with the Elks and Knights of Pythias, is a member of the Automobile and
Golf Club and is very popular among business men and citizens generally. Mr. ANTUONO married
Miss JANNIE GERACI and they have two children, FRED and MARY.
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