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S&M Brands sold, operation shuttered

South Boston News
The S&M Brands cigarette factory, now closed for business. / March 13, 2019
S&M Brands Inc., a cigarette manufacturer based near Keysville, shut down operations Thursday after 25 years in business.

Owner Mac Bailey said he was not at liberty to disclose who purchased the company or the sale price for S&M Brands, but he confirmed that he and son Steven were out of the cigarette manufacturing business, and the majority of the company’s 87 employees have been laid off. Those left behind at the Ontario Road location are mainly clerical staff.

The company webpages, and, were no longer accessible on the internet by Monday morning.

Bailey said the price he received for the sale of S&M Brands was “nowhere near as much as the rumors have it.”

Mac and Steven Bailey started the company in 1995 after Bailey decided to expand the family business beyond growing and brokering tobacco. S&M Brands quickly found success producing and marketing cigarette brands Tahoe, Riverside and Bailey’s.

A separate company begun in 2014, Cornelius & Anthony, produces premium cigars such as Lex12, Cornelius, Daddy Mac, Venganza, Meridian, Senor Esugars and Aeria brands. The Bailey family still owns and will continue to run that company.

“It was the hardest decision to make,” Bailey said of the sale of S&M Brands, adding that it needed a parent company that would be in a better position to market its product nationwide. The market for S&M Brands cigarettes is primarily limited to southeastern United States.

The success of S&M Brands is a tribute to the hard work and perseverance of the Baileys. While the family has been in the tobacco business since 1860 when Cornelius Bailey first planted the crop in Southside Virginia, they were growers, not manufacturers.

It fell to Steven to first learn how cigarettes were made, then develop a blend that smokers would enjoy, and finally create a supply chain for their product. Steven Bailey once said it took nearly seven years before S&M Brands was on solid financial footing. The Baileys went from selling cigarettes from the back of a pickup truck to producing 2.8 billion annually by 2016.

Once they made the decision to sell the company, Mac Bailey said he and son Steven didn’t want to “leave his people [long-time employees] with nothing.” He shared some of the money he received from the buyer — just over $1 million, said Bailey — with these employees.

A letter sent to wholesalers on Wednesday, March 6, signed by Steven Bailey, thanked the outlets for their support and credited them with helping the Bailey family “to realize the American dream.”

Mac Bailey said he does not know what plans, if any, the buyer has for the Tahoe, Bailey’s and Riverside cigarette brands, but he said he has no desire to get back into the cigarette manufacturing business.

At age 75, he said he’s also not ready to retire. Bailey has cattle to tend and plans to grow about 150 acres of tobacco “for maybe one more year.” He’s also left wondering what to do with his Keysville manufacturing plant that now sits empty.

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Hate to see them close! Baileys cigarettes were very popular in the area and employed a lot of people who are now without jobs. People do not realize how much money tobacco puts in people's pockets!


I hate to see them close. Tahoe has been my cigarette of choice for years. I hope the new owners keep that one out there.


A great America company!I enjoyed working here and hoping to retire with this company but it was not meant to be.I am grateful to the Baileys as they have always treated me like family ,As anyone in the tobacco industry knows it is challenging! May God bless the Bailey family and all my friends and coworkers as we move forward!

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