99. Peterson Acquired by Laudisi Enterprises

As it seems all good things must, the “Dublin Era” chapter of Peterson pipes (1991-2018) comes to an end today. As we write in The Peterson Pipe, “It is tempting to call this the ‘[Tom] Palmer Era,’ but he resists the label, insisting “the reality is that it is a collective effort on all our parts. My role is to stimulate interest and bring out the creativity in the folks at Sallynoggin.” Tom, CEO of the company since 1991, is the most gracious and affable businessman it has been my pleasure to know. Like Tony Dempsey and Jimmy Nicholson before him, Harry Kapp and his father Henry Kapp and his father’s partner Charles Peterson before them, Tom has always believed the heart and soul of the company is in the craftsmen and women, its shop keepers and office personnel.

The company has been acquired by Laudisi Enterprises (parent company of Smokingpipes.com), Tom said on the phone yesterday, and he believes it could not have fallen into more capable hands: “Sykes Wilford,” he said, “lives, breaths, and smokes pipes, and I couldn’t ask for a better successor than that.”

Peterson Announcement

Joshua Burgess, Vice-President for Retail Sales at Smokingpipes, has been in Dublin for about six weeks as Laudisi sets up its Smokingpipes.eu operation, which has been in the planning stages for quite some time. Dublin had already been selected as the site for their European operation when Tom Palmer made the decision to retire earlier this year, so setting up headquarters at Peterson’s Sallynoggin factory made perfect sense with the acquisition.

Conor Palmer, Tom’s son and Commercial Director at Peterson, as the releases indicate, will stay on for a period during the transition, while Damian Maguire, who has been Peterson’s financial director since August of 2015, will step in as managing director. Joshua forwarded me this official press release, which Smokingpipes has also issued today:

Press Release(1)

While change is inevitable and often painful, today’s acquisition will be far less so than any in living memory. Peterson’s management changes in the 1970s and 80s came at a difficult time in the world-wide pipe community and were potentially ruinous to the company. But the company’s strong heritage as an Irish family business carried it through until a management buyout by long-time Peterson employees Jimmy Nicholson and Tony Dempsey, which was shortly succeeded by Tom Palmer’s acquisition of the company.

Tom’s interest in Peterson as part business and part heritage is, thankfully, shared by Sykes Wilford. In his blog post this morning, Sykes writes: “Laudisi is about pipes and pipe tobacco. I don’t simply mean that it sells pipes and pipe tobacco, which of course is true, but that the very soul of the business is steeped in the product. There are plenty of companies that do something. They, as institutions, might even know a fair bit about it. But they don’t love it. Institutionally, Laudisi Enterprises loves pipes. That love informs every decision we make. It’s the reason that other serious pipe people like to work with us: we understand what they do; we share their passion. Peterson then, as an organization serious about its tradition, its history, and its pipes, is a rather perfect fit within the Laudisi tent.”

We explore the remarkable achievements of the company during Tom’s direction in the “Dublin Era” chapter of the Peterson book, but I invite you to take a few minutes now to take a look back at Tom’s innovative Pipe of the Year series, the Dublin Era’s unique B shapes, the 4 Antique Collection reproduction sets, and the13 special collections released under his direction. Two favorites, apropos of the day, are the 2010 Writer’s Collection quartet seen at top, and one of Tom’s favorites, the 2002 Great Explorers collection below. Life is such an adventure, and to reflect on it and learn from it is one of its greatest and most difficult joys.

As for the Peterson book, well, as our layout designer pointed out, this gives us a rather tidy ending—the Dublin Era is complete. There will be a few minor changes, but with a little luck these won’t postpone the book launch at the Chicago show next spring.

So good luck to Sykes, Joshua Burgess (may you soon find the brew pub of your dreams), and the newly-formed Peterson – Smokingpipes crew.

Raise a pipe (and a pint, if you’re of a mind) to Tom and Conor Palmer, for their uniquely Irish contribution to the world of pipes and the international pipe-smoking community: Saol fada agus breac-shláinte chugat! Long life and good health to you!





14 thoughts on “99. Peterson Acquired by Laudisi Enterprises

    • I know Laudisi prides itself on top-notch pipes–they inspect everything they buy–so I know they’ll maintain standards.

  1. Fascinating news! Based on some of the line introductions already this year, I wonder if Laudisi wasn’t already starting to steer the ship. I hope QA will improve under the new leadership.

    • I’m wondering about those new lines myself, as the POY hasn’t yet made an appearance in the States, and the Summertime line has been renamed the Burren. In fact, all new Pete pipes seem to have dried up on US internet sites for a couple of months now. The new lines are appearing, slowly, across the pond, but not here. Hmmm!!

  2. Will we still be receiving Peterson pipes via Clippa sales, in South Africa. I hope so. I have quite a Peterson pipe collection. And the tobacco is available at a reasonable cost. Our postage system is not so wonderful. I have not received a number of USA baccy orders. Good luck.

    • Cecilia, you should write to either Joshua Burgess or to Sykes Wilford. Both of their names are on the press releases, and they are both great pipemen. South Africa!? Did you know Peterson historically has a very special connection with your country? I will be emailing you directly about it. Also, Smokingpipes.eu will be opening soon. I don’t know whether ordering tobacco from them will help you or not.

    • I’m thinking it will be rather like when BMW took over the MINI marque back in the early 2000s–all the tradition, but with a bit more technology and attention to detail, so we may actually see a rise in quality.

  3. I would like to know what will become of all the pipes the late Jim Lilley aka Sandpiper sent to K&P for a mini museum.

  4. For reasons aesthetic and cultural, Peterson has a unique place in the heart of this half-breed Irish bastard — and a prominent presence in his pipe racks. I wish you all great success with this most honorable and storied name. To the Palmers, well done you in seeing this Irish treasure through. To Sykes and crew, blessing on you for the next great chapter, and thank you for the respect your future pays the past.

    Ádh mór ort.

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