Facundo L. Bacardi, chairman of Bacardi Limited, expressed regret that Edwin H. Nielsen - a man who dedicated his life to the Bacardi company and played a critical role in its success - passed away. Mr. Nielsen was the great-grandson of Company founder, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó. He died Sunday night in Spain at the age of 93.
Born in Santiago de Cuba, raised and educated in the United States, Mr. Nielsen proudly served heroically in World War II-and received four medals-the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, European Campaign and the Victory Medal. He landed the day after D-Day in Normandy and then made his way to Germany.
He began his career after the war as a cattle rancher in Cuba until the Cuban revolution, when his beloved ranch was confiscated. He left Cuba with his family and went to work for Bacardi Mexico in 1960. There he had the position of assistant manager.
Mr. Nielsen helped establish a stable transition for the Company and the Bacardi family following the confiscation of the Company's assets in Cuba.
In 1963, he was promoted and transferred to the United States. There he became vice president of the U.S. operations-Bacardi Imports, U.S. and was later promoted to president.
"Mr. Nielsen was deeply admired and respected for his collective style of leadership, commitment and devotion to employees that imbued a philosophy that every employee should be treated like a family member," said Facundo L. Bacardi. "He was highly regarded by the U.S. distributor network."
During his tenure, in 1975, Bacardi rum became the number one premium spirits brand in the United States and the following year, Bacardi rum solidified its place as number one in the world.
In the 1970's and throughout the 1980's, Mr. Nielsen furthered the Company's international expansion to markets that today represent the largest markets for the Bacardi trademark.
For more than a decade, he also served as chairman of the board of Bacardi Imports, U.S. For greater organization, he then established a board of directors to coordinate the activities of other Bacardi companies in the world and he served as its president.
In 1992, when Bacardi Limited was founded by the joining of five separate Bacardi companies, he became a director. He retired from Bacardi Limited in 2001.
"We have lost an individual who contributed to the great history and growth of this Company. His accomplishments and legacy will remain a part of Bacardi forever," added Mr. Bacardi.