Ignacio Haya’s entrepreneurship in the cigar business made him a true pioneer, not only for the tobacco industry in the United States, but as a leader in real estate, enterprise, and a large contributor to the city and region of Tampa.
Born in Spain in the early-to-mid 1840s, Haya was the child of wealthy aristocratic parents. At age 18, he emigrated to New York along with his brother. By age 25 he had already started the Sanchez and Haya Cigar Company. Haya was exorbitantly successful at his practice. One of his first innovations was the use of cigar box art and labels to advertise his product.
Allowing Vicente Martinez Ybor to make the first purchase of land in the area in October of 1885, Haya quickly formed the Sanchez & Haya Real Estate Company. His actions paved the way for future cigar owners to make similar investments in the tobacco business nearby. The company, whose headquarters you see here, came to fruition as a result of Haya’s desire to improve the economic situation of the area. The first venture that the company would undertake was the construction of a two-story wooden factory building, which would be Haya’s first cigar factory in Ybor City. This building, which was located on 7th Avenue, burned down in a devastating fire that consumed much of Ybor City in the early 20th century.
Haya’s contributions to the city of Tampa are innumerable. Haya was a noted philanthropist and supporter of the social life amongst Ybor’s citizens. He was financial contributor to Mutual Aid Societies such as the Centro Español, which, among other things, provided healthcare, entertainment, and fraternity to inhabitants of his factories. Ignacio Haya was an important leader in Ybor City and a pioneer in the cigar industry. Through his business acumen and his philanthropic activities, Haya paved the way for the city of Tampa to be the beautiful city that it is today.