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Thomas Cristiano began working with pipes only weeks after emigrating to America from his native Italy in 1968 at the age of 16, at the S. M. Frank factory in Long Island, New York. Mr. Cristiano worked at that factory, which produced the Kaywoodie pipes, among others, for a decade before leaving and eventually starting his own company, Cristom Imports and Exports, in Tampa, Florida. In addition to producing three pipe lines of his own, including the Cristiano, Cristiano Signature Series, and Calabresi pipes, Mr. Cristiano is believed to have made the Kaywoodie pipes in Tampa from the mid-1980s until approximately 1992. He was also one of the nation's most respected humidor makers.

Sadly, Mr. Cristiano became a broken pipe on November 7, 2005 while traveling in his native Italy. He was only 53 years old. He is universally remembered as a kind person, as well as a positive influence on the pipe and cigar industries.