May 23, 2019


Today, Christina Woerner McInnis, Gulfwise Commerce LLC President, announced the purchase of privately produced Cuban charcoal, made from Marabú plants.  This purchase represents the first acquisition by an Alabama company of the highly valued Cuban artisanal charcoal which is destined for retail sale in Woerner family stores and online.

We have worked long and hard in negotiating this purchase,” McInnis stated. “In addition to the usual back and forth of purchase negotiations, we also had to work within the special and sometimes complicated requirements for business transactions between Cuba and the United States.  Now we are ready to go to work.”  The final contract has been signed and Page & Jones organized the first shipment into Alabama.

The Cuban artisanal vegetable charcoal is produced in artisanal ovens in a natural way, using the prime matter chunks of remaining wood and residues from tree-cutting areas that are not contributing to deforestation. Additionally, Marabú, is an invasive plant with high caloric and energy levels with a long burn time.

The charcoal has arrived in Alabama, and it will soon be available in Woerner stores located in major cities across the Southeastern United States and online at  The Landscape Stores are owned by the Woerner Family Companies ( and, a family-owned group of companies that has been farming U.S. soils for over a hundred years and dedicated to the production and sale of premium agricultural products.  The charcoal began presales at The National Hardware Show this May in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gulfwise Commerce is an Alabama-based and registered company that has been exploring the sale of American agricultural equipment to Cuba and the purchase of Cuban agricultural products for years.  All negotiations have been conducted within the requirements and limitations of U.S. laws concerning business with Cuban entities.

Throughout the extensive and complicated work related to the purchase of the Marabú charcoal, Gulfwise Commerce relied heavily on legal counsel from Washington, DC-based expert, Robert Muse, Esq.  Gulfwise also worked with Alabama attorney, Stanley Jay Murphy Esq. and Angelo Fuster of Atlanta, a Cuban American U.S citizen with over 20 years of experience dealing with Cuba-related academic exchanges, non-profit and business consulting provided counsel and guidance throughout the process.

“We  would also like to thank the support of our Alabama leaders,  Commissioner Pate and the Alabama Department of Agriculture, Maria Conchita Mendez and Jimmy Lyons with the Alabama State Port Authority, Treasurer John McMillian and Daniel Autrey with the Alabama Treasury Office and other Alabama trade and business leadership for their support in the process for us to import this sustainable charcoal into the United States and into Alabama.”, McInnis stated.

"During my eight years as Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, my staff and I worked closely with Gulfwise Commerce and the Woerner family to provide support for their tireless efforts to secure trade opportunities with our neighbors in Cuba,” said Treasurer John McMillan. "I applaud the determination and commitment of the Woerner family and their business to secure this historic purchase of Marabú charcoal.  It is an important step in Alabama’s efforts to further develop close ties with the people and business entities in Cuba.”

“We recently met with Christina Woerner McInnis and offered our support of Gulfwise Commerce’s acquisition of Marabú charcoal. This unprecedented project will ideally open doors for more companies to initiate trade agreements that benefit the U.S. and Cuba. We look forward to seeing more successful trade opportunities to develop and secure between the two countries,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate.

In announcing the Marabú charcoal purchase, Gulfwise Commerce LLC President, Christina Woerner McInnis, stated, “We hope that this purchase will be the first of many U.S. government-approved business transactions with Cuban business entities that Gulfwise will pursue. We are encouraged by this first success and look forward to many more.”

Angelo Fuster

(404) 408-8841


April 4, 2016

GulfWise Commerce Granted U.S. Treasury License for Cuba Trade

GulfWise Commerce, LLC, an Alabama-based corporation, has been issued a precedent-setting U.S. license authorizing the sale of advanced planting and harvesting equipment to a Cuban agricultural research institution.

The U.S.-made equipment to be sold under the license will help establish grass-covered areas for purposes ranging from erosion control, to the creation of pasturage and the establishment or improvement of parks and recreational areas, such as playgrounds and sport facilities.

This project started in late 2014 when GulfWise Commerce initiated a dialogue with University of Matanzas researchers regarding multiple agriculture production issues in Cuba.  That dialogue led to an assessment of specialized equipment needed and to subsequent negotiations for a possible sale, which eventually led to GulfWise’s application for the export license now granted by the U.S. Commerce Department.

D.C. Attorney Robert Muse, a nationally recognized expert in US-Cuba related legal matters, managed the complex license application process to its successful conclusion. 

Commenting on the issuance of said license, Christina McInnis, a GulfWise partner, stated, “We applaud the U.S. government for authorizing this unprecedented sale of agricultural equipment to Cuba. This takes us another important step closer to normalized trade between the U.S. and Cuba. 

“We also appreciate the support we received from Commissioner John McMillan and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries as we sought the necessary U.S. license,” McInnis added. 

Looking ahead, partner George Woerner stated, “The issuance of these licenses is a big first step but we are committed to ensure that GulfWise will continue to lead in different aspects of that trade as we explore additional exports to Cuba and continue discussions about importing a variety of products from that country into the U.S."

GulfWise thanks the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Defense for the role they played in the license approval.

GulfWise Commerce is an offshoot of the Woerner Companies, Inc., a family owned Alabama group of companies that for more than 100 years has been successfully involved in farming and in the marketing and sale of multiple agricultural products.