A Conversation with Alan Rubin
The founder of the Alec Bradley Cigar Co. talks about the reversal of fortune that put his smokes near the top.
From the Print Edition:
Matthew McConaughey, March/April 2011
(continued from page 3)
Q: Did Tempus introduce you to a different type of customer?
A: It did. You start out as a baby, you're eating Cheerios and rice. As you grow, your palate widens, you want more satisfaction, you want more flavor. You want that feeling. Tempus gave us a line that was more substantial.
Q: Did it also open up a new price point?
A: When I first started we were selling cigars that were around $2, and then Havana Sun Grown was a little more expensive. But we gave them more. Regardless of price, if they get more, if the experience is worth more than they paid, generally the consumer is very happy.
Q: Is that your philosophy?
A: I think price and value are mutually exclusive. If a guy spends $20 for something and it was a $50 experience, you're still happy.
Q: You sell cigars that someone else makes. Do you think there are misconceptions about companies like yours, that don't control their own manufacturing?
A: I think so, because I think they don't understand the involvement. I don't know what other people do. From our side, we're involved in every part of it. When we came to do Alec Bradley Prensado, Raices had not done a box-pressed cigar. I showed them what we needed to box-press cigars. We try and bring something of value down to Central America or the Dominican Republic when we go there.
Q: How many factories do you work with?
A: We work with Raices Cubanas [located in Honduras], we work with Nestor at San Marcos and also in Danlí [Honduras], we work with Henke [in the Dominican Republic] and then we work with Nestor in Nicaragua.
Q: Do you ever see the day when you will have your own manufacturing operation?
A: I do. In doing a partnership, so that we don't get so caught up with manufacturing that we don't stop taking care of our customers in the market. If we partner with somebody in the factory it would be because we're on the same page. We want them to continue what they do best, but grow together.
Q: Let's talk about Family Blend.
A: This was a blend we did for our fathers here in the office. Their signatures appear on every box. When Tempus launched, we couldn't keep up with production, so when we would do events we handed out Family Blends with no bands. We didn't have enough Tempus. And people liked the damn thing. People went nuts. People asked what is the cigar with no band? Ralph and George [Sosa, the vice president of sales] and Christopher [Manso, one of the company's Midwest sales reps] sat me down and said we have to bring the cigar out to market.
Q: When was Family Blend launched?
A: April 2009, when it had one size.
Q: And today how does it match up?
A: It's probably in our top three.
Q: Take us through your product line.
A: Spirit of Cuba sells in the $2 range. It's a sandwich fill cigar [made with long and short filler]. This is what we call our transition cigar. We have Maxx, we have Maxx in Connecticut, we have Maxx The Vice, Tempus Family Blend, Prensado, Select Cabinet Reserve—those last three all were launched in the same year, all sell for $6 to $12.
Comments 6 comment(s)
stantine972 — May 2, 2011 9:19pm ET
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Matt Turner — Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, — May 15, 2011 7:55pm ET
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