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An Interview with Oscar Boruchin

Owner of Licenciados and 8-9-8 Collection cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 8)

CA: The Cullman family owned General Cigar at that point, but it was mostly selling machine-made cigars. Is that right?

Boruchin: Yes. After I came to the company, General acquired Gradiaz Anniz, which owned the Gold Label brand. They were experimenting in Jamaica, and some of those factories were making the Macanudo brand there. The only popular brands at that time in my area were Don Diego and Flamenco; they were made by the Menendez and Garcia family in the Canary Island. They were the keys of the high-grade market. I don't remember anything else at that time competing with them.

CA: But it was basically a mass-brand, machine-made business.

Boruchin: Yes. Things like Tiparillos, White Owl, Robert Burns. Tiparillo came on very strong after the [U.S.] surgeon general came out with his report about the problems with cigarettes.

CA: How big was the Cuban cigar market in the early 1960s?

Boruchin: After the embargo, it was pretty small. There were some cigars left over, but when they ran out, you couldn't get a Cuban cigar in the United States. It's not like today that they are available practically all over. When they were closed down, Montecruz, Don Diego and Flamenco became tremendously popular. They were the high-grade cigars at that time, and they were priced between 40 and 65 cents.

CA: When you left General Cigar in 1981, what was your position?

Boruchin: Earlier I had been assistant regional manager to Mr. Casten. I was his assistant already with responsibilities in certain areas. He had much more territory and I was in charge of quite a few states. Casten passed away at the age of 65 and General made me, I can't tell you what year, regional manager. It was probably about 1974.

CA: So by that point, you had pretty much reached the top?

Boruchin: It was one of the five or six bigger positions in General because I think we were divided into five or six regions.

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