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An Interview with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo

Owner, El Credito Cigar Co., makers of La Gloria Cubana, La Hoja Selecta, El Rico Habano and Dos Gonzales cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 25)

Carrillo: Right. It is impossible. And I do have a few people that work with me, but I do need more help. To delegate more...

CA: You need an organization! Not just rollers; you need salespeople, administrative people, a billing department...

Carrillo: That's right. It's time that I do have that because it is getting out of control.

CA: And with the numbers you're talking about, I always thought that the most serious flaw that you had was that you grossly underpriced your product. Therefore, you didn't have the margins to invest in a staff to manage a growth of the business. And I'm not sure that in the past four years you have created the organization you need in order to build your company; this is 1996, the beginning of 1997; you're going from a million to 7 million. Doesn't it scare you?

Carrillo: It scares me to a point, but you know I haven't really given that much thought to building an organization. And I have to build one; like you said, I can't do it all by myself. Just traveling back and forth takes up a lot of time. And you do need good people to help you. I just hadn't been able to find the people that I need in administration.

CA: Do you plan to expand at all in Miami or will all of the expansion take place in the Dominican Republic?

Carrillo: The expansion at this time will take place in the Dominican Republic. If I were to expand, of course, if I get cigarmakers in Miami, I'll keep expanding. The situation there now is that there are so many new cigar factories opening up that it becomes very difficult.

CA: Let's be real about this. Do you in your heart feel that you are able to maintain the high quality, when you have almost a boutique operation in Miami, now that you are in a commercial-size factory in the Dominican Republic? Is there any change in the quality of the product in your opinion?

Carrillo: Well, you know, I'm not just going to say this because I opened up in the Dominican Republic. The cigars are going to sell. We've had a lot of success with the Dominican cigars. That's not a problem. Because there's more space there, there's more labor. I think we can improve the cigars in the Dominican a lot faster than at the factory in Miami. For the simple reason that we have the space, we have the manpower, and it's cost-effective.

CA: Is improving quality in the Dominican Republic a function of buying better quality tobacco or training more proficient rollers?

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