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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 8)

Carrillo: Quite frankly, it was lot smoother than I thought it would be. And a great part of the reason was that I have a management team working with me in the Dominican Republic who I guess, you know, are great kids--Felix Rodriguez, Olmedo Pichardo and Noemi Perez. They have helped me through the whole process, got me the people to work in the factory. So it wasn't as hard as it would have been if I hadn't had these people.

CA: How about the companies that have been in the Dominican Republic a long time. Did they welcome you as a new competitor, or didn't they want to help?

Carrillo: No, as soon as I came in, I got their assistance. And, like I said, I found no problem in getting whatever help I needed from the bigger companies there.

CA: Any in particular?

Carrillo: The Fuentes. They helped me with molds, presses and boxes to make my first shipments. They were the ones that were really in the forefront to say, 'Whatever you need.' They still are.

CA: With everyone short of rollers, and everyone having big training programs, isn't there the potential for problems in hiring rollers away from other factories?

Carrillo: It has created problems. I couldn't be sure if a job applicant had been working in other factories, or whether they left a year ago, six months ago. But as soon as we found out that these people were not telling the truth, then we just let them go. That's one thing down there in the Dominican Republic; you know everybody respects each other's work. If a worker comes to me from the Fuentes or General [Cigar Co.] or MATASA or wherever, we call them and make sure it's OK to give them work.

CA: If you make 1.2 million cigars in Miami and 6 million in the Dominican Republic, that's 7.2 million cigars, with the majority La Gloria Cubana. Didn't you used to sell a lot of your cigars out of your store?

Carrillo: We still do.

CA: But you also ship to a small group of selected retailers around the country. Doesn't the dynamic change when you increase your production sixfold? In many ways, you've gone from a mom-and-pop operation to real commercial volume. How are you going to deal with that? How are you going to handle the increase in shipments?

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