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An Interview With Guillermo León

President, León Jimenes Cigars
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Chuck Norris, Jul/Aug 98

(continued from page 1)

León: No, the cigarette operation began in 1963. From the 1930s when he moved to Santiago, he made cigars there, almost all for the Dominican market.

CA: What was the brand?

León: Aurora. Inside the factory of La Aurora we had various sizes and brands that today no longer exist. This is one of them. [He holds up a large perfecto cigar.] We also had various brand names. But I can't mention them because others might want to register them. We still have about 13 different sizes that are made in the factory.

In the 1960s, La Aurora began production of cigarettes. The project followed the death of [Dominican dictator Raphael] Trujillo. Trujillo had not allowed anyone else to start a cigarette factory because he was a partner in the only cigarette factory at the time in the Dominican Republic. The Compania Anonima Tabacalera also produced cigars, which they had started about the same time as our factory. But it was shortly after his death that we started producing cigarettes, including Marlboro and some local brands.

In 1983, we constructed a brewery called Bohemia. Then around 1987, we acquired the largest brewery in the Dominican Republic. That brewery produced the Presidente beer, which is the leading brand in the national Dominican market. In the early '90s we began to export that beer. We introduced it in Miami, New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. This has been a very successful brand for us and we are going to continue to expand the market. We are very pleased with it.

CA: Is there a member of the family that is in charge of the brewery?

León: Yes, my uncle. My uncle is León Jimenes, and he is in charge of E. León Jimenes CXA, the parent company of the Dominican National Brewery. The other parts of the company include the tobacco side, which is divided into cigarettes and cigars, the latter of which is called La Aurora. And, then we also have our food subsidiary, Indal, which is run by my brother, Franklin. It makes juices such as Tang and Kool-Aid and some candies.

CA: What are the total sales of the company?

León: It is in the neighborhood of $500 million a year.

CA: You have a business association with Philip Morris, the U.S.-based cigarette, beer and food conglomerate. Could you please explain?

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