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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 2)

León: We have been associated with Philip Morris since 1963.

CA: In the cigarette business?

León: In all parts. But they do not have a person here in our offices. We have managed the company the way it has always been managed--by my family. We have an excellent relationship with Philip Morris. They are people that have a great deal of trust in us, and they have a great deal of know-how in many things, especially on the manufacturing side. For instance, with cigarettes, they have so much experience in machinery and production, that we have been able to take advantage of it. In the area of distribution, we are able to distribute El Presidente in many areas through the Miller Brewing Co., and we reach duty free in Europe with our cigars through them. We also are exploring the possibility that Philip Morris could distribute our cigars throughout South America.

CA: Are they minority partners?

León: Yes. We don't talk about exact percentages of ownership, but they are minority partners. It is a very good relationship.

CA: How did you start with La Aurora, the cigar company?

León: I have been involved with the cigar industry since I was a small child. We used to go and play in the fields around the factory. There are seven kids in my family--two girls and five boys. We are all one year apart from each other in age. We were always involved with all that has to do with tobacco. We would be at the factory after school. I studied at the university in Santiago. I was the only one of the siblings that didn't study outside of the Dominican Republic. All of my brothers studied in the U.S.

CA: And why did you stay?

León: You ask me that question and I don't know the answer. I don't know the reason why. Perhaps not to leave my parents alone, since I was the youngest. So I stayed, and I'm glad I did. I studied business administration. When I graduated, I worked in my own company for a few years. In 1987, I joined the family company. I wasn't directly involved with La Aurora at that point, but I was with the holding company that ran the group of companies. From then they took me to La Aurora in 1994, and I have quite a bit of satisfaction from having seen it grow.

CA: I've been told that you had spent a few years as an actor; is that true or not?

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