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Mariana and Nestor Miranda, Miami Cigar & Co.

In seven years, Mariana and Nestor Miranda have turned Miami Cigar & Co. into a force in cigar distribution.
Shandana A. Durrani
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 3)

The Mirandas were high school sweethearts from the town of Holguín, Cuba, but, like many others, fled their homeland in the years following Fidel Castro's rise to power. Nestor left for the United States in 1962, when he enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Mariana left Cuba the following year and settled with relatives in Madrid, Spain. For a while the Mirandas' relationship was tested by the distance, but when Mariana emigrated to California in 1964, Nestor traveled across the country to find her. And then, the couple says, fate stepped in.

I was staying at the Silver Lake Motel and from there I called Mariana to see where she lived so that we could get together, Nestor says. Mariana asked me where was I staying and I said the Silver Lake Motel. I said, 'I am far away from you, right?' and she said, 'You are just seven blocks away from my home!' I believe that it was destiny that pushed me to be with her. No question about it.

They married in 1965; their son, Daniel, was born in 1970. They left California in 1971 after a large earthquake rocked Los Angeles and moved to Miami, where Nestor found a job with General Wine & Spirits, a subdivision of Seagrams. He was transferred to Tampa, Florida, in 1974, at which time Mariana gave birth to their second child, a daughter, Tatiana. A year later the family relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Nestor became regional manager for New Mexico and Nevada. The Mirandas lived briefly in New Orleans from 1980 until 1981 when they returned to Miami. They have lived there ever since.

In 1981, Nestor joined Southern Wines & Spirits, where his brother-in-law worked, as division manager for the Latin market. He remained there for 15 years, until deciding last January to devote himself full-time to Miami Cigar.

What I am doing right now is traveling around the country, looking for accounts, working with brokers, checking distribution of my products and teaching my brokers how to expand the line and improve communication with customers, says Nestor. This is number one. You have to communicate with your customers so they know you--when they know you, they know your company. That is the big thing with Miami Cigar & Co.

So what's in store for Miami Cigar? The Mirandas' conservative estimate for total distribution in 1996 is 9 million cigars. They hope to have a signature cigar, created by the makers of León Jimenes, in the future, and intend to distribute a robusto cigar from La Aurora and a torpedo from León Jimenes. They also plan on redesigning their labels.

Other plans include a men's cologne, made by Franck Olivier in Paris, which they planned to introduce at the August 1996 RTDA convention in Cincinnati. The smoked-glass bottle is shaped like a pocket cigar case, and has been well received in marketing tests. But cigars remain the top priority.

I like to smoke a variety of cigars that we represent to know the quality, because I am like the quality controller of Miami Cigar & Co., Nestor says. When I find something that I don't like too much, that doesn't mean that the cigar is bad, it just means that it needs a certain improvement. I communicate that to my importer. It is like every one is my kid and I love every one of them. Like a good mother and father, we take care of our kids.

A mom-and-pop shop indeed.

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