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The World According to Perdomo

Nick Perdomo Jr. will make more than 10 million cigars this year—and he's not afraid to tell you how good they are.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Rudy Giuliani, Nov/Dec 01

(continued from page 3)

"My father, five years ago, went to Nicaragua, and that was our saving grace," says Perdomo. Nick Perdomo Sr., a heavier, tougher looking version of his son, lives in Nicaragua year-round, watching over the factory along with Nick's uncle, Antonio Perdomo. A bullet-scarred man with a penchant for firearms, Nick Sr. occasionally straps on a pair of holsters in his office and walks around with loaded .45s. The 64-year-old has been in his share of scrapes, including a car accident in Nicaragua in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch that nearly cost him the use of his legs. His right arm is still impaired from the accident.

At Tabacalera Perdomo, errant cigar rollers aren't shot, but are sentenced to 10 days on the street without pay. Perdomo Sr. has quality-control people prowling the floor, who ensure that the rollers use the intended ingredients, among other things.

"Ligero is thick," Perdomo Jr. says, referring to the heaviest variety of filler tobacco. "It slows a roller down. It's like shoe leather. They like to throw it in the scrap tobacco heap."

Opening a factory in Nicaragua has been a huge success. The country has everything the Perdomos wanted: a large, inexpensive, capable workforce, a supply of flavorful, high-quality filler tobacco and room to grow.

It's been a busy couple of years for Perdomo. In addition to opening the new Nicaraguan factory, he recently moved into a new headquarters and home, all while releasing a slew of new cigar brands. "He knows how to handle five things in the air at the same time," says Ozgener. "He bought a house, he bought a new office, a warehouse, he built a new factory, and he made new blends for us. A normal person would have been happy to do one of those things. It makes me tired watching him."

Perdomo is sitting in the dining room of Shula's Steak House, a Miami Lakes restaurant festooned with the likeness of the legendary Dolphins coach. The menu comes painted on a football; finish the monstrous 48-ounce porterhouse and you earn a spot on the wall. Perdomo hasn't made the list. Today's lunch was a comparatively modest sirloin and salad, which he's following with a Perdomo Estate Selecci;oacute;n, corona gorda size. "This is like our baby, this cigar," he says. "I'm proud of what we've done." He puffs on the dark, strong cigar. The rich aroma of Nicaraguan tobacco slips into the air, at home in the dark, clubby dining room. "Now we've broken into the club," he says. "I've always thought I had something to prove, because I'm extremely competitive by nature."

The days of pinching every penny are clearly behind him. A thick ring on his right hand spells out his name in gold, and he wears a Rolex Steel Daytona on his left wrist. It's one of 60 watches he owns.

"I lead by being paranoid, not by sitting back. I'm never comfortable," Perdomo says. He is still searching for that breakout, company-owned brand that will match the success of the cigar he makes for C.A.O. He's tireless when it comes to promoting his brands, grassroots style. He's a big believer in rolling events, where he or his brother-in-law, Argenti, will bring a cigarmaker into a smoke shop and talk up the values of Perdomo products. They'll be there, selling cigars one by one. And they'll never miss an opportunity to talk people into dropping what they're smoking in order to try a Perdomo.

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