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An Interview With Carlos Toraño

President, Central American Tobacco Corp.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Bill Murray, Nov/Dec 2004

(continued from page 5)

Q: So tell me what happens next. All of a sudden, in 1991, you have a company that brokers cigars—it's a hell of a time for this to happen, seeing as it's just before the beginning of the cigar boom.

A: We grew magnificently well. We decided in 1994 we were going to begin our distribution of our own brands. And the first one was Carlos Toraño Dominican cigars.

Q: Why didn't you want to own a factory at this point?

A: It was very comfortable to be in the middle. You buy, you sell, you collect, your dollar multiplies very rapidly now. You turn around that dollar maybe 12, 15 times a year. Much nicer to be in the middle, out of your own factory. But you really don't control your own destiny. You don't control the quality. We realized in this business [that the] middleman will disappear. The communication is getting better, computers are getting better, now the Internet—everything is coming in. Little by little we realized we have to have our own factory, and the first factory we really owned was in April of 1998.

Q: And which one is that?

A: That is Honduras. [By] then we had a Toraño [cigar] in the Dominican Republic. We had seven or eight brands [overall].

Q: So in the boom you came out with a bunch of brands.

A: And in 1998 many of our brands disappeared.

Q: How many brands?

A: Five or six. Seven or eight. [Laughs.] Suddenly the whole thing stopped. So we realized, if we want to stay in this business in the end, you don't have anything unless you have your own brands. So we begin to decide that we have to very seriously make the Toraño brand, under our own name exclusively, and these other brands will have to disappear. The idea is if we were going to put our name on it and if you smoke a Toraño cigar from our factories, it is going to be the finest that we know how to make. There's no more excuses that it came from John or from Peter or from whomever, [or] they didn't have tobacco, or they did this other brand. We're going to make sure that if it becomes a brand, it's going to be consistent, and let us just build it from scratch little by little. The quality is the No. 1 thing.

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