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Q&A: The Silent Legend

An Interview with Alfons Mayer, the globe-travelling tobacco buyer for General Cigar Co.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Morgan Freeman, Mar/Apr 2005

(continued from page 6)

Q: After Puerto Rico, what was your job like as a tobacco buyer?

A: Ninety days [a year] in the New York area, including Saturday and Sunday.

Q: And the rest of the days you were in the fields?

A: Yes. When I go overseas, I go on Sunday. And you don't spend that kind of money for Tuesday and Wednesday. No, you come back on Saturday. You're seeing thousands of bales. Every bale has to be opened. I had the reputation of looking at every bale—I learned that in Cuba.

Q: Why not just stay in New York, pick up the phone and say, I need this many bales?

A: No, that's like shooting yourself in the head. Once it is here, how are you going to get it back?

Q: How much would you buy?

A: Huge amounts. We had a tremendous mass-market business. Premium was not there yet. I had the short filler, chewing tobacco I did with a guy in Wheeling [West Virginia], and we had the snuff, which was done with another guy.

Q: Was it competitive?

A: Very competitive.

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