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A Conversation with Rolando Reyes, Sr.

The creator of Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados cigars speaks to Cigar Aficionado.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
"24", Jan/Feb 2006

(continued from page 3)

Q: You check every one?
A: Yes.

Q: How?
A: I pick up a bunch of 50, and I can see if it's short an ounce or over an ounce. When I start during the night, I start with the smaller cigars and work up to the bigger cigars—that way I go from the lighter cigars to the heavier cigars.

Q: Do you have to drink a lot of coffee during the night?
A: (Laughs.) I just have a lot of energy.

Q: I heard a story—I don't know if it's true—but I heard that when you were inspecting the work one night, you found something you didn't like and you turned the roller's chair upside down for him to see the next day. Is that true?
A: If it's a small problem, I write them a little note. If it's a big problem, I will dock them for the work, and I will turn over the table and leave a note. The note says "ojo," which in Spanish means "eye." I'm watching you. I'll put up with one problem, or two mistakes. The third? You're out.

Q: Are you a tough boss?
A: I have to be. Sometimes they might come in a little drunk or with problems. I don't want to hear about that. You have to be straight.

Q: Especially if they know you're not there until the evening.
A: No, I'm there in the morning, too. I work during the night. When I wake up in the morning, I walk up and down the factory, picking cigars from here, from there, and then I know what to look for at night.

Q: Do you still have a lector, someone who reads to the workers?
A: I have the lector, and sometimes I leave him notes, and I tell him to read aloud what I'm expecting from the workers that day. And sometimes when someone isn't doing a good job, I give the lector the person's name, and he says so-and-so, ojo, I'm looking at you. Mine is the only factory [outside] of Cuba that has a lector. He does international news, local news, he reads soap operas. I don't allow music. When the man is reading, nobody can talk.

Q: Do you still raise animals and have your farm?
A: I have a very large farm. I have everything—any animal you want. The workers really can't afford to eat meat, so I give them some. All the mothers get free milk for their kids. More than half of my workers, I give them food from my farms.

Q: How many workers do you have now?
A: Anywhere from 300 to 350. It's a big factory.

Q: Do you miss Cuba?
A: I'm used to being away from Cuba. I'm an American citizen, and I've made Honduras my home.


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