A Conversation with Nestor Miranda
The founder of Miami Cigar & Co. talks about the rise, fall and rebirth of his Don Lino brand.
From the Print Edition:
David Caruso, Jan/Feb 2007
(continued from page 5)
A: It was terrible. Guillermo would call me from the Dominican Republic and say, "I will send you anything I can." When they shipped it, I sent it out right away. I went from 12 million cigars to 3.5 million [in 1997]. I had to fire people.
Q: How many?
A: I had six people in the warehouse—I kept one. And I had 14 people in the office, and I kept six. And this happened at Christmastime. I had dinner for everybody. I gave them the last check. I said there is nothing I can do. I said I'm sorry.
Q: That must have been a very tough time.
A: I had, probably, one of the worst Christmases in my life. It's tough, because you were doing the job well. My promise to [UST] was [to sell at least] 3 million [of its] cigars. And I did 6.5 million. Of course, the boom was there, but it doesn't matter to a certain point. It took me 10 years, 10 years of my life, to go back to the roots. I'm happy, to the point that I still have Don Lino around, [though] not the way I used to, and I have the support of the tobacconists, and I had a great trade show.
Q: Tell me what happened to Don Lino, be-cause you had a brand but no manufacturing.
A: It took me a lot of time and money. I went to the Canary Islands, and I found a guy who sold me a good cigar, so in the Canary Islands we lost all the money, because the cigar they made for me was not the same.
Q: Did you invest in a factory?
A: No, I invested in buying cigars, and I paid ahead of time. Then they sent me machine-made cigars instead of handmade cigars. I lost almost $80,000. I wanted to buy a factory in Nicaragua. Luckily I didn't put the money in that business, and I kept looking for people to make cigars.
Q: Did your try the established manufacturers?
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