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The Son of Montecristo

The Son of Montecristo Peripatetic Benjamin Menendez has left his imprint on nearly every cigar-making country
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Don Johnson, Mar/Apr 02

(continued from page 3)

Working for Altadis is another step in what Menendez describes as a learning process. "I'm privileged to have had some of the best professors in the business," he says -- Alonso Menendez, Edgar Cullman Sr., Theo Folz.

The years at Altadis have brought a change to Menendez's daily routine. In the post-boom cigar world, the Dominican factory run by Menendez, TND, was closed, the Romeo brand moved to Tabacalera de Garcia. And Menendez took on a new, quieter role.

"I'm trying to slow down a little bit," he says. Gone are the days of waking up in cigar country, playing tennis with Quesada, and spending Monday through Saturday surrounded by tobacco bales and scores of rollers. Today he visits the factories on occasion, spends time with the sales force, and does public relations work. In December, Menendez moved from the Dominican Republic to Miami.

"For 49 years, 50 years, I got up every morning and knew I was going to the cigar factory," says Menendez. "Now I have to adjust to my new life."

The setting is different, the pace less hectic. But some things will not change. The test cigars will still be there, the Montblanc Rollerball ready to cover them with letters. The smoke will still rise from the cigars, Menendez judging them one by one, not looking at his tiny words until he is ready.

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