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An Interview With Robert Levin

Owner, Holt's Cigar Store, Inc., and the Ashton Brand
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96

(continued from page 18)

Levin: The Fuentes are opening up their new factory. Factory number four.

CA: The new factory is going to produce Ashton and be able to meet your projected sales growth?

Levin: Yes. We have contracts with the Fuentes now. They are not for specific quantities, but as Ashton has become more and more popular and it got to be more than just a little brand, the Fuentes have made assurances to me. They are going to purchase tobacco in advance for me. And, of course, I gave them assurances that I would be there for them and support them.

CA: How did it come to be that a factory is more or less dedicated to your brand, and what is the plan for factory number four?

Levin: First of all, the demand for Ashton has grown. And, the Fuente brand is one of the most in-demand cigars in the world right now. When they opened factory four they wanted to put in everything that they had learned in building the other three factories. The idea is to just make superpremium cigars there.

CA: What is the capacity of factory number four?

Levin: I think they have 60 or 70 rollers there now. We won't get any Ashtons from there probably until the middle of next year.

CA: Will the factory produce other brands? Or is it strictly for Ashton?

Levin: No it's not strictly for Ashton. Sosa will be made there. Juan Sosa, who owns the Sosa brand, is working with the Fuentes at factory number four.

CA: That really is a culmination for you; starting out a jobber and ending with a national and international consumer franchise. What happens after '97? Do you have plans for new brands?

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