The Rum Dynasty: Bacardi

Bacardi Breaks with Tradition To Keep the Company and the Family Together

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No matter what Cutillas or the company asserts, the spotlight on this family feud is unwelcome and helps to explain why Bacardi has traditionally been publicity-shy. "I think it's natural that normally, you know, they don't want their family affairs to be mixed up with the business affairs," Cutillas says. "Therefore, the tendency is to do less [rather] than more in publicizing the company itself." That is changing now as interest in the company grows.

"We also have a fine corporation," says Reid. "We have a fine story to tell. It's consistent with the image of our products."

None of the travails experienced by Bacardi have left Manuel Jorge Cutillas any less convinced about the wisdom of having worked through them to preserve the family company.

"Once we lose this company, you know, we will have lost our heritage, our sense of being a family. In moments of crisis, that feeling always prevails," Cutillas says. "We exist today as a family because we have a great company that is doing it for us. It's not the other way around, and I think that is embedded in the minds of everyone."

Don Facundo, no doubt, would drink to that.

Alejandro Benes is a journalist in Washington, D.C.

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