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Richard L. DiMeola

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Consolidated Cigar Corporation
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

(continued from page 12)

CA: They're trying right now, and they're having problems that aren't even financial, that have to do with weather and storms, even though there are conflicting reports about the extent of damage right now.

DiMeola: Look at the U.S. [premium cigar] market right now--it's where? Where did it come in last year? One hundred and sixty, 165 million cigars? I haven't seen the final numbers. [Editor's note: Estimates this March place 1995 U.S. premium cigar sales at 176 million.] It's still not back to where it was prior to the Revolution, right? We still have a long way to go. I'm beginning to believe what you said last year, Marvin, in that we've only scratched the surface.

CA: But there is a difference. You said that the average pre-embargo cigars cost three for a dollar. I mean, you know the premium price level is going up. Isn't everybody raising their prices?

DiMeola: I bought one of my own cigars in a hotel last year for $15. Last night I would have to have paid $23.

CA: That's ridiculous. Let's move on. The topic of wrappers is controversial and, frankly, quite interesting to cigar smokers, because we're beginning to learn much more about them. You are faced as a producer with political and availability issues. In your opinion, is there a country which produces the best wrapper, and if so, what country is it?

DiMeola: The United States.

CA: Connecticut wrapper?

DiMeola: Connecticut wrapper.

CA: You believe the Connecticut wrapper is the best wrapper in the world? OK. Why then, do you not use the Connecticut on all of your cigars?

DiMeola: It's a matter of producing variances in taste. We have another wonderful wrapper that we use from Indonesia. I classify Connecticut as number one because of its color and because of its burning characteristics, as well as the taste and its workability.

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