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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 23)

CA: Move in what way?

DiMeola: Look--if the demand is so high for Montecristos, Upmanns, Por Larrañagas, Primo del Reys, Don Diegos or whatever, and our labor is a major problem in making enough cigars, it's to the retailers' benefit, and to our benefit, to make the Montecristos, the Larrañagas, the Upmanns and the Don Diegos. So we would like to move that labor making bundles now, to the premium cigars.

CA: So you want to raise your total production and reduce the volume of bundles.

DiMeola: Either that or make them someplace else.

CA: But you did say something about you're now making them different from the premium cigars.

DiMeola: Originally, they were true seconds--they're no longer true seconds. They're being made as bundles.

CA: So they actually don't have defects necessarily?

DiMeola: That's correct. It's just not the same quality tobacco. It's not the meticulous production, and the packaging is not there, but we're making bundles for bundles. We are still packaging rejects, but the number of rejects we're getting has been reduced considerably on a percentage basis. Yet because production has increased so much, we still get a significant quantity of seconds for bundles. So now what we do is we accumulate a half million of them and then we pack them up and we sell them in units of 1,000. We will not allow any customer to, as we say, cherry-pick the range for shapes. We sell the units of 1,000 proportionately and they move out like that.

CA: In 1990, when the market for handmade cigars was roughly 100 million, what would you estimate was the market share for bundles?

DiMeola: I honestly don't have that number.

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