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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 5)

DiMeola: Exactly.

CA: Were cigars imported from other islands at this time?

DiMeola: Perhaps. But it was a minuscule amount.

CA: What were the major brands produced at that time?

DiMeola:. The major brands were Bering, Gold Label, La Corona and many others. The Bering Plaza was 26 cents. The Corona Corona was 35 cents. The biggest selling Cuban cigars of the day were the H. Upmann Majestic and the Ramon Allones Ramondo. [Consolidated] sold 1.2 million cigars of each size a year--100,000 cigars a month at 35 cents retail.

CA: After the acquisition of the American Cigar Co. in 1986, what was next for Consolidated?

DiMeola: We got the American Cigar Co. brands and we started to introduce the Henry Clay. We started to sell a few Cabanas. We played with La Corona, but we never really did very much with it.

CA: In terms of highlights, I assume Te-Amo is one of the bigger acquisitions?

DiMeola: Yes, but the next big thing that happened in the company was that Mr. Perelman wanted to sell it, and so six of us did [a leveraged buyout] and bought it. That was in 1988-89. And immediately after that we bought Royal Jamaica. In 1988, Hurricane Gilbert tore the roof off the Royal Jamaica factory in Kingston, Jamaica, and through my previous distribution association with Royal Jamaica [starting in 1983], I got to know the Gore brothers who owned it, and they called me and asked if I would make some Royal Jamaica cigars for them until they could repair the roof. We started to make cigars for them, but before we made the first shipment we bought the trademark.

CA: At its peak, how big did Royal Jamaica ever get?

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