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An Interview with Carlos Fuente Sr.

A discussion with the head of Arturo Fuente Inc., one of the world's largest producers of premium hand-rolled cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Jack Nicholson, Summer 95

(continued from page 14)

C.A.: After your own brands, what would be the largest non-Fuente brand that you would produce: Cuesta Rey?

Fuente: Cuesta Rey is one of our biggest customers. The Newman's Cuesta Rey line and La Unica line are our next largest brands.

C.A.: You also have other brands that you produce. How many years have you been producing Ashton?

Fuente: The Ashton line? Time goes by so fast, I don't keep up with time! I think the Ashton, we have been producing it now for about five years.

C.A.: Given the rapid recent rise in demand and the scarcity of cigars, wouldn't you be better off just producing your own brands?

Fuente: I can understand that everybody thinks so, but it doesn't really work that way. We have about 1,000 people working on the manufacturing side, and the point is that you have to keep people working all the time. If you have problems like the supply of Cameroon wrapper for our brands, you have to have work for the rollers. The day that you can't produce some size of Fuente, you've got to keep on producing other things. It may be a different brand, different wrapper, different tobacco, and that's how you've got to keep up with the production.

C.A.: So you don't look over your shoulder and say: "Gee, I wish I had that tobacco production for Fuente." You basically say: "This helps to balance on a long-term basis our production necessities, our employee obligations"?

Fuente: Yes.

C.A.: How many rollers are there at Fuente?

Fuente: We have nearly 500.

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