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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 3)

Fuente: Then we might make other brands with the wrapper. But right now, the main goal is the Opus X.

C.A.: The future for the wrapper is really undecided?

Fuente: No, we haven't decided yet what else to put out in the market. We won't change the classic Fuente line. We won't change anything that already exists. We are big believers not to change anything that does well. I was taught by my father, if it's good, if you're successful, don't touch it. So, we will not change anything.

C.A.: Either it goes into Opus X and Opus X flourishes or you might have an additional brand or two with the same wrapper. Is that right?

Fuente: We probably will have other brands that will get the top grades of wrapper like the Opus X. Then we have other lower grades that will probably go in other cigars, other brands.

C.A.: There are people in the tobacco trade, in the cigar trade, who come from Cuba. In your particular case, your family was involved in the cigar trade since the turn of the century. Could you give a little background about your family's origins?

Fuente: My parents were from Cuba originally. And my father's father used to grow tobacco in Cuba, manufacture some cigars and sell both cigars and tobacco in Cuba. Even on my mother's side, her father had a cigar factory, a small one that used to be called a buckeye. After the war [the Spanish-American War of 1898], they started coming to the States. My father moved to the States and was there in the early 1900s. Naturally, with his background in tobacco and his history, he went into the cigar business. Ybor City [now part of Tampa] was the cigar capital in those days, and my father worked in the cigar factories there. In 1912 he and a few friends were able to start a factory that was named A. Fuente and Company at that time.

C.A.: Where?

Fuente: In Ybor City. It really started in the West Tampa area. But during one of my father's trips, in the mid-1920s to Cuba buying tobacco, the factory burned down.

C.A.: In Tampa?

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