An Interview With Pedro Martín
Pedro Martín, the founder and owner of Tropical Tobacco.
From the Print Edition:
Orlando Hernandez, Mar/Apr 99
(continued from page 9)
CA: So you started producing cigars in your own factory in May 1997. Wasn't it about that time that other factories began to close?
Martín: They closed a lot of factories between October 1997 and May 1998. Maybe a hundred factories closed down in the city of Tamboril alone. Most of them were just in houses, but they were cigar factories.
CA: How many rollers do you have working right now?
Martín: Around 40.
CA: How many could work in the factory?
Martín: I can get up to 300 or 400 if I want to. You can make 50,000 cigars a day over there, easy.
CA: And how many are you making right now?
Martín: We are making about 8,000 to 10,000 a day. Generally we are going to increase by another 4,000 a day because we have had a lot of business outside the United States. I think in 1997 we got up to about 30,000 per day, which was our peak.
CA: How many rollers were working at that time?
Martín: One hundred and sixty-five.
CA: And you make Don Juan and V Centennial there, is that right?
Martín: Don Juan Platinum to start, and we brought in V Centen-nial later.
CA: Where is the factory?
Martín: Santiago [Dominican Republic]. Right in the middle of the town. It is a big building. A beautiful building. It used to be a tobacco warehouse. Then they turned it into a clothing factory. It's two stories high, 70,000 square feet. If you count the office and all the other areas, there is more space, but that's the main part. It is computerized. It's one of the best buys in Santiago.
CA: Let's go back to 1992. You had just launched a new cigar brand and this magazine hit the street. What did you think at that point? You had been in cigars your entire life; did you expect what happened to happen?
Martín: As a matter of fact, I was disappointed with the business at that point. The business did not grow. I tried different tactics. I know I was making a good cigar and bingo--1993 and '94 were worse than the 1980s for me.
CA: You were making about 2 million cigars.
Martín: At that point, two and a half million. I did not increase my production until 1995 or 1996.
CA: Was that because you didn't think the boom would continue?
Martín: I was cautious at first but I thought it would last a little longer than it did.
You must be logged in to post a comment.