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An Interview With Pedro Martín

Pedro Martín, the founder and owner of Tropical Tobacco.
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Orlando Hernandez, Mar/Apr 99

(continued from page 10)

CA: Why did you start your factory?
Martín: Because I couldn't get enough production out of anybody. I tried to work with Tabadom. We tried to get 3 million cigars a year and not to open my own factory. I wanted to work with the factories. But they all had too many commitments. Even people who came in as customers in the last couple of years, the factories were making more cigars for them than for me. And, they started charging more, too. That's when people like George Hamilton came around, and all these people started to pay enormous amounts of money for cigars. I don't know why they did it. I think there were two reasons that we started the factory: one was because of the demand, that you could not get enough cigars, but the other was quality. The quality was dropping tremendously, both in the Dominican Republic and Honduras.

CA: Didn't a lot of factories have quality control problems?
Martín: Yes. They were just not using good tobacco. They were putting out cigars that should never have left the factory.

CA: How do you feel about the business today?
Martín: I am a little optimistic. I think the business is going to be good again. It's not likely to be a boom again, but it's going to be a real good business again, no question about it. Absolutely sure about it.

CA: Do you have any prediction when that might happen?
Martín: Maybe in a few months, maybe a year, maybe more; I do not know. That is a million-dollar question.

CA: Do you see your international business as a way to get through the tough times here?
Martín: Yes. We are making more contacts outside of the United States. That's where our future is. We have started making Tropical into an international company.

CA: How many cigars do you expect to sell through the international division in 1999?
Martín: According to the people involved, they claim they can sell 3 million cigars.

CA: Which brands are you going to sell outside the United States?
Martín: We are going to sell V Centennial, Don Juan, Cacique and maybe Maya.

CA: And which are the primary markets that you are going into?
Martín: Europe.

CA: Any particular country?
Martín: Germany and Austria. And then maybe Spain, too. And then in the Pacific we want to get into Japan and get into China. We have connections. Not us--the people who work under us.

CA: Let's go back to your roots. You were first and foremost a tobacco man. Tell me, in your own analysis today, where the best tobacco is being grown. How do you see it changing, now that a lot of land that went into production over the past five years will be coming out of production? Where should people be focusing on tobacco?
Martín: Well, there are some countries that are growing good tobacco. First of all, the Dominican Republic is growing good

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