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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 8)

CA: Do you see 1998 going back to a sales level of 1994 or 1995?
Martín: I would say about 1994, yes.

CA: Will you still sell about 2 million cigars total?
Martín: Yes. We are still selling a bit more than 2 million. But last year, we sold over 5 million.

CA: Do you think the premium market will come up again after the glut is over?
Martín: I am now making the best cigars in my life since I made them in Cuba. The production demands are less now and I have more time. I have the same filler but I'm aging it for a longer time. I've got the same blend but with all good rollers. I am making a hell of a good cigar now. It is a shame that I am not selling that many, but I am making a good cigar, no question about it.

CA: Let's go over the production of each of your brands. Let's start with Solo Aromas. How much do you sell on an annual basis?
Martín: I have not sold Solo Aromas for about a year. Solo Aromas was made in Honduras. Nestor Plasencia refused to make the Solo Aromas for me because it was a bundle brand and there was no margin on it. He wanted to make more money. He listed the price in such a way that I couldn't afford any longer to make the cigar, so I took it out of the market. I started making Solo Aromas again about two months ago in the Dominican Republic at our factory [which opened in early 1997].

CA: And the Maya?
Martín: I am still making Mayas in Honduras. In 1998, we made about 200,000; 1997 was half a million.

CA: Cacique?
Martín: In 1997 was over 500,000, in 1998, I would say about 300,000.

CA: Lempira?
Martín: Lempira is down quite a bit. I was smoking a Lempira the other day to find out why that is, why we are not selling it. A couple hundred thousand at most.

CA: And Don Juan in 1997?
Martín: Don Juan is still the number one. I don't know how many--1.2 million in 1997, more or less.

CA: And in 1998?
Martín: Maybe half that.

CA: You've instituted another change. You started a factory in the Dominican Republic in 1997.
Martín: Yes. In February 1997, we started to teach people to make cigars because we could not find enough good rollers. We had to teach the young fellows how to make cigars.

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