Fathers and Sons, Part 1
The cigar industry owes much of its creativity and longevity to the unique partnerships between father-and-son cigarmakers
From the Print Edition:
Camilo Villegas, July/August 2006
Like many father-and-son teams, Julio and Christian Eiroa work together to bring their family's business to life. Thanks to their diligent efforts, their Camacho brand is a fixture in cigar shops across the United States. But it's not the smoothest business relationship. The Eiroas butt heads often. And the arguments go beyond differences of opinion on basic strategy—they don't even like the same cigars. "We disagree all the time," says Julio, Christian's 67-year-old father. He's sporting the type of world-weary gaze worn by exasperated fathers the world over, men who are often flummoxed by the ideas of their sons. Across the desk, Christian smiles, more than a hint of mischief gleaming in his dark eyes.
The relationship between fathers and sons is one of the cornerstones of the cigar industry. The art of crafting great cigars by hand, the secrets of coaxing the impurities out of tobacco and the magic of trying to understand the delicate workings of nature aren't things that can be learned from a textbook. Knowledge is handed down person-to-person, from master to apprentice, and very often the father is the master teaching the lessons he has learned and passing them on to his own blood, most often his son. It's a practice steeped in tradition.
Many of the world's best-known premium cigar brands have a father-son team behind them, including Arturo Fuente, Padrón, Ashton, Davidoff, Camacho, C.A.O., Te-Amo and Cuesta-Rey.
"This industry is divided into two: the big two companies, and the rest are families. And in 90 percent of those families, historically it has been fathers and sons," says Carlos Toraño, who makes Toraño cigars with his son, Charlie. "It is beautiful."
We've profiled many of the great father-and-son teams in the past, but for the first time we've decided to focus not so much on how they make their cigars or grow their tobacco, but how they interact with each other. How does a son handle the pressure of walking in the footsteps of a legend? How does a father pass on what he knows to his son? And how do the two of them work together, day in and day out, often bringing very different perspectives to the same business?
The cigar world is vast, and there were too many people to cover in one story, so we broke it into two parts. The second part will appear in the next issue.
JULIO AND CHRISTIAN EIROA
Julio and Christian Eiroa aren't the first father-son team to disagree over how to run the family business. But the main players in Camacho Cigars Inc. and Tabacos Ranchos Jamastran are likely the only cigarmakers in the world rooting against their own products.
"We have a bet," says Christian, over the performance of two selections in the Camacho line. Julio likes the Camacho Select, a cigar made with a Cameroon wrapper that debuted in early May. His son's favorite is the more high-powered Camacho Corojo.
"In the first 12 months, whoever sells more, wins. That's the bet. Camacho Select versus Camacho Corojo," says Christian with a chuckle.
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