Fathers and Sons, Part 2
The second part of our look at the important generational partnerships that define a large part of the cigar industry
From the Print Edition:
William Shatner, Sept/Oct 2006
(continued from page 10)
Theo Folz, the chief executive officer of Altadis U.S.A. Inc., was brought into the cigar business by his father, Monte, who covered 19 states for Bayuk Cigar Co., the maker of Phillies cigars. "My father," said Folz in a 2004 Cigar Aficionado story, "was the greatest salesman I've ever known." Alfons Mayer, who once bought all of the tobacco used by General Cigar, followed in the footsteps of his father, Alfons, a major buyer of Indonesian tobacco into Amsterdam. George Gershel, who travels the world buying the tobacco for Altadis U.S.A., is also the son of a tobacco man. Chris Topper learned how to run a cigar business working with his father, Frank, who died in 1997. Today, he's the fourth generation to run Topper Cigar Co., which is 110 years old. Benjamin Menendez, senior vice president of premium cigars for General Cigar, learned how to make cigars working for his father, Alonso, who owned Cuba's Montecristo and H. Upmann brands. Benjamin's brother, Felix, makes Dona Flor and other cigars in Brazil. Tobacco grower David Perez, president of ASP Enterprises Inc., assumed the helm after the death of his father, Alfredo, in 2000, and sells some of the world's most prized tobacco leaf.
With all of its complexities and secrets, the art of creating fine cigars and growing rich tobacco is ideally suited to be passed down from father to son. The revival of premium cigar sales in the 1990s brought many a son who had sought out other ventures back into the family business, and ensured that the secrets would be passed on, each son inheriting his forefathers' secrets and trying to build on the success that came before, hoping to learn just a little more to pass on to the next generation that might follow in those new footsteps.
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Robert Martin — Flushing, New York, Queens, — September 30, 2011 6:46pm ET
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