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Edgar Cullman Jr.

CEO, General Cigar Company
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 14)

Cullman: Machine-made cigars starting in early '94. So '94 and '95 were very big years across the board. What we're finding is things are settling out a little differently now. And what we are still finding is that our Garcia y Vega business has grown nicely, about 30 percent this year.

CA: Is that your biggest brand?

Cullman: It's our biggest brand in terms of dollars, but it's not in terms of units, because it's a higher-priced cigar.

CA: Without getting specific then, you've experienced a nice increase in machine-made cigars, too. Is that right?

Cullman: A nice increase. Remember, we have also raised prices at each level along the way. We've been much more aggressive as an industry than we have in the past. Price increases used to come few and far between in the cigar industry.

CA: In terms of tomorrow. You are the president of Culbro. Culbro is General Cigar. I would be interested to know what the future strategy of General Cigar is given your new responsibility and given the current climate of the premium handmade cigar market in America.

Cullman: I think that General Cigar's strategic direction is pretty well set to take full advantage of what is going on within the cigar industry, particularly with greater emphasis on the premium end. We have transformed the management of General Cigar significantly and will continue to do so. All with the eye to strengthen our abilities to take advantage of what's going on today. We want to have a stronger and stronger marketing effort. We want to be able to produce more cigars, at higher quality. We also want to be in the forefront in the marketing area for cigars. As you know last year, we introduced a whole line of sportswear. We also produced the Partagas 150. This year we are going to do more of the same. We'll have another line of sportswear. I told you about the vintage Macanudo line. We'll also be introducing a whole line of accessories at the RTDA that will be part of what is known as the "Macanudo Collection" with cutters, ashtrays and humidors. Each with a unique design that we've developed from our market studies and found out what were the pros and cons of each of those products. We've tried to develop a better mousetrap and we have.

CA: What price level would these be? High priced, or...

Cullman: Oh, very high priced. These are significant items. But not off the charts. It's all going to be affordable, but they're going to be expensive.

CA: You mentioned the change in management at General Cigar. It would seem that it started when you hired Austin McNamara more than two years ago, and that General Cigar's creativity, market presence, new product launches and almost a consumer-driven tenacity began to increase dramatically at that time. What is Austin's background?

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