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Q&A: An Interview With Jorge Padrón

The president of Padrón Cigars Inc. speaks about his Nicaraguan cigar brand.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Gen. Tommy Franks, Nov/Dec 03

(continued from page 3)

A: That was the tail end of '92. For me, all the family members had seen the hardships that my dad had gone through, so we felt an obligation. At that time, I always felt that what my father had created was something special, but that it could be taken to another level or taken advantage of in a way that we weren't doing at the time.

Q: Describe Padrón Cigars at that time. What products were you making, and where were you selling them?

A: The philosophy of the company has been the same since day one: to produce quality products, and to concentrate on the quality of our products, rather than the quantity that we produced. The only changes that we've made have been in the type of cigars that we make and in the areas that we sell. For many years, my father concentrated mostly on the Miami market, to the local Cuban communities in the area—and most of the consumers who smoked the cigars were Cubans—and some mail-order business that we had across the country, direct to individuals. We made the decision to expand our distribution and to go into the national market. Luckily, my father had enough confidence in me to allow me to try to get that done.

Q: That was your job?

A: Yes. At that time we had a lot of customers who were mainly older Cubans. When I kept seeing all these older people coming in, I said in 10 years, 20 years we're not going to have a market left. And that's when we went to our first trade show, in 1993.

Q: What type of reaction did you get to your product?

A: The initial reaction was that our cigars were too strong. Many people felt the types of cigars we were making were not what the marketplace was accustomed to at the time. At that first trade show we sold to 12 retailers. That was the extent of our business.

Q: Were you disappointed?

A: No. Actually, I thought we did well. We went in there not knowing what to expect. My main concern was to cover our expenses.

Q: They said your cigars were too strong—what were they like?

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