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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 4)

A: Our cigars, using sun-grown tobacco, were much darker in color than other cigars on the market. The mindset at the time was not what it is today.

Q: What were the retailers looking for? What were the big sellers?

A: To be honest with you, I was not that well informed as to what was going on in the marketplace. Our style has always been to make cigars that we like to smoke, and the rest we sell. So we've never really been preoccupied with what's going on outside our little world. We went in there, we felt confident that we had good products to sell, and I knew that all it took was for people to try them. At the time, our cigars ended up on the lower end of the price range. I think, at that time, many people felt that because of the price point, the quality was not there. And that, to a certain extent, was a problem for us at the beginning. I think a Padrón 2000 was priced at $2.75; many people felt at that price point there couldn't possibly be a quality product.

Q: How can you charge such reasonable prices for your cigars? Your core brand, Padrón, is still very inexpensive.

A: The most important thing for us is the vertical integration, the fact that we control all aspects of our business. We grow our tobacco, we do our own sorting, we do our own processing, we do our manufacturing, distribution, everything to the retailer. Over the years—many, many, many years—many people have commented on why our cigars are so inexpensive, and we've always felt that the important thing is to make the cigar as best as we can and charge a reasonable price. Long term, you establish a much more loyal customer base that way. If you look at the price points over the last 10 years, there really has not been much of an increase, relative to what happened in the industry. Our cigars are still priced, on the Padrón line, between $2 and $6, and then you have the Magnum, which is a much bigger cigar that is more expensive.

Q: Did you ever consider going with a distributor?

A: Never. Because our philosophy is not about quantity. With the amount of products that we make, it's a better concept for us to handle the distribution ourselves. It allows us to keep more control of our products and who sells them and who represents our lines. That's a very important issue for us, to get feedback from our retailers directly and from our customers, to let us know if there's something wrong. If there's a problem with our cigars, we want to know about it right away.

Q: Describe the creation of the Padrón Anniversary cigar.

A: The idea for the Anniversary came out to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We had to come out with a cigar that was aged longer, different composition, different blend, that we could offer as an alternative to the type of cigars that we were making. The difference was the tobacco that goes into it and the overall taste at the end. We also—and this was my father's idea—he wanted to create a box-pressed cigar that was similar to the type of cigars that he used to smoke in Cuba, in the '40s and '50s, so we came out with the box-pressed Anniversary. Not that we invented the box press, but at the time there weren't any box-pressed cigars in the market.

Q: Was the Anniversary a hit from day one?


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