Cigar Industry

Family Ties

Fifteen family-owned cigar companies
| By Gregory Mottola | From A Tale Of Two Families, September/October 2022
Family Ties
Photos/Peter Garritano
Ashton Distributors is run by Sathya, Robert and Meera Levin.

Familial ties are strong in the handmade cigar industry, some of which have lasted more than a century. The knowledge and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation are more than just sentimental marketing buzzwords—they are the very real guiding principles that give this beloved business so much character. With every cigar, a family reputation is at stake, and this is taken very seriously. The Fuente and Padrón families have exemplified this notion, and here are 15 more cigar companies that have kept it all in the family.

A.J. Fernandez

With the help of his cousin, Nestor Plasencia, A.J. Fernandez was able to get a modest start rolling cigars at his home in Nicaragua. He grew at a meteoric rate, both as cigarmaker and grower of tobacco, and sought the help of his father, Ismael, a tobacco veteran who’s been working with Fernandez since 2014.

Alec Bradley

Alan Rubin worked with his father in a separate industry before founding Alec Bradley Cigar Co. Now, Rubin passes his knowledge to his sons Alec and Bradley. They play crucial roles alongside their father, who named the company after them long before anyone knew Alec or Bradley would have a future in cigars.

Ashton Distributors Inc.

Ashton has many facets: brick-and-mortar retailer, online vendor, owner of several cigar brands. And Robert Levin can’t run it all alone. His father bought Holts Cigar Co. in the 1950s and Levin took it over in the ’70s. Today as chairman, he runs it with his son, Sathya, who is company president, while his daughter, Meera, is vice president of administration and international sales.

De Los Reyes Cigars

Nirka Reyes never expected a pass just because she’s the daughter of Dominican cigarmaker Augusto Reyes. As Augusto stepped away from the premium end of the business, Nirka has taken over, rebranding the family company as De Los Reyes Cigars and running the handmade operation in the Dominican Republic. She still welcomes guidance from her father.

E.P. Carrillo
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo and his daughter Lissette of E.P. Carrillo Cigar Co.

E.P. Carrillo Cigar Co.

The cigarmaker who brought the La Gloria Cubana brand to prominence in the United States decades ago is the same man who created not one, but two Cigars of the Year. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has a penchant for blending tobacco and an intuition for the business that seems to run in the family, as his children, Lissette and Ernesto III, have become invaluable in the company’s direction.

J.C. Newman Cigar Co.

Most family businesses fail by the third generation, or at least that’s how the saying goes. It’s a favorite refrain of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. because it has defied conventional wisdom. Founded in 1895, the company is in the hands of Eric and Bobby Newman of the third generation, and Drew Newman of the fourth.

Joya de Nicaragua

The oldest cigar factory in Nicaragua has endured civil war, air strikes, bombings, an embargo and nationalization, with the bullet holes to prove it. From the ashes of political upheaval rose an operation that endures under the father-and-son team of Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca and his son, Juan, who are stewards of the history and reputation of Nicaraguan cigars.

La Flor Dominicana
Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana, flanked by his sons Tony (left) and Litto Jr. (right).

La Flor Dominicana

From jeweler to cigarmaker, Litto Gomez entered a business he knew nothing about in 1994. Now a prominent producer of handmade smokes as well as a tobacco grower, Gomez makes cigars in the Dominican Republic. His son Tony is in the fields and factories, and his wife Ines manages the company and its sales force. Even the young Litto Jr. has blended his own cigar brand, released earlier this year.

My Father Cigars

José “Pepin” Garcia started as a cigar roller in Cuba before bringing his craft to Miami in the early 2000s. Word of his uniquely Cubanesque cigars spread quickly, and the industry hasn’t been the same since. His son Jaime and daughter Janny are instrumental in running what has become a large operation in Nicaragua that includes the My Father Cigars factory, the My Father brand and numerous tobacco farms.

Perdomo Cigars

Nick Perdomo Jr. made cigars alongside his father for many years, and now works with his wife, Janine who acts as the company’s COO. The namesake company produces cigars in Nicaragua and grows tobacco as well. The next generation of Perdomos is already following in the family footsteps, as Perdomo’s son, Nick III, is director of sales.

Plasencia Cigars

When it comes to cigar tobacco, there are few names that ring out in the industry with as much resonation as Plasencia. Nestor Plasencia and his son Nestor Andrés are the largest growers of premium tobacco in Central America, providing leaf to manufacturers of handmade cigars from around the world. They produce cigars as well, all as a father-and-sons team that also includes Nestor’s brothers Gustavo and José Luis.

Quesada Cigars

Fourth-generation tobacco man Manuel “Manolo” Quesada makes cigars in the Dominican Republic and has been in the business for more than 60 years. Some of those decades have been spent teaching his daughter Raquel the business and the craft. She’s now steeped in all aspects of tobacco and they both oversee brands such as Casa Magna and the myriad lines of Quesada cigars.

Rocky Patel
Rocky Patel, his brother Nish (right) and cousin Nimish (center) of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars.

Rocky Patel Premium Cigars

He’s undoubtedly one of the best-known personalities in the cigar business, but Rocky Patel is happy to share the spotlight with his brother, Nish, and his cousin, Nimish Desai, who both play key roles in the business. Spending much time on the road, Nish is the company’s executive vice president. Nimish is the company’s vice president of operations. Both men have been with Rocky since the very beginning.

Turrent Family Cigars

If you’re smoking a cigar made with a dark, Mexican San Andrés wrapper, it most likely came from a field owned by the Turrents, the first family of premium Mexican tobacco. The father-and-son team of Alberto and Alejandro Turrent provide high-quality Mexican tobacco for much of the premium industry. They make handmade cigars of their own as well and carry on a family tradition that’s been in motion since the 1800s.

Vandermarliere, Family of Cigars

Following a European tradition that’s lasted nearly 100 years, Vandermarliere, Family of Cigars (formerly known as J. Cortès) has been in the cigar industry since 1926. It started when Maurits Vandermarliere made cigars in the attic above his Belgian cigar shop. His youngest son, Guido, joined the business in 1965, and today, Guido’s son Frederik runs the business. The company is the owner and distributor of Oliva Cigar Co. in both the U.S. and Europe. 

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