Smoking cigars in the Dominican Republic in 1992, from left: Robert Levin, Carlos Fuente Sr., Carlos Fuente Jr. and Pete Johnson.
Veterans of the premium cigar industry reflect on the changes of the last quarter century
David Berkebile, owner of Georgetown Tobacco in Washington, D.C., remembers a lackluster industry 25 years ago. But by 1995, it was booming. “Sales for us that year were up 48 percent,” he says. The next year they grew another 47 percent. Berkebile marvels at the chaos. “Everyone was making a cigar, particularly those who did not know how and were in it for the money. Some companies just shipped you large quantities of whatever they thought you might be thankful for, and I wasn’t,” he says. “In one incident, I loaded my pickup and drove it full of cigars back to the sales rep’s home and put it on his doorstep. He got my message.”  Craig Cass W hen …
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