9 Jul 2013
We’ll be at the IPCPR Trade Show again this year (which opens Saturday), and you can expect us to get the latest and greatest from all the cigar makers you know. But there will also be cigar companies there that you’ve probably never heard of.
Today we look at two such companies that will be making their first appearance at the annual convention. Every year there are new companies. Some don’t last while others become the next buzz-worthy up-and-coming venture. These two companies, for reasons explained below, seem to have a good chance of being around for a while:
Royal Gold Cigars
Whether you’ve heard of Royal Gold or not, you’ve almost certainly heard of their parent company, Swisher, whose machine-made cigars are behind the cash register at almost every gas station and drug store in the country. While Swisher has tried their hand at the premium handmade cigar market before, this time the plan is different. Instead of investing in their own factories (as they did until about a decade ago) they are contracting some of the biggest names to produce cigars for them.
And they’ve lined up some impressive cigar makers for their introductory releases, which they are marketing as “affordable by all” and all reportedly under $8.50. Casino Gold HRS (High Roller Selection) is made by the Placencias in Honduras. Kismet is made by Augusto Reyes Sr. and Jr. in the Dominican Republic. Nirvana is being produced at Drew Estate in Nicaragua. Gold Strike is an inexpensive mixed filler cigar rolled in Nicaragua and blended by Omar Ortez (of Altadis) and Carol Jean Llaneza (daughter of legendary cigar man Frank Llaneza).
With Swisher’s backing, Royal Gold is perhaps the most interesting development in cigars in the last year. Deep pockets mean the company can afford to be patient (even lose money in the short-term) if it means long-term growth and profits. And by all reports, by bringing in Alex Goldman, Swisher has chosen a respected industry veteran to head the operation.
Officially launched in January, but formalized at last year’s convention, Sindicato is a new company founded by a group of veteran retailers. The group starts with a customer base that’s the envy of any new cigar company, with “a group of 45 retailers” participating according to Abe Dababneh, Chairman of Sindicato.
Heading up those retailers, as evidenced by SEC filings from last October, is Dababneh (of Smoke Inn based in West Palm Beach), Dan Jenuwine (of Quality Fresh Cigars in Michigan), Gary Pesh (of Old Virginia Tobacco in Virginia), Robert Roth (of Nice Ash Cigars in New York and Pennsylvania) and Jeff Borysiewicz (Corona Cigar Company in Orlando). Their stores alone would be top targets for any new cigar line looking for quality retailers.
According to its press releases, Sindicato was founded when “a group of passionate, cigar-loving tobacconists decided to extend their cigar knowledge and experience into making cigar brands. Their goal is to create a cigar company whose mission is to put the tobacco retailer and its customers first.” They followed up the formation announcement by selecting Jim Colucci, formerly Executive VP of Sales & Marketing for Altadis USA, as President and CEO. Sindicato will have a booth at the IPCPR Trade Show and, according to Dababneh, “debut smokes” will be available.
photo credit: Royal Gold/Sindicato