Today we return to take a look at our second part of our interview with industry leader Nick Perdomo and his activities in fighting the bans and FDA, his thoughts on Nicaragua, and why Nicaraguan tobacco is simply the best.
CB: What involvement level has your company had in fighting the governmental bans and an encroaching FDA?
Nick Perdomo: Well, we’ve been very involved. Outside of being a founding member of the Cigar Rights of America, being on the board of directors of Cigar Association of America, being a member of the IPCPR, and unfortunately, being in politics in my city, I mean I’ve had to travel to our capital of Tallahassee. I’ve been in Washington, and I’ve been very involved in the political front because I not only want to protect our industry, but I also want to protect the cigar smoker. So we’ve been very involved and, unfortunately, we’ve had to write a lot of checks to politicians to band together so we can keep this thing going.
Listen, my son is a freshman in college and I would say he’s probably the most knowledgeable cigar and tobacco man that I know today. He’s 18 years old but he’s spent 12 straight summers in Nicaragua under the tutelage of my father, my uncle, and Orestes Garcia, and his dream has always been to be in the cigar industry and I’m fighting every day, not only to keep my business alive but to be able to have my son be in this business. So he’s still got three more years of college at the University of Alabama, so I’m working hard to make that dream a reality.
CB: So in preparing the company for your son someday you most be focused on the long term, so what is your key to creating and maintaining brand consistency and loyalty?
Nick Perdomo: The most important thing is consistency. The key to brand consistency is being able to have a tremendous amount of well- aged tobacco for that brand and we do that. Matter of fact, we have upwards of 72 months of fillers, binders and wrappers for any blend that we have in the house. And believe me that took us a long time to accomplish; in fact that took us over 13 years of growing tobacco to do that, but we’re in excellent shape.
And as far as loyalty, I think loyalty is a two-way street. We’ve been very loyal to the retailer, we’ve been very loyal to the cigar smoker. We’ve been doing it by giving them a top quality cigar at a price point that’s unbeatable. You know if you look in the humidor you can see what I mean there. And our consumers have been very loyal to us and so have our retailers, and they have appreciated everything we’ve done for them, and we’re real appreciative of both of them also.
CB: That’s great! So speaking of loyalty and consistency, what do you want a customer or to walk away with after smoking one of your cigars?
Nick Perdomo: The most important thing is that it’s brought him enjoyment, satisfaction and he’s had a really pleasant smoking experience smoking a Perdomo. You know, our quality control is paramount. We check each and every cigar 17 times. If you look at any of our boxes of cigars, you’ll see the name of the roller underneath and who punched it and who the quality control person was who finally did the last packing of the cigars. The reason we do that is we want our customers to be happy.
We freeze all our own tobacco, that’s why you don’t see any bugs in our cigars, it’s very costly but to me it’s well worth it. All our grounds have proper soil analysis and our construction is second to none, and we actually draw test every single cigar that’s made in that factory, which is a lot of work and we have a special draw testing station where we can draw test up to 17 cigars in one second. So it’s real important to us.
One of the things that are important outside of taste and the blend itself is of course, the construction. The cigars have to burn well and the cigars definitely have to draw.
CB: So we’ve been talking a lot about consistency and what goes into your cigars, but another question that intrigues me is why did you choose to operate and use Nicaraguan tobacco, over perhaps operating in the Dominican Republic and using their tobacco?
Nick Perdomo: It’s solely because Nicaragua produces the best cigar tobacco in the world bar none, and that is the reason why, when I started in this industry and I moved my operations to Nicaragua in 1995, when I went to the first German show with the Dortman people and they said “I’ve seen you in the magazines, where do you manufacture your cigars?” And I said in “Nicaragua,” and their answer to me was “what’s Nicaragua, where is Nicaragua?” Well, back then the Dominican Republic was up toward the top of the mountain, Honduras was in the middle of the mountain, and Nicaragua was definitely down by the ground.
So when we decided to make the move we looked at the Dominican Republic and Honduras, but where we really wanted to produce cigars was in Nicaragua. The only problem at the time however was the political unrest and everything, but when Violeta Chamorro, was elected, that’s when we moved down and it was the best move we’ve ever made.
Well, today, Nicaragua is now on the top of the mountain and it will exceed the Dominican Republic in exports very, very shortly, and it will be the number one country in the world producing premium cigars.
So I’m blessed that I was right and it is the best tobacco in the world bar none. That’s why every Dominican manufacturer who has successful lines uses it and that’s why every Honduran manufacturer that’s successful uses it. And if Cuba decided to ever make good cigars once in their life, they’d use Nicaraguan tobacco too, because it is the best in the world. The most fertile ground is in Nicaragua, it is all volcanic with tremendous amounts of organic matter. When God said this is where we’re gonna grow tobacco, it was this place, not Cuba.
Hey, listen, don’t get me wrong my father was in the cigar industry, my grandfather was in the cigar industry in Cuba, they worked for two of the biggest cigar factories in Cuba. My grandfather’s brother was the minister of tobacco in Cuba for 43 years, and my Uncle Tony was one of the main buyers of tobacco for his Factory. So, I mean I have a long lineage in cigars, and even my father, prior to him passing, always said that Nicaragua is the shit, it’s the best, it really is. So I mean I hold no bars – you know, I tell you straight out it’s a fact, if anybody tells you different, they’re wrong.
CB: Well clearly you are a fan of Nicaraguan tobacco. Can you state for our audience, what in your opinions then are the defining characteristics of Nicaraguan tobacco versus Dominican tobacco?
Nick Perdomo: Okay, the Dominican tobacco is a fine tobacco if you like a very light, floral type tobacco. It’s not to my liking, but that doesn’t mean anything, I don’t like liver but some people like it. I like steak. And the truth of the matter is, Nicaragua’s tobacco is sweet, it’s aromatic, it’s rich, it’s spicy, it’s just – it’s got the complete core of tobacco flavor that no country in the world has today and that’s what makes it so special. And that’s why not only here in America they love Nicaraguan cigars, but our European business is through the roof today, our Russian business is through the roof today, and it’s because of not only the quality of our cigars, but because of the tobacco we grow in Nicaragua and we’re proud that we make cigars in Nicaragua. And I’ll say it again, bar none, it’s the best in the world.
CB: All right, our last question is, “what makes a great cigar to you?”
Nick Perdomo: What makes a great cigar to me is properly fermented and cured tobacco with a very good blend, with an excellent binder that imparts flavor and an excellent wrapper that has been fermented through and through. Then it’s the construction of the cigar. A cigar that is well made in the construction of its fillers, binders and wrappers, is an enjoyable smoking experience. But the most enjoyable experience to me is being here and seeing all these guys smoking our cigars and giving the accolades and to me that really makes my day, honestly.
CB: Excellent. I appreciate your time and candidness. Thank you!
Nick Perdomo: Okay, my friend, thank you!