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Monday, 06 November 2006

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rocky patel
Rocky Patel, based in Naples, Florida gets a quick visit from Rob Shibata

October 2, 2006, Naples, FL

Update:  Indian Tabac and Rocky Patel

We visited the office of Rocky Patel in Naples, FL.  We knew Rocky would be traveling that week and arranged to talk to one of his senior sales people, Patrick Vivalo.  Vivalo has worked in the industry for 10 years, the last four with Patel. 

Patel started out in LA, but moved to Naples in 1999.  His facility there consists of an office and warehouse space for storing and shipping cigars.  As we talked about the company, Patrick and I smoked an Old World Reserve Churchill which was quite good.

Top25Cigar wanted to get some clarification about the relative importance of the Indian Tabac and Rocky Patel brands to each other and the company.  Patrick told us that Indian Tabac sales are currently steady, but make up only about a third of the revenue.  The Rocky Patel branded lines make up the rest.  “When we introduced the Vintage 1990 and 1992 Rocky Patel lines at the 2003 RTDA, it was a calculated risk by Rocky” stated Vivalo.  “Rocky had wanted to change the direction of the products and marketing but felt it would be too difficult to do with the Indian Tabac brand.  So the decision was made to create a new brand rather than try to change an old one.”

So Patel upgraded and simplified the look of both the packaging and the cigars.  His intuition proved correct as the Vintage 1990 and 1992 RP brand was a run away success after being released at the 2003 RTDA.  “History shows that Rocky was correct in the path he took, but back then it was a risk.” stated Vivalo.  “The Vintage 1990 and 1992 cigars are still the company’s flagship lines today.  The Rocky Patel lines and their extensions now represent 70% of company revenues” he stated. 

The Edge was another counter intuitive success for Patel.  While many companies were packing fewer cigars per box to keep price points down, Patel marketed the reasonably priced, medium to full bodied cigars without bands in 100 count boxes.  “The Edge has become one of our best selling cigars.” said Vivalo.  They were sold out of the Edge at the time of our visit.

The Java line made by Drew Estates is also selling well Vivalo told us.  They are sold out of the maduro and have just introduced a natural wrapper version of the Java. 

Patel’s cigars are currently being made in Nestor Plascencia’s Honduras factory.  Rocky works with Placensia to develop and refine the blends they want to offer.  In fact Vivalo told us that Rocky spends 60-70% of his time in Honduras working with the factory.  The rest of his time is split up between marketing and running the operations.

So Rocky Patel is busy and has had a string of hits that is moving the company forward.  What’s next for Rocky?  Well, we’ll probably have to talk to him about that.  But if history is our teacher, you can bet it won’t be what everyone else is doing.

Rob Shibata




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