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Written by Puff Staff

Tuesday, 16 September 2003

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Traveling again, Rob Shibata reports on another cigar manufacturer he visited while in Miami, Tabacalera Perdomo.

The drive from Vero Beach to Miami gives me time to think about my hastily arranged visit to Tabacalera Perdomo.  I recall being referred to “Nick’s Cigars” near the airport nearly a decade ago.  I entered the all glass storefront to find, not a cigar store, but a cigar factory.  About 20 or 30 rollers were making cigars under the bare fluorescent lights.  An older gentleman sitting at the back of the room looked up and greeted me.  I bought a bundle of unbanded churchills that day and never had the opportunity to return.  This was before the cigar boom.

The sign that guides you to Tabacalera Perdomo...and the beginning of cigar heaven.

Fast forward to 1998, the year I became more than an occasional smoker and very interested in premium cigars.  In the next year or two, I saw the Perdomo brand become widely available in California.  To my surprise, I learned that this was the same company I had visited years earlier, now with a national brand.  I never imagined that one day I would be sitting in their offices talking about cigars.

Paul and I had visited Perdomo’s booth at the 2002 RTDA and met briefly with Nick Perdomo Jr. and his brother Billy.  After the show, Al Argenti, the VP of marketing, contacted us about doing reviews and press releases.  Fast forward to today.  A last minute trip to Miami had come up and I call Al to see if I could visit the Perdomo offices. 

“Yeah, come on by.  We’re here,” the outgoing and upbeat Argenti says.

Al’s invitation sends my fingers to the rental car GPS locator to key in Perdomo’s address.  I arrive in the late afternoon on a hot, sticky Florida summer day.  The Perdomo offices are located north of the airport right off the 826 Palmetto freeway.  The building looks like any other 2 story industrial warehouse except for the street sign and the large, lacquered, wooden double doors that greet all who enter.  A rush of cool air hits me as I enter.  I am glad to be getting out of the heat.

Once inside the front offices, I have an entirely different experience.  A broad expanse of tiled floor opens up in front of me.  A reception desk lies straight ahead, a retail tobacconist counter with cigar accessories to the right and a large, glass walled humidor to the left of the door.  The center of the reception area has several comfortable armchairs and a couch.  The sales, accounting, marketing, and executive offices branch off from the main reception area.  Behind the offices is the warehouse housing the refrigerated coolers for the cigar inventory, receiving area, order processing and trade show displays. 

Billy Perdomo and Al Argenti in a cigars smokers dream...a storage area full of Perdomo cigars!

Al and Billy give me the cook’s tour, introducing me to each employee along the way.  There are cigars everywhere.  Shipping boxes of cigars that have just arrived, stacks of cigar boxes for customer orders, and walls of cigar inventory in the refrigerated rooms.  In addition, they show me a computerized laser-engraving machine for custom engraved boxes.

The marketing area is full of Perdomo artwork and advertising materials in various stages of completion.  The sales area has half a dozen sales reps on the phones making and taking sales calls.  Nick’s office is an assortment of humidors, boxes of cigars, and trade publications covering every piece of furniture.  Nick’s own desk is covered with projects and paperwork related to his company’s business   This office is clearly the command and control center of the operation.

Billy excuses himself as I sit down with Nick and Al to discuss an upcoming interview and the Top25Cigar and Club Stogie sites.  I tell him about my visit to “Nick’s Cigars” a decade earlier and ask Nick about his business.

“Well, we’ve come a long ways since the early days.” declares Nick as he leans forward in his chair.  “I’m proud of what we have accomplished.  I started this business from nothing and today we have our own production in Nicaragua and a recognized brand.  Our quality is better than ever.  If it weren't we wouldn't be making cigars for other companies.  Business is good.  We’re growing, maybe a little too fast sometimes, but that is a problem we want to have.  You have to be aggressive and we are aggressive.”

Perdomo’s growth is mostly a problem for his competitors.  In a post boom industry that is now relatively stable, Perdomo’s sales increases mean a sales decline for some other brand.  I ask how he achieved his success.

“I’m grateful to the people who work with me,” Perdomo says proudly.  “We’ve been through a lot of tough times together to build this company.  We’re like a family here.  My people will go through fire with me to get the job done.  That’s what it takes.”

Nick Perdomo in his office.

We discuss politics, the anti-smoking sentiment sweeping across US cities, and the difficulties facing all business people today.  Through it all, Nick stays very focused.  Every topic boils down to just 2 things for Nick Perdomo Jr. 

1) Is the issue good or bad for business? 
2) Does it help sell more cigars?   

A person’s office can tell you a lot about who they are.  One of Nick’s office walls is covered with dozens of sports personality photos.  During our conversation, he intermittently spars with employees about college and professional sports.  Those around him say he is a sports fanatic.  I think Nick Perdomo is a competitor.  He likes to compete, not just because the business environment demands it, but because he is a competitor by nature.  He runs his business like he’s in the playoffs and expects the same from his company teammates. 

Al presented me with a box of their new cigars to be released at the upcoming RTDA show.  I told them Top25Cigar will do a staff review on the new smokes and that I look forward to our upcoming interview with Nick.  I thank Nick and Al for their time considering that I had arrived on such short notice.  As I drive away, I feel a new appreciation for what Nick and his team have accomplished.  We wish Nick Perdomo Jr. well and look forward to seeing what the aggressive team at Tabacalera Perdomo comes up with next.

Tabacalera Perdomo
5150 N.W. 167th Street
Miami Lakes, FL  33014
Ph  888 642-5797
Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.perdomocigars.net




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