Written by Puff Staff

Thursday, 27 October 2005

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visit the padron offices
Rob Shibata visits the new Padron Cigar offices in Miami.

A Visit to Padron Cigar’s new offices

Front Entrance to the New Padron Offices.

Jose O. Padron, the patriarch of Padron cigars, is a proud man.  He has reason to be.  Padron cigars have become one of the most respected brands in the cigar industry by producing cigars with good blends, consistent quality and fair prices.  Consumers, retailers, and other cigar manufacturers agree.

“We want to be like Padron.” A cigar executive from another popular brand told us at the RTDA.  “They control the tobacco.  They control their own manufacturing.  They are focused and they are making good cigars” the executive said emphatically.  The Pardon brand is consistently one of the most highly rated brands on  “The 1964, 1926 and 40th Anniversario lines are often sold out and the regular “Thousands” line is a consistent seller” states company President Jorge “George” Padron.

“We know we aren’t the biggest, but won’t sacrifice quality to get bigger sales numbers” son Orlando Padron told us recently at the RTDA.  The Padrons are true to their word.  They could have sold “two or three” times the number of cigars they sold during the boom years.  They could have raised prices.  They did neither.  They kept producing as many cigars as they had quality tobacco for and took care of their regular customers.  

But the Padrons success is evident even as they control the company’s growth.  I talked to the Padrons at their new 17,000 sq ft headquarters and distribution facility in Miami’s Little Havana earlier this year.  The white stucco building is just around the corner from the original place where Jose O. Padron first made cigars as an immigrant in 1964.  The new building is “all the things we dreamed about when we were at the old building” states company President George Padron.  “Here, we have the space to do our work.  It was difficult to get everything done at the old building.”  

When visitors arrive they enter a very nice foyer area with historical photos of the family and company.  Off to one side, there is a small retail counter and smoking area to service local customers.  An office area lies behind the foyer area with the warehouse area beyond.  The high ceiling warehouse area provides something the Padrons didn’t have at the old building: a consolidated one story area for receiving, storing and distributing their cigars.  The “Thousand” lines of cigars are received and stored in their boxes, but the much heralded Anniversario lines are received in bulk.  The Anniversarios are then graded, banded, and boxed.  The work area also has packaging equipment to make bands and label the boxes. 

Cigar Packaging Room

The new one story, open work space is a big change compared to how business was conducted in the old building.  “I honestly don’t know how we did it” laughs George Padron.  One thing that hasn’t changed is the friendly affable style of the Padron family.  Always the gracious host, the elder Padron still keeps Anniversarios and “special blends” in his desk drawer for guests he thinks will be appreciative.

The business office area, run by George’s mother Flory, is neat and organized.  As George shows me through the family’s personal offices, the only one that appears to be used is his father’s.  Smiling, George shrugs his shoulders and says “We spend most of our time out in the operations, that’s where everything is happening.”  On the warehouse floor, the Padrons all have “working desks” that serve as a kind of hub for all the business activity that occurs.  The Padrons seem happiest close to where the business is occurring.  The new Padron facilities are clean, organized, and most of all, very functional.  In keeping with their conservative family values, the Padrons didn’t create a building that was a monument to their egos like some companies do after success. 

The Padrons invited me to lunch at a local Cuban restaurant.  “Do you like Cuban food?” George inquired?  I told him I didn’t know much about Cuban food.  “That’s ok, I’ll just get you what we always eat”, grinned George. 

As we ate, the conversation turned to cigars.  I told George how well the Padron brand has been doing in the ratings.  I explained to the elder Padron that those ratings came from thousands of public reviews and are not just the opinions of a few.  “Good, that’s very good” said the senior Padron as George translated my comments to him.

Succession is one of the biggest challenges that face a family business in any industry.  This often occurs as the successful older generation passes the business to the next generation.  I broached the subject to the Padrons.  “Yes, we know, we know” said George as if he were anticipating the question.  “We are working on succession in our own business and we know other families in the cigar industry that are going through those issues right now” said George nodding to his father.

Enough to make you drool...1926's!

I asked them who will take over the role as the “tobacco man” in the company.  Father and son looked at each other quickly and spoke a few words in Spanish.  George turned to me and said, with a sense of purpose “I am that person.  I am spending much more time at the farm and the factory in Nicaragua because we know how important it is to have good quality tobacco.  That is the heart of our business.  That is how we can make good cigars.  It would be easier just to buy tobacco like other guys, but them we’d lose control of the tobacco quality.  We won’t do that.” said George with a straight face. 

The Padrons then summarized the historical events that occurred in Nicaragua when the Sandinistas took control of the country.  “It was very difficult, but we knew that we had to have our own tobacco farms to make our cigars.” said George.  “We have been through many difficulties in Little Havana and in Nicaragua to stay in this business.  If we’ve had some success, we owe it to my father and what he went through.  That’s why we can be in business today and keep making good cigars, because of my father’s hard work and sacrifice.”  

I thought about George’s comments and realized that I saw part of what drives the Padron family.  George seemed to articulate the keen sense of pride and appreciation for their family’s history and sacrifices.  That awareness of the past seems to be part of what is propelling the next generation into the future.  They have a passion for cigars, yes.  But I think they have a very real sense of the foundation that was laid through the sacrifices made by Jose O. Padron

Back at the office, the elder Padron reached into his desk drawer and smiled as he handed me several box pressed robustos.  “A new blend he wants you to try” said George smiling as we shook hands. 

The story of the Padrons is an impressive one.  I left their office with a better sense of their family history and their future.  We look forward to seeing what the next chapter of their story brings.

Rob Shibata

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