You’re constantly marketing to industries outside of just cigars. Does humidity play just as big of a role in those industries as it does with cigars?
Knutsen: Yes, humidity is one of the biggest factors in the three industries we serve: premium cigars, music and cannabis. For a cigar, we want to enjoy it to the fullest because Tim and I are cigar fans, and, as a matter of fact, most of the people in our company are also cigar smokers. That’s one reason why they love being part of our company and what we do.
We want everything to be experienced greatly when we partake in a cigar: We want to taste the subtle nuance, to taste the subtle flavors and to experience that pleasure. I would say that of all the things that we can as consumers control, humidity is probably that one thing we can truly control in terms of quality. Everything else is out of our control: We don’t roll the cigar, we don’t grow it or ferment it, we don’t process it—but we can control the amount of moisture that’s in there.
You both sound very excited about what you’re doing, which isn’t always the case for people after spending two decades with the same company. It’s as if this is the start of your business rather than the culmination of 20 years of challenges and obstacles that brought you here.
Knutsen: You nailed it with that statement, and Tim and I have both talked about that—it feels like this is day one with all that we have before us. It’s fun to get up in the morning and come to work when you have that opportunity.
Swail: The stuff that we have in our innovation department is exciting and game-changing. The next 20 years is going to be a lot of fun. I think the satisfaction part is that we’re actually building teams within the company in all the functional areas like financing, marketing, sales and R&D. We’re starting to change other people’s lives by being able to employ them and give them opportunities and create a culture here in this office that makes people enjoy coming to work here. People are contacting us because their friends work, and they’re saying, “What you guys have going on is awesome, and I want to be a part of it.” Those are the fun and satisfactory parts of what we’ve been able to do over the past 20 years.
– Story by Antoine Reid. Photos by Colin Michael Simmons
This story first appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.