Jonathan Drew on Reinventing Drew Estate, Part 1

Jonathan Drew returns to lead the rebirth of an icon


In 2014, we launched the ACID G-Fresh packaging solution for the convenience sector, hoping to birth a new “top shelf” for premium cigars at convenience and DTO locations across the country. Even though the success has not been fully realized, I am still confident about the sector. As a matter of fact, we are doubling down on it in 2017. Readers should contact their Swisher International representative or call the home office.

Retail chains are continuously trying to find ways to attract more premium-minded consumers to their stores due to their potential for higher margins. I believe premium cigars will eventually play a distinct role in this evolution.

It’s evident that craft beer has made substantial inroads in that journey—and even changed the way many convenience stores are laid out. I think the new program that Swisher International is about to offer the mass market trade is about to explode in a big way. They have learned a lot of valuable lessons over the last two years and truly listened to their retail partners to make the correct changes to the G-Fresh program. It’s a commendable program, and Drew Estate is proud to be the production partner for premium solutions.

In addition to the new and updated G-Fresh rollout, the Drew Diplomat Retailer Program speaks directly to the topic of digital strength, connectivity between final consumers to the premium cigar brands they identify with. We currently have approximately 500 retail operations across the country, representing almost 1,000 retail doors participating in our digital world, and receive rebates of up to 7 percent per year on the business that we do together, plus other perks. This has proven to be a game changer and benefits all sides of the [industry].

Speaking of Swisher International, following the acquisition you spent a lot of time on the road. What was that like? Did you come away with any revelations from the experience?
I love the road and spending time with our hardworking and passionate salesforce. It’s a challenging occupation to be a company representative, and I respect and value their efforts greatly. I never want to lose touch or disregard the pulse of our retailers either, as oftentimes they are the direct link between Nicaragua and the consumer. Their role is vital in the ecosystem.

Additionally, and probably most impactful to me, I have such a deep love for our premium cigar consumers. I genuinely love spending time with everyone who made Drew Estate what it is today, our “extended family” as we like to call it. Cigar culture is so near and dear to my heart, and I consider myself as much a cigar ambassador as I do a “tobacco man.”

Story by Jennifer Gelfand / Photography by Candace West

This story first appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.