Son of Tobacco: Tabacalera El Artista’s Ram Rodriguez

As a third-generation owner of Tabacalera El Artista, Ram Rodriguez is leading his family’s tobacco business into new territories and growth with a bold new vision and challenge to traditions.


“I like people to feel that this company is not ‘the cigar factory for the Rodriguezes’ but instead is ‘the cigar factory for all of us.’ I do this by empowering everybody,” says Rodriguez.

He spends a lot of time building the trust and relationship between the family and their employees. When there’s an opening, he’ll have the research department see if there’s anyone in-house who is capable of taking on the new role before hiring someone from outside of the company. He only hires people who are capable of delivering what’s expected of them and those who are willing to go the extra mile and exceed expectations. This is especially true for the cigar rollers, who know that if they make a great cigar, the company will benefit and they all will do well financially. Rodriguez and those in management positions are always open to listen to any ideas people may have that can improve the business.

Ram’s Children
With brands like Exactus, Puro Ambar by Exactus, Pulita Got Your 6 and Big Papi by David Ortiz, the company has steadily been building its portfolio of premium cigar products, something Rodriguez takes a lot of pride in.

“All of my brands are like my children. You see them grow, you need to take care of them. For me, it’s very beautiful,” he says. “When my father ran the company, he would do some private-label releases—which we still do—but having our own brands is very important, and it’s been quite a beautiful process watching the brands grow.”

With distribution and marketing plans for the U.S., Europe and other international markets, Tabacalera El Artista’s cigars will have an important role in helping Rodriguez fulfill his goals of increasing brand recognition and bringing more attention to the company’s work at its factory in the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez reveals he plans to continue to push innovation at Tabacalera El Artista by revisiting some products the company released in past years. For example, there are already plans to bring back one of the first lines the company made. It’s a good, solid blend that will be introduced to the U.S. market. There are also plans for new product releases for Italy and other international markets, which will continue to challenge the company to continue to improve on its quality and production values in the future.

This story first appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

– Story by Antoine Reid, an editor and digital content director for Tobacco Business Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram @editor.reid.