Origin Story: Exploring the Dominican Republic with Davidoff Cigars

    In January, Davidoff invited a small group of retailers, sales staff and business partners for a week of exploration and deep discovery of the company’s cigars, philosophy and values. Here’s an inside look at what they experienced.


    For Wayne Anstead of North Carolina-based Anstead’s Tobacco Company, “My biggest takeaway from the trip to Davidoff’s farm was the passion that Hendrik and Klaas Kelner have toward making the perfect cigar and the way father and son collaborate to share their story.”

    Davidoff Viaje Al Origen
    Eugenia Mouissant of Bo’s Cigar Lounge holds freshly harvested tobacco leaves. Participants of Viaje Al Origen were encouraged to touch and experience tobacco throughout the week.

    These were just some of the takeaways from this trip that was meant to bring some of Davidoff’s closest retail and business partners on a journey through its Dominican operations. Klaas Kelner said it was his hope that those attending the tour would take back with them an experience that would enable them to better communicate Davidoff’s principles and values to consumers. What could also be seen throughout the trip was the commitment and dedication that many of the retailers have for Davidoff and the tobacco industry as a whole. Throughout the week, these retailers—many of them having met for the first time during the trip—could be seen and heard trading stories about their respective stores, their approaches to business and the struggles they face in today’s industry. Bonds and friendships were made during the tour that will no doubt continue to grow and develop well beyond the tobacco fields and tropical shores of the Dominican Republic.

    Passion and Commitment
    Passion. Quality. Knowledge. Commitment. Those were some of the words used to describe Viaje Al Origen on the final day of the trip. Over the course of the week, those attending left understanding a great deal more about the various Davidoff cigar lines but also about what sets Davidoff apart from its competitors. There’s the factory, which Davidoff has flipped on its head by changing the industry status of how many employees are dedicated to rolling the product compared to how many are focused on process and quality control. There’s its standard for what makes a good cigar and how many cigars never make it out of the factory due to something most would consider inconsequential. There’s its commitment not only to making good cigars but to also making sure the company’s employees are happy and passionate about the premium cigars they are making for the world.

    Davidoff Viaje Al Origen
    Klaas Kelner proudly presents seedlings ready to be planted in Davidoff’s tobacco fields located in Jicome.

    “It is a seductive brand, but it takes people who are committed to make all of this happen,” said Dylan Austin, president of at Davidoff Americas.

    “Davidoff is a brand that’s been around for a long time. To achieve what we’ve been able to over the past couple years really does show a commitment that people have to the brand and a commitment to the vision to drive it forward as well.”

    The next time you light up a Davidoff cigar, remember that more than 300 hands have touched the tobacco wrapped in that cigar before it even reached your store. Davidoff’s reputation of being a luxury brand is earned—not given—through the 100-plus steps of labor it takes to create one cigar. Lastly, from the crop to the shop, it’s the people at Davidoff who fill each cigar with the passion, dedication and love for the leaf that make each Davidoff cigar the choice for so many to fill their time with beautifully.

    This story first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

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