100 plus years of cigars and suc­cess

WE LOOK AT THE HIS­TORY OF AR­TURO FUENTE, FROM THEIR HUM­BLE BE­GIN­NINGS IN CUBA TO PRO­DUC­ING MORE THAN 40 MIL­LION CIGARS A YEAR

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WHEN A. FUENTE & COM­PANY was founded in 1912, Ar­turo Fuente would never have dreamed that his pas­sion for cigars would be­come a global bench­mark for the cigar in­dus­try. But now, more than a cen­tury later, the com­pany re­main one of the lead­ing lights in the to­bacco in­dus­try thanks to their pas­sion and ex­per­tise.

Ar­turo started his com­pany with hum­ble be­gin­nings, rolling and blend­ing cigars in the back of his house with his wife Cristina and two sons, Car­los and Ar­turo Oscar. Four gen­er­a­tions later, the com­pany is still fam­ily owned and op­er­ated in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. From the very be­gin­ning, the fo­cus of mak­ing a Fuente cigar was qual­ity; qual­ity to­bacco, qual­ity crafts­man­ship, and tak­ing the time nec­es­sary to make a truly re­mark­able cigar.

“We don’t hurry things; we just do things the way they are sup­posed to be done,” said Car­los Fuente Sr.

That burn­ing pas­sion for mak­ing sure ev­ery prod­uct is pro­duced to the high­est

de­tail has been passed down by gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. It also en­sures that the Fuente fam­ily will con­tinue to make the world’s finest cigars for cen­turies to come.

That de­sire for per­fec­tion was first em­bod­ied by Ar­turo who was born in the province of La Ha­bana, Cuba in 1887. In 1906, Ar­turo moved to Key West, Florida, a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion where Cuban im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing his own sib­lings, had al­ready laid the seeds for a thriv­ing cigar in­dus­try. This in­dus­try grew to the north when an­other im­mi­grant from Cuba, the Spa­niard Vi­cente Martinez-ybor,left Key West and founded the now world-fa­mous cigar town, Ybor City. This be­came a highly cul­tural com­mu­nity that at­tracted many Cuban, Span­ish and Ital­ian im­mi­grants in search of the Amer­i­can Dream.

It was here that Ar­turo would meet his wife Doña Hilda and then, at the age of just 24, be­gin his own cigar com­pany. Lo­cated in West Tampa, all the cigars pro­duced by A. Fuente & Com­pany were hand­made with Cuban to­bacco. Be­fore long the com­pany was be­com­ing hugely suc­cess­ful, and within ten years of open­ing was al­ready em­ploy­ing 500 peo­ple. How­ever, tragedy would strike in 1924 when the fac­tory burned down while Ar­turo was in Cuba buy­ing to­bacco. Ar­turo spent the next 22 years work­ing as a gen­eral man­ager to re­pay debts owed from the losses caused by the fire.

Dur­ing this time Ar­turo would also di­vorce his first wife, but, there was a change in for­tunes ahead. Af­ter mar­ry­ing Cristina Tru­jillo, the duo soon wel­comed their first child, Ar­turo Oscar Fuente, and then a sec­ond Car­los Ar­turo Fuente, and be­fore long Ar­turo Sr was mak­ing cigars again.

The fam­ily would con­tinue their love af­fair for cigars with Car­los go­ing on to work at the pres­ti­gious Cuesta-rey fac­tory learn­ing how to roll cigars and mak­ing ex­tra money to help sup­port the fam­ily. Car­los,with no sales ex­pe­ri­ence, took many risks by open­ing new ac­counts all over Florida. He also be­gan to sell cigars on credit which was un­heard of at the time. These risks paid off, and within the next ten years, Car­los had es­tab­lished dis­trib­u­tors in both Mi­ami and Man­hat­tan. This was a crit­i­cal step in cre­at­ing brand aware­ness for the Ar­turo Fuente la­bel and ex­pand­ing the avail­abil­ity of Ar­turo Fuente cigars.

As Car­los’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at the cigar fac­tory be­gan to in­crease, and with less as­sis­tance from his fa­ther, peo­ple be­gan to view Car­los as the head of the com­pany. Ar­turo Fuente was now el­i­gi­ble for So­cial Se­cu­rity at age 68, and de­cided it was time to re­tire. Since Ar­turo Oscar had a well pay­ing job in the peanut busi­ness, Car­los Fuente was asked to run the fac­tory by his fa­ther in 1956. The only way Car­los would ac­cept the of­fer was if he pur­chased his brothers share of the com­pany, since Ar­turo Oscar was not as ac­tive in the fam­ily busi­ness at the time.

Car­los Ar­turo Fuente bought the com­pany from Ar­turo Oscar Fuente for one dol­lar, and be­came sole owner of A. Fuente & Com­pany. By the 60’s the

“From the be­gin­ning, the fo­cus of mak­ing a Fuente cigar was qual­ity; qual­ity to­bacco, qual­ity crafts­man­ship, and tak­ing the time nec­es­sary to make a truly re­mark­able cigar.”

busi­ness was thriv­ing once more with more than 100 staff and a two-storey build­ing to their fam­ily name. Af­ter re­la­tions be­tween Amer­ica and Cuba soured, Car­los bought as many Cuban to­bacco bails as he could and pro­duced a three-year sup­ply of Cuban to­bacco. With other com­pa­nies go­ing out of busi­ness, the Fuente’s were thriv­ing. By the time his stock ran out the Ar­turo Fuente name was well recog­nised in the in­dus­try and cigar smok­ers trusted the qual­ity and crafts­man­ship of their prod­ucts. So when a first non-cuban to­bacco re­lease ar­rived in 1966, the pub­lic re­sponded pos­i­tively.

Through­out the fol­low­ing decades Car­los would ex­per­i­ment with grow­ing to­bacco in Puerto Rico, Mex­ico, Hon­duras and Nicaragua, while a fac­tory was also opened in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. How­ever, it was in Nicaragua that the busi­ness flour­ished, with 18,000 cigars pro­duced on a daily ba­sis dur­ing the 1970’s. It was also dur­ing this decade that Ar­turo Fuente passed away at the age of 85. His sad pass­ing would go on to in­spire the cre­ation of the of the Flor Fina 8-5-8.

A re­bel­lion in Nicaragua and a fire in Hon­duras would once again dent the busi­ness, but the fac­tory in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic was flour­ish­ing. This is where the fa­mous Hem­ing­way se­ries was cre­ated, a unique fig­u­rado shape that was the first in the in­dus­try at the time. This cigar line was soon nick­named “fancy tails” in the in­dus­try. Fuente con­tin­ued to grow and ex­pand and by 1997 were pro­duc­ing over 40 mil­lion cigars a year. There were still set­backs such as when Hur­ri­cane Ge­orge de­stroyed 17 out of 19 To­bacco Barns, but by 2012 the com­pany were able to cel­e­brate 100 years of hard work and fam­ily tra­di­tion.

They also re­cently cel­e­brated their 20th an­niver­sary of Ar­turo Fuente’s flag­ship Opus X brand. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully fought a le­gal bat­tle in 1996 over the use of the word ‘Opus’, the Fuente fam­ily have con­tin­ued to re­lease this per­fectly con­structed, full bod­ied Do­mini­can cigar ev­ery year. The Fuente Fuente Opusx 20 Years Cel­e­bra­tion fea­tured new, blue pack­ag­ing and a spe­cial or­nate box.

Avail­able in four sizes: Be­lieve (5 3/4 x 52), Fa­ther & Son (6 1/4 x 49), God’s Whis­per (6 1/2 x 56) and Power of a Dream (6 3/8 x 52), the cigar uses a lighter Do­mini­can wrap­per and has once again proven to be hugely suc­cess­ful among afi­ciona­dos.

Hav­ing sur­vived fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, lived through civil wars and seen their fac­to­ries de­stroyed by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, Ar­turo Fuente have never had it easy. But af­ter 105 years they are still pro­duc­ing cigars of ex­cep­tional qual­ity and long may it con­tinue.

“The Fuente’s burn­ing pas­sion for mak­ing sure ev­ery prod­uct is pro­duced to the high­est de­tail has been passed down by gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.”

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