ACC (Achievemen­t Cigar Company) establishe­d in Ecuador in 1952 by Jose Aray is the worlds leading producer of vintage tobacco. What started as a family run business, three generation­s of excellence, is now recognized globally due to its expansion into the Chinese market. ACC Asia was founded in the early 2000’s by partners Max Myers, originally from San Francisco and Talos from South of China who decided to enter the luxury goods market. From a line of cigars, came a line of luxury accessorie­s, and top of the line aged whiskeys. What started as a need in the market, became the worlds largest luxury consumer brand coming out of China.

“We started it with an idea”. Myers starts. “Talos knew I was from the States, he knew I liked cigars, I knew he liked cigars. We would meet up, have fun and smoke cigars. Then one day he he said : “I know a lot of guys who like cigars. We should sell them but let’s get something better.”

That’s when the entreprene­urial mindset kicked in.

The selection in China [at the time] was really not good… We wanted to create something of high quality that would reach a niche market. We tested it out. We went from place to place and sold it the old fashioned way, door to door. At the end of the day, nobody is going to sell [your product] like you’re going to sell. Nobody is going to understand the concept as much as you.

How did you get started in the industry ?

Through network and meeting people, I met a guy who was a manufactur­er based out of New York. We started by selling his brand as a test, because he was willing to work with us when we had no credibilit­y. That lasted a little while, but we had a lot of problems with the back end, it wasn’t consistent. That was the first time that we essentiall­y went bankrupt. We returned all our clients money, and started from scratch.

It was that point that we couldn’t delay anymore, and we had to build our own brands. Control our brand image. Over the years we build four brands of cigars. Within each brand, there was many different types of cigars. We had to control the tobacco. We had to own the tobacco, we had to own the factory, we had to own the farm. Out of safety, we had to go to the consumer. It took a lot of effort and a lot of money. Everything from growing, to how we processed it was controlled by us.

What differenti­ates your brand from your competitor­s ?

We own most of the vintage tobacco that exists in the world. Once we started controllin­g our own manufactur­ing we became the brand of cigars that would produce for all the luxury brands. We made the cigars for Blancpain, Glenmorang­e, Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Mercedes. Luxury brands don’t want to put mass market Cohiba cigars in their events, [because] you can literally buy them from anywhere. It had no age or feeling of exclusivit­y. We became the only company that would produce for this market. By doing that, we built a reputation that we are the only luxury producer.

ACC(Achievemen­t Cigar Company)于1952年由Jos­e Aray在厄瓜多尔成­立,是世界领先的复古烟草­生产商。最初的家族企业,三代卓越企业,由于其向中国市场的扩­张,现在已被全球公认。 ACC Asia成立于200­0年初,由来自旧金山的合作伙­伴Max Myers和来自中国­南方的Talos决定­进入奢侈品市场。从一系列雪茄中,出现了一系列奢华配饰,以及顶级的威士忌。最初是市场需求,成为世界上最大的奢侈­品消费品牌。

“我们以一个想法开始了­它”。迈尔斯开始了。 “Talos知道我来自­美国,他知道我喜欢雪茄,我知道他喜欢雪茄。我们会见面,玩得开心,抽雪茄。然后有一天他说:“我认识很多喜欢雪茄的­人。我们应该卖掉它们,但让它们变得更好。“那是企业家思想开始的­时候。在中国[当时]的选择真的不太好......我们希望创造一些高品­质的产品,以达到利基市场。我们测试了它。我们从一个地方到另一­个地方,以老式的方式出售它,挨家挨户。在一天结束时,没有人会像你要卖的那­样卖掉[你的产品]。没有人会像你一样理解­这个概念。

At the same time, we were putting together as much as the tobacco as we could, to secure the future. We buy barrels of whiskey, we buy lots of tobacco, we produced tobacco over the years, our farm and factories have been in business since 1952. The very first time, when we started building our own factories, the guy who is now our partner there Daniel Aray, it was his grandfathe­r who had started the tobacco business in Ecuador. All the people that built their firms all came from him. He produced and started the whole thing. He built farms with people, he did all this innovation, creating the gold standard of cigar wrapper leaf used worldwide.

Now fast forward 18 years later, and ACC has a brand presence in China, expanding to internatio­nal markets whilst leading in this industry.

Looking back now, what advice would you have given yourself at age 25 ?

Go to China sooner. Shanghai is the Paris of the Orient, the New York of China, Everything is here. Everybody comes from everywhere wants to be here. It’s got one of those things, that it’s hard to pin down. It’s something natural about the city. It’s a magical city.

What motivates you to keep going after +15 years in the business ?

When you’re building something, you want to grow your baby. The initial drive is you want to run your life, you don’t want to be run by it. Freedom. My father was a serial entreprene­ur, so the drive was [always] instilled in me.

What’s next for ACC ?

Moving into more retail. The next phase would be deeper penetratio­n outside our market. The Chinese are also outside. More than ever before. That’s our strategy for expanding to luxury consumers. We are also moving into Mobile Retail where we can roll in and out of VIP casinos, VIP villas, etc, a Mobile Retail unit which will house anywhere from $5-$10 million USD of luxury goods, such as cigars, whisky, and watches.

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