The Women Behind the Cigars

The Women Behind the Cigars

Hannah Newman: J.C.’s Mother and Bank-roller  

Julius Caeser “J.C.” Newman was born in Austria, Hungary in 1875. But that is not really where his story begins.

When the Newman family settled in Cleveland, it was time to embark on “The American Dream” and start earning a living. J.C.’s brothers became tailors and insurance salesmen, but he wanted to become a cigar maker. Though he spoke no English, he learned to recognize the words ‘Help Wanted’ and saw a sign in a cigar shop in 1892. Unfortunately, it was more like an “internship” than a job. He asked his mom for some money to study at the shop as an apprentice, and she gave it to him.

After a few years of practice and perfecting the trade, he was ready. He didn’t have a job but he had a skill. So Hannah stepped in again. She went to the grocery store where she shopped every week and made a deal with their grocer. Through this exchange, she secured an order for him for 500 cigars, and he was in business – inside the house. But not for long. In J.C.’s autobiography Smoke Dreams, he talks about his mother “giving him the boot.”

 “…I moved into the house and stored the tobacco in the basement, where the family canned goods were also stored. This turned out to be rather impractical since my mother discovered that her home-made canned goods and jellies were acquiring a strong tobacco flavor.”

She promptly kicked him out and he moved his business into a new building for a $20 a month rent. And thus, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company was born.

Ms. Katherine White: An Important Cog in

the Newman Cigar Machine

Hannah wasn’t the only woman that deserves credit for the growth of J.C. Newman Cigar Company…

As business grew for J.C. in the early 1900s, so did the workload. He placed an advertisement in the paper, searching for a combination bookkeeper and stenographer and ultimately hired a young woman named Katherine White. She had been a schoolteacher in a small town and had moved to the city of Cleveland in search of a more attractive, fun-filled life.

J.C. made her a generous offer – $10 a week, with a promised raise in two-weeks’ time if she proved herself. She proved herself, and some. That two-week time frame came with a monetary raise, as well as a title raise: she was named ‘Manager’ AND ‘Financial Secretary.’ In fact, J.C. trusted her so much that if anyone in the office needed money – including himself – they would need to get the official sign-off from her.

Ms. White was a smart, and sophisticated woman, who carried a gun for protection and became more efficient with each passing year. In his book, J.C. writes, “I sometimes wondered which one of us was really the boss, since I always reported to her…to this day, I owe much of our success to her pioneer effort and ability.”

 

Gladys Pollasky: A Partner in Love and Business

The dedication page in J.C.’s novel says it all. “I dedicate this book to my wife, Gladys – whose understanding and inspiration made the writing of this story of my life possible.”

J.C. was struck by her from the start. “I made up my mind that I had better get busy quick, and land that girl [before she] had a chance to get too well acquainted with too many competitors.”

Throughout the book, J.C. makes note of the kind of partner Gladys was. She was instrumental in hosting important members of the tobacco industry, throwing parties for members of organizations like the National Association of Tobacco Distributors (NATD), which ultimately helped J.C. purchase tobacco at a cheaper rate to stay in business. She also took the lead in creating an Auxiliary Convention for the wives of the NATD members so they could accompany their husbands to big meetings. This eventually led to the “Women’s Division of The National Association of Tobacco Distributors.” For many years she was the President and Director, all while being a mother to Helen, Elaine, Millard, Stanford.

Women in the Background

Third Generation Owner, President and J.C.’s grandson Eric Newman has said on more than one occasion that the company would simply cease to exist without the women who work there. The finance, HR, shipping, marketing, inside sales, and military departments are heavily comprised of (if not run by) women.

The initials ‘J.C.’ might be at the start of the company name, but without his mother, his bookkeeper, his wife and the amazing staff of women who work at J.C. Newman Cigar Company today, no one would be enjoying our amazing cigars.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

2019 Cigar Industry Awards

2019 Cigar Industry Awards

January is a very exciting time of year for the cigar industry, and especially for J.C. Newman this year!

Not only does January kick off the celebration of our 125th year as a company, but it is also the month when industry publications reveal their awards for the previous year – in this case, 2019.

As we embark on 2020, here are the awards that J.C. Newman has been honored to receive. A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has taken the time to smoke our new creations like The American, as well as our cigars that are tried and true. As America’s oldest, family-owned, premium cigar maker, we strive to bring quality products to market time, and time again.

The American

J.C. Newman Cigar Co.

Diamond Crown No. 6

Diamond Crown No. 3

Black Diamond Radiant 
COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

1908 Tobacco Leaf Full Issue

1908 Tobacco Leaf Full Issue

As J.C. Newman continues to archive old documents, cigar boxes, and pieces of history for the newly renovated museum, there are many artifacts worth sharing. One such piece is an issue of the publication ‘The Tobacco Leaf,’ from February 20, 1908. This issue contains many J.C. Newman features, including an advertisement for The American cigar, pictured above. 

What’s most notable about each of the artifacts we are archiving is how J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has created such a legacy. The pre-World War I era was truly the “Heyday of Cigars,” and all 42,000 cigar manufacturers were hustling to compete. Today, every single one of the cigar manufacturers who advertised in this 1908 trade journal is out of business – all but one: J.C. Newman.

Read about each of the features of this issue below, and click the button at the bottom to download the full edition.

Features

  • Page 8: A piece on Fred Thrall, a Connecticut farmer whose descendants sell J.C. Newman the Connecticut Shade we use for Brick House Double Connecticut.
  • Page 38: A piece on a company called “Klafter and Sauber” and their distribution of “Judge Wright, of the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. cigars.”  This is J.C. Newman’s oldest customer, Klafter’s, and is still run by Sam Klafter’s descendants today. This partnership has lasted over 112 years.
  • Page 38 Continuation: The author writes, “J. C. Newman, of the J. C. Newman Cigar Co., is invading the far West territory. He went out on a trip that will last about four weeks. He has more than one brand to show, but he will devote his attention principally to Judge Wright, a nickel brand, which he is making his leader. “J. C.” is an industrious young man, and he succeeded in making this brand well known in this and neighboring States. It can be taken for granted therefore that the Judge Wright will be come well known in that part of the country that he is exploiting now for the first time.
  • Page 41: An ad for The American – with the same seal that we use today.
  • Page 45: An ad for Judge Wright cigars.
COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

J.C. Newman at PCA 2020

J.C. Newman at PCA 2020

 

As America’s oldest, family-owned, premium cigar manufacturer, we are proud to say that we have attended the very first RTDA trade show in 1933 and have attended every RTDA/IPCPR/PCA trade show since then. This year will be no different.

Throughout the many ups and downs in the cigar industry, the trade show is the one time of the year family-owned cigar manufacturers and brick & mortar retailers come together to discuss ideas to further our business and protect our industry. Given the many regulatory and legal challenges that manufacturers and retailers are facing today, the show is more important and relevant than ever.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in July. We will be at the PCA Trade Show and hope you will be too.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eric Newman
President
Third Generation

 

Bobby Newman
Executive Vice President
Third Generation

 

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

Smoking with Pride

Smoking with Pride

My very first experience with cigars was at the ripe age of 18 at a high school graduation. As the boys who were becoming men gathered around in their caps and gowns to light up their first cigars, I refused to sit by and watch. With a very ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ attitude, I approached the young men, grabbed a small, light cigar that I’d eventually come to know as “infused,” and let one of the nearby adults – the real adults –  show me how to cut and light.

With each puff I grew more and more fond, and as with everything else in life as I grew up, my palate changed. I began gravitating towards darker cigars, stronger cigars, thicker cigars. Before long, I was the aficionado amongst my group of friends – a rarity at my small, private college. It was a mixture of luck, passion, and a great friend that I came to work at J.C. Newman, and my time here has brought me nothing but pride.

Accepting a digital marketing role at J.C. Newman was a dream come true; but not just because of the cigars. My interview for the role was conducted by three women. The second interview was conducted by an additional two; I realized the people I’d be working directly under would be women. I had attended an all-girls high school, had joined a sorority in college, and admired my mother – a beautifully strong woman with an even stronger sense of will. Working under women was an absolute goal of mine, and if the cigars weren’t enough of a draw, the management certainly was.

and if the cigars weren’t enough of a draw, the management certainly was.

I graciously accepted, and only after my first few days flipping through old biographies, did I realize the importance of women in the history of J.C. Newman.

Julius Caeser Newman was a brilliant and talented cigar maker. His mother however, played a crucial role in getting him his first cigar order.

Stanford Newman’s wife Elaine wore the pants in the relationship, by his own omission in his biography Cigar Family.

Aimee Cooks has been the HR and QA manager here for 30 years.

Eric Newman, a man I admire has said more than once, that our company would cease to exist without women. The ownership of this company recognizing the female contributions; also a dream come true.

I have never worked in such an environment. I am respected, and I am heard, and I am never asked if I need help with my cigar; invaluable.

J.C. Newman, and the Newman family, are champions for women, and I could not be more proud to work for such an incredible company with such a strong history, reputation, and dedication to making quality cigars.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

Cigar Life Lakeland Diamond Crown Lounge

Cigar Life Lakeland Diamond Crown Lounge

GRAND OPENING

Join us on February 29, 2020 from 12 pm – 4pm at Cigar Life in Lakeland, FL for food, music, prizes, and specials on Diamond Crown Cigars!

As of November, Cigar Life in Lakeland, Florida is now a designated Diamond Crown Lounge!

 

Cigar Life: A Cigar Institution

 

For years, Mario and Patty Medina, owners and operators of Cigar Life Lakeland, have been friends of the Newmans, supporters of local nonprofits, and lovers of premium cigars.

Cigar Life opened almost three years ago, and ever since, has been renowned for a widely stocked humidor, relaxing environment, and above all else; superior customer service. The Facebook and Google reviews for Cigar Life number in the hundreds, each one more complimentary than the next.

“We have a 2,400 square foot lounge that meets the top criteria of what cigar smokers are looking for…no one leaves unsatisfied.”

But it’s not just the cigars that Mario and Patty bring to the public…it’s also the opportunity to give back.

Cigar Life hosts a yearly event to benefit the Southeastern Guide Dogs, an organization that Bobby Newman, Executive Vice President of J.C. Newman, has worked closely with for decades.

“After we attended Havana Nights last year, we were so moved by the cause. We have a huge veteran customer base, and so it fit well for us; it was something we really wanted to get behind.”

 

Elevating Diamond Crown

Though it has been made “official” on the dotted line, Cigar Life has been an advocate for the Diamond Crown line of cigars for years. While boasting a humidor filled with a number of premium and boutique brands, there is something about the Diamond Crown cigars that Mario and Patty keep returning to.

Diamond Crown has always had a big place in our hearts…we’ve always had an affinity for the Newman brands. We love the legacy they bring to the cigar industry. Who they are, what they do, and how they give back is a fit for us. Our core beliefs about customer service and quality align well with what the Newmans are doing.”

The legacy of Diamond Crown, and what it stands for – history, quality, patience, and elegance – match the mission and efforts of Cigar Life in a way that made them a natural fit as a Diamond Crown Lounge.

What you can expect from Cigar Life 

Cigar Life holds their annual anniversary party every January (find more information about their January 18th party here). Be sure you also mark February 29th on your calendar for the grand opening of Cigar Life as a Diamond Crown Lounge. More details are coming, so do not forget to follow along on our social media!

 

Cigar Life

Address: 5724 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33813
Phone: (863) 603-8495

Website: https://cigarlifellc.com/

Hours:
M – Th: 11 am – 9 pm
F – S: 10 am – 10pm
SUN: 12 pm – 6pm

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

What I Learned from Owning a Cigar Shop

What I Learned from Owning a Cigar Shop

J.C. Newman’s 109-year-old El Reloj cigar factory in Tampa Florida is the last-operating cigar factory in what was once known as the Cigar City.  In El Reloj, we roll premium cigars both by entirely hand and by antique, hand-operated cigar machines.

Company founder Julius Caeser Newman purchased our hand-operated cigar machines in the 1930s.  They were built by AMF, the same company that builds bowling ball return machines, and each has approximately 10,000 parts.  Since AMF stopped making these antique machines many decades ago, our team of mechanics carefully restores and maintain them, including fabricating custom replacement parts when needed.

Our antique cigar machines do not make small cigarettes or cigarillos. There is no button to press that will churn out cigars in an automated way.  Unlike modern, fully automated, high-speed machines that can produce millions of cigarettes or little cigars per hour, our antique cigar machines are operated by a highly trained cigar roller. 

The skilled roller uses her hands to individually lay each wrapper leaf for every cigar that she rolls.  She also uses foot pedals, much like those seen on vintage sewing machines, to control the antique machine.  At most, our cigar rollers can roll 15 cigars per minute using our antique, hand-operated cigar machines. 

The cigars we roll using our hand-operated cigar machines are works of art.  We use high quality, premium cigar tobaccos from all over the world on these special cigars.  We sell them in bundles instead of fancy boxes in order to keep them affordable.  You may be familiar with some of the cigars we roll here. Mexican Segundos, Trader Jack’s, Tampa Trolleys, and even the cigar Stanford Newman named himself, Factory Throwouts to name a few.

We are proud of all the cigars we roll in our El Reloj factory. We employ more than 100 incredible, including cigar blenders, rollers, and packagers.  Our antique, hand-operated cigar machines are an important part of America’s premium cigar tradition, we are able to keep tha tradition alive in Cigar City.  Pick up a Tampa-made cigar today and don’t forget to tag us on social media with the hashtag #jcnewman when you smoke it!

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

Investing in the Future

Investing in the Future

As the oldest, family-owned premium cigar maker in America, J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has 124 years and four generations of history. Although my great-grandfather’s legacy and the lessons we have learned along the way are an important part of our company’s culture, J.C. Newman is anything but stuck in the past.

In preparation for our 125th anniversary next year, my father, uncle, and I are making a series of strategic investments in our family business. Some of these changes are operational while others are more cosmetic. However, all of these are investments in our long-term future. Our one goal as a company is to continue our family’s four-generation tradition of handcrafting premium cigars for another four generations and 100 years. 

New Shipping Department

This summer we converted an old cigar box factory adjacent to El Reloj into a new, 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art shipping warehouse for Arturo Fuente and J.C. Newman cigars and accessories.  This modern facility is three times the size of our old ship-ping department.  It has significantly increased our shipping capacity and will allow us to provide faster order processing and delivery to our authorized retailers throughout the United States.

 

 

Expanded Capacity at J.C. Newman PENSA

The most important ingredient of any great cigar is high quality, aged tobacco.  There is simply no short cut to the years that it takes to properly ferment and age premium cigar tobacco.  As our sales of Brick House, Perla del Mar, Quorum, and our other brands continue to increase, we have run out of space to store and age our tobacco at our J.C. Newman PENSA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.  Therefore, this month we are opening, a new, two-story tobacco warehouse adjacent to our factory so that we can increase our long-term tobacco inventory and ensure consistent blends for decades to come.

Restoring El Reloj

Our iconic El Reloj cigar factory in Tampa, Florida has been our home since my great-grandfather bought this historic building in 1954.  As a 109-year-old factory, however, El Reloj has been showing its age. This year we are investing in restoring El Reloj so that it can proudly continue Ybor City’s cigar legacy for another century. Among other things, we are replacing decades-old electrical systems and original plumbing.  We are reinforcing structural supports and repairing damaged floors.  We are updating our offices and restrooms throughout the factory and are rebuilding our terrazzo entrance steps. While all this work is taking place in El Reloj, we are still rolling 60,000 cigars per day and are shipping thousands of packages to customers around the country each week.

 

Creating the American Cigar Destination

When we rededicate El Reloj and reopen it to the public in early 2020, we will unveil what will become a premier destination for cigar tourists in the United States.  Our factory will be open to the public for tours.  We will have three floors of exhibits and event spaces, including a new, cigar museum with a theater showing historic cigar films.  We will have a new factory store showcasing cigars from Ybor City.  We will open a new handmade cigar factory on our third floor where we will roll The American and other cigars by hand.  We will have a rolling school where we will teach visitors how to roll cigars and will offer classes on cigar blending and tasting.  Just as wineries, distilleries, and breweries attract large crowds, we expect to welcome a thousand visitors per week to El Reloj next year. We hope that you will visit us!

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

J.C. Newman’s New Cigars: The Yagua and The American

J.C. Newman’s New Cigars: The Yagua and The American

J.C. Newman New Releases and the Company Legacy

Cigars produced by J.C. Newman, carry a legacy of dedication to quality, and history. Through two world wars, a great depression, and the cigar boom, many of our cigars have stood the test of time. As we approach our 125th company anniversary, we reflect on the cigars we’ve produced that have made an impact on the industry, all while looking ahead to what we can contribute to the future.

Innovation is key to growth but taking a moment to look into the past has allowed us to make decisions about the future. Two of the newest cigar additions to our catalog, the Yagua and The American, are taking us back to the roots of cigar making, while forging forward into the ever-changing palates of the cigar smoker.

Yagua from PENSA: The Imperfect Nicaraguan Cigar

This cigar will be far from the blemish free cigars that the industry has come to know and love. This cigar is birthed from a romantic story, told to Drew Newman by the J.C. Newman PENSA factory manager, Lazaro Lopez.

Lazaro recounted tales of his grandfather, working out in the remote tobacco fields of Cuba, far from the cigar factories in the cities. After harvesting the tobacco and allowing it to ferment, Lazaro’s grandfather would roll up a few cigars by hand to smoke for himself. Without any of the modern factory tools, Lazaro’s grandfather had to be resourceful. He took a few fronds from the Yagua tree – a royal palm that is native to Cuba – and tied them around a bundle of his hand rolled cigars to help give them a firm shape. While the unique binding technique worked, because the cigars were pressed together while still wet, they took the form of the other cigars they were tied to, resulting in cigars that were anything but round. Some cigars had five sides, others were more triangular, but none were the same.

Inspired by Lazaro’s childhood memory, we challenged our factory to make a cigar using the same process. The tobaccos were hand selected and fermented to mimic the boldness of his Grandfather’s freshly picked tobacco and the cigars are rolled wet, ensuring each cigar is uniquely shaped.  Named Yagua, after the palm leaves which bound the cigars, this new concept is sure to appeal to the seasoned cigar lover looking for something unconventional in the modern humidor.

The American: Back to Tampa Cigar Factory Roots

By now you’ve probably heard of our project, The American. After much anticipation, this cigar has recently shipped to select retailers nation-wide.

The brand was initially created by E. Regensburg and Sons – which originally owned the El Reloj factory J.C. Newman currently operates in Tampa, Florida. Though, at that time, the cigar was not 100% American made like today’s version, the original label has been enhanced, and elevated, while keeping the original symbolism in a nod to the history of the cigar.

The entire American production is only rolled by two hand-rollers here in Tampa, making the cigar very limited. When the factory re-opens in 2020 for our 125th company anniversary, we will have a significant portion of the 3rd floor dedicated to the tradition of hand-rolling cigars. With room for 14 rollers, and even a lector, El Reloj will look and feel like taking a step back in time; back to the early 1900’s of cigar making in Tampa. At that time more cigars will be rolled, and you will even be able to purchase limited edition cigars right here at the factory.

The Future of Cigars is Now

We’re so looking forward to sharing these cigars, and our factory with you next year, and for many years to come. Mark your calendars for the factory opening in Spring of 2020, and don’t forget to look at your local retailer for the Yagua, and The American, available soon!

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.

Tinder Box Rapid City Diamond Crown Lounge

Tinder Box Rapid City Diamond Crown Lounge

On September 6 of 2019, Tinder Box Rapid City opens their Havana Room as a designated Diamond Crown Lounge! There’s so much you won’t want to miss!

Cigar Deals and Special Appearances

From 6 pm – 9 pm on September 6, the Tinder Box Rapid City Diamond Crown Lounge will host their grand opening party featuring a ton of great deals. Those who purchase any single cigar in the Diamond Crown Royal Family (Diamond Crown, MAXIMUS, Julius Caeser or Black Diamond) received a free Diamond Crown Julius Caeser 1895 perfecto cigar. This 1895 perfecto vitola is only available to distinguished Diamond Crown lounges.

Those who purchase any box in the Royal Family will receive a free, limited edition, Diamond Crown Royal sampler and will be entered for a chance to win a Diamond Crown Alexander 160 Count Humidor.

And if the cigars weren’t enough, 3rd Generation Owner and President Eric Newman will be on premises, to meet, greet, answer questions and tell some stories about the J.C. Newman family legacy and the story of the Diamond Crown cigar.

Tinder Box Rapid City will have this event catered, and at 9 pm, the weekly live music will commence to roll patrons into the rest of the evening. No tickets are required for this event.

 

 

Tinder Box Rapid City: More than Just a Cigar Shop

Tinder Box has been a staple in the cigar smoking community of Rapid City for quite some time, but a few brand new additions will delight cigar smokers, old and new. Their new, expanded humidor is large enough to carry the most prestigious brands. Their private meeting space is perfect for small gatherings, parties, or meetings.

Tinder Box Rapid City Diamond Crown Lounge offers a wide bar selection to pair with your favorite smoke, as well as light fare, and cigar lockers. The live music from 9 pm – 11 pm every Friday and Saturday brings people in, while in-season, the outdoor patio allows patrons to enjoy the summer weather. The newly appointed decor sets the perfect mood for sharing a cigar with friends, or unwinding after a long day. 

The Diamond Crown Lounge Designation

 

Tinder Box Rapid City has a reputation that proceeds itself. As a staple of the cigar industry, we are honored to partner with them as they open their Havana Room as a Diamond Crown Lounge,

Diamond Crown lounges are places where cigar aficionados can meet up and enjoy an unparalleled selection of fine and exclusive premium cigars. This is a lounge you’ll want to visit time and time again for Diamond Crown events or to relax with other cigar lovers.

 

Frisker the Bar Dog

 

 

Tinder Box Rapid City
Address: 518 7th St. Rapid City, SD 57701
Phone: (605) 341-8466

Website: https://rapidcitytinderbox.com/

Hours:
M – T: 12 pm – 10 pm
F – S: 12 pm – 11pm
SUN: 12 pm – 6pm

Tinder Box Rapid City Entrance

Underground 420 Private Event Space

Havana Room Private Event Space

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to roll cigars as usual in Tampa, Florida and in Esteli, Nicaragua, but we will evaluate our operations as the situation develops.