Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

New Faces For Our New Face

As we gear up to open up El Reloj to the public, we needed to bring on some new employees. At J.C. Newman Cigar Co., our employee is our family, and so we approached these new hires with real purpose. Nikolaos H Psilopoulos and Holden Campbell Rasmussen each bring strengths to our company, and we could not be more excited to have them join.

Nikolaos, or ‘Nik’ brings with him an extensive knowledge of tobacco. As a certified tobacconist Nik will be running the entire retail portion of our new museum and factory experience. If you’re looking for a cigar recommendation, or a keepsake, Nik is your guy. Nik will also be instrumental in the tobacco experiences in the factory, leading tours and classes when you book them in advance.

Holden will be helpful not only in our retail space, but also in the continuation of our museum curation. History is always in the past, and as soon as our museum opens, much of the information will be dated. Holden will assist us in keeping the information up to-date, as well as archiving pieces of history we simply could not fit into the museum. With a plethora of cigar boxes, newspaper articles, and cigar labels and bands from the last 125 years, we’ll look to Holden to continue to chronicle our family history.

Learn more about Nik and Holden below!

 

Nik Psilopoulos

IG: @localareanetwork813

When Nik isn’t smoking a Julius Caeser Corona or  Don Carlos #4, he’s herding sheep with his Australian Shepherds.

If you visit him at the J.C Newman Cigar Company factory store and decide to smoke a cigar, he may even show you his coolest trick: perfectly cutting a cigar with his eyes closed.

A few other fun facts about Nik:

Favorite Place to Travel: Blue Ridge Mountains.

Favorite Thing About Cigar History: The ecology behind growing tobacco.

5 Things You’d Take on a Deserted Island: Cigars, dogs, truck, fruit, and probably books because the batteries don’t die.

Only dead fish swim with the stream.” – Malcolm Muggeridge

Holden Rasmussen

Holden is a true cigar enthusiast. His favorite thing about cigar history is how it has made Tampa, Florida the city it is today.

Holden listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers while smoking an Alcazar No. 4. Something that may delight all American’s about Holden is that he’s related to our first President George Washington.

Here are some other fun facts about Holden:

Favorite Place to Travel: Norway

5 Things He’d Take on a Deserted Island: A rooster, a hen, a bible, a ladder, and a rubber duck.

Most Interesting Moment: Shaking hands with the ambassador from Mongolia at a dinner party

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” – Winston Churchill

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

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.

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

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.
Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

J.C. Newman 125th Anniversary

J.C. Newman 125th Anniversary

In 1895, our grandfather/great-grandfather Julius C. (J.C.) Newman founded our family cigar business. Four generations later, J.C. Newman Cigar Co. is America’s oldest family-owned premium cigar maker.  We proudly hand roll premium cigars today the same way that J.C. Newman did a century ago.

Today marks not only the start of the New Year but also our company’s 125th anniversary year.  We look forward to celebrating the major milestone throughout 2020. We invite you to join us at special events around the country, visiting our restored El Reloj cigar factory in Tampa when it reopens this spring, and by lighting up your favorite J.C. Newman cigar.  

A key to our company’s longevity has been an unwavering commitment to quality craftsmanship and customer service. As a family-owned company, we personally stand behind all of our products and strive to ensure that each is perfect. Our family’s sole goal is to continue J.C. Newman’s legacy and our family tradition and keep rolling hand crafted premium cigars for another 125 years. 

We are very grateful for your support of J.C. Newman and wish you and your family a very healthy, happy, and successful New Year!

 

Sincerely,

 

Eric Newman
Third Generation

 

Bobby Newman
Third Generation

 

Drew Newman
Fourth Generation

 

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

J.C. Newman and Arturo Fuente – The Beginning

J.C. Newman and Arturo Fuente – The Beginning

The Fuente cigar factory in the Dominican Republic is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people discuss the J.C. Newman and Arturo Fuente partnership, but fate brought these two companies together in 1986 in the Cigar City, Tampa, Florida.

 

An Opportunity

Mere weeks after Stanford, Eric and Bobby Newman completed the leveraged buy-out of 13 other family members in order to consolidate leadership, Stanford received a call from fellow Tampa cigarmaker, Carlos Fuente, Sr. Fuente wanting to focus all of his efforts on his growing Dominican Republic operations but didn’t want to abandon his Tampa-made brand, Moya. Associates through Tampa’s local cigar association, Carlos asked Stanford if he would be willing to make Moya in his historic El Reloj factory.

Stanford, aware of the booming imported handmade market, agreed to make Fuente’s Tampa cigar if Carlos would create a hand rolled Dominican cigar for J.C. Newman.

 

J.C. Newman’s Dominican Cigar Brands

 

 

In 1986, Tabacalera A. Fuente rolled its first brand for J.C. Newman, La Unica. Within six months, La Unica became the #1 selling premium bundle cigar in America. Since then, the Newman and Fuente families have collaborated on some of the top Dominican cigars including, Cuesta-Rey, Diamond Crown, MAXIMUS, Julius Caeser and Black Diamond.

Committed to Success

The J.C. Newman and Arturo Fuente Cigar Company partnership is the most successful premium cigar manufacturing and distribution combination in the world. The partnership has stood the test of time because the families share values of quality, integrity, loyalty and philanthropy.

It has been more than 30 years since Carlos Fuente, Sr. called Stanford Newman with a simple request and has since blossomed into an unrivaled alliance.

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

Our ‘Machine-Made’ Cigars Aren’t What They Appear To Be

Our ‘Machine-Made’ Cigars Aren’t What They Appear To Be

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!

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

What is J.C. Newman PENSA and What Do We Make There?

What is J.C. Newman PENSA and What Do We Make There?

You may have heard the term J.C. Newman PENSA when researching our company, especially in the last few weeks. The name is actually an acronym, the letters of which stand for, ‘Puros de Estelí, Nicaragua Sociedad Anonima.’

This factory, located in the rapidly growing city of Estelí, Nicaragua, is the origin of many of our highly-acclaimed cigars; most notably Brick House, Quorum, and Perla del Mar.

The number of cigars imported from Nicaragua continues to grow year over year and Estelí is the epicenter for the industry. Why is Estelí such a hot spot for Nicaraguan cigars? The soil, the culture, and the people.

Nicaraguan Soil and Growing Region

 

 Estelí, Nicaragua is a major region for tobacco growing and rolling. More than 15 cigar manufacturers have their Nicaraguan operations in Estelí, and that doesn’t even include the tobacco farms.

With its rich, volcanic, fertile soil, tobacco seeds easily take root in the valleys of Estelí. The black soil produces thick leaves that are full of flavor and a unique spice; our Brick House wrapper leaves are grown on farms that are mere miles away from our J.C. Newman PENSA factory.

The growing season falls between September and May. The rainy season occupying most of the summer, reinvigorating the soil for strong, aromatic leaves.

The Factory and J.C. Newman PENSA Employees

 

 

 J.C. Newman PENSA and the over 800 employees there are one giant machine, working in a perfect circuit to bring your favorite cigars to local retailers.

Tobacco comes in from all over Nicaragua (and all over the world) and is fermented, sorted, and stripped at PENSA, giving J.C. Newman full control of the cigar creation process.

Hundreds of skilled rollers make between 400 and 600 cigars daily with such precision and delicacy, it can only be described as an art form.

Future for J.C. Newman in Nicaragua

 

As our cigars continue to grow in popularity, J.C. Newman PENSA continues to expand. Brick House, Quorum and Perla del Mar cigars require more rollers, more quality assurance, and more tobacco that needs to be cured and sorted, every year.

J.C. Newman PENSA is currently the second largest cigar factory in Nicaragua and shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. With a team of master blenders and seasoned cigar makers, J.C. Newman will continue to create new blends and brands showcasing the unique flavor of Nicaragua. The recent addition of the TAA exclusive ‘Ciento por Ciento’ is one such blend example. Keep your eyes on us as we continue to create beautiful Nicaraguan cigars for you to enjoy.

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.

Drew Newman and Early Trips to the Dominican Republic

Drew Newman and Early Trips to the Dominican Republic

My family’s partnership with the Fuentes began in 1986 with the launch of La Unica, our first cigar handmade at Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic. This was followed by the introduction of Cuesta-Rey and our Diamond Crown cigar brands. In 1990, our partnership deepened with the formation of the joint company now known as Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, which distributes Arturo Fuente cigars in the United States.

Because of our close relationship with the Fuentes, my father, Eric Newman, and grandfather, Stanford Newman, would frequently fly down to the Dominican Republic. They went there to meet with Carlos Fuente, Sr., and his son Carlito and to blend and develop new cigars together.

When I was nine years old, I convinced my father and grandfather to take me along with them on to see the Fuentes. I still do not know why they agreed to let a nine-year-old tag along, but I absolutely loved the trip and the experience of traveling with my father and grandfather.

This first trip was the start of an annual pilgrimage for three generations of Newmans. Over the next decade, my father and grandfather planned their March trip to the Dominican Republic around my school’s spring break schedule so that I could travel with them each year.

On the flights from Miami to the Dominican Republic, I remember looking out the window and being amazed at how the color of the water changed from dark blue of the Atlantic Ocean to the beautiful turquoise of the Caribbean. Because the Santiago airport had not yet been built, we flew into the resort town of Puerto Plata. While everyone else on the plane was dressed as if they were destined for the beach, my father and grandfather wore coats and ties. At the airport, we were greeted by Carlito who picked us up in his car and drove us across the mountains to Santiago.

As a young kid, I remember the Dominican Republic as a lush, tropical oasis where everything felt foreign. Not only did everyone speak a different language, but the food, music, and even the driving habits were nothing like home.

On my first trip, I remember walking into Tabacalera A. Fuente and being surprised at how different the Fuente cigar factory felt from “El Reloj,” my family’s historic cigar factory in Tampa. It was large and bustling and, to a small child, the Fuente factory felt like a maze full of adventure.

The bouquet of aromas of the Fuente factory left a strong impression on me. I remember being surprised at how the factory did not have a single smell, but rather different aromas in different rooms due to the various tobaccos being used. More than once, the smell of fermenting tobacco was so overpowering, that I had to run outside to find fresh air.

The days were very long on these trips. Carlito would pick us up from the hotel after an early breakfast and we would not return until after a late dinner at night. The hardest part of these trips for me was that Carlos, Carlito, Stanford, and Eric would frequently work through lunch – frequently forgetting to feed me, too.

During the day, when the grownups were reviewing spreadsheets that I did not understand, I would often sneak away and wander through the factory on my own. I remember being mesmerized at how the cigar rollers would swiftly roll each cigar, one by one, to the beat of the Dominican merengue playing from the speakers. At least once per trip, I would get lost in the Fuente factory and someone would have to help me find my way to the front office.

On my third trip when I was 11 years old, we visited the tobacco farm that would later become known as Chateau de la Fuente. At that point, there was nothing there other than tobacco and barns. This was long before the gazebos, Hemingway House, and other facilities were built. The farm was pretty rugged. At the end of the day, I remember the adults lighting up a prototype cigar made from special tobacco from the farm. Unfortunately for me, the only refreshments that the adults brought with them were ice-cold Presidente beer and Brugal rum. No one had thought to bring water or something else for me so I had to just sit there until they finished their prototype cigars.

One of the things that sets the Fuente and Newman families apart from other cigar companies is that we are two, four-generation family businesses.  Both of our families have been passing the family tradition of handcrafting premium cigars from generation to generation for more than 100 years. 

When my grandfather passed away in 2006, our three-generation trips to visit the Fuentes in the Dominican Republic ended.  Today, however, I am fortunate to be able to continue traveling with my father, Eric, and my uncle, Bobby, to see the Fuentes in the Dominican Republic and our factory in Nicaragua, and to help promote and sell our family’s cigars around the world. 

“It is very special working in a family business. One my proudest moments in our company was at the RTDA (now IPCPR) trade show in 2005. One afternoon, my father, Stanford, and son, Drew, and I decided to walk around the show. As we passed one booth, I overheard another exhibitor say to someone else, “Wow – there goes three generations!” Hearing this filled me with pride and made me feel very grateful to be able to share our family tradition with my father and my son.” – Eric Newman.

 

Nik and Holden

Nik and Holden

Women have been the backbone of J.C.Newman Cigar Company since the beginning, from J.C.’s mother, to his office manage, to his wife.