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.

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!

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.

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.