J.C. Newman Cigar Company is, famously, the last operating cigar factory in what was once known as Cigar City. The factory, built in 1910, was inhabited by the Newmans in the 1950’s and with the Newmans, came the cigar-rolling machines used in their Cleveland, Ohio factory.
These machines, however, are not making small cigarettes or cigarillos. There is no button to press that will churn out our cigars in an automated way. Instead, highly skilled workers operate these machines, to create a variety of American-made cigars. How these machines work, and what we make with them, is 100% vintage.
From Cleveland to Cigar City: 1930’s Machines
The cigar rolling machines that we have in our factory are the same machines that Julius Caeser Newman used in his Cleveland, Ohio factory. They came with the Newmans to Tampa, Florida when the Newman family moved in 1954. These machines built by AMF – the same company that builds bowling ball return machines – are no longer manufactured. Because of that, we have a team of mechanics that build new parts when and if the machines need them. We also have several machines that are out of commission that we’ve kept and recycled; their parts are now used to keep the others operational.
Our machines, however, are not what you might picture. Machine-rolled cigars carry an ugly connotation, but unlike companies that utilize new technology to create millions of tobacco products a day, our machines require a human touch. The operator uses foot pedals, much like those seen on vintage sewing machines, to set the pace of the cigar rolling. The machines roll less than 16 cigars per minute and would not be operational without an individual controlling and running them. On average, we’re making appx. 60,000 cigars daily in our Ybor City cigar factory; far less than those of big tobacco companies.
Machine (Assisted) Bundle Cigars
Although the cigars are not 100% hand-rolled, they are still incredible products. The short-filler tobacco comes to us from Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic, and J.C. Newman PENSA in Estelí, Nicaragua. The wrapper tobacco comes in from all over the world. Every element of the cigar is quality in nature, but is either leftover from premium cigars, or was turned down by tobacco inspectors that noticed slight blemishes on the leaves. These leaves are sold at a lower rate in our favor! The blemishes may take away from the appearance, but never the flavor.
The cigars we roll in our cigar factory are bundle cigars; they are sold in bunches rather than our premium handmade cigars that are sold individually, or by the box. You may be familiar with some of the cigars we roll here. Mexican Segundos, Trader Jacks, Tampa Trolleys, and even the cigar Stanford Newman named himself, Factory Throwouts to name a few.
We’re proud of all the cigars we roll in our El Reloj factory. We employ over 100 incredible cigar blenders, rollers, and packagers. Because of these machines, we are able to keep the traditions of cigars 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 to leave us feedback!