Wednesday, January 29, 2014

History Series: Padron Cigars
When you hear the name Padron, it congers up thoughts of great memories; sitting around with the guys at the local smoke shop swapping stories and smoking one of the many cigars that Padron has to offer. While the Padron we know today has only been around since the mid 1960's, their story starts much earlier.

Demaso Padrón, Jose Orlando Padrón's grandfather, immigrated to Cuba in the mid 1800's from Spain. As a young boy, Demaso worked in the tobacco fields to make a living. The wages were quite minimal with the elder Padron only earning pennies a day for his back-breaking work. It's here that the Padron Cigar story really begins. Demaso Padron began to grow his knowledge of tobacco. He also managed to save every penny he earned, outside of what he needed for food and clothing. Eventually, the Padron family purchased their very first tobacco farm from their meager savings, in the Pinar del Río region of Cuba, Las Obas. As their farm began to produce high quality tobacco, the market demand grew, and they bought several more farms in the surrounding areas. One particular farm was in an area called, Piloto. It's from this farm that Jose took his company name from: Piloto Cigars.

As the Padron factories and farms grew, so did the family. Jose Orlando Padrón was born in 1926 in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba. As a boy, Jose began to learn all the various aspects of tobacco farming. As he grew, so did his knowledge, and eventually Jose was running the family farms and factories. Then one fateful day in 1961, Jose and his family found their farms taken over and nationalized by Fidel Castro. Jose fled Cuba and headed for Spain. From Spain, Jose made his move and headed for the U.S, where he ended up in Miami.

Once in Miami, Jose took a job working for the government helping Cuban refugees. For this he was paid $60 a month. Shortly after, a friend of Jose's gave him a hammer and he began to work as a carpenter. After months of work, Jose was able to save $600, which was just enough to launch his cigar business. Jose hired a torcedor, who rolled cigars for Jose in the traditional Cuban style. With this one employee, Jose was able to make two hundred cigars per day and began to supply the locals with premium hand-rolled cigars.

Eventually, Jose became friends with a business man who had a factory and farm in Nicaragua. He asked Jose to come to Nicaragua to inspect his tobacco for quality. Soon after, Jose traveled to Nicaragua and he was so impressed with their tobacco that he started to exclusively use it in his cigars. However, due to the inability of the farm being able to supply him with the amounts of tobacco he needed, Jose decided to move his operation to Estli, Nicaragua in 1970.

The late 60's and 70's were a turbulent time in Nicaragua. Political unrest was rampant and riots and violence was the norm. The Padron factory became a casualty of the unrest and was burnt to the ground. Determined, Jose found a new location and rebuilt his factory in Nicaragua, and built a second one in Honduras. With this accomplished, Jose thought his troubles were behind him. Although, the 1980's U.S embargo on Nicaragua brought new troubles for Jose. He found himself scrambling to export all his warehoused product to Tampa, before the embargo took place. While the embargo was in place, Jose sold cigars from his stockpile and then returned to Nicaragua and resumed operations, after the embargo was lifted.

Today, the brand Padron Cigars is recognized as one of the premier names in cigars. Jose Orlando Padrón and his son, Jorge Padrón, run the Padron cigar business. Jorge currently serves as the company’s president and is taking the steps to move in as the Director of the Padron family business. Their farms in Nicaragua continue to grow and produce some of the finest tobacco available. Their rolling and storage facilities cover more than 75,000 square feet of space, and they store enough tobacco to make 25 million cigars. They export more than four million cigars per year, and truly are recognized as the standard in the premium cigar world.