Box Press Podcast

Want a Cigar that Won’t Give You Ashtray Mouth? | HVC Cigars | Ep. 63

In this edition of Box Press…

How do you judge a cigar? HVC Cigars founder, Reinier Lorenzo, suggests focusing on a cigar’s flavor, balance, construction and clean finish. A cigar with a clean finish won’t leave you with a weird taste in your mouth—what smokers call “ashtray mouth”. 

“The most important thing in a cigar to me is flavor. Just bring me something with flavor. Flavor over strength.”

As a native Cuban, Reinier founded the small-batch cigar house HVC in 2011, as a homage to hand-rolled cigars in Havana. “To me, Cubans, when they are right, when you have a really good Cuban cigar, there’s nothing that you can compare with. So now in Nicaragua, we at HVC, we want to replicate that.” 

Filmed on location at HVC headquarters in Doral, Florida, with Box Press host Rob Gagner. 

Box Press is a Boveda production: As the global leader in 2-way humidity control, Boveda is proud to offer 2-way humidity control packs for fine cigars that are safe, effective, and reliable.

Watch the full episode with the founder of HVC Cigars:


– [Rob] There’s a story inside every smoke shop. With every cigar and with every person. Come be a part of the cigar lifestyle of Boveda. This is Box Press. Welcome to another episode of Box Press. I’m your host, Rob Gagner. I am sitting across from Reinier Lorenzo of HVC Cigars. I’ve landed in Miami, and he has graciously hosted me today. Reinier, thank you so much for joining me, and hosting me and taking me out and seeing Little Havana, taking me to El Titan de Bronze, a great Cuban lunch. We smoked cigars during lunch. It was absolutely phenomenal.

– [Reinier] Thank you, Rob. Thank you for having me on your show, and you are welcome. Welcome to Miami. Welcome to HVC headquarters here in Doral.

– [Rob] We dodged an accident that happened right in front of us.

– [Reinier] That was like… whoa!

– [Rob] We learned how to honk the horn and get traffic moving. And we learned how to avoid cars that were blocking the road.

– [Reinier] That was actually, that was the perfect scene after lunch, just in front of us. Like, boom!

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] This is Miami, okay.

– [Rob] Yeah, yeah. Welcome to Miami.

– [Reinier] Slow down, please.

– [Rob] It’s definitely a different way of driving down here. Definitely different.

– [Reinier] Yeah I mean like, I think it’s because the community, right? You see a lot people like, we were talking before in the car, cannot stop. Boom, boom. Go, go, go, go, go, go.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] When I’m traveling other states, it’s more like calm. People respect more the signs. People don’t like really like, “Beep beep beep beep.” You know? Like..

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Maybe you just… wait a minute.

– [Rob] Right. Right, right, right. “Give a minute. Give me a minute.” Ah, I love it. When I used to live in Fargo, or Moorhead/Fargo…

– [Reinier] Where in Fargo are you talking about?

– [Rob] Fargo, North Dakota. I went to school up there.

– [Reinier] Wow.

– [Rob] And they drive slow

– [Reinier] I’ve been there.

– [Rob] Like really slow.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] And I went to school there for four years. So when I would come back to the cities, my mom would be like, “You drive too slow. Let me drive.” And I’m like, that’s bad. When your own mother is like telling you, “You drive too slow.” But, yeah.

– [Reinier] Before the pandemic, it was crazy, the traffic. Right now, like you see more people working more from home, it’s more relaxing driving now here.

Blending Cigar Tobacco is Like Creating a Recipe

– [Rob] Absolutely. Speaking of relaxing, smoking the cigar- actually, I was smoking the Cerro during lunch. There’s nothing better than sitting back, smoking, eating. And you’re kind of a food guy. You like to pair food with drinks, obviously with cigars. Is there like a specific pairing that you’re going for sometimes when you’re…

– [Reinier] I mean always we mean like, think about this. Like, when I’m blending a cigar, it’s like, to me, like always- I like to cook.

– [Rob] Yeah.

Look for Flavor Over Strength When Choosing a cigar

– [Reinier] Right? Like, it’s, when you blending, it’s like, I’m doing a recipe. Let me see what will come out here. Because remember the most important thing in a cigar to me is flavor. Just bring me something with flavor.

– [Rob] Yeah, you’ve said you like flavor over strength.

– [Reinier] Completely. Yeah. A hundred percent.

– [Rob] You favor the flavor more than anything else.

– [Reinier] That’s probably, if you asked me right now, “Why are you really about cigars? Like what really…”

– [Rob] Yeah. What’s your staple?

What Cigars Does HVC Make?

– [Reinier] It’s flavor. It’s flavor in the cigars. Like if you see my portfolio, I don’t have anything really mild, mild. At the same time, I don’t have anything really full, full body. I think my palate’s built in medium, medium full body.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] So when you see HVC portfolio, right now we have 10 regular lines with different wrappers. Each one have a distinct flavor as a cigar themselves. But when you see the whole portfolio, it’s a HVC. You need sweetness, they’re always looking for that. And before you say, “Hey, let’s smoke a cigar.” I say, well, you say, “Bring whatever you like.” And I say- right now we smoking the 500.

– [Rob] Right.

– The 52, the Tesoro. After a great lunch, this is a cigar to me that I can smoke any time of the day.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] Why? Because it’s not heavy. Nice, medium, creamy. It’s smooth. Well-balanced. Like you say, like in the beginning probably can be a little spicy on, and then it mellows down. You got molasses, you got sweetness. So that’s always, I compare like Cuban flavor cigars. Right?

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Like to me, Cubans, when they are right, when you have a really good Cuban cigar, there’s nothing that you compare with. So now in Nicaragua, we at HVC, we want to replicate that. We want to have that nice, that I can give a cigar to somebody, no matter whether it’s a cigar smoker or not, and be able to light it up and enjoy it.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] That’s that’s the point. Right? I want to give you something like, enjoy. I want to share with you this art.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] That we’re creating just to enjoy. That’s- to me, that’s it.

A Cuban Moves to Wisconsin

– [Rob] What’s so interesting though, is that you did not smoke cigars until your twenties.

– [Reinier] Yes.

– [Rob] You worked as, basically you were in medical school in Cuba.

– [Reinier] Correct.

– [Rob] You got outta Cuba. You went to Wisconsin to work in basically- would you call it genetics? For…

– [Reinier] Yes. Animals.

– [Rob] Basically animals.

– [Reinier] Yes.

– [Rob] And they were genetically mod- well, not modifying. They were genetically piecing together to make sure they get a female for cows to milk.

– [Reinier] Correct.

– [Rob] So you’re working in a lab?

– [Reinier] Correct.

– [Rob] Putting everything together.

– [Reinier] That’s quite weird. Every time I told people, “Yeah, I was living in Wisconsin.” They’re like, “What do you mean in Wisconsin?” Yeah. I was living there for seven years. Right after I left Cuba in 2008, I moved to Wisconsin and I was there from 2008 to 2015. So, yeah. I know Wisconsin quite well.

– [Rob] Yeah.

From Wisconsin to Nicaragua and AGANORSA

– [Reinier] And now people say, “Cigars, what are you doing?” Cigars. Medical school. Genetics. Yeah. That, that work. I mean, I like really went with cigars when I left Cuba, my family was working for AGANORSA Leaf for almost 20 years.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] So in 2009, the owner of AGANORSA invited me to go to Nicaragua and show me everything they have down there. And that’s really when I fell in love with the process.

– [Rob] What was your home life like in Cuba though? Did you grow up on a farm? Did you grow up in a city? Did you….

– [Reinier] Actually I was born in Camagüey. Camagüey is a state, like here, you compare to Texas.

– [Rob] Yep.

– [Reinier] So it’s a cattle state.

– [Rob] Cattle state.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Cattle state. It’s called Camagüey it’s more to the east, right.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] So I grew up in Havana, so all my vacation always… So my family from my dad’s side, they are farmers.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] So all my vacation, always, I want to go to the farm and I want to work on the farm. That was basically me growing up and my vacation time down there in Cuba.

– [Rob] So that’s kind of why you were drawn towards like the animal, medical side of it?

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Because you kind of already knew.

– [Reinier] Because before I went to medical school for one year in Havana, I did veterinarian first. Then veterinarian for four years before that. And then I switch to medical school.

– [Rob] Do they have cowboys in Cuba?

– [Reinier] Oh yeah.

– [Rob] Yeah?

– [Reinier] Big time.

– [Rob] You don’t look like a cowboy though…

– [Reinier] You know, the funny part is…

– [Rob] Those are interesting boots you got on there.

– [Reinier] Always people, like, I know quite a few about animals. And people, when you know, when I’m talking to people, they really know, they say, “Oh. What do you know?” Well… like, yeah, I grew up with that.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] I don’t look like..

– [Rob] No you don’t!

– [Reinier] But believe me, I grew up with that.

– [Rob] Do you have a big belt buckle and boots at home? Did you wear that in Wisconsin? Did you?

– [Reinier] No. Never.

– [Rob] No boots? Did you dress like this in Wisconsin?

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Yeah. You’re way outta your league, buddy. This guy belongs in a city.

– [Reinier] I always love big cities. Always loved big cities.

– [Rob] When you went to the farm in Cuba, did you feel like a city kid getting out the city and going to the farm?

– [Reinier] Actually, for me it was like, it was my best time ever, growing up there. I mean, I say my vacation time.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] That was really my time to really relax. And I love that. And I love that.

– [Rob] Did you help them, like with the cattle?

– [Reinier] Oh, I was really working there, like milking..

– [Rob] You were working?

– [Reinier] Like, milking the cows, getting the horses. I mean, you’re talking about quite a big farm, like.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] Almost 2,000 acres.

– [Rob] Wow. And you had to keep track of all the cattle.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Cattle, horses. Pigs. Yeah.

– [Rob] Feed ’em , water ’em .

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Ride out on horses.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Go…

– [Reinier] You’re talking about around 200 horses.

– [Rob] Wow.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Thousand cows.

– [Rob] So you’re a country boy?

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Kind of. Kind of.

– [Reinier] Kind of.

– [Rob] Don’t let the looks deceive you. He can get on a horse.

– [Reinier] That was great. And actually the funny part, my cousins and my uncles there, they were cigar smokers there.

– [Rob] They were?

– [Reinier] Yeah. They were cigar smokers. Like, but they, they buy these cheap bundles of cigars in Cuba. Back then for a dollar, they give you 20 or 25 cigars at the bodegas.

– [Rob] Sure.

– [Reinier] And I remember them like, they walking in the farm and having a cigar and smoked there. Yeah.

– [Rob] But it wasn’t like what we’re smoking right now? It’s just more like, “Hey, this is some tobacco that you can just enjoy while you’re working.”

– [Reinier] You can talk like, like you can say probably like that’s, for Cuba, like cheaper tobacco they roll just for the locals there.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] They call them a bodega, right? Like a little market.

– [Rob] Yep.

– [Reinier] They sell that. Maybe for a dollar, you get twenty cigars. Like…

– [Rob] That’s great.

– [Reinier] One pesos, Cuban pesos.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] You get a bundle cigar. Yeah.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] And life is crazy. I don’t know how it would be right now in the cigar business… Look how many years back now? Like.

– [Rob] You couldn’t foresee this coming?

– [Reinier] No.

– Not at all.

– [Rob] It just kind of happened.

– It just kind of happened. Yeah. Not at all.

– [Rob] So how, so the switch. Okay. You get to Wisconsin, you’re doing your thing. At what point, when you’re in Wisconsin, do you get introduced to, “Hey, maybe I should do my cigar thing?” Because you have a direct tie with AGANORSA.

– [Reinier] Correct.

– [Rob] And he invites you to Nicaragua to check out the cattle.

– [Reinier] Check out, see all the farms they have down there.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] One of the first things when I got there in 2009, we saw that. And then we went to see the tobacco fields.

– [Rob] Yep.

– [Reinier] And he showed me everything they have there in Estelí and Jalapa. And I was, yeah, I was 24 by then.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] And 26, that’s when I started the business. So then I start, like, and I never was really afraid to smoke. Every time here, even before I went to Nicaragua and AGANORSA, whenever they had passed me a cigar.

– [Rob] Yep.

– [Reinier] And I never was like, “No, no, I don’t want that.” Like…

– [Rob] You enjoyed it.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Like, let me try, let me see what it is about it. And everything started right there. In 2011, I say, “Well, this is what I want to do.” And it was little by little, little by little. Because usually all my first account, I was there to meet with. I was doing HVC in the beginning for me was a part-time job.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] I was still working in my full-time job. In my free time, I used to driving around Midwest trying to open accounts there. And then in 2015, I say- we were growing, growing. And I say, “You know what? This is what I want to do. I wanna move full time in the cigar business.” And we’re now doing it seven years so far.

– [Rob] That’s so cool.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] So cool. Never thought that you would do it. Did you think, like, right away when you were kind of making a few cigars, you thought, “Well, if this doesn’t pan out, no big deal”

– [Reinier] I mean, like, usually to be honest, I was never thinking about that.

– [Rob] What were you thinking about?

– All it was like, “Hey, this is what we wanna do.” And you gotta work hard, and you gotta get out there and learn. And it’s you know, I am a guy, like, always when I am in a cigar shop, and I mean, you can see how well, my Wisconsin English, it is…

– [Rob] Impeccable.

– [Reinier] Impeccable, right? Perfect.

– [Rob] Just like my Spanish.

– [Reinier] And people were like, “Oh, you’re Cuban.” “Oh, you work in the cigar business. Your family…” I say, no, that’s, that was not me. I was not really in cigar business back then.

– [Rob] No, but if you got cattle, I can help you out.

– [Reinier] I am the guy that, that was the opportunity to come and start learning about it. And hey, 10 years. And every time I go down there in Nicaragua, just learning and learning and learning.

How to Start Smoking Cigars

– [Rob] But that’s how all of us start probably smoking cigars. We learn. Like we pick up a cigar, we learn about it. Yeah, we like that. Great, move on. You know? And that’s probably where it ends for consumers. Right? You know, you like this, you like that, you might dabble with trying to roll your own, but you don’t have really good tobacco to roll your own that tastes great. But ultimately you kind of learn. But ultimately, you had this kind of inside track with AGANORSA. Family friends, your family worked for them, and they kind of took you and said, “Yeah, we can do something.”

– [Reinier] I mean, that was a.. when you see the whole picture, I was really lucky.

– [Rob] Were they looking to you to expand, to get more of their product out on the market? Or was it just kinda, organically happened? They really weren’t thinking about it.

– [Reinier] That’s probably, I think now that’s probably really organically. Like they always went with me like, “Hey, I give you a free light. You can do whatever you want here with the tobacco.” And it started like that. Because, and you see I was really lucky, because AGANORSA they are so big in the tobacco growing, like I have a lot of stuff to play with and learn from them.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] You’re talking about guys with really a lot of experience with tobacco, 50 years, 40 years.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Just in the tobacco business.

– [Rob] So when you go down there, are they helping like teach you the fundamentals?

Learning About Your Cigar Palate

– [Reinier] No, always me like was like learning from them. See them talking, how it is they do things. And I am the guy that really like, an entrepreneur in that. Like always, I want to like, always I wanna learn. Right? Always. I want to learn what’s next? What is not working? What is working? And I think it’s a gift because this is something that I think nobody can teach you about that, it’s your palate. Every person have a different palate in the world.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] And I think I am blessed to believe in my palate. And I think I have a really good palate when I pick my cigars. Because I’ve been in a lot of cigars shops and people say, “Hey, I really love what you do. I’m really loving what you’re putting out there.” And that’s something to me, that’s the lottery. That’s the job path for me. When I’m creating something, when I’m sharing something with people, that’s it.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] I did something. Because in that, I think I will be completely wrong if I’m making cigars for everybody out there. Right? I don’t blend for people.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] I blend for myself. So this is what I like. And this is what I’m going to share. To me it’s the same as a restaurant. This is my restaurant. This is what I create in here. This is my ingredients. This is how I put together. If you like it, you like it. If not, hey, you good, too. So.

– [Rob] But how intimidating is it? Especially like, if I put myself in your shoes, I get this opportunity to go learn. And I think what it takes is to ask that question, like, “Why?” You know, you’re probably asking those guys that have 40 years, like “Why this, why that?” And you’re starting to piece it together. So you’re getting the fundamentals, but there’s still this like intimidation factor of like, were you getting validated by them? Like, “Yeah, this is a good blend.” Because it would take that for me. Because I don’t, I mean, I don’t know if I have a good palate, so I kind of would get to the point where I’d be like, “Oh, I really like this.” But if they were like, “Nah, this is not good.” I’d be like, “I’m probably not the right guy to launch my own cigar brand.” So were you getting validation from them?

– [Reinier] I mean like always I was like, when I was creating something, I think you gotta believe in yourself.

– [Rob] Absolutely.

– [Reinier] You gotta believe in that a hundred percent, because when you start hearing from people, yeah. Maybe it’s not for him. Maybe not for him. But that worked for you. Right? So that’s the point there. I remember when I came out with HVC First Selection Broadleaf, I am the only one that’s making broadleaf with AGANORSA tobacco from their factory.

– [Rob] AGANORSA never wrapped cigars with broadleaf.

– [Reinier] Yes. Never.

– [Rob] You were the first.

– [Reinier] Yeah. And I have to borrow the broadleaf myself because they don’t grow broadleaf. They don’t have broadleaf.

– [Rob] Yeah. So you had to buy it from somebody else.

– [Reinier] Somebody else and put it together.

– [Rob] So how did that work with the people that you’re looking to to help you blend? And they’re like, “Well we’ve never blended with this before.”

– [Reinier] Yeah. But it’s like, you know the process, how to blend it. All you gotta do is put it together. Like put a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Maybe…

– [Rob] They know the fundamentals.

– [Reinier] Maybe this Viso’s not working. Maybe this Seco is not working with this blend right now. I don’t getting the flavor they’re looking for in this blend.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] You gotta try and try and try. And see what you come up with. And I remember Arsenio Ramos used to say, “When you have good ingredients, really good ingredients, and you’re making a tobacco, it has to come out good.”

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] With bad tobacco, hey- it’s difficult.

– [Rob] Yeah. A bad cigar’s a bad cigar.

– [Reinier] And the same with food. If you got shitty food, right, you would not feel good.

– [Rob] But I would still feel intimidated. So what, like along the journey, how did you get validation that you’re on the right path? You’re doing the right thing. You’re making a cigar that, yes, you’re blending for yourself. But you know other people are gonna gravitate to it? Or did the validation come from the consumers?

– [Reinier] I think at the end of the day, it’s about the consumer and people that tried HVC so far in the last 10 years. To me, like I say before to you that, to me, that’s the lottery winner. That’s the high jackpot ticket. Why? When they came to me in a shop, and they say, “I love what you’re doing out there. I love this blend. I love that blend.” That’s the best reward I can get.

– [Rob] Absolutely.

– [Reinier] That’s the best.

– [Rob] What about as far as like, typically I would latch onto like a mentor through this process. Like somebody that’s helping me, learning, you know, teaching me, I’m learning from them and getting their validation. Did you have that at AGANORSA? Did you have somebody?

– [Reinier] I always like, when you look at all the AGANORSA team have you’re talking about Arsenio Ramos, Jacinto, Eduardo Fernández has always been a great mentor. Not only in the tobacco side, in the business side, too.

– [Rob] Sure.

– [Reinier] So always you want to learn from that people.

– [Rob] They’re like the godfathers.

– [Reinier] Always, always like… Always I say, “You gotta listen in life.” If you want to learn, you gotta listen. Don’t think you… because I mean like, like I say, every time I go down there, I learn something new.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] And if you see me on Facebook or Instagram, when I go into, I am in the factory, I am in the fields. I am learning, every time I am learning, I am learning. Because you can never stop.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Right. You can never stop learning, because like at the end of the day it’s, I want to create- not perfect, because I think in life, nothing is perfect, but you want to be most close-

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] To something that you want to share, that people will love it. Right?

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] And a cigar is something like that, remember it’s completely made by hands.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] And it’s a lot of touching parts. Right?

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] That everybody had to be on the same page from the start, they start preparing the soil to the time we smoking right now.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Right. To get the ultimate flavor that we are looking for.

– Right.

– That’s also the part. When you’re thinking about premium cigars, like you see the whole process, you say, “Wow, what it takes to make…

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] “…Just one cigar.”

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] All the processes involved in that, right. It’s unbelievable. And the other part is the flavors. How you can combine different farmers, different type of seeds, different wrappers. Right? Because that’s the other really important part.

– [Rob] Yeah.

Is All the Tobacco in a Cigar Grown at One Tobacco Farm?

– [Reinier] Because it’s impossible really, to make a cigar from only one farm.

– [Rob] It’s really hard?

– [Reinier] Oh yeah. Super hard. To me, that probably would be like, really impossible to do that. I mean, you can do it.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] But to get a really good cigar out of just on one farm?

– [Rob] Hard.

– [Reinier] Yeah, because you get the same thing. Right?

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] You get the same leaf, you get the same seed. So how can you combine the flavor from all the type of seeds, all the leaf, right? It’s like, okay, you like garlic? Oh, all you eat is garlic. Right. All you are getting is garlic.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Or, you got a fish, and then you eat it. But yeah, just why maybe you put a little salt, maybe a little pepper, maybe some spices. And when you eat it, you say, “Wow, this is what I was looking for.” Right?

– [Rob] Okay. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense.

– [Reinier] And cigar is quite the same thing.

– [Rob] And I learned from John Oliva from Oliva Tobacco Company that the same seed planted in different areas, the soil affects the flavor that’s coming into that plant. So you have the same seed…

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Planted like 40 meters away, and it’s like totally different. It’s like peppery over here and sweet over here.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] I mean, it’s gonna have some similar characteristics, but.

– [Reinier] Always, I…

– [Rob] Total difference soil complex totally makes a difference.

– [Reinier] Probably like the most important thing is the soil. And let me explain why. The soil is the one that bring the flavor. When you ferment the tobacco, fermentation is just to burn. That’s another really important part in the process. But the flavor is already there.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] In the soil, in the plant.

– [Rob] And you’re just bringing it out of the tobacco?

– [Reinier] Exactly. You have just fermented the tobacco, right. Go through all the processes not rushing. And then to get all the sugars’ levels up. And that’s the flavor that you’re looking for. He’s right when he says that. You can have the same seed just right here, and the next farm you got, and when- it’s completely different.

– [Rob] Right.

– Because the soil from here to here is completely different. It’s unbelievable, right?

– [Rob] And that’s kind of like what you’re talking about with blending. It’s very hard to blend then from one farm because that’s only one type of soil that you’re working with. So really what you’re looking for is different types of soil, different types of effects, different types of minerals that are going into that plant to give it the characteristic that you want.

Look for Flavor, Balance, Construction and Clean Finish 

– [Reinier] I always say, like when I’m looking for a cigar, I’m looking for flavor, balance, construction, and clean finish. The clean finish, it’s a thing that really to me is really important. Why? Because when you puff in and you puff out, I don’t want to have, like, a bad taste in my mouth. You know what I mean? I want to have that refreshing, clean, nice cigar.

– [Rob] Now you say that, see, I’m really bad at that. Probably because I just… I like the flavor. I like the after flavor on my palate of tobacco and cigars. But there is a huge difference between the cigars that I’ve smoked today that are yours and possibly other cigars that I’ve smoked. Like, I’ve smoked a cigar before, and you know how we said we don’t like that cigarette tobacco smell and flavor? I’ve actually smelled that kind of like in my beard, it’s been on my palate and it totally ruins it for me. So for me, these cigars, they’re on my palate. But like you said, it’s very clean. It’s very like sweet or leathery or creamy or molasses, you say. That to me is a staple of a really good cigar, when I don’t have ashtray mouth.

No More Cigar Ashtray Mouth!

– [Reinier] Like it’s- exactly. Always when I’m blending, when I’m tasting leaf by leaf of tobacco, I really pay attention to that, the clean finish. That’s probably the best way I can describe it. That to me- when I smoke a cigar, I don’t have like, I mean, I don’t know if I have the right word to say, but I don’t want to have, I don’t want feel that weird taste in my mouth after that, right?

– [Rob] Right!

– [Reinier] That you have to give me a Coke or give me a water, give something to…

– [Rob] Yeah, “Let me refresh my palate.”

– [Reinier] Let me get this out my mouth because I can’t handle it right now.

– [Rob] Yeah. You don’t have that with this.

– [Reinier] It’s like, yeah. I’m really picky about it.

– [Rob] That’s like a good distinction.

– Like I kind of just had an aha moment of like, judging a cigar- let’s just say for me, it’s very difficult to judge flavors, because I don’t always, like- I’m not picking up on all the unique flavors that some of these people pick up on. But I do know like when somebody says, “Did you like that cigar?” It’s like, I’ll give it a thumbs up if it basically fits that criteria of like, I enjoyed it all the way through, and even my palate afterwards was really good. Like the mouth feel was really good, and I didn’t feel like I had to get rid of that flavor. That’s a good way…

– [Reinier] Yeah that’s- I always wanna try to explain to people what really I’m looking for from a cigar, that’s my four things what I’m looking really in a cigar.

– [Rob] That’s interesting. I like that. I think in my head now, that’s like HVC to me. HVC, I can kind of picture it as like clean, balanced, and like even today, like just, I didn’t feel like, “Wow, I burned my palate. I gotta take a break.” I just wanted to smoke another one.

– Like when we were smoking the Cerro at lunch, I didn’t wanna put it down. Like I literally leaned over to Matt and I was like, “I want to eat this cigar. It’s that good right now.”

– [Reinier] But the other part is like, you need how to pick the good materials. Right? When you are down there, you are smoking the bales, and maybe the bale, it doesn’t work for you, but maybe that bale works for somebody else.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Right? So it’s like, “I like this, put this in this way.” Or, “I don’t like this bale, this is not gonna work for me.” Even at the same time, it’s quite weird, like- even if you have really good tobacco on it, and you put together and you say, well, things not clicking right now. I mean, the way you put the materials on. Right?

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Probably you need to put a little more of the Viso, or less Seco, or maybe take out the Ligero, to see how that works. You know? It’s like playing in the kitchen.

– [Rob] Yeah. I love it.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] You do it good. I love it. It’s phenomenal. Let’s get into a little bit of, we were talking a little bit about your time in the car in Wisconsin. You’re in your twenties, 23, mid-twenties.

– [Reinier] The only thing I don’t like much is, was a little cold for me.

– [Rob] A little cold. Just a little. It’s cold. Yeah. That’s right. As a Cuban, that’s cold.

– [Reinier] Yeah. That was a little cold for me.

– [Rob] Invest in a good coat, right? And take the slippers and change ’em out for boots. Like, thermal boots.

– [Reinier] Yeah. It was a little cold. I remember when I get there in the beginning, it’s beautiful. A lot of snow this is. After the month I was like, “Oh, Jesus Christ.”

– [Rob] Yes.

– [Reinier] We have next five months, it keeps going or could be going. Yeah.

– [Rob] The honeymoon is over after a month with the snow. Yeah. “That’s pretty, all right. I’m done.”

– [Reinier] I remember I was living right there in downtown, and you have to shovel after a big storm or whatever, the snow, you have to clean the sidewalk.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] Oh my God.

– [Rob] You were just like, “Why am I doing this?”

– [Reinier] Here, from Cuba? Let’s go.

– [Rob] Shoveling snow. Shoveling snow. Oh, I love it. Did you have a nickname at all?

– [Reinier] Really they called me there back then, a lot of people know me for Francesco.

– [Rob] Francesco?

– [Reinier] I got a nickname. My buddies in Cuba, they say “You look like an Italian guy.”

– [Rob] Oh, so you, would you play that towards women?

– [Reinier] Yeah, yeah.

– [Rob] Like “Oh, I’m the Italian guy.”

– [Reinier] My neighborhood in Havana, people used to call me Piti.

– [Rob] Petey?

– [Reinier] Piti.

– [Rob] Petey?

– [Reinier] P-I-T-I. Exactly, in Spanish, yo soy Piti.

– [Rob] What does it, does it mean….?

– [Reinier] It was like a little cartoon.

– [Rob] It’s a cartoon.

– [Reinier] Yes. It’s a cartoon in Cuba, and all my buddies- actually, you come to my neighborhood and you say, “I’m looking for Reinier.” They’re like, “We don’t… Who is that? We don’t know Reinier.” And Piti- “Oh yeah! Piti! Oh yeah. He lives right there.” All really my buddies, my buddies in my neighborhood, all the people in my neighborhood, they call me a Piti.

– [Rob] Piti.

– [Reinier] Piti.

– [Rob] Piti.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Piti.

– [Rob] I’m saying it correct. I know I am.

– [Reinier] Piti.

– [Rob] Just like your English, it’s impeccable. it’s impeccable. So, Piti.

– [Reinier] Piti. And that was quite funny. Like, yeah. “Looking for Reinier Lorenzo.” No, no….

– [Rob] So have you like been somewhere where somebody says Piti and you’re like, what?

– [Reinier] Yeah. But always when somebody call me that, I know right away that somebody that…

– [Rob] Knows you.

– [Reinier] Knows me, but back from then in Cuba, right? Like, that’s gonna be somebody from my neighborhood.

How Losing His Dad At An Early Age Affects a Man

– [Rob] No, I love that though, because we all have that. Like, if somebody says Robbie, I’m like, “You know me from when I was this tall.” Yeah. Yeah. And you said too, like, we kind of have a similar story. Like, your dad passed when you were three.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] My dad passed when I was six. Did your mom ever get remarried?

– [Reinier] Yep.

– [Rob] Okay. So, but your family kept telling you the stories of like, “Wow, you’re acting a lot like your dad.”

– [Reinier] Yeah. Like he was, I mean, we were talking about that. That’s, every time I play dominoes or anything somebody say like, from the family, “You look a lot like your dad doing that.” Because he passed away really young. He was 33, and I was three years old.

– [Rob] 33?!

– [Reinier] Yes. And I was three years old. And really, I never knew him.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] And my mom moved to another town. And every year, that I was talking before- my vacation, was there in my dad’s side at the farm.

– [Rob] Oh, so you still- obviously went to your dad’s side was at the farm. So you still had a really great relationship with your dad’s side.

– [Reinier] Really great relationship, yeah exactly.

– [Rob] And lots of stories I bet.

– [Reinier] Exactly, a lot of stories. And people would do- “You are… you are just your dad.”

– [Rob] Did they say you look like your dad?

– [Reinier] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

– [Rob] As you get older?

– [Reinier] As you get older, yeah. You can see the boys hear, yeah. The boys, yeah. “You talk like your dad.”

– [Rob] Do you have siblings?

– [Reinier] I got one sister and one brother.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Are they older or younger than you?

– [Reinier] Older.

– [Rob] They’re older than you.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Way older.

– [Rob] Way older? Like how much?

– [Reinier] 40 years apart?

– [Rob] Are they your dad’s kids, or?

– [Reinier] Different dads.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– So you’re the only child of your dad’s side?

– [Reinier] Because he was so young.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] So, and that’s quite funny to me. Like, even like you say, like people see actually playing dominoes, and I’m really loud when I play dominoes, you know like Cubans like, “Hey, you gotta do this. This is what I’m doing for you right not.”

– [Rob] You got an attitude and you slap that down.

– [Reinier] It’s like that, people say to me like, “Lorenzo, you look like you dad right now playing dominoes. I see you playing dominoes right now, and I see your dad playing dominoes.” That’s like, wow.

– [Rob] That is so cool.

– [Reinier] Yeah, it’s crazy. Because like, you always look to somebody, right? Like when you’re learning, like, and I never had the opportunity.

– [Rob] Did your stepfather, or would you call him your stepfather?

– [Reinier] Yup. Mhm.

– [Rob] Was he a good role model for you?

– [Reinier] Oh, great. He was great. Yeah. Great role model for me. Actually, he passed away almost 10 years ago now. Although he was great. Yeah.

– [Rob] Sorry about that. But he was there as like a male role model?

– [Reinier] Oh yeah.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Were there other male role models in your life that taught you? Kind of, I don’t know. Because like, growing up without a dad is tough.

– [Reinier] But we are really, my mom always has been really strong.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] And when I say my sister and my brother, they always been there, too. Like we are really family people, like no matter what’s going on, we’re always family.

– [Rob] When did you meet your wife?

– [Reinier] I met my wife seven years ago.

– [Rob] Seven years ago?

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Where did you guys meet?

– [Reinier] In a nightclub.

– [Rob] In a nightclub?

– [Reinier] Yeah. Here in Miami. Yeah.

– [Rob] And you were Francisco?

– [Reinier] I was hanging out with my friends, and she was hanging out with her friends, and like just, it was like, I saw her and we clicked, right there. And I introduced myself.

– [Rob] Did she feel the same way?

– [Reinier] Yeah, it was like, perfect. Like, she was talking there with another friend, and I was here on the other side of the bar, and I was like, “Hello.”

– [Rob] Did you really raise your hand like that and wave?

– [Reinier] Yeah. And I was like, “Yeah, hello.” Yeah. She was looking at me, and I was, yeah. “Hello.” Yeah. I go there, yeah. And then I start dancing with her, and that’s how we met.

– [Rob] So dancing. You like to dance?

– [Reinier] Yeah. Big time.

– [Rob] I grew up dancing, so yeah. I like dancing too. It’s a good way to get the ladies.

– [Reinier] In Cuba, it’s a natural thing. You really like music. I love music and I love dancing. It is really great.

– [Rob] So you wooed her with your moves.

– [Reinier] Let’s go, come on.

– [Rob] So she got wooed.

– [Reinier] And I said, yeah, “Let’s go to dance.” And like, yeah. I was teaching her a little bit, making some moves. Yeah.

– [Rob] And she’s Cuban too, right?

– [Reinier] She’s Cuban too. But she came when she was 10.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] So basically she grew up here.

– [Rob] Okay.

Becoming Dad Changes Your Life

– [Reinier] And now we have a little baby, Luciano.

– [Rob] He’s big.

– [Reinier] Yeah. He’s quite a big boy.

– [Rob] He’s getting big. Love it.

– [Reinier] That changes your life, incredible.

– [Rob] Oh my God, yeah.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Like, wow. Like, wow. That’s amazing.

– [Rob] We were talking about like, you definitely like, you love your family. You love your siblings. You love your mom. You love your parents. You love your wife. But this other love comes into your life once you have a kid. It’s so unique. I can’t explain it. I have no idea how to put it in the words. But now when my mom said like, “I would do anything for you,” I get it.

– [Reinier] You get it, right. It’s like the same thing right now. Like…

– [Rob] Oh my gosh.

– [Reinier] Every time I go home and like I talk to my wife, like, “Where’s Luciano, where is Luciano?” He start laughing and like, “Yay!” Oh my God, that melts my heart.

– [Rob] I know.

– [Reinier] And that’s like, wow.

– [Rob] Is he like walking yet? Or to you yet?

– [Reinier] Not yet. Not yet. But he’s like, he’s scrambling. Like he wanna grab you.

– [Rob] He does.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Okay. So my daughter walks now and I’ll say, “Give dad a hug.” And she’ll come in, and she won’t gimme a hug. What she’ll do is, I’ll kneel down and she’ll come in and turn around, and let me hug her. And it just melts my heart. You’re just like, “Oh, I love you so much.” I can’t explain it. It’s unbelievable. We were talking about like leaving the hospital, and driving so slow that you’re like…

– [Reinier] “Stop! “Don’t be close to me right now, okay!”

– [Rob] It’s so unbelievable. I’m so happy for you to have…

– [Reinier] I wanna have more. I wanna have like three or four.

– [Rob] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s such a….

– [Reinier] At least another one. We are still really a small family business operation, right? I mean you saw today, my mom working down there in the warehouse.

– [Rob] Yep.

Tips For Small Business Owners

– [Reinier] My sister here in the office. And when I look back, where we started and like where we are today and always it’s like, I cannot stop. It’s a thing that you gotta keep going. I mean, we are not talking about cigars right now. Let’s talk about the whole thing. When you are really doing something in your life, if you really into it and you love it, like the way I do cigars right now, it’s like, hey, you gotta get out there and just do it. Just work hard and be focused. And great things can happen. I mean, it’s like, remember we were talking before, like failing, right? Do you fail? Like, yeah, I never, ask the guy, like, if I am wrong, I can say to you easily, “Hey, I’m wrong.”

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] “It was my fault.” Right? But we’re going to figure out, we’re going to fix it, and let’s keep going. But you cannot stop.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Because if you are a person that you are afraid to do things, you cannot get to the next level. You cannot get to the next step in your life because you are afraid to fail, or you are afraid to what people will say or what people would think. Don’t worry about that.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Never.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] You have to keep going, focus on new things, keep going and keep going. And remember when I was talking to you about my first cigar, the HVC First Selection?

– [Rob] Yep.

– [Reinier] That cigar never really took off. And the cigar was really, really good. And I have actually, people ask me for about that cigar.

– [Rob] But that blends no longer made?

– [Reinier] No, we discontinued that. It never worked for us. It never worked. It never took off. So just, you have to keep going. You have to keep going.

– [Rob] Yeah. Because you could have…

– [Reinier] Right?

– [Rob] Was that like a moment where you could have said, “This is not working out”?

– [Reinier] No. I mean, as a business standpoint, you see this is not working, right? Just you gotta put it down, and you have to keep going. You have to keep going. So that’s the process when you learn, and I can say to you right now, “Hey, something’s not working. I’m going to change it.” It’s simple as that. So at least….

– [Rob] But it takes that. It takes that humble integrity to say, “I gotta change this,” or “I gotta pivot.” Like you’re learning from your mistake. You’re assessing it. But you’re not letting it derail you. You’re letting it guide you into a new direction.

– [Reinier] It is because I think it would be for every person, so really easy. You don’t have to waste energy on that anymore.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Right. So don’t focus your energy on that. That’s passed. You have to keep going. Right?

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] And for the business standpoint, in general in whatever you’re doing out there, that’s the best thing.

– [Rob] Running your own business, learning how to do business, is really learned on the job, kind of. You know, you learn as you go, you make mistakes. You…

– [Reinier] But at the same time, probably the best thing is like, you have to do it.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] If you don’t do it, you won’t know- you would not know how to do it because you never try it. Right?

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] So just, yeah. That’s the best thing I can say. You going to go out there, the more you practice things, the more master you will become.

– [Rob] What made you though- I mean, because obviously you had a good paying job with being in that lab role, working with the genetics of cows. There’s some security there, right? Some financial security, healthcare, whatever it might be, that a company might provide you. What made you say, “I’m gonna give up all this security to go out on my own.”

– [Reinier] Really like, first, I really fell in love with the process of premium cigars. That was my first thing, really loving that. And the other part I think is always with me, the entrepreneurial part, like always I want to do more. Right? Always I want to create something more, then doing that.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] So that was a big, when I say, yeah, “This is what I want to do and let’s do it.” You gotta take that like, and you cannot think, or you cannot blink, like too much thinking because I think if you’re thinking too much, probably you say, “You know what? I’m not gonna do it.”

– [Rob] That mindset, because you- obviously that comes in.

– [Reinier] Exactly. But I think I am the guy that have that.

– [Rob] Really?

– [Reinier] Yeah. Yeah.

– [Rob] Like it’s part of your personality?

– [Reinier] Yeah. Yeah.

– [Rob] You can overcome that.

– [Reinier] Yeah I think it’s like, right now… Yeah. I am the guy that, yeah. “Let’s go there.” “Let’s figure it out.”

– [Rob] You like the challenge.

– [Reinier] Yeah. I love the challenge. I love the challenge. Let’s go there. Let’s figure out. Let’s see what’s going on there.

– [Rob] Is that part of like what your dad kind of was like? Or was that your mom? Is that…

– [Reinier] It’s a family thing.

– [Rob] Family thing.

– [Reinier] Yeah. We are never afraid.

– [Rob] Really?

– [Reinier] Yeah. We never afraid of things. Like you gotta go learning, you gotta do things, like.

– [Rob] Did you start HVC before you met your wife?

– [Reinier] Yes.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] I started HVC in 2011.

– [Rob] Was that easier to do, to say like, “I’m only having to worry about myself.” So I’m able to take a leap here and transition into cigars without having to worry about a family to take care of and all that.

– [Reinier] It was like the thing like yeah, the business was growing. And I was like, yeah, I can do this full time now.

– [Rob] Was there like a number that made that made sense? Like you’re like, okay, I’m selling this much so I can financially go this route, or…

– [Reinier] I always have really big support from my family in general.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] For everything like, really financially. I was not looking at that things much. I mean always, I most looking like how to make things work. It was the thing for me. Like I want to create something, I want to work on something, and I want put it out there.

– [Rob] So it wasn’t a financial thing.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Like…

– [Rob] You didn’t look at it and say, Hey, I hit a number. I can do this.

– [Reinier] Exactly. Like it never was that thing. Yeah.

– [Rob] What was it then?

– [Reinier] Yeah, it was probably for me, it was more the passion and love, because…

– [Rob] That’s a lot of guts!

– [Reinier] I mean like, when I left Cuba, I left with nothing. Right? Nothing. I’m talking about my clothes. Simple as that. I don’t have any money. I mean literally like nothing.

– [Rob] So luckily you had family here though.

– [Reinier] Exactly

– [Rob] That took you in.

– [Reinier] And I started working and saving money a little bit to start my own brand. That’s basically really, but I am kind of guy, if I love something and I want to do it, just, you gotta do it. Right? It’s not like the, because you think really about the money. Like don’t worry about that. Don’t worry about the money. Money will come. It’s not about the money. It’s about what you really want to share. It’s really about what you want to do. Because think about like right now you told me, Lorenzo, I will give you this 200,000, half million, whatever, or million to do something. Probably you would say, well, that’s a business plan, a strategy. Like, I love the process. Let me focus on my process. Let me focus and create something really good. Really that I want to share, really that and learning that, right? Like money, money. Really never big on that. Yeah. That because no, really? No, because I came from nothing. You know what I mean? I came from nothing like, why I have to think about money.

– [Rob] That’s amazing.

– [Reinier] Family in that is a big role.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] In that, big time.

– [Rob] So it was more or less the family and the guidance that you were getting, and the process of making something.

– [Reinier] Exactly like, yeah.

– [Rob] That inspired you to keep going.

– [Reinier] Yeah. I love this. I love blending. I love sharing with people what we do. So, yeah. Not really, no. And we are not really the big company.

– [Rob] No.

– [Reinier] Like you can go and look at the big picture. Like yeah, we need this amount money. Like, no, we are a small oriented family business. Like the way we do things.

– [Rob] You’re not a numbers guy, which is great.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Maybe, I don’t know. Are you a numbers guy?

– [Reinier] Like always of course, a business, you look at the numbers, right? That’s I mean, that’s- but when you look the process, it’s like, I’m not thinking like, well I need a million dollars to do this thing.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Like, you know what I mean? It’s never been like that.

– [Rob] That’s awesome.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Probably looks weird when you look the big picture, right? Say no, this is, try to put things together to create something. And probably it’s, I have a lot of passion and a lot love for what we doing and…

– [Rob] Which is so interesting.

– [Reinier] I left the family probably worrying more about that.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Yeah. My sister, she’s the one that really good with numbers.

– [Rob] Oh good.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] So somebody on the team team is watching.

– [Reinier] She’s the one that really good with that.

– [Rob] “So how are we doing on the spreadsheet? Great. I’m gonna go create something.” You need that. It’s a good partnership. That’s like my wife, I’m like, “Can we spend some money? She’s like, “Mm. Only $50.” I’m like, okay, it’s good enough for me. I’m gonna go spend some money.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] I love it. That’s awesome. That’s so helpful because there’s, you know, obviously people out here that are trying to do whatever it is in their life and any insight that you can give them to help them get kind of over that hurdle is….

– [Reinier] Probably my best advice is just never give up. Never.

– [Rob] I hear that a lot.

– [Reinier] Never give up, because that’s like, no matter how many times you fail you will learn from that. And probably you will learn more from your mistake, then from things that you did right. So if you never give up on whatever thing in your life, it’s a big chance that whatever you doing, you will be successful at.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] It’s worth that.

– [Rob] So then other than the first cigar, was there like some really key mistakes that you made that you were like, “I’m really glad I made that mistake, because now I can avoid that.”

Best Response When Someone Says No to a Sales Pitch

– [Reinier] Do you know how many cigar shops I’ve been? That was like way back when really nobody hear about HVC.

– [Rob] Right. Who the heck is HVC? You’re coming in.

– [Reinier] Exactly like, who are… I don’t know… I?

– [Rob] And you come in…

– [Reinier] I don’t have any idea. First, what are you talking about? Right? Your English? You’re so fast right now, slow down. And who is HVC? A lot of people say no to me.

– [Rob] A lot of nos.

– [Reinier] Yeah. A lot of nos. And I remember my family say like, “Remember you got the ‘no’ on your face,” right? When you walk in a cigar shop, remember you got the no, right. They will say no to you. All you gotta do is keep going.

– [Rob] With that same customer or just in general?

– [Reinier] Even the same customer. All you gotta do is keep going. They gotta know who you are.

– [Rob] So, when you get the No… What do you do next?

– [Reinier] I say, “Thank you.” “Hey, it was a pleasure to meet you. And I will see you in a month.” “Okay.” The next month I show up again.

– [Rob] Okay.

– [Reinier] “No.” “Hey, thank you for your time.” “It was great to see you again.” “I will see you next month.” Yeah.

– [Rob] So, next month. No?

– [Reinier] Thank you, and thank you for your support. I really appreciate it, we’re going to do this, and we’re going to have events, and I want to support you because I love what you doing. You’ve been here three times already, and I love your cigars, but nobody really know your cigars. Imagine that, me driving in Midwest doing that. That’s why I say…

– [Rob] That’s the hard part.

– [Reinier] You gotta keep going. You gotta keep going, keep going, keep going.

– [Rob] So when you hear the no, you don’t hear defeat. You hear, thank you. Appreciate you. I’ll see you in a month.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] Some people would call that insanity.

– [Reinier] I mean, like when I’m thinking back, it’s like, yeah, that’s how it is. I mean, think about like, if you are a retailer and you came to a cigar shop, and I remember back then with my first show, it was a lot of new guys. Remember the PCA, they put all the new guys in the same area.

– [Rob] Yeah, yeah.

– [Reinier] I don’t see a lot of those anymore.

– [Rob] New guys?

– [Reinier] Yeah. I mean the one that was starting with me.

– [Rob] Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

– [Reinier] The one that started with me…

– [Rob] The ones that started with you, they’re kind of… They’re gone.

– [Reinier] Yeah. Like exactly. Like, because sometimes people think it’s really easy in life like to go do things. Right? You know what I mean? They say, “Oh, I wanna get in the business. Let me jump in. I got this and I…” No, it’s not like that. You had a love, it’s a passion, right? It’s a passion. It’s not like, we are not talking about here, like you’re going to get here because you got the money and you’re gonna invest and you’re going to Nicaragua. And you say to somebody, “Hey, make me a hundred thousand cigars.” And no, it’s not like that. It’s something inside you that you gotta love it really, to keep going to do that. You can say a thousand times “No” to me right now, and I will say, “Hey, thank you. Don’t worry.” “We will get there. Don’t worry.” “We will get there.” Okay?

– [Rob] I’ll see you in a month.

– [Reinier] That’s life.

– [Rob] I love it.

– [Reinier] That’s life.

– [Rob] Wow.

– [Reinier] That’s life.

– [Rob] Good life lesson.

– [Reinier] Yeah. It is like, yeah. Like I say, if I am here today, do you imagine when I was back in Cuba, if you told me like 12 or 15 years ago, “Hey, you will have a cigar company.” “You will go traveling all around the states, and you’re going to sign boxes.” I was like, “You lying to me right now.” I said, “Hell no.”

– [Rob] No. I’m dealing with cows, man.

– [Reinier] Hell no.

– [Rob] I got my boots on.

– [Reinier] So, that’s why I’m loving this so much, because that’s the process. It’s like something that I really love to do it.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] You said you don’t like to be in the office. You like to be in the shops.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] You like to be out in front of clients.

– [Reinier] I’m not really like, I come here in the morning, and I do my things. I look my emails. And I’m gone.

– [Rob] Where do you go?

– [Reinier] I’m gone. I’m going to see clients. If not, I’m out traveling with reps out there. Yeah. I’m not really, a lot of time, not in the office. No.

– [Rob] The best advice is to keep going. And almost like you have this recipe of like, “Thank you.” “I’ll see you in a month. I’ll never give up.” Even if you know that they’ll never carry your cigars, you still want to swing by say hi, create a relationship, because eventually you never know where that’s gonna lead.

– [Reinier] I mean, when you look at the map, I mean the cigar business, this is a really small business, you know? I mean, compared with other big business, big companies, right? Like it’s impossible to be in every shop.

– [Rob] And probably don’t wanna be.

– [Reinier] And the other part is like, but you say like is, I am a really person to person. Like you say, probably you are a cigar owner or a shop owner. And if you are close where I am, I wanna stop by and say hi to you, have a coffee, say hi to you. “How’s it going?” and that’s it. And you can tell me in my face, Lorenzo, I never would cover your cigars. It doesn’t matter to me, why, I don’t have to be mad at you. Right?

– [Rob] Yeah, right.

– [Reinier] So I wait, I stop by, “How you selling? How you doing?” Yeah. That’s probably is a lot of, has to do with my personality.

Is it Better to Smoke a Cigar Alone or With Buddies?

– [Rob] Are you an extrovert? Do you get recharged when you interact with other people?

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] You’re an extrovert then.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] I get my energy from other people too. Like my wife she’ll say, “You should go to the smoke shop on Friday.” I’m like, really? She’s like, “Yeah, go ahead.” And I get energy from that. Like that’s my favorite way to end the week is like, “Yeah, let me be around other people.” And conversing and talking and just interacting and saying hi and seeing how they’re doing and having a great conversation.

– [Reinier] And the other part, it’s like, that’s quite funny. Like, when I wanna smoke really a cigar, and pay attention to the cigar, it’s by myself. I really enjoy sometimes smoking cigar by myself, because you know, sometimes you’re working, you’re talking to people, you are not really paying attention to the cigar. Like when you are by yourself, really smoking a cigar, you can really appreciate a lot more.

– [Rob] Yeah you said like, when you’re gonna smoke a cigar, you like to just sit down and smoke the cigar. Are you doing- you’re not doing anything else? You’re not reading a book, you’re not…

– [Reinier] You have to smoke the cigar, pay attention to the cigar. And probably that’s the best time, myself, like getting more of the flavor, because I’m so focused just on that, doing that. At the same time, it’s great, when I am out there with my friends, smoking, play dominoes. It’s a great time too. Right? But you are not really paying attention to that.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Right. You just have a moment. That’s why when premium cigars came to the table, it’s a leisurely thing. We laughing. We enjoy life. We are smoking premium.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] It’s a great time. It’s a great moment.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] So….

– [Rob] So well said.

Cigars vs. Cigarettes—No Comparison

– [Reinier] Today, we were at lunch, remember, and I was talking to you and I was, “This is paradise.” Right?

– [Rob] Uh-huh! Out of nowhere. You were like, “This is the life.” “This is awesome.”

– [Reinier] We were having a great Cuban lunch. The weather was beautiful, and we were smoking there, and I turned to you and was like, “This is paradise right now.” Right?

– [Rob] Yeah.

– [Reinier] That’s what premium cigar does. Right? That why when something compare to cigarettes, it’s like, hell no. We are a completely different category.

– [Rob] Well said. Man, what a great opportunity to learn how you got started, little bit about you, and how you kind of overcome- I think what I’m taking away from this is like, you have to just keep going.

– [Reinier] Yeah.

– [Rob] And you have to have that passion.

– [Reinier] It’s really important.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– Because if you don’t have that, no matter how hard you work, you do things, if you don’t have that inside you.

– [Rob] Right.

– [Reinier] Like, it’s important.

– [Rob] All I can say is there’s a story behind every single person, and this has been an amazing story. So if you’re interested in smoking HVC cigars grab some, if you can’t get your hands on HVC, you gotta contact your shop and make sure you try some because they’re just phenomenal. This is a great experience. Thank you again so much.

– [Reinier] Thank you. Thank you, Rob.

– [Rob] That’s another episode of Box Press. And again, if you need Boveda, head over to Make sure you store those cigars with Boveda, because they smoke great with them. And don’t ever, ever let anyone tell you that a cigar is not for you. If you enjoy it, you smoke it. Thanks again. Cheers.

Snow, cows and how to start your own boutique cigar company: 

  • 03:05 Blending cigar tobacco is like creating a recipe
  • 03:19 Look for flavor over strength when choosing a cigar
  • 03:48 What cigars does HVC make?
  • 05:56 A Cuban moves to Wisconsin
  • 10:33 From Wisconsin to Nicaragua and AGANORSA
  • 12:55 Why rolling a cigar at home is never as good as the premiums
  • 14:14 Starting a business? Observe like an entrepreneur
  • 16:53 What was the first broadleaf wrapper AGANORSA cigar?
  • 20:55 Is all the tobacco in a cigar grown at one tobacco farm?
  • 23:20 Look for flavor, balance, construction and clean finish in a cigar
  • 23:29 No more cigar ashtray mouth!
  • 30:28 How losing his dad at an early age affects a man
  • 36:37 As a small business owner, you have to keep going after a failure
  • 47:19 Best response when someone says no to a sales pitch
  • 53:29 Is it better to smoke a cigar alone or with friends?
  • 54:41 Cigars vs. cigarettes—no comparison

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