Box Press Podcast

So What? Now What for All Saints Cigars (feat. Micky Pegg) | Ep. 54

So what if a kid gets kicked out of kindergarten, and fourth grade, and tenth grade? He can still succeed—and even earn a master’s degree, become a certified tobacco sommelier and make big bucks in financial services before launching his own business. Hear All Saints Cigars leader Micky Pegg tell his cigar story over a Habano Dedicación at 2021 PCA in Las Vegas with Box Press host Rob Gagner.

“It’s funny, when I was doing that business everybody was asking me about cigars. Now I’m back in cigars, everybody is asking me about mutual funds.”

Ask us how to protect your premium cigars while simplifying the moisture game in your humidor. Shop Boveda for cigars here.

– I got kicked out of kindergarten, which is frickin’ nuts.

– How do you do that? Did you beat up on other kids, or what?

– Then they let me back in the school, then I got kicked out of fourth grade. So in Florida they didn’t have air conditioners in the school. It was Warner Christian Academy. And we’d have to wear our gym outfits under our uniforms, or whatever we wore at school.

– Oh, man, that’s hot.

– And it was hot, so one day in class I was so hot because sometimes they’d let you take your clothes off, and be in your gym uniform, so I’m just sitting in class, and I just took off my clothes, and sat in my gym uniform. I got sent to the principal’s office, and that was the last time I saw that class, they were like. That was the hair that broke the camel’s back.

– Right.

– I can’t remember all the other stuff I did, but, you know, my mom could probably tell you.

– Sure, sure.

– Uh, so.

– We’ll get your mom on the next episode. She’ll tell us all the stories.

– She tells my kids all these stories. I’m like, don’t tell these kids these stories.

– 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. Hey everyone, Rob Gagner here with Box Press. Welcome to another episode. I am at PCA 2021, and I’m sitting across from Micky Pegg, who obviously comes from us from a long line of tobacco. He’s been in the business for over 20 years from consumer to shop manager, all the way into being the VP of sales for CAO, and, also, on the blending team. Micky, thank you so much for joining me.

– Thanks for having me.

– Yeah, man. Your history in the cigar business has been a long time.

All Saints Cigar’s Micky Pegg’s Great-Great-Grandfather Ran a Tobacco Shop

– Yeah, it’s interesting because I think one of your questions you asked me, I guess, there’s so much heritage, and we found out that my… After I was with Davidoff, we found a picture of my great-great-grandfather’s tobacco shop in Cincinnati. All the Germans came into Cincinnati, and it was called Swords Tobacco. It’s a cool picture. I got a job working at Georgetown Tobacco, under David Berkebile, who, happy birthday, David. He just turned 81, 56 years in the business. I was fetching cigars for a senator, and I was in there so much that they offered me a job. And it was a great job to have on the weekends.

– I heard about that job from KMA Radio.

– [Micky] Yeah.

Micky Pegg Delivered Cigars to Senators From the Tobacco Shop That  He Would Eventually Manage

– You talked about, explain that how you would actually have to go pick up the cigars for that senator.

– Yeah, so my junior year of college it was mandatory, all athletes had to do an internship, and you had to do campus ministry. Our coach was, like, it was Division III football, you know? He wanted to prepare us for life because you gotta go get an internship. If you’re gonna play senior year mandatory had to do it. We had mandatory study hall too.

– [Rob] Sure.

– Which was hilarious, like, one year the whole team got, like, a three. Nobody was below, like, a 3.1. The bottom 20% would have to go to study hall. And we said, coach, everybody broke 3.0, so we shouldn’t have study hall. He goes, don’t be at the bottom 25, or 20%, so. So I was working for a senator at the time. Back then you didn’t have to pay interns, and you really wanted that on your resume. And if you did a good job, the chief of staff would send you with a wad full of cash because there was no Ubers.

– Right.

– There wasn’t Venmo, none of those things back in the day, you know, the late ’80s, ’89. And you go down, take a cab down to Georgetown from Capitol Hill. Go get the cigars, come back, and then whatever change was left you got to keep it. And if somebody didn’t show up to smoke that cigar, you got to sit in with the senator, and listen to his phone calls, his conference calls. And I’m sitting one day, and they had the President of the United States on. He was on a conference call working on NAFTA at the time, trying to get his vote, or it was pre-NAFTA. And I was like, this is pretty frickin’ cool.

– Smoking cigars and getting stuff done on Capitol Hill.

– Yeah, you could smoke at the Capitol. Matter of fact, I still have a House of Representatives ashtray that they used to have all over the place, that somehow got out of the Capitol Building.

– Sure.

– [Micky] I don’t know how it got out of there.

– Oh, sure.

– But it ended up in my flat back in D.C.

– [Rob] Yeah, right, right, right.

– I used to have a Senate one. I think I had too many beverages one night and gave it away. I think I had another one I couldn’t find it, but that was such a fun and interesting time. I was thinking about chasing politics at the time, and I actually did work a little bit on Capitol Hill. And then that part-time at Georgetown turned into a part-time job at Georgetown Tobacco.

– So what made you want to try to chase a career in politics?

– It enamored to me. I kind of grew up around a little bit in Florida. My grandfather was a little bit involved with it on a national level through his best friend an attorney, a guy by the name of Bill Crotty. And he helped me get my first jobs on Capitol Hill. It was just, you know, thought you’re young, and impressionable, thinking you can go out and change the world.

– [Rob] Eager.

– Yeah, you know. Now I always said I wanted to hold off. There’s no way I would ever want to hold office now.

– Yeah, right.

– A, too many skeletons in the closet, and, two, with the exposure of social media.

– How bad would social media have been for somebody trying to run for politics back in the ’80s?

– Oh, if that stuff existed when I was in college I would have got kicked out of college, I mean. Thank God there’s tobacco at the time, but, yeah, it’s unbelievable.

– I feel bad for kids nowadays because it’s like, holy cow everything’s on display 24/7.

– Well, I kind of like it because I have three daughters.

– Yeah, you like the flip side of this.

– These pictures will never go away, you better be good.

– [Rob] Right.

– And so they’re pretty good, so.

– How are your kids handling that?

– They’re doing a great job. It’s interesting that you ask that because I have three daughters. One just graduated high school. One’s gonna be a senior in high school, and my youngest who’s 14, and 6’1″ is gonna be a freshman, plays basketball. My two older ones row, and my oldest daughter, Tierney, came home her sophomore year at high school, and goes, “Daddy, I want to row.” And I’m like, all right, Tinkerbell, whatever.

– Yeah, right.

– Philadelphia, there’s a huge rowing community there. I mean, it’s a $2,00 swing. It’s one of those à la carte sports you gotta pay $2,000 for.

– Nice.

– And I’m like, dude, this is not a whim. Come to find out she’s a pretty good rower. She signed with La Salle for a full ride for rowing.

– Whoa.

– So now she just signed a contract with Barstool Athletics, have you seen that?

– Yes, Barstool Sports.

– So she should be posted on that soon, and then she just signed another one with Wicked Dog Apparel. It’s a clothing line that I’m partly invested in, and so is my partner, Frank, that our other partner had started with another college buddy out of Boston, so she’ll be repping.

– Wicked Dog Apparel.

– [Micky] Wicked Dog Apparel.

– What is that?

– It’s a clothing line that was based out of Boston, and it kind of has a Boston Terrier in the logo. Some of the money they make goes towards, like, beaten dogs, or handle dogs, and stuff like that.

– Sure.

– It’s a hyper-local brand that’s gaining a little bit of interest in the East Coast.

– What kind of apparel, everyday apparel?

– Pretty much like that preppy look with the golf shirts, and fun T-shirts, and shorts, and sandals.

– Yeah, so everyday apparel.

– Yeah, it’s got a neat little logo.

– [Rob] Nice.

– So you’ll see that out of her Instagram, too, coming up.

– Are you wearing any of it now?

Where to Buy Wicked Dog Cufflinks 

– I’m actually wearing the cufflinks, so.

– [Rob] Oh, nice.

– So that’s what the logo looks like, so.

– [Rob] Okay.

– I’m too cheap to make All Saints cufflinks. I gotta save the money for that Habano wrapper you like so much.

Where Are All Saints Cigars Made?

– Exactly, all the money’s going into these cigars. Putting the Habano wrapper on the Dedicación very smart, but I’m assuming, too, you also have to tweak some of the blend on the inside to make it all work.

– You got to work with the percentages a little bit. Our cigars are made at the TAVICUSA factory, which Rocky Patel is part of, with Amilcar Perez, affectionately we call him Mica. The beautiful thing is on the blending we work with Amilcar, we work with his nephew, Gerber Castro, and, obviously, Hamlet, helps out a little bit, too, so we really have a good audience in helping us navigating to what I want to get to in the profile. Even Frank’s getting involved with the blending now, which is fun, my partner, Frank Layo.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– Yeah, so that Habano, this what you’re smoking right now, came in second place to our first line that we came out with.

– [Rob] Really?

– Yeah.

What Was All Saints Cigar’s First Release?

– First line was Solamente.

– Yeah, the first line, no, that was an accidental run.

– Really? Happy accident

– Yeah, so in 2017 we did 15,000 of those. We only did one shape, one size, five by 58. And we were gonna go down to the factories in ’18, and really ramp up and finish our blending, and ramp up that. They didn’t even have a name Solamente at the time.

– [Rob] Okay.

– There was not even a prototype name. The prototype name for it was actually Dedicación.

– [Rob] Oh.

– The Solamente.

– [Rob] Got it.

– Then we were down there in ’19 because we couldn’t get down there in ’18 because the climate just wasn’t conducive to be down at Nica at the time. And Mica kept going, Micky, Micky, Solamente. We got these 15,000 I’m like, all right. He kept saying Solamente which means only in Spanish. I texted Frank and I go, try to trademark that right now, so we called it Solamente, but that one has the Habano wrapper on it. Now they’re almost all gone. We might replicate that blend again.

– I got a box in my humidor, so they’re not all gone.

– I gotta send you another one before we run out. We could replicate that blend again in the future.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– So that’s what I’m saying it was accidental. Somebody said it’s kind of like the lost and found. I’m like, no, those guys do a great job with that.

– [Rob] Right.

– That was a forgotten, and an, oh, shit, you know?

– [Rob] Sure, sure.

– And it gave us an opportunity to take something to market while we were waiting for the actual true Dedicación to get done.

– [Rob] Sure.

– Because they were already aged. They had already been aged for, like, almost three years at that point.

– [Rob] Dang.

– So that’s how that came to be, so.

– Great stick, this is a great stick, I love this.

– This is one of the blends, and we decided to go with the San Andrés wrapper with the original Dedicación, so that will be called Habano Dedicación, not Dedicación Habano, so. You’ll see on the nomenclature it will say Habano a little bit bigger than you’ll see Dedicación.

– Sweet, I’m excited for that.

– [Micky] Good.

– I love Habano wrappers. I love the regular Dedicación with the San Andrés, right?

– [Micky] Yeah.

– It’s great.

– It’s great.

– [Rob] Great cigar.

– It’s from the draw family. People say San Andrés, San Andrés. Make sure you know where you’re getting it from.

Did All Saints Cigars Trademark St. Francis? 

– Yeah, this is great, Dedicación All Saints. Now you said it was tough for you to come out with All Saints because most saint names are already trademarked.

– Most of them are.

– So you got Saint Francis, lucky you.

– I don’t know how we got Saint Francis.

– Yeah, what other ones do you have?

– We’re on the tailend of it. Yeah, it’s a long process as you know with trademarking.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– I mean, you guys went through it years ago, you know? The whole switch-over. Switch doesn’t go off, it’s gotta be prototyped, and all this stuff.

– [Rob] Right.

– Believe me your trademark attorneys will love to go over and over again, over and over again, at frickin’ $750 an hour.

– Lawyer fee, lawyer fee, lawyer fee.

– But it’s worth it, you know? It’s one of those things, you know? So, yeah, so we got other names that are coming out, but they’re based on different things, and we’re having fun with it, keeps in the All Saints the genre of that, so.

– Right, but from your past working with CAO, so I got the opportunity to meet Tim.

– Yes, he’s a dynamic person.

– He is so generous with his time. He was up at Tobacco Grove where I worked.

– [Micky] Right.

– He came in and talked all about the LX3, or LX2.

– The LX2, yeah.

– Which actually should have been called the LX3 because there’s three different types of Ligero on that.

– Yeah, yeah, correct.

– That’s why I keep calling it the LX3 after that.

All Saints Cigars Gives Each Cigar an Identity

– Yeah, a lot of that stuff at the end was all him on his brainchild a lot of that blending. And what Tim did there’s a story. It’s like Jon Huber does the same thing. There’s a story behind all his cigars. You can clearly see that they have their own identity.

– [Rob] Right.

– It’s like some people say all your kids look alike, but you can see all the subtle differences in your kids, or whatever. They tell the story, and I always like to tell a story. I want something that’s memorable, that coordinates with the brand.

– [Rob] Right.

During the Cigar Boom, CAO Revealed This “Secret” Practice

– Tim always did a great job of doing that. There’s a lot of things that they did at CAO that brought things to light that nobody else talked about. It was like people weren’t talking about draw testing. They thought it was a secret. He’s like why aren’t we talking about this?

– Oh, yeah.

– Now everybody talks.

– To show customers that you do draw tests.

– Correct, that you’re showing a commitment.

– So you’re not wasting your money.

– because that was one of the biggest issues at the time, you know? They talked about different tobaccos that were in those cigars that nobody else talked about.

– Well, and in the early, well, the ’90s boom was what you’re talking about the big problem was people were rolling cigars so fast that they didn’t need to draw test them because they’d sell them anyways.

– [Micky] Right.

– Right, so if you are draw testing, doing quality control things as a manufacturer, you should advertise that because then you know as a consumer when you walk in, and you buy a $10 stick, you’re gonna get a good cigar.

Micky Pegg Earned a Master’s Degree, Despite Being Kicked Out of Kindergarten

– Quite frankly a lot of them weren’t doing that. Matter of fact, at one point, I was getting my master’s on the weekends at University of Pennsylvania, but I had to study abroad, so I studied in Switzerland, Paris, and London. And on the way to my Stockholm seminars that I had to do, I stopped at Hamburg, and we were talking about moisture. We were looking at these moisture devices for tobacco that we were actually thinking about implementing into the process at that time.

– [Rob] Sure.

– Even though that we were using other people like Toranos, Perdomo, Plasencia, were all doing a lot of our cigars, but we were thinking about implementing that in, and then I should have known when all of a sudden we just stopped doing it because I was the lead guy on that going to Hamburg that we were for sale, or we were on the market.

– Sure, right.

– There’s a couple indicators I guess should have gone I was just out grinding, so I didn’t pay attention, so.

– So when you were on the road.

– [Micky] Yeah.

– So what countries did you say you went to?

– When I was on the road, let’s see.

– You just name named three, Switzerland.

– Canada, Germany, Switzerland.

– [Rob] No, in Europe, yeah, in Europe.

– In Europe, Switzerland, Germany.

– [Rob] London.

– England, Sweden.

– Which one was your favorite?

Studying International Leadership with Volvo and Ikea

– My favorite country. They all had their own personality. I was so enamored with the Swedish culture. It was interesting because we studied under the pods of Volvo, on their pod building mentality, and then we got to hear from Ikea, and their strategy.

– Explain the pod building from Volvo because it’s more efficient work, right?

– Yeah, it’s big, they do a lot now in MBA. So you have instead of having one really big long assembly line, you have a pod of people that do that, so you can come up with corrective measures that’s a part of that assembly. This is a bad example, but if we’re building something we build it around a table together in a pod, and then we could see how we can make the transition a little bit more efficient.

– Oh, it’s shaving off on the efficiency, and making it all seamless.

– Right, and making sure the stuff was durable, last, and stuff like that.

– [Rob] Right.

– Volvo was the leader in that thought process, so it was really interesting.

– But that was part of your MBA training.

– I was a master’s of science in organizational dynamics, and international global leadership.

– [Rob] Okay.

– That’s a mouthful.

– Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

– So it was more on the leadership side.

– [Rob] Okay.

– But we did a lot of classes in the Huntsman, but it wasn’t a true Wharton MBA.

– So you got hooked into Sweden when you were there to learn all that.

– I was there during the summer solstice, so the sun would set, like, 11:30 at night, and get up at one, it was nuts. And I’m like, what are they all these kids running around? They’re like, oh, they got plenty of time to sleep in the fall, so.

– Right, right, right.

– It was pretty funny.

– Let them play while the sunlight’s out

– And then Paris was interesting because we studied at a place called Laser, which is a play on names, of laser. It was all this body reactions by monitoring, like, grocery stores, like, experimenting with, like, knowing your profile to set off a scent when you’re walking down a certain aisle to buy certain foods, or monitoring your eyes where they’re looking at brands. This was 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It was really interesting.

– So this is like Big Brother shopping.

– Yeah, it was, but it was, again, to obviously try to gently tell you.

– Why don’t we put this stuff inside humidors? We could make a ton of money.

– I know it’s like that red couch theory. You look up a red couch and it follows you on Instagram, or whatever.

– [Rob] Yeah, right.

– So, yeah, that was interesting. London was great, it was just pure. I went over to Davidoff store. I did more time going to the tobacco shops.

– [Rob] Right.

– The World Cup was going on at that time. I learned a lot about soccer at the time.

– Did you go to any games?

– No, they were in Germany at the time.

– [Rob] Okay.

– I hung out with these blokes in between classes, and a guy, I’m like this frickin’ game, like, who likes this game? And he goes we don’t bet on the game. We bet on the first touch. We bet on this, we bet on that. And I’m like, oh, now I like this.

– [Rob] Now, yeah.

– I’m like, so this guy the bed, they’re out of the league, and their paycheck gets cut? I’m like, perfect. I’m, like, I like this. I’m like, they should make this, oh, you don’t perform you don’t get paid. I’m like we should do that with American sports, like in sales if you don’t perform you don’t get paid, you know?

– No five-year contracts with guarantees.

– Right, right. It was just fun just hanging out with those guys, and drinking a lot of pints, and going to some of the old legendary places. I got to do a little bit of business of work while I was over there, too, because obviously CAO was paying for it at the time.

– Do you think when you travel like that you get a better frame of reference for, like, a bigger global mindset?

– Yeah, I think so because a lot of people underestimate the micro-cultures of the United States.

– [Rob] Right.

– And then it’s a little bit more distinctive in Europe because the accents are distinctly different. Everybody thinks that America has a Southern drawl, and all this stuff. Where I live there’s a Delco accent, like, the mayor of Easttown they did a whole. It’s a subsect of a Philly accent, which is very similar to the Baltimore accent.

– [Rob] Right.

Every Tobacco Shop Has a Different Personality, So If You Don’t Like One, Try Another

– And there’s different things. It’s like, I said in one of the interviews, it’s like if you’ve been to one tobacco shop, you’ve only been to one tobacco shop. They all have a different personality, different shapes, different sizes, different blends, everything else. It has different personalities.

– Because of your experience with a brand that had that kind of breadth of line that could fill a lot of different types of smokers.

– [Micky] Right.

– Are you trying to emulate that in All Saints where you know you have to eventually get to a point where you can fulfill all types of smokers from your line?

– Yeah, because I think that’s extremely important.

– [Rob] Right.

– Some people say they smoke, and they make what they like, and that’s great. Those people usually have a palate that emulates to what the consumer wants, so. To me that’s the same, and your cigar sells, so those brand owners that say I smoke what I like, or I create what I like. If I can’t sell them, I’ll smoke them that’s the same as saying you’re making stuff for the consumer to me because you just have a palate that matches up with them, so.

– [Rob] Sure.

As a Cigar Smoker, Do You Have a Moody Palate?

– I would call it a moody palate, have a palate that I want a mild cigar, I want a full body. I want to taste this, I want to taste that, those things. And so, yeah, we want to have something where we hit all different moods, all different types, and, yeah, obviously.

– In my opinion people’s palates for the majority they don’t particularly like anything that’s one-dimensional, or super spicy, or super one-direction because then it just gets boring. So at that point you are better off blending for an overall experience for the whole life of the cigar.

– Right, so like our first cigar I would say was medium in strength. I think this is medium in strength. Our Saint Francis I think it’s medium plus Solamente had a little bit of juice to it.

– [Rob] Really?

– It starts out strong and then it comes down.

– [Rob] Okay.

All Saints Cigars is Working On a More Mild Cigar

– We’re working on a mild cigar right now.

All Saints Cigars Construct a Cigar For the Life of The Smoke

– Are you always interested in how the cigar transitions, too?

– Oh, absolutely.

– Like Solamente you’re like, oh it’s strong, and then it tapers off, or do you like it where it mild, and then it gets hot?

– I like it to change up.

– [Rob] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

– So I like it to pick up momentum.

– So you would prefer a cigar that started out mild and grew versus the other way?

– Or sometimes it depends on how we position the leaf sometimes.

– [Rob] Really?

– Sometimes, like, the Solamente started out full, it’s a full cigar. Four puffs later you’re like, oh, okay, that’s medium plus.

– [Rob] Right.

– Catch your attention. It depends on what you’re trying to do.

– [Rob] Sure.

– I first learned that from Avo Uvezian. when I worked at Davidoff. Avo was very, he talked about it. I spent more time talking to him than Hanky. That’s where I learned for most of the stuff from the D.R., but I got to travel with Avo quite a bit. And that was Avo, that was his big concern like one cigar should be more than one cigar. He always thought one cigar should be more than one cigar, so. It should change up on you a little bit.

– This has like a little bit of a sweetness to it.

– Yeah, that’s the Jalapa, I love Jalapa. Mica busts my balls every time we go down there. We got all the tobaccos lined up. He goes, Micky, there’s other tobaccos besides Jalapa. I go, I know. It’s like my wife always says to me when we’re coming up with color schemes she goes, you know, there’s other colors besides red and blue. And I go forest green, khaki, you know, I don’t know, so it’s kind of funny. Yeah, so you got to watch that sometimes. That’s what’s great about being down there. What’s new, what do you got, and see how it would complement. Sometimes you want the tobaccos to complement each other. Sometimes you want them to kind of get into a little bit of an argument.

– [Rob] Right.

– So.

– And you’re having fun blending that.

– Yeah, it’s fun when you get started, you know you’re on the right track, and then it gets painful because you’re just smoking all these.

– [Rob] Really?

– Not painful but you’re going through all these iterations.

– How many do you think you go through on average?

– On average, I don’t know 15, 30 depends on what it is. And then you got to go back and smoke them again, and make sure that you got what you thought you got when you smoked it. And then bring them back to the United States, smoke them. And then go back down to the factory, smoke them again. It’s usually smoke them down there. Now I started working on some blends that got shipped up to me then when I go back down, I’m going down in August will be my first trip down there since last February.

– [Rob] Wow.

– But that still is not the same, but you got to bring them back to the United States, and smoke them again, and then go back down, and then do your final.

– Why is that?

– It’s just different, it settles a little bit because you’re still doing some predictive analysis in the sense that, okay, we’re smoking them through the whole process. Three months in the escaparate. Six months in the escaparate. Nine months in the escaparate, or even as late as 12 months before we actually brand them, and take them to market.

– [Rob] Wow.

– Because it will change.

– Yeah.

– You get less change with the longer the tobacco is aged. That transition is not.

– [Rob] Sure.

– Tobacco is about a year to two years old before you roll it. When those tobaccos are marrying together they’re going through their teenage years. They’re rambunctious, quick changes, and then all of a sudden it settles, so.

– Perfect.

– It’s interesting.

– Maturity happens after your 20s.

– Yeah, my wife still thinks I need to grow up, so. She keeps saying she wants to come back as me in her next life, so.

– Oh, really because you have more fun than she does.

– Yeah, she thinks she does, she’s awesome, though.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– Yeah, she’s a sweetheart.

– What does she do?

– She is a fantastic wife and beautiful mom. She works for Marriott, doing global sales, working with big companies, group sales, basically.

– [Rob] Nice.

– And then she has a side business she just started. She does charcuterie boards.

– [Rob] Oh, sure.

– So she builds them and sells them and then delivers them, and my daughters deliver them. I have to deliver them sometimes.

– So she’s a woodworker.

– No, she puts it with all the meats and the cheeses, and all that stuff.

– [Rob] Oh, gotcha.

– So she gets the board so then they get to keep the board.

– She’s like a cook, she’s making it all happen.

– Yeah, and she fabricates puts the meats in like a tulip. The meat sweats as we call it. So we have one fridge at any time it’s just nothing but meats and cheeses, so. If you want salt and constipation, go to that fridge.

– Yeah.

– But she’s been doing that for 20 years. When I would travel all the time, when I lived in Nashville I would come home, and she would have some of that stuff sent in from Philly with the breads, and the whole countertop would be full of that, and all the wine that I horse-traded with all our friends out in Sonoma and Napa. And every Friday night when I’d get home the neighborhood was over there the lights were on. I’d walk into a houseful of people. I haven’t seen my family in a week there’s a houseful of people there drinking wine, and eating the meats. She’s been doing this for all the events, and housewarming parties, and finally somebody said, why don’t you do this for, whatever? And so I kind of worked on her COGS, like, cost of goods, and stuff like that. And she started doing it. She’s been doing it since April it’s been very good, and it’s been very therapeutic because she was furloughed all through.

– [Rob] Oh, sure.

– During the pandemic

– Yeah, the hotel industry got hit hard.

– Yeah, they got pretty, they’re coming back now though, so.

– Good, good. I wanted to talk a little bit about the blending process for you.

– [Micky] Yeah.

– Where do you feel like you actually started learning? You talked about talking to Avo. You also worked on blends at CAO.

– At CAO.

– So where do you feel like you kind of cut your teeth that you actually were like, okay, now I can actually contribute?

– Well, it started with the curiosity I would say because when I was at Georgetown Tobacco there really wasn’t any publications, or anything. There was “Cigar Encyclopedia” that was out, and they talked a little bit about the anatomy of the cigar, and where it was fabricated. Every time somebody would come in from a certain company I would just ask them where’s the tobacco from? Why did you use this? So it was a lot of questions.

– So as a retailer?

– As a retailer because I wanted to be able to correlate, and tell that story to the consumers when they came in.

– Smart, that’s what I did, too. I was like I got to use this time wisely while I got this guy here.

– Right, and they all were enamored to tell you these stories.

– [Rob] Right.

– And that was the birth of guys like like, guys like Frank Elom, Dan Magris, and all these guys, just great guys, that they knew their product. John Cherpak was with Ashton at the time. Kevin was at Davidoff at that time, and I just asked a lot of questions, and then you sell what you know. You sell what you like, and you sell what you know, so. And then I got the job with Davidoff. And then traveling with Avo, you’d hear those, and then we were doing a lot of entertaining in the D.R. with our appointed merchants. So I had the ability to go down there, go to the fermentation room, the color coding rooms, and all that stuff at the Davidoff facilities. I was fortunate enough to visit some of the other facilities down there as well. And that was like a high-level learning. And then with CAO it was all hands on deck because we were a smaller company which was great because then my exposure. I really learned a lot from the Plasencia family, Perdomo. And, obviously, a little bit with Rocky, a little bit with Jonathan Drew when he was camped out down there, and just hanging out, and drinking a lot of Flor de Caña. And just picking their brains, and stuff like that. And so that’s when we started working on the blends, and stuff like that.

With So Many Cigars Out There, Are Cigar Makers Really That Different? 

– Okay, so I gotta ask because every factory will say that they’re unique. We blend a little different, we age a little differently. From your perspective, true or false?

– Extremely true.

– Extremely true.

– [Micky] Yeah.

– [Rob] Why?

Put 5 Guys in a Room with the Same Tobacco and You’re Gonna Get 5 Different Cigars

– Now remember, so I’m at the beckoned hands with the inventory that I have, so I have access to almost all of the tobaccos that Rocky has access to, that library of tobaccos. I have access to some other tobaccos as well, but the way you blend the cigar, and the way you put them together, the way you actually put them together is different. Pete Johnson says it all the time. Put five guys in a room, and give them all the same ingredients with the same percentages. You’re gonna have five different cigars, or three different cigars, whatever his analogy is, and I think it’s spot-on, yeah, absolutely.

– Really? So how do you do it?

– Well, every part of the leaf has a different influence on the cigar from the top to the bottom.

– So whether it’s the end of the leaf first, or backwards, or?

– Yeah, accordion style, whatever you’re doing. Yeah, there’s a lot of.

– Sure, so that’s what they’re saying.

– My process was a little disruptive.

– Why is it disruptive?

– Because it wasn’t the normal. So that factory is very Cuban-esque.

– Which factory?


– [Rob] Okay.

– They don’t even like to talk about binder. They consider that part of the recipe because they use two binders. Most all Nica factories use two binders.

– [Rob] Okay.

– Then you have your fillers, which is three to four components in that, usually. Usually three, sometimes two, sometimes four. And then the wrapper. Yeah, there’s some ways of positioning the tobacco that I wanted to work with. They said, “No, no, no, you’re wrong.” I’m like, no, I’m not wrong, this is the way. So you want the same rollers rolling your cigars.

– [Rob] Sure.

Retaining Cigar Rollers Helps All Saints Cigars Maintain Consistency

– And no matter if you put it, like, Nimish always says, no matter you’re gonna put a small pilón. Put a pilón in again, I don’t care how small it is because you want those rollers that are dedicated, those torcedors that are working on your cigars, you want them to have the muscle memory of putting those tobaccos together.

– [Rob] Okay.

– So that’s why you hear some of the people talking about the Hyatt only these rollers do these cigars.

– [Rob] Okay.

– Some of those are a lot more technical, and stuff like that. Ours are not that technical I don’t think.

– [Rob] Sure.

– It’s a little different how we juxtapose the tobaccos, I guess, to use the SAT word, but yeah.

– Yeah, I like it, so it is true.

– Yeah, like, every retailer has its own personality, every factory has its own personality. They have their own vibe. They’ve got these up and coming guys. I mean look how fast A.J., not how fast, I mean, 10 years. I’m like, oh, yeah you’re an overnight success. Well, it only took frickin’ 20 years, yeah, right?

– [Rob] Right.

– But he has his style, and he’s very meticulous, like, I’ve been to his compound. We play basketball when I’m down there.

– Because apparently it matters.

– [Micky] Yes.

– A lot.

– Yeah, he’s on it, and Will Carr is the same way, like, watching everything.

– I get it now when they say that because every time they said, like, oh, well, we have a unique way of doing this. And I’m like why does everyone say they have a unique way of doing this, but now it makes sense that you explain it. It’s just the process of the way they like to roll cigars.

Famous Cigar Markers Grow Vegetables on Tobacco Farms to Gauge the Soil

– Yeah, and also we hear about is the process of rolling the cigar. It’s also the process of what they’re doing with the fincas, and what they’re doing at the nurseries, and all these different styles that they do. Those are the guys that really, they’re unbelievable. 

-Always trust a guy that’s running a finca, and a farm that grows his own vegetables. So if you go to the fincas that Rocky owns with Amilcar, and stuff like that. Amilcar and Gerber grow their own vegetables on the front of the property, and that’s one of the ways they feel like they can taste the terroir, taste the land, and see where the tobaccos are.

– Really? So the farmers growing vegetables to eat to understand the flavors coming out of the soil.

– Well, because it’s cheap, and they can do it, but it’s also they feel like they get. Speaking of Jon Huber. You got a sexy middle finger, big boy. Huber just flipped me off, God love him. It’s better Boofy. Boofy would try to make out with me. Yeah, so that’s interesting. You eat their yuccas, and stuff like that, it’s pretty cool.

– That’s awesome. So starting your own brand then.

– Oh, it’s easy, everybody should do it.

– So easy?

– Yeah, it’s so easy. Just take all the money you made in the world, and just dump it into a cigar.

– Yeah, and then take more money and dump it in?

– Yeah, then borrow some, too. And hope your kids get scholarships.

– What’s the saying? The best way to make a million dollars in the tobacco business is start with 10.

– Yeah, exactly. It’s funny, I went to Catholic University, and we lived in the area for a while, and we’d go back to visit for homecoming, and some of my old buddies are, so, Mick, you know? I was always kind of a little bit of an entrepreneur. They’re like, “So, Mick, what are you up to? I’m like, working on my second million. Like, “Really?” I’m like, well, the first one didn’t work out so well, so I’m working on my second million. Yeah, what helped I think is just being at the ground level watching two companies build. Now Davidoff came in with a lot of money, a lot of steam, and a lot of thought. They did a great job at that time.

– Sure.

– So to have that and their willingness to teach us, and work with us, you know, that. And then CAO already had some, they’d already had some established brands at that time.

– [Rob] Right.

– To be a part of that hyper growth was amazing. Starting it from the complete foundation from the very beginning is a lot different, you know?

– [Rob] Right.

– My whole career I’ve had a bunch of people to support. I am the support mechanism. It’s me and Frank right now.

– [Rob] Right.

– I am the sales force. Frank does a little bit in Chicago. We’ve got Chris Mulcrone helping us out a little bit in the Chicago area. Just trying to find those right partners to team with us, and having enough quality brands to take to market, too, that could fulfill somebody’s portfolio.

– [Rob] You’re talking about retailers.

– Retailers, and like maybe a broker.

– Sure.

– Retailers I don’t think are in the mood to be brand builders like they were once before.

– Oh, yeah, I agree with that.

– They’re so consumed with legislation, regulation.

– Should they try to build your brand? I don’t think they should.

– I think I’ve always partnered with people that help build a brand.

– They’re gonna help, but you shouldn’t plop product down, and say, please build this in your shop.

– No, absolutely, you’re absolutely correct. And I’ll tell you one of the things, and Jon Huber just walked by, we talked about was always connect with the consumer.

– [Rob] Right.

– Understand and respect the vehicle how it gets to the consumer, but the most thing is don’t leave it up to somebody else to tell our story.

– [Rob] Sure.

– And I believe that wholeheartedly. Like I just want to get out and tell my story over and over and over and over again, and I can’t tell it enough. Listen, I got in trouble yesterday with a couple retailers that are way behind 100%, and I haven’t been back in since that initial sale.

– [Rob] Sure.

– Yeah, and you know what? Shame on me.

– And they need you to tell that story to the consumer.

– I gotta go back and tell that story over and over again, so now we’re focused on that a little bit, and we’re segmenting and managing our growth in a proper way, so, but yeah, so. Retailers don’t need to build brands. There was a time that they needed to build brands for their own existence because cigar stores were opening up one after another, on top of each other.

– Sure.

– So they were looking at ways to differentiate themselves, so the brand said, we’re already at capacity. We got a 10-mile radius. We can’t sell to you blah, blah, blah. They would do other stuff to differentiate themself. They would bring in brands like the stuff that we did at CAO. That’s where we got a lot of leverage at that time, so, and then, Jon, with his mustache. This guy, he’s gonna torment me for the rest of my life. I love him, I miss him.

– He’s a great guy.

– I miss yelling through the window.

– Yeah, yeah, oh.

– He would just slip me, like, bottles of Jim Beam bourbon just to shut me up, you know? We had a little doorway between our offices.

– Both you over at CAO trying to make it.

– Well, it’s funny because here I am, like, the goofy white guy in a bow tie and here he is all tatted up. And they’re like, you guys know each other? I’m like our offices are right next to each other, so we were.

– We look like brothers. How can you not recognize us?

– We were ham and eggs. We called ourselves the toxic twins, so it was one of the books. Yeah, he was friends with all those guys, so. It was one of the Mötley Crüe guys wrote that book, so it’s hilarious, but, yeah, did I go off on a tangent again? Sorry.

– No, I love it. Do you remember your first sales call to try to get All Saints into retailing?

– Ironically, my first sales call for All Saints was my first sales call as a cigar rep.

– [Rob] Really?

Always Have an Updated Resume Ready to Forward In Case You  Run Into a Job Opportunity

– So I’ll tell you that story, and then you’ll know where this is going. So I get the job. I decide I’m not gonna go into politics, and I’m gonna pursue this career. I just did a dinner for Jorge Padron. I said, I can’t get up there, can you do this dinner? I’ll give you a box of cigars. I’ll give you, like, 100 bucks, and just tell the story. You know the story. Just tell the story of Padron, whatever. I’m like, so I gotta go to Cosmopolitan Club, eat a 10-course meal, drink all these gorgeous wines, drink in a suit, and David Berkebile would always make us carry our resumes in case we got a job for a real job opportunity. Pushed my resume, smoked these, and then I’m gonna walk with a box of cigars, and I’m gonna walk with cash, this is money.

– [Rob] Perfect.

– I love it, so fast forward, Davidoff offers me the job. I fell in love with my wife. I wanted something. On the Hill you get these jobs for nine months. They paid you great, but then you spent three months looking for your next one.

– [Rob] Right.

Honoring Mentors By Naming All Saints Cigars After Them

– And you’re only as good as who’s ever elected, so your longevity of your job was always as good as the last person elected. So I get the job with Davidoff. I go to my first sales call. It’s gonna be Georgetown Tobacco. So if you’ve ever been to Georgetown Tobacco it’s this beautiful old store. Old apothecary, whatever that word is.

– Yeah, apothecary, yeah, yeah, yeah.

– Pharmaceutical pharmacy type stuff for cabinetry. And then if you go up to the third floor where David’s office it’s like a museum up there. It’s unbelievable vintage posters. Him and Shanken used to go back and forth on posters, and just really, really neat up there. So I go up there I’m gonna make my first sales call, and they’re slammed and they’re busy. The phone rings and David goes, “Answer the phone.” I go, David, I don’t work for Georgetown Tobacco anymore. I work for Davidoff. He goes, “If you want this order, you’re gonna pick up the phone right now, and you’re gonna answer.” I go, hello, Micky Pegg, formerly of Georgetown Tobacco, now Davidoff. May I help you please? I could still key into the register for, like, two years afterwards, and work around the holidays. So that was my first sales call, Davidoff, and that was where I got my first dollar from David.

– [Rob] Nice.

– That’s pretty cool.

– That’s awesome, yeah, he’s a great guy.

– So then he’s the guy that got you your first start with All Saints.

– We named a vitola after him, Berkey. So Dedicación the Robusto is called Berkey, and it’s named after David Berkebile.

– Wow.

– And the Toro is named Commandant because I went to Valley Forge Military Academy, and more importantly my partner went to the Air Force Academy. And our six by 60, which is huge, because I call everybody huge we named it the Huge. and then our Churchill seven by 48 is called Coach. It’s a big nod to my college football coach, Fred O’Connor.

– [Rob] Love it.

– Who also got me, like, a tryout with the Redskins. I was a long snapper and just was a great leader in my life. A nod to all the mentors in our life. And then we came out with the Torpedo, the Mitre. And this is a funny story. We go and I’m in Wooden Indian. I live, like, literally half a mile from Wooden Indian. I’m sitting in there like, goddammit, I gotta name this frickin’ cigar because I named all the vitolas. I gotta name this one, I don’t know what to name it. It’s this beautiful Torpedo inspired me from, like, the Belicoso, like the old P.G. Belicoso. It has a very similar look to that, but it’s a little bit more tapered. So I’m in there and Todd Bisell goes, well, why don’t you just call it the Pope’s Hat? You got All Saints, let’s call it the Pope’s Hat. So I immediately Google what’s the pope’s hat called because I didn’t know, you’d think I’d know. It’s called a mitre, M-I-T-R-E, so we named it the Mitre.

– [Rob] Love it.

– But we went back to traditional names on all the other.

– You got a little choked up when you were talking about David.

– Yeah, he’s just a great guy.

– Influenced you a lot?

– A tremendous amount, and he’s put a lot of great people in the industry.

– [Rob] Sure.

– You’ve got Joe Holtman. I’m gonna forget somebody and I’m gonna get yelled at.

– But did you work for David in his retail shop?

– [Micky] Yeah.

– For how many years?

Remembering When You Could Smoke Cigars in Restaurants

– Yeah, for a lot of years I had a very distinct role, so. At that time cigar lounges didn’t exist. There were a few of them, and unless they had a retail shop next to them those lounges had to buy their cigars from a retailer. That’s how the manufacturers kind of protected the retailers a little bit. And restaurants you could smoke in the steakhouses like Del Frisco’s was a customer of ours. They were up in New York. Capital Grille was a customer of ours. Morton’s was a customer of ours. Now Morton’s had an exclusive contract with Davidoff. That’s one of the ways I got to go to Davidoff too.

– [Rob] Sure.

– So I sold to all those places and I was the big, like a mini distributor in a sense to all the restaurant accounts. And I said, David, we got to do this. And he goes, “Well, I don’t like giving them a discount.” I’m like, 20% off, 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing after nine o’clock, plus they mark it up a little bit higher anyway, so they get a little bit more margin, and that’s also gonna drive them back into our store if they want to buy them. He goes, “Okay.” Second month on the job I netted my year’s salary. He goes, “Oh, I think this was a pretty good idea.” Okay, like a year later I was gone I was off to Davidoff, but, yeah, so.

– [Rob] Wow.

– And I was like, I quickly became around town, around Washington, D.C. I was the cigar guy. And another guy, Matt Krimm from Drapers was doing that too at that time, too. Gary Pesh was doing it out in Northern Virginia, so it was kind of like we all worked together.

– [Rob] Sure.

– You know, like, don’t go on this account, or go on this account. Somebody called us we’d say, hey, go and try to save that account.

– So you were really kind of more outside sales for the retailer.

– Yeah, my whole time, yeah. I was on the floor, though, too.

– Right, you’re focusing a lot because at that time you could smoke in those establishments, which is now not the case.

– Right, so you had cigar friendly, and you had some places you could only smoke at the bar after six o’clock.

– [Rob] Sure.

– And some of them you could smoke all the time, and yeah.

– It’s a different world now.

– Oh, yeah, I mean, I was delivering cigars almost every day.

– [Rob] You were what?

– Delivering cigars almost every day.

– Every day?

– To a certain restaurant that’s how big it was. Just to the D.C. metro area.

– How much would they buy, though, like a box?

– Three, four boxes, and that would last them for about a week, week and a half.

– That’s good.

– Because people were putting them on their expense accounts, so they’re getting three and four at a time, throwing them in their jacket, and stuff like that, so.

– [Rob] It was good. I knew one guy that bought them through Capital Grille because he expensed them. It was a different time, it was a different era.

– Yeah.

Training Servers to Increase a Table’s Spend with Cigars

– And I would go in and train the staff about how to present cigars, and how that could mark up their checks.

– How hard is that to teach somebody who has no idea what a cigar is how to do it?

– What, it gets really easy.

– [Rob] Really?

– So say they have a table of four, right? There’s four people at a table. The meal and the wine, and everything, $500, $600.

– [Rob] Sure.

– So they’re getting 20%, right? On top of that. How about I could increase that check to $800, $900? Well, how do I that? Very simple, you bus the table completely. You throw an ashtray up there. Now they’re buying the cognacs, the whiskeys, the expensive, and they’re buying the cigar. You’ve just increased that check almost by 50% with less maintenance.

– It’s not the cigar that’s making the check go up. It’s the stuff that goes with it.

– It’s the cigar plus the pairings.

– [Rob] Yeah.

– So one of the things I used to do, I used to do pairings all the time. I don’t really do them much anymore because everybody in the world, I mean, there’s a million pairing bloggers out there. Back then we didn’t have a shortage. I mean, at one point I had a case of Pappy, like me and Huber would get stuff sent to us, like.

– [Rob] Alcohol?

– Yeah, we didn’t want for anything. and then I would horse-trade cigars for wine, and horse-trade cigars for the bourbons. We were just three hours south of the Bourbon Trail. All this stuff you hear about shortages now. I mean, when I left CAO, and I came back to Philadelphia, I had, like, three cases of all premium bourbons. I drank them all because it was cheaper than that to go to the liquor store because my money was tight for a year while I was finishing up my grad degree. I basically studied for a complete year, mutual funds, working on a desk, and all that stuff before I went out on the field, and sold it to the secondary market, so.

– [Rob] Okay.

– But, yeah, that’s why I took it, I didn’t have any money. So I was like, do I drink a $100 bottle of bourbon, or do I go buy a $20 bottle of bourbon? You drink the $100 bottle of bourbon.

– Just drink it.

– I drank a lot of it because it’s all gone.

– [Rob] It was good.

– It was good, it was good.

– So that’s an interesting way of teaching somebody how to sell cigars. They don’t necessarily need to know a ton about cigars. They need to know how that impacts their customer’s experience at their establishment.

– Right, and I think everything in life that puts a smile on all our faces is an experience.

– [Rob] Right.

– And those certain components, and there’s always that discovery. I think we all have a thirst of discovery the fear of missing out.

– Why he came back in. He was so happy in his other life.

– No, I wasn’t.

– Why did you have to come back in?

– because I need to buy a plane like you. You never take me on the plane

– because you haven’t called me, man.

– I’ll call, I miss you, buddy.

– Sorry, man, go ahead, just had to do it.

– Thank you, Christian. He’s funny.

– You’re just getting all the love.

– Yeah, yeah. I don’t know if you call it love, or my balls busted.

– Yeah, in this industry that’s love.

– Yeah, I love it, though, those guys, I know. The first show when I started snooping around, I guess, it was at TPE last year. It was just too early for us to go to market, and who was it? Oh, Erik Espinosa. “Micky, you dumb ass, why you back?” You got out, you’re one of the ones that got out, so.

– When you left CAO were you thinking you were gonna come back?

– No. Churchill, I talk about. Churchill, I used to call it the black dog, chasing that black dog, or hiding from the black dog. It was a really black dog moment. I didn’t smoke a cigar for a year. I’ve talked about this before. I didn’t have a concept. I boxed up all my cigar stuff and I put it away.

– [Rob] Really?

– Yeah, I was heartbroken.

– Because you wanted to stay in it and it got sold.

– Oh, yeah, and there wasn’t a place for me to go at that time.

– [Rob] Really?

– And then there wasn’t, matter of fact, Frank was one of the guys that wanted to put some money together at that time to go do that because we had the connections.

– To start another brand?

– Yeah, but I didn’t have a name, we didn’t have a name. I had no enthusiasm, and literally I was scared. I had three young kids.

– [Rob] Sure.

– And I was 39 years old, 40, and I had to make a decision how am I gonna provide for my children and my wife that have a lifestyle that they were built, and accustomed to that they deserved, you know?

– [Rob] Right.

– For putting up with me for traveling. I mean, I was never home.

– [Rob] Sure.

– I’m traveling again. I’ve been home for the last two weeks, but I go out for two and three weeks at a time, and they deserve to have something for the time that I put in, and I’m away from them.

– [Rob] Right.

– Though, when I’m home for too long my wife asks me when are you getting on the road again?

– We love you, but get out.

– We love you, but go away. No, I got three daughters, a wife, and a female dog, so it’s pretty funny.

– You’re surrounded.

– Yeah, they’re all beautiful, they’re great, and they’re fun.

– [Rob] That’s good.

– They’re all ball-busters.

– So at that point what did you do for that interim when you said you come up to this crux of like, how do I still make enough money to live this lifestyle?

Transitioning From Selling Cigars to Selling Mutual Funds

– So what I did is I packed up the family, and went back to the Philadelphia area, finished up my master’s at University of Pennsylvania. Got a job at Lincoln Financial. Studied for a year, got all my licenses. It was harder to go back back. It was harder than grad school.

– Right.

– It really was. I had so many, I had all these licenses and designations.

– And what were you selling?

– Mutual funds.

– Mutual funds.

– Basically, I was selling retirement plans, like, 401 s to a corporate level, but there’s mutual funds in there, that’s why I do say mutual funds because it’s a little bit easier for people to translate.

– [Rob] Yep.

– And mutual funds are a lot like a cigar. There’s a wrapper, there’s a binder, there’s a filler.

– [Rob] Sure.

– The wrappers mean the style of mutual fund it is. The binder, Apple stock, which is in every frickin’ mutual fund, and all the different other stocks would be the filler.

– [Rob] Sure.

– It’s funny when I was doing that business everybody was asking me about cigars. Now I’m back in cigars everybody is asking me about mutual funds. And then I studied on what they call the desk for a year, so I was, like, the oldest guy on the desk, and then a year to the date, I got promoted to go out in the field, so, basically, I sold Wall Street to financial advisors then would take it to an end customer like a business owner, or something of that sort.

– Okay.

– [Micky] Yeah, so.

– So how long did you do that for?

– Seven years, eight years.

– Seven years?

– Seven, eight years, yeah.

– And then?

– I took all that money and dumped it into this. That’s why everybody is busting my chops.

– Is that what you were planning to do, though?

– No.

– At what point in that seven year period were you like, I gotta get back into cigars?

– 2017, Frank and I were talking again, when are you getting back in?

– And I just got fed up. If I’m gonna work 14, 16 hours a day, I might as well do something I like. It was a great experience. It provided extremely well for me and the family, and made more money than I thought we could make. It was just once a month when your comp check came in, you’re giddy. 48 hours later I’m like I gotta go sell this again.

– You got to start all over.

– To these jack offs, and I’m like here we go. Not the business owners.

– [Rob] Right.

– Financial advisors think wholesalers are idiots, and wholesalers think financial advisors are.

– [Rob] Right.

– But I worked with a lot of good financial advisors. There’s some really good houses, so. I was very blessed.

– [Rob] Sales is like that. It’s like, okay, well, great you had a good month. Starting over.

– Yeah, nobody cares, yeah.

– [Rob] Yeah.

So What? Now What? Mantra 

– Well, it’s like I tell my kids all the time, so what, now what? You had a great day, you had a great week, so what, now what? What are you gonna do to make the next day great? What are you gonna do to make that next week? Whether it’s their grades, whether it’s competition. I have three highly competitive daughters as I was talking about earlier, or if you had a day, you had a bad day. So what, now what? What are you gonna do to make the next day better? You had a bad hole on the golf course. So what, now what? Especially when you play match play. What are you gonna do on the next tee box to make this better? What are you gonna do on your next shot to continue that whether it’s good, or bad? And I try to think about that because I wake up every day and it’s like it’s a new day to make something happen, you know? It’s the excitement. It’s that chance to discover something new, and make a new friend, and find a new place, and find a new partnership, so for me I think about that all the time. It’s like, so what, now what? You hear some people say have the memory of a goldfish, 10 seconds, right?

– [Rob] Yeah.

– And I do and I think that’s what’s helped me a little bit through the ups and downs through life, so.

– I love that quote, so what, now what?

– [Micky] So what?

– It’s a great title.

– I got it, it’s Dr. Elko, is a guy that spoke at one of our kick-off meetings that I stole it from.

– [Rob] Sure.

– Great guy, he’s been like a mental coach for a lot of winning NCAA teams like Alabama. I think he’s got a couple that are national rings, his inspiration to those teams. He’s an interesting guy, E-L-K-0, Dr. Elko.

– When did you learn that from him? Were you a coach?

– He spoke at one of our kick-off meetings at Lincoln Financial. We always had these dynamic speakers.

– [Rob] Oh, gotcha.

– That kicked off the year for sales.

– [Rob] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

– When you’re going for your sales recognition, and all that stuff was always awesome.

– [Rob] Okay.

– because I quickly was on the lead on that board. It was pretty cool. Of all these great speakers that’s the one line I remember, and I love it.

– So what, now what?

– [Micky] Yeah, I have it written all over the place.

– That fueled your drive.

– [Micky] Yeah.

– Do you think it takes some of that tenacity to keep in a business either like this, or financials?

– Anything you do, I think. We’re not gonna have all great days, and we’re gonna have a lot of great days, and, hopefully, they outnumber the days, but I think days are God’s way of telling you, hey, listen, you’re gonna appreciate those great days, though, too.

– And you learn from that.

– Yeah.

– [Rob] You learn from the mistakes.

– I’d rather learn from other other people’s mistakes, but, yeah, consider like the guy like I think one of your things were like what grade school did I go to and where? I’m like which one? I got kicked out of kindergarten. I got kicked out of fourth grade. I got kicked out of 10th grade. I went to three different high schools.

– Really?

– One of them twice.

– Why?

– I was just a hellion. I didn’t steal, I didn’t do anything, I was just crazy. I got kicked out of I can’t remember.

– It was just crazy.

– I got kicked out of kindergarten which is frickin’ nuts.

– How do you do that? Were you beating up other kids, or what?

– Then they let me back in the school, then I got kicked out in fourth grade. So in Florida they didn’t have air conditioners in the school. It was Warner Christian Academy. We’d have to wear our gym outfits under our uniforms, or whatever we wore at school.

– Oh, man, that’s hot.

– And it was hot, so one day in class I was so hot because sometimes they let you take your clothes off, and be in your gym uniform, so I’m just sitting in class, and I just took off my clothes, and sat in my gym uniform, and I got sent to the principal’s office. And that was the last time I saw that class they’re like. That was the hair that broke the camel’s back.

– Right.

– I can’t remember all the other stuff I did, but you know? My mom could probably tell you.

– Sure, sure. We’ll get your mom on the next episode. She’ll tell us all the stories.

– She tells my kids all these stories. I’m like don’t tell these kids these stories.

– Do they use them against you, your kids?

– No, not yet.

– Thank God.

– They got a lot of their mom’s brains, thank God.

– [Rob] Good.

– They got her beauty and her brains, so.

– [Rob] Good.

– They do have some of my rambunctiousness, though, which drives my wife up the wall.

– It’s coming back to kick you in the butt.

– Yeah, it drives Kimmie a little bit crazy, so.

– Ah, that’s also God’s way of saying, yeah, you were a little bit of a hellion, so here you go.

– Yeah, these girls are angels compared to what I did, so far, knock on wood, so.

– Well, I love it Micky, this has been a blast.

– [Micky] Yeah, thanks for the time.

– I can’t wait to see where this brand is going next.

– Headed your way.

– What do people have to smoke right now? They got the Dedicación.

– [Micky] And the Saint Francis right now.

– [Rob] And the Saint Francis.

– And the Habano in Colorado should be on the shelves by October.

Where Can You Buy All Saints Cigars

– And where can they go to get more information All Saints?

– Just go to our website, and you’ll see our retailer locator on there. We do not sell direct.

– Right.

– We do not sell direct, we do not sell direct. Matter of fact during the pandemic I’ll tell you one of the things I did is those first two months we were really dormant. So all the local area, all my friends that wanted to support me, would buy cigars from me. I would deliver the cigars to them, and then run their credit card number through.

– The retailer.

– The retailer that was closest to them, and then I would invoice that retailer.

– See, that’s brilliant.

– Yeah, so it was something to keep me from going insane, keep me in contact with those retailers. I was hyper local to that Philadelphia area.

– [Rob] Right.

– And keep in contact with my friends that wanted to support me.

– That’s awesome.

– because it was two months deadpan silence.

– [Rob] Right.

– And then finally I just got in the car and just started.

– And for a guy like you that’s gotta keep going, so what, now what? You’re like, when is this gonna come off? This has gotta eventually break.

– Well, finally I just jumped in my car. and just got tested every time I got back from home.

– [Rob] Right.

– So when I first started getting COVID testing it was $58, that went to 75, that went to 100, 150, in a matter of, like, four months.

– And you paid all of it.

– Yeah, so, you’d see my expense report. Hotel, bourbon, and then COVID testing.

– Hotel, bourbon, COVID, that’s it, that’s all it needs.

– Yeah, well, I live off of beef jerky, and Diet Mountain Dew when I’m on the road. I don’t drink that, or eat that when I’m home. That and bananas, yeah.

– That and bananas.

– Just go, go, go, go, go, go.

– Good. Well, we appreciate you making this.

– [Micky] Thank you.

– I smoked this thing down to the nub. I love this cigar.

– I didn’t get through much of mine. I guess I was talking too much, sorry about that.

Yes, the All Saints Cigars Habano Dedicación is Boxworthy

– The Habano Dedicación you guys, it’s boxworthy, I approve. Micky, thank you so much for joining me.

– Thanks for the time.

Where Can You Buy Boveda to Humidify Cigars

– Everyone, this is another episode of “Box Press.” For more information go to All Saints Cigars to find out where you can get them, and as always if you don’t have Boveda in your humidor, head over to Protect those cigars.

From Buying Cigars for Senators on Capitol Hill to Owning a Cigar Brand

For more than 20 years, Micky Pegg worked in the cigar industry—from selling sticks at Georgetown Tobacco and managing that shop to repping for Davidoff, Felipe Gregorio and CAO. At the latter, he ascended to vice president of sales before CAO was acquired by General Cigar Co. So, it was only time before this professional chameleon became a cigar entrepreneur. With friends Frank Layo and Martin Corboy, Micky co-founded All Saints in 2018. The boutique brand’s cigars are made at Rocky Patel’s Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (TAVICUSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Catch the Highlights: 

  • (1:50) Discovering that your great-great-grandfather ran a legendary tobacco shop
  • (3:07) Delivering cigars to senators while they conferenced with POTUS
  • (4:30) Selling cigars, then managing Georgetown Tobacco
  • (7:55) Blending All Saints Cigars
  • (8:31) Accidental cigar run that became All Saints’s Solamente
  • (11:09) Trademarking St. Francis for a cigar release
  • (12:49) Bringing to light steps in cigar making that nobody else talks about
  • (15:19) Studying international leadership with Volvo and Ikea
  • (21:13) Blending tobacco for the entire life of the cigar
  • (21:37) Transitioning flavors within a cigar
  • (33:01) Growing vegetables on tobacco farms to be gauge the terroir of the soil
  • (39:53) Honoring mentors, naming All Saints cigars
  • (42:59) Training servers to increase a table’s spend with cigars
  • (48:50) Leaving CAO
  • (52:59) So what? Now what?

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