The year was 1902, Arturo Fuente Sr. and his family had recently arrived from Cuba to the bustling streets of Tampa, Florida. It would be another full ten years before the birth of A. Fuente & Co. Alas, in 1912, the brand was born. Inside a west Tampa three story wood building, Arturo Fuente Sr. started making some of the best cigars during that time. Being a native Cuban immigrant, naturally, he imported the finest tobacco that he could acquire from Cuba, to hand roll his cigars with. From 1912 until 1924, A. Fuente & Co. grew substantially to employ five hundred plus workers, filling the three story building from top to bottom, with the finest cigars in Tampa.
Late 1924, on a moon lit night, the A. Fuente & Co. factory burned to the ground. Completely devastated and penniless, Arturo Fuente Sr. worked his way back. Through the great depression, he struggled to provide for his family and to save money, in hopes of, one day, re-opening his beloved cigar factory. By the end the depression and World War II, Arturo Fuente Sr. had saved enough to re-open on a part time basis and revamped his back porch with rolling tables. When not hand rolling cigars, Arturo worked as a baker and his wife took work in a factory.
The cigar business, however, was a family venture. When not working at the bakery or factory, the whole family could be found working together in the back of their home. Arturo and his wife along with several part time rollers, would delicately hand roll cigars for the locals. His younger children, Arturo Fuente, Jr. and Carlos would help out where they could; they started out sweeping the floors and helping out with menial tasks until they started rolling.
As all fathers envision, Arturo dreamed of passing on his cigar business to one of his sons. As the oldest, Arturo Fuente, Jr. was the likely choice, however, it was Carlos who threw himself into the business day after day. With a passion. He learned the business inside and out. In 1958, when Arturo Jr. passed on the business, Carlos jumped at the chance and bought it for one dollar. Carlos immediately began growing the business by reaching out to other parts of Florida for accounts. Eventually, he worked his way up to New York targeting Hispanic smokers. He quickly found this was easier said then done. At the time, cigar smokers were very loyal to the brands they smoked.
In 1960, when a trade embargo took place with Cuba, the situation changed. With Cuban tobacco no longer available to the U.S market, Carlos began importing from Puerto Rico and Columbia. This took vast amounts of skill to artfully blend a cigar that had classic Cuban tastes that would appeal to the American smokers. Although, Carlos took on the challenge and started the process. As the years started to pass, another situation arose. Rising labor costs began to make producing cigars in Florida almost impossible. Attempts were made to start factories in Puerto Rico and Mexico, but failed due to quality issues.
Finally, in the 1970's, Carlos Sr. reached out to some friends based in Nicaragua inquiring about the quality of tobacco and growing conditions. Within a few short months, Carlos Sr. had moved his operations to Esteli, Nicaragua. However, in 1979, with a Nicaraguan Revolution going on, the Fuente factory became part of the casualties and was burnt to the ground. Utterly devastated, but far from out, Carlos Sr. made a bold move mortgaging his home and his Son Carlos Jr. scraped together his savings and moved once again, now this time to Santiago, Dominican Republic.
In September of 1980, Carlos Sr. and his son opened up a 12,000 square foot factory. Every penny they earned they immediately put back into production and the facility. By the mid 1980's, The Fuente name began to become a household name with the release of the Heminway cigar line. With their new success, they expanded the facility to include tobacco fields, curing barns, and even began growing their own wrapper leafs which is a time consuming and tedious process.
By the 1990's, Fuente was an entrenched household name, being enjoyed by cigar smokers of all levels. With a cigar boom in 1996, Fuente Cigars was launched into stardom, but never turned its back on what made the brand great. Quality, consistency, great tobacco, and determination. Today, Fuente Cigars produce thirty plus million cigars per year; they are the standard that all other manufacturers strive to achieve.
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