Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am first a father, and second a cigar lover, manufacturer. I’ve been involved in the industry for around 15 years in some shape or form, starting in the retail side of things, where my passion started, and my obsessive nature had me researching and learning as much about cigars as I could. I still do that today.
What made you decide to start Ohana Cigars?
After working in retail I took a few rep jobs for small companies as well as still working at a cigar shop. One of the brands was awesome, he other was an awful experience and I hope to never see that man again. I was supposed to be getting a salary and commission, which he loved to not pay me or lie and tell me the check was in the mail, you name it, he used it as an excuse. Finally my commission and salary wasn’t paid for 3 months leading up to Christmas, with the promise of one big check in time so that I could buy presents. After 23 days of begging for my check, Christmas eve came, and still nothing. I had to get a lawyer to get him to pay me, and then he paid me half of what he was obligated to. I was upset, called my dad, he asked me why I had let this man keep screwing me out of money. I didn’t have much of an answer besides that I was too trusting and believed the man over and over. He asked me why I wouldn’t want to start my own company. As soon as he said it, I was laughing inside because I knew very little about what it would take, but I knew it would take a lot of money. He told me to find out where we could go in order to find a factory to get this started. The next few months were some of the most stressful days of my life. I didn’t have $100,000, barely a quarter of that. I started off with under $25,000 from my father. The first run was 5,000 cigars in 2 different blends made for me at the Plasencia Factory. This was a huge learning experience for me, it was amazing how much goes into getting a cigar from the fields to your humidors. After a little over a year and a half I parted with Plasencia to team up with Noel Rojas, a blender born in Cuba that had been rolling cigars since he was a boy. This is still who I use today.
Where did the name Ohana derive from?
The word ʻohana means family in the Hawaiian language, but in a much wider sense, to include not only one’s closer relatives, but also one’s cousins, in-laws, friends, race, and other neighbors.
This means a lot because my dad is my investor, and my family extends to a decent number of friends in and out of the industry. I have any people to be grateful to, and though we might not always get along, I’ll forever be indebted to them for the time they took with me, such as Skip Martin who kept his factory open for at least 3 hours to show my father and I all about different tobaccos and just how cool and crazy it is to make a cigar. He did like a class with us, gave us the same tobaccos, which we tasted separately, then he had us put together a blend. All of our cigars tasted way different, even though we used the exact same tobaccos, just in different amounts. It was fascinating and he was the only man who offered to show us ANYTHING. He didn’t see me as competition, but as someone wanting to learn. The other big influence on me, and still is would be Pete Johnson. I’ve always had questions for him whenever I see him, and he always gives me great advice through his own experiences. One of my favorites, though it’s pretty simple is to be original, don’t copy what other people are doing, be myself. I try and always do that. After that, I admire several brand owners, this can be hard work, especially when you aren’t working with much capital, but I’m still here to tell you it can be done!
So what make Ohana Cigars unique?
I can now truly say, working with Noel Rojas is a major factor of that. He pays close attention to make sure my cigars have the best construction and consistency as well as using the best tobaccos available, even if it means paying more, sometimes ALOT more. He also has a certain way he rolls and teaches his rollers to roll. I very rarely have cigars that wont draw. I also like to do little things that not many companies do. The cigars that are Noel’s and mine are the “Pulse” and “Pulse Maduro” with a reblend of the m13 in the works. All my Pulse have a “closed foot”. The Pulse Habano has a pigtail and a closed foot, the maduro has a box press and closed foot. The pulse is currently the best selling cigars in our line, with our anniversary cigar, right behind it. We’ve also quickly sold out of all our limited releases.
What do you see happening in the future for Ohana?
Ohana has been growing since day one, we are currently working on growing our inventory to keep up with orders and so that we can finally fill orders for much bigger accounts that we currently can’t sell to because we don’t have the inventory. We also are planning the release of an entire new brand, still under our Familia Rodriguez Tobacos, which is over Ohana, but this brand is going to allow me to do things that I don’t see fitting Ohana. I know one thing, if my Ohana line isn’t your flavor profile, I think you might need to give them a shot. For anyone thinking I can’t come out with another brand after the FDA date, it did come out before the FDA date just in a small amount to a very few select retailers.
What are you most excited about with SmoothDrawCigars.com selling Ohana Cigars?
I look forward to working with SmoothDrawCigars.com so that I can have one more boutique online shop that can sell cigars to people in places that are unable to get them! Cheers, and smoke ’em if ya got em!
Interested in Ohana Cigars?
Click here to view Ohana Cigars