Jon Huber Interview – C.A.O. Cigars

June 2, 2010

Featured in the Summer 2008 Issue of Cigar Press Magazine.

Cigar Press hooked up with CAO’s Director of Lifestyle Marketing, Jon Huber at Dennis Sullivan’s tattoo parlor in Nashville, Tennessee for fresh ink and a little history behind one of America’s hottest cigar brands.

Cigar Press – So why cigars?  What made you get into this business?

Jon Huber – Back in ’94 I moved to Nashville from LA.  On a lark I was in a wine store and saw a cigar magazine with George Burns on the cover.  I thought it was cool that there was a whole magazine about cigars. In those days they were thick.  I took it home and read about Robusto tastings.  It really peaked my curiosity.  I was flying home for the holidays and wanted to get my father something cool.  Some sort of a bonding thing, so I thought, cigars – perfect.  I had been reading up on them and going to Uptown’s Smoke Shop in Green Hills.  I walked into the humidor and was just completely overwhelmed.  Some guy walked in and asked what I was looking for.  He gave me the usual shit, Macanudo, Ashton Classic.  I think he gave me a couple Griffin’s as well.  I really started to get intrigued by the whole concept of cigars.  I got a little journal and saved up what little extra money I had each week to buy cigars at Uptown’s.  I would use Aficionado’s ratings and ask for whatever cigar got a high rating.  If they didn’t have it I would go down the list.  I just kept journaling all the cigars.  It was actually pretty funny because I remember at the time one of the cigars that I scored really low was the C.A.O. black.

CP –So you just kept getting into cigars and eventually found a job in the business?  What led you down this road?

Huber – At that point I really wanted to make a change.  I was pushing thirty and wanted to do something that I loved to do, not something that I had to do.  I decided to start writing letters to every cigar company who advertised in a cigar magazine.  I went through them cover to cover.  If I saw an address or contact, they would get a letter from me.  My very last resort was C.A.O. because they were the very last ad in the book.  I found out later that they did that on purpose.  Cano (founder of C.A.O. Cano Ozgener – pronounced John-O) always wanted the last page because he thought that when people picked up a magazine they flipped through it back to front, not front to back.  He had to be the last right hand page in the book.  So about four months later I got a phone call from Cano.  I didn’t even put two and two together because it had been so long since I wrote the letter.  I came to find out that Tim, Cano’s son, was in town visiting from LA and saw my letter on his dad’s desk.  He told his dad, “You need people to help you, and this guy really wants to work in the cigar business.  You should call him.”  So he called me and I interviewed with him.  Then I went back in for a second interview.   At that time I was willing to do everything and anything just to get my foot into the door.  C.A.O. was not what you see now.  They just moved out of his basement to this shanty 2,000, square foot office space.  He told me the only thing he needed was a shipping manager.  I told him, “No problem, I’ll be your shipping manager.”  I really sucked.  God bless him for taking a chance on me.  To this day I am so loyal to the Ozgener family because they really did take a chance.

CP – How did you transfer into marketing?

Huber – The turning point was about four months into it.  I was working out one day and I heard this radio promo on this rock station here in Nashville – 103.3 WKDF.  The promo read something like, “Grand prize – we’re giving away two tickets to a closed circuit prize fight and a box of cigars.”  Immediately a bell rang in my head.  They didn’t mention what the cigars were.  I called the radio station and somehow I got through.  In Nashville you never get through. I explained to whoever answered the phone that I just heard this radio spot and I asked who they were getting the cigars from.  They told me they had no idea, and they just thought it would be a cool thing to go along with the boxing tickets.  I told them I work for a cigar company here in Nashville.  At that time no one in Nashville knew who C.A.O. was.  I told them, “I tell ya what, I’ll give you a few boxes of cigars for a couple plugs.”  The dude said hell yeah, no problem – done deal.  So I got free advertising.  From then on it read “C.A.O. sponsored cigars” or something like that.  Cigars were absurdly hot then.  This was like ’96, so I went back to the radio station.  I pitched the idea to do a weekly spot on the radio about cigars, and I would be the cigar guy.  They loved it.  I did it for like four weeks.  I went in at seven in the morning for the drive time thing.  People would call in and ask questions about cigars.  I became the cigar guy, the cigar expert – Jonny from C.A.O.  Nobody here at C.A.O. knew what I was doing.  No one had a clue.

CP – So you didn’t tell anyone you had a radio gig representing C.A.O.?

Huber – I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know if I was going to suck or not.  But it was actually pretty easy.  The funny thing looking back at it was how did I con these guys into thinking I was a cigar authority or some kind of cigar expert?  I had been smoking cigars for about six months at the time.  So the radio station gave me tapes of the shows I was on.  At this time it was still audiocassette tapes.  I went in one morning and gave Cano the tapes and said, play these.  He just listened in shock and said, “This is you? Oh my god, you’re really good at this.  You are now the Director of Promotions and PR.”  He just made up the title on the spot and told me, “You are the worst shipping manager I have ever had.”

CP – Anything to get you out of the shipping department, huh?

Huber – Yeah, right.  But that’s how I got promoted.  Promoting the brand became pretty easy.  I was passionate about it.  I would just do creative things.  When Sopranos was just getting started – I think it was their second season – People were talking about how they saw a Macanudo or something like that on the show.  It was as simple as someone saying that we should try to get on that show.  Cano’s mantra is “make it happen.” So he said, “make it happen.”  What could we say?  So we made it happen.  We didn’t realize the odds that were stacked against surviving in the industry.  There were so many brands launched between ‘94 and ‘96.

CP – Before you came to be in the position you’re in – what was the image of C.A.O.?

Huber – The tag line used to be “diamonds are a man’s best friend too.”  It was really bad.  There was the old diamond logo.  I know Cano is really fond of it, but it was unclear as to what it said.  No one knew how to pronounce it.  Did it sound like sow or cow?  I mean it was hard for the consumer to figure out.  It didn’t really say C.A.O.  One year Tim and I were at a Big Smoke New York, and literally it was just Tim and I.  We had this 16 x 20 printout of our ad on foam core, hanging by a little wire on the back of the curtain.  We were handing out cigars and people were coming up to us saying, “We love Chow cigars,” or “We love Cad cigars.”  All we had was the black, black maduro and the C.A.O. Gold.  Black was going through some quality control issues and we actually ended up tanking the line, just pulling it back.  We were really just rolling on Gold.  Then ‘98 came around, that’s when we were friends with Tony Borhani.  One thing led to another and Douglas Perringer contacted us and asked if we wanted him to come up with some cigars for us.  We said sure.  At that time we were just dealing with Nestor Plasencia and the Toraños.  It was really stealthy.  One night he flew into Nashville International and two of our guys met him at the airport.  He had a suitcase with him and he wouldn’t let anybody touch it – like he was a dope runner or something.  They brought the blend samples back to the office and we started smoking the cigars that were in his suitcase.  Those are what became the L’Anniversaire Maduro.  We were blown away.  That cigar was so good.  I said that we should take that opportunity to revamp the band a little.  We had the diamond band and I was so sick of people saying the name wrong.  I said that we really had to spell it out.  C period, A period, O period.  So then people would realize it was C.A.O.  That’s how we designed the band.  At that point one of my favorite cigars was a Partagas Serie D #4.  So here’s some creative thinking, I suggested knocking off the Partagas Serie D band and putting C.A.O L’Anniversaire Maduro on it.

CP – So as far as I can remember, the image of a cigar company has usually always been, for the most part, the old tobacco man standing in a tobacco field wearing a guayabera.  Today things seem to be changing.  There are people in the industry who are making a lot of shit happen and they don’t fit that mold at all.  You have guys like Pete Johnson, for instance, guys like you, and more and more newcomers who don’t fit that mold in the slightest.

Huber – And guys like you.

CP – I think I need a few more tattoos first.  I should have gotten one yesterday after you.

Huber – I told you man it would have been on me.  You could have gotten a nice C.A.O. logo right across your chest.

CP – Maybe if we hit the bar first instead of after it would have happened – but when do you think this new wave started to take root?  It seems like a whole new generation is getting noticed in the industry today and C.A.O. has one of the most modern images out there.

Huber –   It’s unique.  I think with our brand image, it was just a natural by-product of the personality that comprised C.A.O.  You have some people who are old school and very traditional like Cano, and I would even say Micky Pegg is pretty traditional with his view point.  Then you’ve got Tim who is a younger guy with good taste who used to be in the entertainment business and brings that whole vibe.  Then you’ve got me; a little bit more edgy, a little bit more Rock ’n’ Roll, if you want to call it that.  So when you have all those personalities and view points coming together the result is what you see with C.A.O.  It wasn’t like we sat there and thought about what would be a really cool image to contrive.  For us it’s really an organic process.  In terms of the industry, there is an influx of younger people, like you said, a new generation of people who aren’t going to be as set in their ways.  When you look through magazines you see a guy who thinks that just because he puts himself in front of a bale of tobacco that he’s a cigar guy.  For us, that was never our thing.  We knew none of us had any heritage in tobacco.  We just all liked cigars and were passionate about the product.  We wanted to do it our way.  Like Pete Johnson, he’s not going to put himself in front of a bale of tobacco because that’s not his heritage, that’s not his upbringing.  In a way assuming that position is almost disrespectful to the people who grew up working in that environment.  That’s just years and years and years of living and breathing tobacco.  With Pete, here’s a guy that’s just passionate about cigars and puts his own spin on it.  I think that’s what you see more of today.  I’d rather see people who are honest and real who say, “I’m not a tobacco guy but I love cigars – and here’s my spin on them,” as opposed to adopting that poser position where you have a guy who holds up a leaf, automatically making him a tobacco expert.  Give me a break.

CP – C.A.O. is also one of the only companies who have broken into mainstream media.  You guys have a big presence in Hollywood, sports, and fashion.  You’re all over the place.  How were you able to break into all of that?

Huber – Going back to Cano’s “make it happen” mantra… we didn’t know any reason why we couldn’t do it – so why not try it.  We just thought let’s try this, or let’s go after that.  I think a lot of people just get locked in their box.  A lot of people might think we’re into cigars, why would we have anything to do with sports?  Shit – we were contacted by someone at Fox Sports in like ‘97 who asked, “Why don’t you bring cigars to the VIP parties.”  No problem.  Then that led to making cigars for the Superbowl after party.  You just start to get out there and do things.  You realize that you’re not limited by what most people think you can’t do.  You just make it happen.  The same with Sopranos.  We got on our first season, which was Season two, and after that things started to snowball.  You know, we would have the prop master calling us up and saying he’s got another opportunity for us.  Then that led to HBO coming to us years later asking if we wanted to do a licensed project for Sopranos – to make a cigar.  I’m over simplifying things but I think it’s just a matter of building a core foundation.  Things grow from there.  Just the other day I got an email from Sean “Diddy” Combs’ executive assistant, saying that she saw a humidor at a back stage gifting retreat or something.  So she wanted to know if we could help out with this.  Most of the time it’s people trying to scam something.  Sure enough I called her up and she gives me the address and it’s all legit.  If we hadn’t done that back stage gifting, whether it was the Emmy’s, the Grammy’s, the Oscar’s or whatever, a guy like that – a high profile figure – may not have ever seen it and wanted it for himself.

CP – It seems like the actors, TV shows, musicians – or whoever – go to C.A.O first.

Huber – We have that niche cornered more or less.  So we get a lot of first right of refusal to a lot of things.  We don’t do everything we get pitched on, but we do a good bit of it.  At a certain point the chore becomes not so much getting the opportunity but evaluating the opportunity and minimizing the financial risk and wondering if it’s the right move for the brand.  That’s the position you want to be in.  You don’t want to be going after it but you want to be evaluating the risk.   

CP – So when did you get your first tattoo?

Huber – I was 22 or 23 years old.

CP – What was it?

Huber – It was actually a Superman tattoo…but I changed it after that.  I thought that was just a little too…well, whatever.  So I actually made a scroll around it and dedicated it to my Grandfather’s birth and death.

CP – How many cigar-related tattoos do you have?

Huber – Let’s see, the Cohiba band with my name on it.  The cigar with the C.A.O. on it. I’ve got the open box of cigars with the Cuban flag behind it, and the one we just got yesterday.  So four.  At a certain point people ask how many tattoos you have.  I’m just like, uh, three.  They all just start to look like one after a certain point.

CP – I know you’re extremely proud of your son, Liam.  Does he know what his first tattoo will be?

Huber – Oh man – I’ll never hear the end of that.  He plays in this basketball league, and he had gone to a birthday party one night before a game.  Some of the party favors were temporary tattoos.  Like all the other kids he was putting the tattoos on his arms.  So I show up at his game the next day in a t-shirt.  The other parents looked at me like – look how you’re influencing your kid.  I was getting the dirtiest looks!  I didn’t even do anything.  But I really don’t think he’ll be into it.  He’s more into doing the opposite of what I do.  He’s a great kid. I love him to death.

CP – What sort of music do you have rolling around in your iPod?

Huber – God.  Usually what I do is create playlists.  I run a lot.  It’s more or less my meditation for the week.  I’ll wake up and make a playlist for whatever I’m in the mood for and run to that.  I listen to everything from rap and hip hop, rock and classic rock to alternative.  I was just listening to a Led Zeppelin compilation that I made today.  I was also listening to some new stuff that’s coming out.  It just depends.  The only thing I don’t listen to is country.  Living in Nashville, Tennessee and not listening to country?  I know, it’s bad.  I’m surprised they don’t run me out of the village.

CP – If you hit scan on the radio here two out of three stations are country.

Huber – That’s why I don’t listen to the radio.  I have a ton of CDs in my car for that reason – and none of them are country.  It’s actually funny because we’ve had Brad Paisley here at our office, Hank Williams, Jr., Kid Rock… these guys who people see as iconic in country music.  I guess that’s what they like about coming here.  Nobody falls all over them.

CP – So let’s talk about sex.  What’s your favorite flavor?

Huber – Man, dodging a bullet there.   We got into flavors by accident actually.  We had what was called the Gold Honey.  It was a Petit Corona and we just sweetened the tip and put it in a plain C.A.O. Gold box.  We took it to the RTDA (now IPCPR) and then we started getting requests for it.  People really liked that sweetened tip.  Tim started thinking about it and thought that maybe there was really something there to be done with flavors.  I think after Golden Honey came Bella Vanilla.  Then what really clicked was Moontrance.  To this day Moontrance outsells the other five flavors put together.  For some reason that one really struck a chord.  Tim was really getting into it and getting into the packaging.  The flavors brand is probably our number three or number four best selling brand.  I mean we have six cigars that make the flavors “brand.”  We were tying to think of a cool way to promote it.  At the time what set it apart was that we really used premium tobacco.  They had Cameroon wrappers and had long filler tobacco.  We didn’t take some cheap cigar and spray it with vanilla flavoring.  It was actually infused into the filler tobacco.  It was a premium cigar, but it was flavored.  So what do we do to promote it?  I think it was around the time of Fanta, remember that?

CP – “Don’t you wanna, Fanta Fanta?”

Huber – Exactly.  The chicks in the different outfits. So we thought, well, sex sells and we can develop a persona behind each of these flavors.  So we had a designer in LA design the costumes for the Flavorettes. That was pretty much the drive behind it.

CP – Well they’re a crowd pleaser that’s for sure.  Every time there is some event with the Flavorettes the line wraps around the block for the C.A.O. booth.

Huber – It’s funny what six semi-dressed women can do in a convention that’s 98% men.  The thing of it is that it is an obvious attraction.  Once we have the attention of a captive audience we try to capitalize on it a little bit.  At this point we’ve been doing Flavorettes for two or three years.  A little bit of me says that it has run it’s course.  So we may just scale them back to the larger shows.  They’ll always be a part of the brand, but you always have to evolve.

CP – At the trade shows you guys always throw the most banging parties.  They are always one of the most anticipated events of any show.

Huber – The pressure’s on.

CP – How did you decide to start hosting these bashes?

Huber – They’ve really come a long way.   The first time we did a party was in ‘98 when we launched the Maduro.   I believe it was in Nashville that year.  We believed in the cigar so we wanted to launch it big.  Big for us at that time was the Hard Rock Café.  Basically when we rented out the Hard Rock we had like 400 people, a swing band, a couple of ice sculptures, and that was it.  People loved it.  They had a good time.  Now you fast forward and we’re hosting two or three thousand people and have hired Lynyrd Skynyrd to play.  This year we’re putting on an event party, but it’s also really a concert.  It really just grew and grew.  When the convention was in Nashville in 2003, I believe, we rented out the Wildhorse Saloon.  We had girls in baby doll C.A.O. t-shirts, trucker hats with C.A.O., we had great live entertainment, open bar, and people just had a great time.  I think we had about 1,700 or 1,800 people.  We did it all by ourselves.  Then we had to ask ourselves, how do we top that?  So then the show was back in Vegas and we had a Miss Italia contest.  Then we had the Palms by the pool, and they just got bigger and bigger.  It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work.  We start planning these parties about eight months out from the trade show.  It’s fun – but they all present challenges.  Like last year in Houston we had to find a venue that holds 2,500 people.  The Chamber of Commerce told us that just didn’t exist – especially for 2,500 people smoking cigars.  Minute Maid Park said they could accommodate us.  So we flew down to Houston and they gave us the tour and everything.  So I asked if we could smoke there.  It was a big no.  I asked, “how about the bleachers?”  And they told me we wouldn’t even be allowed in that part.  I told them that this was to be a cigar event and asked where my guests were going to smoke.  They walked me over to a patio that held about 200 people.  I actually ended up going to Houston about four times in six months.  We found a place that was about 20 minutes away.  Since we couldn’t find a venue near where we wanted to be, we had to charter like 20 luxury buses on rotation.  We added little extras like videos, beer, whatever.  Houston was unique but I didn’t want to do that again.  Vegas is easy.  Vegas is great.  A lot more is expected to go into a Vegas party.  It’s our 40th anniversary this year, so we hired Skynyrd.  I don’t know how we’ll top this one.  I thought we hit the limit when we had Tommy Lee.  That was the first real name act.  They wanted a big name and gave me a budget and told me to find a name.  I told them if they want a name it would come with a price.  Long story short, that’s when I reached out to Tommy Lee.  He did us a big favor actually, and gave us a good price as a DJ.

CP – I have to give it up to you for that party.  All that planning and then to be hit with one of two thunderstorms that come through Vegas a year is crazy.  But then to be able to pull off a killer party despite that is unbelievable.

Huber – That was nuts, I’ll never do another outdoor event again.  It was a disaster.  Behind the scenes it was tough.  The lady at the Hard Rock Hotel was telling us that the party was over.  I didn’t buy that so she walked us over to this little part of the hotel and said to have it here at some café.  There was no way.  I pretty much bum rushed our way into Body English.  It worked out in the end but I learned a valuable lesson – don’t do outdoor events.  Even this year people wanted to have Skynyrd outside, but there is no way I’m going to do that.

CP – There was big news when C.A.O. was acquired this past year.  Do you think that will effect your image or product development at all?

Huber – Internally nothing has changed.  The message that was given to us when we found out a year ago this past January was that they love what we’re doing – which is why they wanted to own the brand, so don’t change anything.  We haven’t altered anything at all.  We’ve kept on the same course.  There is definitely more corporate structure.  It’s like going from AA minor league ball to the majors.  Going from a farm ballpark one day and playing in Yankee Stadium the next.  We were growing at the pace where we needed to be more structured in various parts of the business.  Knock on wood – so far they haven’t said that we can’t do anything that we want to.  They’re basically hands off as far as the creative aspect.  If it’s not broken don’t fix it.

CP – What’s lined up for you guys in development?

Huber – It’s kinda our M.O. to come out with something every year.  Some people are always like, man they just came out with this, and this, and that…but I like to use the analogy of the auto industry – no one wants to drive the ‘05 model in 2008.  They want to see what’s coming out in ‘09.  So we started off looking at a total of 43 new facings.  From those 43 we worked it down.  The main launch is going to be last part of the “x2” trilogy.  We’ve had the Mx2, the Cx2, and this will be the Lx2.  It’s the ligero times two, which is the prototype we’re smoking now.  That is the big one we’re really backing.  Then we’ve got a few new things.  We have a Kid Rock project which we just got band samples for.  It’s so elaborate.    We have a new flavor coming out.  We haven’t had a new flavor for a long time, but this is called the Cherrybomb.

CP – You often hear people talking crap about the packaging of C.A.O., saying it is gimmicky.  But it’s definitely out there… it’s in every shop and it moves.

Huber – The packaging is both a blessing and a curse.  I always liked Tim’s analogy, which is a more romanticized analogy.  He says that you can have the best filet, but if all the food is touching or presented in a sloppy way then it’s less appealing.  If you have a great blend that you believe in, it has to be presented in a way that you believe does the blend justice.  The turning point for packaging was pretty much when we launched Brazilia.  A lot of industry insiders said that you can’t use a green box – green has a negative connotation for cigars.  But Tim really got behind that blend and the packaging of that blend.  Then everyone said that’s a great blend and wow – that box really stands out on the shelf.  That’s when we realized that the packaging is an important part, just as the cigar is.  Certain things people point their finger at – the Vision for example is a great cigar, and whether you believe in it or not it was number nine cigar of the year.  People say it’s a fourteen dollar cigar because of the box, it has lights, a digital hygrometer – so they must be paying for the box.  We’re aware of that – but we develop certain workhorse brands because you know those are the ones that constantly turn.  Then you do other things that are more of a prestige project, like Vision.  We didn’t expect that to be a top selling cigar. We were very up front from day one.  We said it was a very limited production cigar, we’d ship it only three times a year and it was going to be expensive because we didn’t get a lot of it.  But we got so much press outside of the industry because of that packaging.  Our purpose on that was to try to hit a new market outside of our industry.  Who’s to say, maybe five years from now everyone will have hygrometers on the outside of their boxes.

CP – It’s usually only the cigar geeks who bitch about it anyway.  If it’s not Cuban or traditional then it must be bullshit.  I mean I smoke everything because I want to try it all – I don’t care about the packaging, I usually rip the band off my cigars anyway, and I’m definitely a cigar geek among many other things.  To be fair though – how can anyone assume anything about a cigar until they taste it – and it’s hard to get a fair judgment without preconceived ideas.  You have to try it all naked, and let the taste buds be the judge.

Huber – The unfortunate part to me is that people could try the cigar, and actually think it’s good, but won’t smoke it because they think they’re paying for the box. They’ll never even give it a chance.

CP – The ego usually gets in the way of fair judgment.

Huber – Before Vision we heard it with Sopranos.  Another top 25 cigar of the year.  Great cigar but we’re not paying for your licensing agreement with HBO – you must be paying them a bloody fortune.  It’s just like – whatever, I mean come on.  It’s doing well.  The Sopranos story is actually very interesting.  They went to a Big Smoke in New York, and basically just walked the floor like anyone else would.  Our presentation, our booth, and our vibe are what caught their attention.  They thought we were pretty creative and innovative – so they came and wanted to talk to us.  Up to that point, every celebrity endorsed, co-brand cigar had failed.  I remember when George Hamilton had a cigar.  It bombed.  Chuck Norris had a cigar.  We just had to see how we could make a cigar for them without falling into the whole gimmick category.  The intent was to make the cigar an homage to the show.  If you notice the box doesn’t have pictures of the cast members or anything like that.  It was just an homage to the brand of Sopranos which was the franchised show with HBO at the time.  That’s when Tim started thinking that maybe we could make the box look like a trunk of a car, and instead of dead bodies in there we’ll put cigars.  That’s how it started.  What was interesting was that HBO’s people, the producers and executive producers, are very hands on with their brand.  The person that was second in line to David Chase (the show’s creator) was Eileen Landress.  She said that they wanted, literally, a black cardboard box, with a gold logo that said “The Sopranos.”  There was a lot of creative infighting, if you will.  We finally got to the point where, and I’m paraphrasing here, we had to say that we don’t tell them how to write the script so if you come to us to make a cigar to just let us make it if you believe in us.  Finally they came back and said okay.  They were very hesitant going into it.  They had expectations and there was no secret that it was a licensing deal.  They wanted to recoup in two years.  So we took the cigar to the trade show three years ago now, and in three days we knocked out what they expected to get in two years.  We called them up and told them what we did at the show and they were blown away.  They really realized that we know what we’re doing.  It was a fun thing to work on.

CP – What are some of the best relationships you’ve developed in or outside of the industry since you started?

Huber – Spending so much time working, if you can call it that, my best relationships are people in the business, or people that work here.  We spend so much time doing what we do that it just doesn’t give us a lot of time to socialize outside of the industry, for the most part.  This is really a big fraternity.  I love the people in this business and they are one of the reasons why I do what I do.  I like to think about what would happen if I made widgets or buttons for remote controls – I just can’t imagine there is any warmth in that business.  Maybe because we’re such a small industry that everyone just has fun doing this, especially when we all get together at shows.  It’s a good time.

CP – Now when do you get to kick back and enjoy some of the work that you do?

Huber – I don’t.  It’s funny because a lot of people love the parties and think that they must be so much fun for us while we’re there – but they really aren’t, not until they’re over anyway.  That’s when you get to relax.  In regard to the Vegas party with Tommy Lee – my party started after the event.  At the end I knew that it came off the best that it could.  Then I went up to the suite with Tommy and a bunch of people for drinks and just hung out.  I think we partied ‘til about five or six that morning.  During the events I’m really stressed out.  It’s usually the little stuff that comes up that becomes the most stressful.  Last year it was someone’s birthday and I was told that we needed a bottle of Cristal right away.  I mean – I must be the make it happen guy.  But on a daily basis.  When Bon Jovi was here in Nashville a little while ago – I had a friend call me up for some tickets.  I had a couple of contacts and got him tickets.  When I told him he was like, I need more love than that – can you get me back stage?  I told him that they don’t do meet and greets – so then he wanted me to get him into sound check.  It just never ends.  In my position I’m never doing the same thing which is great.  But sometimes I get the most random requests – can you get me this, can you get me that…I thought I was in the cigar business – now I’m like the go to guy for whatever anybody wants.  We’re actually starting a new section on our website called lifestyle and entertainment.  I mean a big part of what we do is entertain.  Cigars are a fun business and they should be fun.  If you get to the point where you’re too serious about it – then why even do it?

CP – You should like what you do.

Huber – Totally.  You should love what you do when you spend so much time doing it.  I’ve told Cano how much I appreciate this.  I’ve had some of the worst fucking jobs in the past, really bad ones.  I can appreciate what it is to wake up and not dread having to go to work, but actually look forward to it.  I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

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