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CigarBros bring premium convenience to retailers

Based in El Cajon, CigarBros sources premium cigars directly from manufacturers where the are stored and packaged in a state-of-the-art 16,000 square foot warehouse and walk-in, climate controlled humidor.

CigarBros Founder and owner Remon Mansour said premium cigars are handmade, unlike machine made cigars which are smaller, and you can find on counters at convenience stores.

“Premium cigars are aged, hand rolled, typically in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua,” he said. “Your average premium cigar takes anywhere between three and five years to produce by the time it goes from seed and grown, and aged, prepared for aging, guarding the aging process, fermentation, and then rolled, aged again, then packaged for sell and shipped, and many times aged again for a shorter period to be cut, lit, and enjoyed.”

Mansour said one particular cigar is touched by hundreds of different hands from seeds to finished product, taking a lot of effort and years to produce. He said because of that long process, the flavor produced in premium cigars is not like anything else, and shares many similarities with wine.

“You get a flavor that the manufacturer, the creator, blended from the filler, the binder which can be a blend of leaves from many regions like Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican, Africa, the U.S., they are leaves grown around the world. Manufacturers take leaves from all over the world and specific farms that really excel in certain kind of leaves. A lot of the flavor comes from the outside and a lot of the performance and the deep, deep flavor notes come from the filler. The combination is where the magic happens.”

Mansour said a novice might not notice it up front, but it brings unique flavor notes from a non-flavored cigar.

“These fruit flavors are coming out. These dessert flavors are coming out. These nuts, woods, pop out when you smoke fine cigars made with intent,” he said. “Just like wine, beginners might not experience those flavor notes so clearly as those with more experience. This is why there is a romance involved and a relationship when it comes to premium cigars. This is why this industry has lasted. There are so many wonderful brands and flavors it is such a joy when you enjoy a premium cigar. It is really less of an addiction and more of a pleasure.”

Mansour said many people in the U.S. love premium cigars because they take so long to make, and it is appreciated once it is smoked.

“Because of the process and the delicate nature of premium cigars, these cigars must be very well maintained. When you bring them from these tropical places to the U.S., with different weathers and humidity levels, if it is not properly maintained, within a couple of days you lose all the characteristics of a cigar,” he said, adding that once the cigars leave the manufacturer, it has no more control of the quality maintenance.

“This has always been an issue in the industry, if you like premium cigars, it is always up in the air in how well it has been maintained,” he said.

Mansour said when cigars hit the retailers, it is their duty to maintain the cigars at a steady level of humidity and temperature 24 hours a day, calling this process a “living thing” where the oils come out of the cigars, so when it is lit, it is smooth, flavorful, and it “really pops.”

That is where CigarBros large humidor warehouse, and specialty made humidors for retailers come in to ensure that these premium cigars stay aged and fresh for the consumers.

Mansour’s father started wholesale business in 1994 in El Cajon, and he and his four brothers grew up helping their dad. He sold general merchandise to convenience stores, liquor stores, and gas stations.

The youngest of the four brothers, it got to a point that two of his brothers had graduated college, he was still in college, and they were all out doing separate things.

“My dad just did not like that,” he said. “He was hurt that one brother was moving to Nevada, another brother was an engineer, another brother was an EMT, and I was studying accounting in hopes to be a CPA. Me and my brothers had a very tight knit relationship. He said, ‘No way. You brothers are going to try, you are going to work together, you are going to have a business together, and try to stay together. There is no way I am going to let you separate.’ He really did enforce that.”

Mansour said the only thing the brothers knew was his dad’s business. So, they took his business to evolve it, delivering groceries. Anything you can see at a convenience store that is grocery, they would deliver it. Mansour said it evolved to candies, snacks, and tobaccos. He said that was the introduction of premium cigars, and that was his job to take care of.

“Now our business has evolved to multiple distributions, but when I was handling premium cigars fresh out of SDSU I was really excited I was going to have my own set of responsibilities and one of them was premium cigars,” he said. “I do not know why I was infatuated with it. In college I had my first cigar. We were out in the Gaslamp and I went to a lounge and bought my first cigar and fell in love,” he said. “I could not wait to be in that business. I had a carpenter come in and build a walk in humidor at our warehouse, got the best of the best, reached out to all the manufacturers, the biggest brands we knew, opened accounts with them and invested in this humidor.”

Mansour said when he went to sell them to retailers, nobody bought cigars. What he did not know was that it was only smoke shops that carried premium cigars. Ninety percent of their customers did not carry cigars. He said he had no choice but to find a way for these retailers to buy cigars. He searched, and found a couple of manufacturers that made countertop humidors. He would take wooden and glass humidors, put shelves in them, lay down a variety of cigars, get the humidity right, then give them to retailers to get them to start carrying premium cigars. And it worked.

From 2004 to 2018 he had about 200 humidors out in San Diego. Mansour said the evolution of liquor stores from 2004 to 2018 with the introduction of craft beers, better spirits, mom and pop liquor stores became more extravagant in their merchandise. He knew there was a better way to sell cigars. Nobody was doing it, so he decided to do it himself. He knew the selection had to be wider, and he had to figure a way for retailers to do this without giving up too much real estate in their stores. He tried several attempts in developing countertop humidors, taking them to trade shows, and getting good feedback as he was getting more inventory in a smaller space. But this did not take care of keeping the freshness of the cigar.

“How are we going to make a humidor that is so easy to care for these cigars and that is when I knew it had to be an all climate controlled humidor,” he said. “Then we are going to add the vertical aspect to it. Now they have this guaranteed fresh with little effort.”

Mansour found one company he met at a trade show, flew out to China in 2018 to meet with them, worked with them and got his first prototype in 2019, took videos, went to another trade show.

“You could see it in the manufacturer’s eyes when they saw it,” he said. “They said, ‘Remon, you really have something.’ So, January 2020, my first container of these came in, about 50 of them. I displayed them. Went to the following trade show and they were in love with the concept, and began talking to the owners of some prominent cigar manufacturers.”

That is when CigarBros Humidors introduced the world’s first patented climate controlled humidor with vertically standing cigars. This state-of-the-art humidor is equipped with top humidity and temperature-controlled technology in order to house premium cigars without sacrificing quality, freshness and retail space. By standin the cigars vertically, CigarBros allows over 500% more selection within the same retail space, solving a major hurdle in the industry. From 2020 t0 2021, its convenience store customers experienced a 600% increase in cigar sells.

CigarBros works with Nub Cigars, Oliva, Partargas, Rocky Patel, Romeo Y Julieta, Cohiba, Gurkha, Macanudo, Montecristo and My Father Cigars.

For more information visit www.cigarbros.com

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Source: East County Californian

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