Perdomo is a brand of cigars primarily grown and produced in Nicaragua and sold worldwide by Tabacalera Perdomo. The company, launched and headed by third generation cigarmaker Nick Perdomo, Jr. in 1992, is based today in Miami Lakes, Florida.
Today’s Tabacalera Perdomo traces its roots to the town of San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba, about 17 miles (27 km.) southeast of Havana, where company patriarch Silvio Perdomo was raised. Perdomo went into the cigar industry as a young man, serving his apprenticeship for Cuesta y Cia in the early 1930s. Silvio left that company’s employ in 1937 to go to work for H. Upmann, where he remained until 1945. In 1945, Silvio Perdomo left H. Upmann to go to work in a managerial position at Partagas, where he stayed until 1959.
Silvio Perdomo’s son, Nicholas Perdomo Sr., followed his father into the cigar making trade, beginning his apprenticeship in 1948 for Marin & Trujillo. Following the completion of his apprenticeship, Nick Senior joined his father as an executive at Partagas. He eventually went to work as a top executive at the H. Upmann factory, the largest cigar manufacturing facility in Cuba.
Following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Silvio Perdomo was arrested by revolutionaries and imprisoned at the Isla de los Pinos prison, where he was held in harsh conditions for three years. He was then transferred to captivity at the La Cabana fortress overlooking Habana Bay. He spent the next 12 years in prison at La Cabana and four other facilities as an enemy of the revolution of Fidel Castro. Silvio was finally allowed to emigrate to the United States in 1974.
Nick Senior was also targeted by revolutionaries. He later recalled “The political views of my family and I were very anti-communist, and President Fulgencio Batista used to visit the factories frequently. Batista didn’t smoke cigars but, because it’s one of Cuba’s main exports, he was very interested in what my father and I were doing with the different cigar shapes and styles we were experimenting with.” Nick Senior fought as a guerrilla against the communist forces during the revolution. He was shot twice in a fire fight and later removed from the hospital on a gurney to escape summary execution.
After recovering through the aid of a friend, Nick Senior emigrated to the United States via the Uruguayan Embassy with the help of a sponsorship of the Catholic Church. Nick Senior settled in Washington, DC, his connection with the cigar manufacturing industry severed. Alone in Washington, DC, he began his life as an immigrant to American working as a janitor in a mental institution for $11 per week, eventually rising to become one of the biggest general contractors in the state of Florida.
In 1976, Nick Perdomo Sr. and his family, including son Nicholas Perdomo Jr., moved from the city in which they had lived, Washington, DC, to Miami, Florida so that they could be closer to relatives there. Nick Junior attended school in Miami before joining the U.S. Navy, in which he served as an air traffic controller. Following completion of his military stint, Nick Junior gained employment in the same field at Miami International Airport.
Nick Junor determined to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a cigarmaker, although all he knew about the product firsthand was smoking them. In August 1992 he launched a home business in his garage, the humble beginnings of today’s Tobacalera Perdomo. The new company in Miami was named “Nick’s Cigar Co.”
Nick Junior initially retained his well paying job as an air traffic controller and worked at his startup cigar brand in the evenings. In its initial phase the tiny company employed just three rollers, with Nick Junior and his wife Janine working as packers. Perdomo chose to buck the prevailing trend in the cigar industry, which was skewing towards mild cigars, by making a full-bodied product using wrappers from Ecuador and fillers from Central America. This decision proved to be a sage one, as the flood of new cigar smokers of the 1990s predictably came to develop a taste for a spicier product.
In his first year, “Nick’s Cigars” produced and sold just 9,400 cigars, but the business expanded rapidly. By 1997 he had reached the limits of production at his small Miami facility and a move was necessitated to Ybor City, near Tampa, a historic home of American cigarmaking. This facility proved unsatisfactory, however, due to the prohibitively high cost of production in the United States.
Perdomo also expanded production abroad during the cigar boom of the 1990s, with Nick Senior coming out of retirement in 1997 to help open a production facility in Estelí, Nicaragua. This move “really saved our company,” Nick Junior retrospectively recalled. The company sold 1 million cigars for the first time in that year.
This facility was rapidly outgrown and was replaced with a custom-built facility in the same city in 1999.
Perdomo created a stir during the cigar boom of the 1990s with the introduction of the Perdomo² (“Perdomo squared”), one of the first box-pressed cigars of the period.
In April 1999, Perdomo was approached by Cano A. Ozgener, head of C.A.O. International, with a proposition to produce its C.A.O. L’Anniversaire line, patterned after the legendary Partagas Serie D No. 4. Ozgener was losing his manufacturing plant, Tabacalera Tambor of Costa Rica, manufacturer of the Bahia brand and needed a new partner to keep his popular product in production and Perdomo was chosen over other suitors. A mutually beneficial partnership resulted which aided in the expansion of the Perdomo operation.
By 2001, Tabacalera Perdomo was employing 622 people in Central America as well as 24 in the United States, who were projected to make 10 million cigars for the year.
The company produces a wide range of handmade cigars ranging from entry-level bundled products to its flagship, the Perdomo Patriarch. In addition, Perdomo produces a wide array of products on behalf of other companies, including retailing giant Thompson & Co. and cigar distributor Philips and King.
Today Perdomo’s manufacturing operation is based in an 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) facility in Estelí, Nicaragua, known colloquially as “El Monstro” (The Monster). The building is the second-largest cigarmaking facility in Nicaragua, trailing only the factory of Nicaraguan American Tobaccos S.A. (NATSA), also located in Estelí. Headquarters are located in Miami Lakes, Florida.
Over 2,000 people were employed by the company in 2010.
Nick Perdomo, Jr. remains as President and Chief Executive Officer of Tabacalera Perdomo, while his wife, the New Jersey-born Janine Perdomo, serves Vice President of Operations. The couple’s son, Nicholas Perdomo III (born c. 1992), is being groomed as heir to the Tabacalera Perdomo throne, being taught every aspect of the cigar making process from planting to packaging during 13 summers in Nicaragua.
Watch Nick Perdomo tell a short version of his family’s story below.
Perdomo Comes To Australia
The Australian side of the Perdomo story starts with an Australian icon – Rene Rivkin. As we all know, love him or hate him, Rene loved cigars and was rarely seen without one.
When Rene passed away in 2005, his cigar stock was bought by various retailers. One of those cigars eventually found its way into the hands of Brisbane-based entrepreneur Jason Nelson.
“I’d been smoking Cuban cigars for quite a few years and never thought twice about smoking anything else. But the guy I was buying my cigars from in those days said ‘You have to try one of these, they are amazing’. I took his advice and he was right – I’d never had such a smooth, flavourful cigar in my life. So I went back to buy more from him and all he had left was a single box. He explained they were from Rivkin’s estate and unfortunately there was no distributor for Perdomo in Australia.”
Undeterred, Jason went on a global hunt for more Perdomo. He contacted their offices in Miami, Florida, to try to order them directly, only to be told that the Asian distribution rights were held by a company out of Bangkok. So Jason contacted that company and eventually negotiated the exclusive rights to distribute Perdomo cigars in Australia.
After 4 years of hard work and determination, the Australian Government became tougher and tougher on tobacco, a decision had to be made about the future of the company and how we could maintain the service levels we had become renowned for and was expected of us. In June 2012, plans were put in place to relocate the operation off shore. The ideal choice was Hong Kong and Bangkok where Perdomo Cigars Asia already had operations that were geared up to service the whole region.
So, in September 2012, we re-launched the new website, alongside our all new on line store, www.cigarsemporium.com