Alec Bradley: Alan Rubin, owner of Alec Bradley Cigars
You’re a busy man. You have your kids, Alec and Bradley, working with you now, but you’re still hustling.
There’s no reason to stop doing what you love. It doesn’t make sense. People have asked me, “With Alec and Bradley now in the business, is this your succession plan?” I’m not going anywhere. I love it and I have nothing else to do.
Are you still having fun?
That’s a fair question. I’ve been in it over 20 years. There was definitely a lull period. I was tired. I was pulled in so many different directions going into 2012, 2013, I was in a funk. And then Alec came back and started working with us when he graduated from school. It was a way to kind of get me more involved. And Bradley graduated from the university. He came in. I told them, “There’s no pressure for you guys to come and work in the company. You have to decide who you are and what drives you. Whatever makes you want to get up, go do that.” And they both decided to come in. When they both came in, it just clicked. And I said, “I have to right all the wrongs that I know are taking place. Things we can make better, things we can improve on.” In 2017, I took six months assessing our entire company, then three months to formulate a plan, and then three months to make sure I had everything in line and everything was making sense. In 2018, we instituted all these new plans that I put in place.
At the end of the first quarter, it was the best quarter we’d had in five years.
The company has my kids’ names on it. And they are in the business. They’re second-generation cigar makers now, and I have to do everything I can to make sure we’re still here in the end. I made those changes and I think we’re producing the best cigars we’ve ever made. We are the most efficient company we’ve ever been. And our people are in it, man. They’re so passionate about it. It’s been a cool time.
Magic Toast. Where’d that name come from?
We had somehow gone in this somewhat traditional direction as a company. But there’s stuff I like. I don’t want to be that. I’m a child at heart. I want to do what I want to do. So if I see something that I want to do creatively, I’m just going to do it. I want to produce the cigars I want to produce, I want it to look the way that I want it to look. I want to be able to have fun.
So Magic Toast was a way for me to do that.
The tobacco itself looks very different. It’s a thick, dark, oily wrapper and it comes across immediately when you fire it up.
We were supposed to go to fields the day after I arrived on a trip to Honduras, but we ended up driving directly to the fields after I landed. It was a flight and a five-hour drive. So we get in and I’m tired. We’re on our way there and I’m like “Why are we going to the fields now?” I’m looking, and I can see the fields look dark, green, rich, sturdy, strong.
We go into the barns. They had taken tobacco from the first primings and did a quick fermentation to show me what was happening. When you take a hand of leaves and you light it, the aromatics are different. It’s not as concentrated. So they lit it up and the aromatics were amazing. It had this sweetness and this richness. I thought, “OK, I get why you wanted me to come right away. You’re excited. This is magical. This is something I haven’t smelled in a long time. This is going to be good.” And they said, “Yeah, and we brought your bottle of Glenfiddich for you.”
So I said, “Let’s make a toast. To the future.” Things were looking bright and it was a magical toast we were making.
That’s a rich, sturdy, strong tobacco and you can really work it in fermentation. You can really get a lot of the flavor out of it. That was the whole deal, man.