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J.C. Newman Cigar Company

The J.C. Newman Cigar Company has an extremely long history dating all the way back to 1890's. Starting in 1890, the Newmans immigrated to the USA and Julius Caesar Newman's (J.C.) mother paid $3.00 per month for him to learn the cigar trade - J.C was just the young age of 14 when he became a cigar maker apprentice in Cleveland, Ohio. After completing his apprenticeship, J.C. worked as a travelling cigar maker until a severe recession resulted in massive layoffs all over the country, it was at this point, J.C. decided to follow the “American dream” and start his own cigar company. 

In 1895, in his family's barn in Cleveland, he created a cigar table from old boards and borrowed $50 for some tobacco. He quickly received his first order for 500 cigars from the family grocer - This business became the J.C. Newman Cigar Company and his first brand was called “A.B.C.” which stood for Akron, Bedford and Cleveland, which was the name of a local tram line.

As time went on J.C. married and had four children and by 1916 the company added two factories in Marion and Lorain, Ohio, and employed around 700 employees.

After World War II, J.C.’s sons, Stanford and Millard Newman returned from the military and joined the company - Stanford was responsible for the manufacturing and Millard oversaw the company sales. 

J.C. then decided the company's future lay in manufacturing premium cigars. He relocated to Tampa, Florida (which is known for producing high quality premium cigars) with the move bringing him closer to Cuba which was his primary source of tobacco.

To find the best place in Tampa to move to, Stanford was sent to find a new factory which happened to be in Ybor City, which is in Tampa’s central cigar making district founded in 1886 by Cuban revolutionary Vincent Ybor. The factory was called the Regensburg, it was built in 1910 and like every cigar factory around it had a nickname - El Reloj (Spanish for “The Clock”). For many years the residents of the town had risen and retired to the hourly chimes ringing from the tall brick clock tower.

By 1985, fourteen Newman relatives owned shares in the company, all of them collecting dividends and wanting more, however, the entire cigar industry was in the middle of a twenty year slump causing profits to shrink. With so many shareholders there were big philosophical differences on the company's future, Stanford knew something had to change. So he along with his sons, Eric and Bobby sat down with their family on Valentines day 1986 to purchase the rest of the shares of the company.

Three weeks after the buy-out was completed, fellow Tampa cigar maker, Carlos Fuente, Sr. called Stanford with a proposal. Carlos wanted to close his Tampa factory and spend all of his time on his handmade factory in the Dominican Republic. He asked if Stanford would be interested in making his Tampa factory brands and in return Carlos made handmade cigars for J.C. Newman Cigar Co. The first brand under the new partnership was La Unica which became the number one selling premium bundle cigar in America within 6 months of its launch.

In 1990, J.C. Newman Cigar Co. became the distributor of Arturo Fuente cigars, a partnership that continues on today. Quorum then came along and took the cigar world by storm, quickly becoming the world's most popular handmade cigar sold in bundles. They were and still are smooth, medium-bodied cigars available at a price accessible to everyone.

Then the Brick House launch exceeded all J.C. Newman Cigar Co. expectations and have been named one of the Top 25 cigars in the world by Cigar Aficionado.

They have also brought back the Perla del Mar brand which began in 1905 by four Cuban brothers using tobacco grown on their family's farm in Cuba. They called their cigars Perla del Mar because of the beautiful Caribbean waters that surround Cuba. As popularity grew, the brothers built a large factory next to J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory. They were one of the leading premium cigar brands in the early 1900s and now J.C. Newman’s new Perla del Mar honours the brands history and legacy.

In 1895, there were 40,000 federally licensed cigar manufacturers in the USA - Four generations and nearly 125 years later, J.C. Newman is the only one that is still owned and operated by the founding family.

Written by Oliver Partington

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