The Final Puff
EP5: Abe Flores
Behind the Scenes: Abe Flores
Years ago, I was invited by a friend to go watch Abe Flores give a mini-presentation about himself, his factory, and his tobacco philosophy.
Ok, it wasn’t billed that fancy…but you get the idea…we were crashing an existing tour. Going in, I really had no idea who Abe was.
Sure, I had seen him around the Dominican Republic a few times, had a couple of his cigars, drove past his factory any time I went to Jochy Blanco’s factory (Tobacalera Palma), and saw he was the latest member inducted into Pro Cigar.
It was that last part that meant a lot.
Pro Cigar members are the who’s who of the Dominican Republic cigar world. To make it into that small group is no small feat indeed.
But I didn’t really know Abe.
When I went to the presentation (at his factory) we were greeted with cigars, lit them up, and headed upstairs to the tobacco sorting area.
Abe, at the time, was a big guy…almost 400lbs. So you couldn’t help but notice him in stature and his strong voice.
As I stood at the back of the room and watched him engage with a crowd there for a tour – I was struck with one thing…
…he was the guy on their level.
Now, don’t get me wrong, that was not a bad thing and I’m sure there is a much better way to phrase that. What I mean is he was not talking from fancy ego-based perspectives. He was a real guy that was just telling it like it is.
He tells people what he did right, and what he did wrong. He also peeled back a bit of the mystery of cigar blending that cigar makers don’t always own up to…
…at the end of the day, you throw a bunch of leaves together to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you start the blend over. Sure, you need quality tobacco, and people, but blending is just a system of trial and error. As you gain more experience you get better at it – but there is no magic formula for getting the perfect blends.
Whatever his ideology was, it was working. He had one of the fastest-growing factories in some time and all the attention that goes with that.
Fast forward to the time of this interview and you will find a different Abe.
Humble and much more wide-eyed.
The quick rise of PDR also hit a very large speed bump and a sharp decline as things seem to be spiraling out of control. The rise, fall, and rise again are a great story that most people don’t like to talk about.
Sure, cigar makers love to talk about all their wins but they discount their loses, even pretend they never happened – that is not Abe’s style…he owns the downside as well.
This is probably the longest interview in Season One of The Final Puff.
As the “director” of this series, I really wanted to cut this a bit shorter. But I just couldn’t decide which stories to cut. So, light up a cigar, relax, and listen to the journey that is PDR and Abe Flores.
I hope you enjoy the talk.