There’s no one in the cigar industry quite like Erik Espinosa. He’s a businessman but not the type you’ll find sitting behind a computer all day wearing a suit and tie. Instead, the 55-year-old has been in the cigar business for over 23 years and has built a reputation and cigar brand that’s been recognized for numerous years by Cigar Aficionado for making some of the best cigars—and it even got the attention of celebrity chef Guy Fieri when he was looking for someone to help him make a cigar. Espinosa describes himself as being the “cool dad.” He listens to rap music and considers the song “Hate it or Love It” by The Game and 50 Cent to be not only his company’s anthem but also a good summary of his approach to business.
“Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top, and I’m gon’ shine, homie, until my heart stop. Go ’head, envy me; I’m rap’s MVP. And I ain’t going nowhere, so you can get to know me,” he recites the lyrics without missing a beat, as if he himself penned the track.
Espinosa has earned the reputation of being the “alpha dawg” or the “man’s man.” His company, Espinosa Cigars, has become a juggernaut in the cigar world. At this year’s Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show, Espinosa Cigars’ booth was one of the busiest throughout the show. With an appearance by Guy Fieri and numerous new releases available, retailers have taken notice and are loving what Espinosa Cigars is doing. No longer is Espinosa Cigars the new kid on the block that has to prove itself; Espinosa and his team have tweaked their business’s recipe for success over the years to the point that they’re now able to dish out hit after hit to the delight of their retail partners and consumers.
What’s been the big driver of Espinosa Cigars’ success over the years?
“I hate to lose,” Espinosa says. “If you find me someone who likes to lose, I’ll show you a loser.”
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