Cigar Journal: Mr. André, following my visit to your headquarters in Bünde yesterday, it became clear to me how strong your presence still is in your company. That’s great, but surprising. Family-company owners, such as Heinrich Villiger or Dr. Schneider at Oettinger Davidoff, are, or were, very much more in the spotlight. What’s your philosophy about that?
Axel-Georg André: “Less is more,” is how I’d put it in a nutshell. The success of our company is very much based on the performance of our employees. To put myself in the foreground would not do our staff justice. That’s why I don’t find it constructive. I like to contribute my passion and my knowledge with a lot of enthusiasm. But in the background.
Cigar Journal: Those who hear the name Bünde think of the world of cigar barons. The era of these personalities goes back a long way. What advice would you give a young entrepreneur who dares to venture into the cigar business today?
Axel-Georg André: Entrepreneurship, per se, hasn’t changed, which is why I can only pass on general advice: follow your own mission; take risks; accept the failures, learn from them, and continue to develop. All these things are part of entrepreneurial thinking and acting – then and now. If there’s still a love of cigars … If not, it’s better to stay away from one of the nicest natural products on earth.
Cigar Journal: Mr. André, what is your earliest memory when it comes to the cigar?
Axel-Georg André: I can’t exactly say anymore. I was pretty much born with a connection to cigars. But I think it was when I was about 11 that I had my first taste test. If I remember correctly, pleasure was not an issue. This didn’t come until many years later, and gets stronger with each passing year.
Cigar Journal: When you think of all the necessary processes, from tobacco seed to the cigar, what tasks or activities have you tried personally, or which ones do you find the most challenging?
Axel-Georg André: As a child, I always loved being in the thick of things and so, early on, I took in a lot and was allowed to experience a great deal. Over the years, I continually expanded this knowledge. When developing new cigars, like recently with the Beast brand, it’s just as much about finding the suitable tobaccos and then combining them well, guaranteeing a crafted, top-quality production, but also developing an appropriate marketing concept. I don’t have a preference for any one specific activity.