Following the early Monday morning meeting with their father, the Plasencia brothers answer some questions for Cigar Journal. Each of them has found his place in the company: Gustavo takes care of the accounting, the new distribution company, Plasencia 1865, and customer relations. Nestor, a passionate agronomer, works on the fields but is mainly responsible for cigar production. The youngest, José Luis, has been working in the company for one and half years. In the future, he will be responsible for the finances of the company.
Cigar Journal: How did you feel last year during the Cigar Trophies awards when the first thing that almost every winner did was to thank the Plasencia family?
NESTOR: We felt a huge amount of gratitude. To hear these words from the legends of the tobacco branch means a huge amount to us.
GUSTAVO: It was an unbelievable compliment.
NESTOR: Yes, a compliment, but it was also amazing to feel the trust that they put in us. And seeing our father’s face, his joy – that was really nice.
Can you imagine having to start from the beginning again twice, like your father had to?
GUSTAVO: Yes, three or four times, too. That’s what we learned from our parents. Never give up! We’ve always worked very hard. We never had vacations. We worked out on the fields as well.
NESTOR: Of course, we also would have tried to start again and again. But whether we would have been as successful and good, I don’t know.
What kind of characteristics does it take for that?
NESTOR: Perseverance! And believing in success.
Do experiences like that change your character?
NESTOR: Absolutely! And we always say to ourselves: we wouldn’t be where we are today without these hard times. It made our family strong. The belief in us, the selfconfidence. My father never wanted to disappoint anybody, not the banks that he got money from and which trusted him, or our employees, who never had to wait for their money. He had priorities.
JOSÉ LUIS: During the time that we really didn’t have a lot of money I wasn’t even born, but many people who worked for us back then are still working for us now – for 30 years. They talk about it again and again. They’re so loyal.
How long have they been working for you, on average?
NESTOR: Most of them since 1979. That’s when we started from the beginning again here. My grandfather always said: They can take all the material things from you, but never knowledge and your reputation. We can be very proud of our grandfather and father. But at the same time we know that if we don’t constantly work hard, at some point we won’t be successful anymore. We don’t take success for granted.
Is that a gift or pressure?
NESTOR: It’s both. We are going to be faced with our own challenges, but we’ll do our best. We are prepared.
Let’s briefly cover the idea of the Reserva Organica (now Reserva Original), the “organic” cigar. Is that only the cigar, or do you also live “organically?”
NESTOR: Not really 100 percent “organic”; I’m open and flexible about it. But we try to do things and to live sustainably, in many different ways and in many areas: on the field, with our employees, in our private lives.
You spend a lot of time on your fields, don’t you?
JOSÉ LUIS: Yes, at the moment it’s mainly me. In order to predict the numbers, you have to know and understand all the processes. I love the work outdoors. In the afternoons, I’m in the office and take care of the finances. There, too, I’m currently still learning everything. I’m also responsible for our new irrigation and fertilizer system. With the new system we’ve reduced water usage by 50 percent. Aside from that, the harvest is also higher.
Who makes the decisions?
NESTOR: Our father and the three of us. Our dad is the big boss and we’re happy about that. He’s a good mentor and has the energy of a 25-year-old. We’re still learning from him; sometimes we also debate, but that’s good.
GUSTAVO: We bring in new ideas. The world is changing and he knows that. But if we go to him with an idea, we have to be really well informed. He gives us the third degree!
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2017. Read more