TAMPA: Many Americans have seen their jobs go up in smoke in tough economic times, but not a 100-year-old cigar company.
It's a rare sight to see a cigar being made in the United States since most of jobs in this industry have gone overseas.
A family has been running the C.J. Newman Cigar Factory and is determined to keep on rolling.
For 36 years, C.J. Sjoblom has been making her own cigars at the Tampa factory and driving 160 miles a day to do it.
It's the only cigar company left in the United States that's still owned by the founding family.
While workers around country are losing their jobs every day and factories closing, the 100 employees here are not a bit worried.
"It was something their daddy wished to never end. They are keeping it going for him, and for us," said Sjoblom.
The Newman's do make some cigars in Latin America. If it were simply a matter of the bottom line, they say they could save money, a lot of it, manufacturing all their cigars down south. But this is more than a business, they insist. It's family.
"They come to work every day. They're loyal. And they're supportive. And we feel we have an obligation to them to continue manufacturing cigars in our factory," said Eric Newman, President of J.C. Newman Cigars.
The employees and management meet regularly, sharing ideas on saving money. From simply doing away with Styrofoam drinking cups, to focusing on using every bit of tobacco, by cutting it as close to the edges as possible.
Darryl Gordon has been at Newman 26 years helping to create about 35,000 cigars a day.
"They're doing a lot for us, to keep us working, even though the economy is in a bad situation right now," said Gordon.
The workers say their livelihoods are protected by a tradition and a promise that dates back more than 100 years.
Monday, December 29, 2008