In the 1920s, Tampa was the cigar capital of the world, with an annual production of up to 500 million cigars in some 200 factories.
JC Newman Cigar Co., the oldest family-owned premium cigar company in the United States, established itself in that city in 1954, after starting operations in 1895 in Cleveland, Ohio. The move was a consequence of the decision to return to the production of hand-rolled cigars, after having been fully dedicated to machine-rolled production since 1927. To start again in that segment of the market, the ideal was to settle in Tampa, Florida, because at that time it was the epicenter of manufacturing, with a production of more than 300 million units a year at that time.
For its part, the Arturo Fuente factory was created in 1912 by the Cuban immigrant of the same name, who arrived from Cuba and settled in Tampa, Florida, after the Spanish-American War. In just 12 years, it had already become a company of 500 workers, although at the end of 1924 they stopped producing as a result of a fire that destroyed the facilities. Their return to the market occurred in 1946, when they managed to recover from the losses they had and also had already ended the Great Depression and World War II.
During those years, each of the companies expanded their business and their prestige despite the adverse conditions of a market that was mostly loyal to traditional Cuban brands and smokers unwilling to try new ones, despite the fact that cigars were made with Cuban tobacco leaves.
After the US embargo on Cuba in 1960, the US market for premium cigars changed substantially, driven by restrictions on imports from the island. From that moment on, the Arturo Fuente company began a slow but sustained growth until reaching the current prestige of being one of the most acclaimed manufacturers of premium hand-rolled cigars outside of Cuba.
For his part, JC Newman, in a historic decision, began to produce a tobacco with a Cameroon wrapper: the Cuesta-Rey # 95, since then and for decades converted into an emblematic premium cigar that meant a true revolution in the industry.
In 1986, the two companies, which had been part of the local Tampa cigar producers association for 32 years, entered into a strategic alliance. At that time, Carlos, successor of Arturo Fuente, who wanted to focus all his efforts on his growth in the Dominican Republic operations where he had recently moved, but did not want to abandon his Moya brand, made in Tampa, asked Stanford Newman, director of JC Newman, if he would be willing to make it in his historic El Reloj factory. For his part, Stanford, aware of the boom in the US market for artisanal cigars imported from countries such as the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, agreed to make the cigar for Fuente, if Carlos, in turn, created a hand-rolled Dominican cigar for J.C. Newman.
At that time, J.C. Newman and Arturo Fuente, agreed that the manufacture of the cigars would be distributed among them: Newman would manufacture the machine-rolled cigars, while Fuente would manufacture the artisanal cigars. Since then, this business alliance, which began in Tampa, is the most successful premium cigar manufacturing and distribution combination in the world.