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Dear Mr. Vistisen, a warm welcome back to the well known Zigarren. Zone Interview.
Thank you Vasilij for offering me the opportunity of another interview in your cutting edge magazine.
Mr. Vistisen, one could read that you left Nicaragua. What happened?
This is a personal decision not a business decision. I have spend the 12 years of my life in Latin America perfecting old Danish blends and creating new ones in Domincian Republic, Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica and finally Nicaragua. I have been surrounded by some of the least educated in some of the poorest countries. I have personally felt how prices on living have tripled during that time and become more expensive than Europe for less quality of life. Nicaragua was simply the famous drop in the glass. I refuse to continue to pay USD 800 pr month in rent of a 8 year old shitty Toyota Corolla and USD 1300 for an apartment with aircondition – not to forget twice or triple the price on the very few imported foods available in Nicaragua. In many cases one have to go to Costa Rica on a monthly basis even to buy simple things to operate in Nicaragua and a 40 minutes return flight cost 450 dollars now. 2 years ago it cost 350. Same flight distance in Europe cost 100 Euro.
So all that combined with daily stress over the extreme lack of quality, low work ethics and constant noise made me leave.
I read in one of your postings that you already had been in Europe and your wife still stayed in Nicaragua. She was robbed or kidnapped in a cab?
She was robbed in the cab, but like she wrote in her own comments, she could as well have been kidnapped. There is no respect for other people’s lifes or their private property in Nicaragua.
This is terrible, you feel helpless. How did you handle that?
You get so angry and fustrated in the end that you almost want to kill somebody. I left and have no desire to go back to Latin America. Too much fustrations and so many sad days that my blood presure went sky high. Honestly you become suicidal over the stress stupid people are inflicting on your daily life, just like Einstein wrote.
Has your wife arrived safely in the meantime?
YES! My wife has now arrived to Europe and we will be based in Spain. She will then travel between Nicaragua and Europe to keep production running.
The Swiss State Department advises against travelling to Nicaragua. What is your advise for people, who want to go on vacation to Nicaragua?
Billions of dollars are needed in the tourist industry to make Nicaragua worth a visit, it’s both very dirty and extremely noisy. There is nothing to see, nothing to do and nothing to eat, which is not cheaper and better in most other places. Just trying to kill time while living there is a problem. Their governemt is so corrupt they didn’t allow international monitoring of their election last weekend. The President violated the constitution and will continue. It will probably soon be like Venezuela.
(Anm.d.Red.: Zeit.de berichtete am 07.11.16 über die Wahlen in Nicaragua).
Where will you produce your cigars in the future?
We keep producing in Nicaragua and other countries. There are thousands of other cigar brand owners worldwide who do not live in Latin America to produce their cigars. There are thousands of European fashion designers who don’t live in China just because their clothes are made there. Living far away makes you loose contact with your principal markets. I don’t sell one cigar in Latin America! So in that respect returning to Europe is a very wise desicion, as everyone who can crawl from the USA is trying to come here with their cigars after the new FDA regulations. 60% can’t afford the new regulations and they are looking for new markets. We saw hundreds of small SUITCASE guys at InterTabac 2016 running around like headless chicken trying to find a European distributor.
As a businessman, if you take such drastic decisions, you need to keep cool with all those emotions, to tell you how you want to build the future of your business. When did you make the decision to leave Nicaragua?
Vasilij, like I said in the first part of the interview then this i a personal desicion, not a business desicion. I also have a family to protect and my kids needs a good education which they can’t get in Nicaragua. Desicions like this dont happen over night. It builds up, daily stupidities and stress is added and one day it’s simply enough. However at the end of the day I belive my blends are prefected and time has come to be more present in my European markets. Living in Europe means cheap flights and the possibility to attend much more events next year. Royal Danish Cigars are also making a new line exclusively for Spain.
We read a lot about your UMAMI cigar on Facebook. How do you explain the great success of the cigar? What is so special about it, so it was sold out in Germany in the meantime?
I believe UMAMI BLEND is the first microbiologily development in the cigar industry during the last 400 years. I believe Royal Danish Cigars is the first in the world to use and/or blend micro-organisms to change and/or enhance flavors during the fermentation process in a 100% natural way. Like you say, the result speaks for itself. The cigar has quickly sold out in the countries where it was introduced. Microbiology opens big oppertunities for more interesting tobacco flavors in the future.
Apparently you launched the Umami in the US. Can we get the cigar in Switzerland?
Royal Danish Cigars UMAMI BLEND was introduced at the Swiss Tobacco fair last weekend by Enrico Gunde and I will be presenting it at Zurich Bigsmoke 2017 together with our Swiss distributor SÄUBERLI (Oettinger Davidoff). So it’s only a matter of logistics before Umami will hit the stores in Switzerland. Probably in the begining of the new year.
Mr. Vistisen, thank you very much for your time. All readers of my blog Zigarren.Zone wish you all the best for your new start. Is there anything you want to let our readers know?
Thank you Vasilij, always good talking to you. Thank you for your great industry insights and please inform your readers that Royal Danish Cigars in connection with Zurich Bigsmoke will be making a roadshow through the major cities of Switzerland also. Can’t wait to finally come and smoke with you guys! Nothing is so bad it’s not good for something else…..