Interview with Michael Poe of Traficante Cigar Co.

I have seen Traficante Cigar Company on social media for some time now. As their popularity continues to grow, especially among members in our Cigar Hawk group, I reached out to Owner/Founder Michael Poe. For those that do not know about him or his brand, hopefully this sheds some light on a few things. We asked the members of our group to submit questions for this interview and those have been included as well.

So for the people that may not have heard of your brand/company, can you tell us a little about your company and the people behind it?

I started Traficante in 2015 with two friends/partners that are still on the job. The brand was originally only intended to be a backstory (cover) for working dope. The partners lost interest quickly and I continued to gain interest in the industry and enjoyed the challenge of building a brand. So in May 2017, I retired to focus on the company full time.

What got you into cigars and when did you know that you wanted to start your own brand?

I initially got into Cigars when I was 21 but lost interest. As for starting my own brand… that’s something I never expected to happen. I would say the initial success was a complete accident…but that’s not exactly accurate. Early on, I was fortunate enough to encounter customers that quickly became friends…and these same people are still with me today pushing things forward. I’m still amazed and humbled by the success we’ve had. I say “we” because this brand is driven by the customer base.

Can you tell us about your first cigar experience?

I would like to, but I can’t remember what I smoked. I know it was something cheap.

So obviously the brand was built around the Narco culture. Did you know right away that it was the path you wanted to take or did you have other ideas prior to going with Traficante?

Well, being that it was initially created with a singular purpose in mind…it seemed logical to use the Narco Culture. After all, who would suspect the owner of such a brand to actually be a Narc?

What factory handles the production of your cigars?

Our own. We operate two small factories (very small compared to others). One in Tamboril and one in Estelí.

What is your personal favorite of all of your cigars?

Have to say it’s the El Paso. It’s definitely been a blend that’s attributed to our success and the artwork has pissed a few people off along the way.

Do you do cigar events with retailers that carry your brand?

Haven’t yet… but we’ve got plans in the works to do a couple (at least) this fall.

Have you considered doing a collaboration cigar with any other brands?

Not opposed to the idea. However, we haven’t been approached by anyone either.

What is your favorite cigar brand to smoke outside of your own?

Well, I smoke different brands on a regular basis..mainly to check their quality control/flavor profiles in comparison to ours. Esteban Carreras would be one of my favorites I guess.

When was the moment that your passion for your brand took over your full time job in LE? What was that like? Hard to say exactly when it took over, as I had been ready for a change for quite some time. But I can say this… I wish I had made the change a lot earlier than I did.

Where did the idea of the dog tags come from?

Necessity… and the fact that no one else had done it. With some of the artwork we produce, not many printing companies are willing to handle our work.

Who does the artwork and how did you come up with the names?

I do it myself. My wife refers to it as my “coloring therapy” lol. The names, the designs etc…are all representative of things I’ve encountered at some stage in my life..not just my career.

How did the Hell Mary project come to be? Who came up with the blend?

The Hell Mary was my first attempt at an infused cigar. I created the blend and the process (the infusion process is a month long)…. but only intended to manufacture/sell 100. Again, an accidental success…

I have seen you guys on social media for a while now. Shout out to @jayvilla72_killa who I would see on my Instagram feed all the time posting about you guys. Now it seems like an explosion in popularity across all platforms of Social Media. Did you expect things would catch on the way that they did and are you prepared as a company to handle the growth?

I’m still amazed at the success we’ve had, as I had considered shutting the business down a year ago. While I don’t see anyone as competition (because we do our own thing), it’s not easy funding this business on a shoestring budget with only four employees in the US. As for handling the growth… we will NEVER bypass our processes or quality control in favor of mass production…so we’ll do the best we can.

Because you are a true “boutique” brand, your cigars sell out very quickly. Do you think that is going to turn a lot of retailers and possibly consumers away from you?

As we are adding the Tinderbox stores and two retailers in Atlanta this month…I want to say no. However, only time will tell how successful the brand will be. As long as I’m in control… it will remain quality over quantity.

Since you sell out so quickly after a release, has that changed the way you approach rolling, aging and distribution at all?

The only process we have changed is the order process for retailers. Now retail orders will have no effect on the stock made available to our internet customer base.

On the website it states that you produce roughly 3,000 cigars a week. Do you anticipate having to boost that as you grow to keep up with the demand?

We have already boosted that number somewhat. However, we operate on a rotating production schedule and so far we haven’t encountered any major issues.

I noticed the changes to your website recently and the disclaimer about people finding you brand “offensive”. They obviously have no idea about what you are about but I love the line “The solution is simple, don’t buy our products”. I would imagine you get a lot of that. That is part of the reason I wanted to do this interview with you. Care to comment on that at all?

Scott, we’ve faced adversity since day one. Not only for being a “startup” but for our artwork as well. I’ll use the El Paso for example. I won’t name the well known forum where we were criticized for our artwork on the El Paso about two years ago. But after the judgmental moderator made a complete idiot out of himself (sending nasty emails as well) I increased the production on the El Paso to 5,000 immediately. Not to gain publicity/notoriety….but to prove we were here to stay.

So there you have it folks. If you care to check out any of the Traficante cigars, merchandise etc. Visit them at https://traficantecigar.com/

I would like to say “Thank You” to Michael for taking the time to do this interview with us. We certainly appreciate the time. We look forward to doing more with you in the future.

Don’t forget to follow us on social media and join our Face Book group. Until next time, #longashesfullglasses