The Hoochly team spent some time with Pedro Gomez, also known as Drew Estate Pedro, and he told us about his childhood, his beginnings, some of his most memorable experiences and also some interesting stuff about what’s to come for Drew Estate!
Hoochly: Who is Pedro Gomez? Tell us about you and a little background
Pedro: Hello everybody my name is Pedro Gomez.
First of all, I would like to thank Hoochly.com for giving me the opportunity to share with the cigar world my story in the cigar industry.
I am from Esteli, Nicaragua AKA “The Tobacco Capital Of The World”. I was born and raised in Esteli. I came from humble beginnings with a lot of desires to succeed in Life. I am the middle one of two brothers and one sister.
When I was 12 years old, I started to work in a saddle shop and it was the hardest days from my childhood and adolescence because I was working as a man in order to put food on the table and help my family. Back in those days it was a lot of struggle because it was only my mom and four little ones. That’s why I decided to drop out of school after I graduated from Elementary School because my mother could not afford my school expenses and my future started to look hopeless.
I did not attend to school for 2 years but when I was 14 years old I realized that I did not want to spend my whole life making saddles for horses. So I decided to go back to Junior High School and keep my saddle job as a part time job. So I was going to school from 7 a.m to 12 pm and going to the saddle shop from 1 pm to 6 pm. And at night was studying for my test and doing my homework. At that time my goal in school was to be the best student in my classroom. Thank God I achieved that goal 5 years in a row. My ultimate goal was to graduate with honors from a public high school and get a scholarship in a public university due to the fact that my family and I did not have money to afford my university expenses.
When it comes to faith, I am a huge believer. So when I graduated from high school in 2003 I found out about a full scholarship for Business Administration in the United States paid by The US government. So I did not think twice and I applied knowing that 300 great students around the country were applying for the some education opportunity.
Long story, short: after 1 year of intensive selection only 2 students from Nicaragua got the scholarship and I was one of them. “God is good and He always has been.” The scholarship program sent me to Davenport, Iowa in 2004 so I started to attend to Scott Community College. When I got to the United States I did not know English so I was taking ESL classes (English class) in the morning and I was taking my career class with a translator in the afternoon. After 6 months, your English must be at college level because there was no more translator help. By August 2006 I graduated with honors and I was very happy to accomplish that goal. Now the next thing was facing reality because I had to come back to Nicaragua due to the fact that was part of the rules of the scholarship program. So I did that knowing that God will not let me down.
As soon as I arrived in Nicaragua I was very happy to see my family again after 2 long years. That day we went straight to Esteli and the next day I woke up and I went to every single cigar factory in Nicaragua looking for any job because I did not want to go back to the saddle shop.
Hoochly: How did you end up working at Drew Estate?
Pedro: When I went to Drew Estate factory, it was a little cigar factory in downtown Esteli. I went and asked for a job interview and Thank God I got it. They told me that the factory did not have any specific function for me but if I want to work, Drew Estate factory will give me a chance. So I started from the very very bottom at the factory.
My first year at the factory I was doing whatever they asked me to do, so I was “Pedro Coffee”, “Pedro Ice Cream”, “Pedro Driver” but while I was preforming all those duties I was learning everything from every department in the cigar factory.
On my second year, they gave me the opportunity to be the Operation Manager Assistant so I had the opportunity to learn more about how the factory operated back on those days. By the time Drew Estate factory went from a little house that Jonathan Drew was renting to 11 different houses all over Esteli.
Hoochly: What was your favorite part of working as JD’s assistant? Any cool story that you remember and can tell us?
Pedro: Everything that I have accomplished today I owe it to God and secondly to Jonathan Drew. Jonathan is a man with a huge heart. I was Jonathan’s assistant in Nicaragua before the company moved to the United States. Being Jonathan’s assistant is very challenge and interesting. You have to be at your fullest 24/7 because Jonathan is very creative and visionary. So you have to keep up with his rhythm but at the same time you are learning everything from his brilliant mind.
A crazy story from those days was when we were hosting the Second Nicaragua Cigar festival. The schedule from the festival was a visit to Jalapa which it is 4 hours away from Esteli. The point was to show the people the beautiful tobacco that is grown in Jalapa. So Jonathan, myself and some of our guests that were staying at Cigar Safari we all went to Jalapa. So I was helping coordinate the big group. However on the way to Esteli these crazy gringos were drinking Tona Beers and Ron Flor De Cana (Nicaragua rum) like fishes. So when we were getting close to Esteli it was a huge accident that stopped the whole traffic so we were stuck in the middle of the night when 3 buses full of gringos and they were drunk as F$#@. I was concerned because some of them were running in the highway and jumping on the top of the bus. At one point I had to run like Super Man and follow this people and asked them to calm the F$#@ down Lol!!! Thank God everything went good and we did not have any major inconveniences.
Hoochly: How was your experience with the Cigar Safari and is there a fun anecdote you will always remember?
Pedro: Cigar Safari is by far the best cigar experience in the industry. This tourism project brings people from all over the world to Nicaragua. They experience the best 4 days of their lives at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. We started this project back in October 2008 and since then we have hosted thousands of people that love cigars. It was Jonathan Drew’s idea to bring people to see Drew Estate factory because our factory is not just the biggest factory in Nicaragua but it is the most beautiful premium cigar factory in the world. We have 13 singles rooms with A/C, there is an amazing view, a nice Liga privada pool, we have a cozy lounge in the second floor, opened bar, all Drew Estate cigars you want to smoke, unforgettable Nicaraguan food and the best cigar tour from Seed to Smoke.
A crazy anecdote was when Marvin Samel (Co-Founder of Drew Estate) and I were hosting a group full of people from the Marine Corps. You know those people are very tough and unbreakable, oo I told them that they can smoke as many cigars they want and they said no worries we will smoke the $hit out of these Liga Privada. So I ask them if they are regular cigar smokers and they said, “No we love Acid cigars but this time we want Liga.” So I told them If I was you I will smoke just one Liga and they said, “Come on Pedro, you think we are wimps!?” and I said, “Alright; well, you are on your own.”
These guys were smoking and drinking like it was no tomorrow. Next day in the morning I got a call from Marvin Samel and he said, “Hey!! Pedro I think we have a huge problem,” and I said, “Oh shit!!” So Marvin goes like “the Marines are not feeling OK some of them can not even get up from bed because they have being throwing up and shitting the whole night. So you have to call the doctor. So I call the doctor and the doctor said that they were smoking too many cigars and their immune system got weak and his prescription was to ask them to drink a lot of bottle of water and rest. So the anecdote of this story, is that sometimes is better to be a wimp and not spend the whole night throwing up and shitting your brain off. Lol!!!!
Hoochly: Tell us about your role as DE factory spokesman and what can people expect when they go to one of your events?
Pedro: For me it is a honor being The Factory Spokesperson for Drew Estate because I am the Nicaragua ambassador in the cigar industry. I have been with Drew Estate for 11 years and I have come straight from factory and straight from Esteli to teach our end consumer and retailer about our beautiful culture in Nicaragua and the craftsmanship of our premium cigars. I travel all over the United States visiting cigar stores and doing Drew Estate events.
So let me tell you what people are going to expect at my events. What you guys are going to get is a full experience at the event, learning about tobacco and the factory. I would like to thank all the hard work from our retailers that give us the chance to be at their stores.
What I do on some of my events is tobacco presentation and everything relate to the factory. We bring all the goodies to the stores so people can buy their favorite smoke from us. We have a lot of swag, cool raffles and the opportunity to meet people from all over and of course the cool atmosphere at the event.
Hoochly: What can you tell us about the future of DE and is there any “secrets” you can share with us?
Pedro: Drew Estate has a great future ahead because Jonathan Drew is back as The President of the company. He was the man that built the entire company with his vision and philosophy. He created a cigar empire and he paved the road for many to follow his footsteps in this industry. Drew Estate has a strong presence in the market and our cigar brands are going to be stronger than ever because Jonathan Drew “The Man With The Master Plan” is back.
We continue to work on the innovative at Drew Estate factory to bring new cigars to the people who smoke them, and this year we are working hard. You’re gonna see the Florida Sungrown, Pappy Van Winkle Tradition, Undercrown Sungrown, and 4×32 little cigars. Whether you have smoked Drew Estate all your life or if you are new, there will be no question we will bring the best from Nicaragua.
Hoochly: What do you do on your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
Pedro: In life the key is to balance work and free time. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy what you have worked hard for. What I do on my free time, I like to cook, I like to watch documentaries, I love to watch sports such as NBA, soccer and boxing. I like to have a cigar at my balcony with a little bit of rum, I like to meet people, I like to keep in contact with my family and friends, I love going to the beach. I don’t say Travel because that’s what I do for a living, LOL!!!
Hoochly: Are you enjoying your new life in Miami? What is your favorite part of living in the US?
Pedro: Miami is a nice place to live for its multicultural nationalities and its great weather. There is always something going on so there are plenty of places to go and a lot of people to meet.
Hoochly: What do you miss the most from Nicaragua?
Pedro: I miss everything most importantly my family, the food, my friends and a lot people that I know in Esteli. I miss the people from factory. I miss hanging out at Cigar Safari.
Hoochly: T52>9 or T52<9 ?
Pedro: This is a tough question both of them are great and it will depend on the mood that I am in but I like to go for N9 most of the time.
Hoochly: And to close this great interview, here goes the million dollar question. How do you Hoochly?
Pedro: My way to Hoochly is to relax by smoking the cigar that I have been saving for many weeks.