Padron Cigars Co.
In 1962, I arrived in Miami, an unknown city in a foreign land. I had to start from zero. At first, I received $60 monthly, as government aid given to Cuban refugees. I was thirty-six years old, strong, and in good health. Every time I cashed that check, I felt like a burden on the country that had taken me in. For many days, I looked for a job and did not find one. Every night, I went home and thought of the future. I was determined to do something so that I could support my family.
One day, Raul Fernandez, a friend who worked in the Cuban Refugee Office asked if I had any carpentry skills. I said I did. He gave me a gift – a small hammer – which he asked me to put to good use. The hammer made me feel I had the necessary tool to become self-sufficient and not depend on a government hand-out. During the days, I worked as a gardener. At nights, I did carpentry with the hammer.
My dream was to save enough money to open a factory to make great cigars, like the ones we used to smoke in Cuba. Through a lot of sacrifice and hard work, I managed to save $600 – money I made working with the hammer. With that, I made my dream come true and opened Padrón Cigars in 1964.
I still have the hammer as a reminder of how it all started. More than fifty years later … The hammer is still here and so is Padrón Cigars, the brand the hammer helped build.