Let the Truth Be Told
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Weber from Veritas Cigars. I met Chris and his partner Dave Larason at this year’s IPCPR and though we spent time at the booth smoking one of their blends and talking about business and life in general, it was more like sitting in your local shop and chewing the fat than it was an interview. I promised them I would get back with them to more formally discuss Veritas Cigars.
To start off, Veritas Cigars is a young boutique cigar company based out of Delaware. They have been in the cigar manufacturing business for roughly 3 years and have been making waves all along the journey..
SP: Why did you pick the name Veritas for your company name?.
Chris: The name comes from high school motto (The Phelps School and “Veritas Sine Timore” which means Truth without Fear). We took the word Veritas, meaning “Truth”, as the name of our company. There are a many companies in different industries that lie or twist the truth about their products. We wanted to encapsulate the everyday man, we wanted to tell you what our cigar is and that this cigar is for everyone. Veritas Cigars has the same quality that other more expensive cigars might have.
SP: So tell me, how was the IPCPR for you?
Chris: This was our fourth IPCPR and with each year we have increasing success.
SP: Tell us the story of the company.
Chris: We started out as Cars Bars and Cigars, we wanted a singular focus and started to really think of where our passions lied. We tinkered with a few ideas, and because of our love of cigars and wanting to have a positive impact on the industry we decided that creating a cigar that is quality and affordable was the best way to go.
We are focusing on our signature Torch line, the new blends of the 412 and Veritas while maintaining our rate of growth and quality of product. Within the next five years we hope to be adding a new blend each year and have a solid in house sales team with nationwide reach.
SP. How did you come up with the names of the Veritas sticks
Chris: The Torch was originally going to be called Riot, but trademarking issues forced us to change the name, so we decided to name it the Torch as in “Light the torch to start the riot!”
The “412” is the area code of Pittsburgh where I grew up.. It is made from Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro. As an adopted kid black and gold flows through my veins. The “412” is a nice solid, in your face, power house cigar.
The “Veritas” is a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapped beauty and the namesake of the company. We are very proud of this unique, stellar cigar and at 6 bucks MSRP it can’t be beat.
SP: What is your favorite blend?
Chris: The 412. I wanted to create a cigar that was as strong and powerful as it’s name represents. With Carlos Sanchez’ help we were able to get the Pennsylvanian Broadleaf from AJ Fernandez. I tinkered with blends using Pennsylvania Broadleaf as filler and added just enough ligero so it doesn’t have too much pepper that burns you throat.
SP: What did you smoke before you created VERITAS?
Chris: When I started smoking cigars in high school I really enjoyed the basic Cohiba. As my palet refined I enjoyed Punch and later liked the Acids from Drew Estates and finally my go- to stick became anything Perdomo.
SP: Tell me about the Marine Corp fund VERITAS cigars supports.
Chris: As a new company we wanted to partner with a charity and decided on the Sempa Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org). I had friends that benefited from the Semper Fi Fund. They help marines that were injured, re-acclimate themselves with their injuries. If a family can’t afford to see you they will get your family to you. They believe it is best to be surrounded by your children and loved ones. That is what we liked about it. 10% of our net sales go to the charity. We write the check at tax season.
SP: How do you feel about the FDA
Chris: Stay out of my humidor. The current legislation, if approved, would be detrimental to the industry as a whole; boutique brands would die, only the big companies would be able to afford to keep their doors open. I applaud the CRA for their diligent work on fighting this oppression.
SP: What was your biggest concern going into the business of cigars?
Chris: I knew nothing, but I am always learning. I enjoyed cigars and I knew what it was about them that I liked. I did not know what went into the making of a cigar but I understood marketing and sales and I knew in time my knowledge would grow.
I went to Nicaragua and visited the factories. I met Carlos Sanchez who showed me how to create a blend. He showed me and taught me about the leaf. Every time I go down there I learn more.
Wayne and John had retail experience, Dave was a 7-11 store manager, and I had mortgage and finance experience. No-one is out to be cut throat in this industry, as everyone is quick to offer help to their brothers and sisters of the leaf. With this the fear quelled and we were left with the question of how are we going to differentiate ourselves.
SP: How long in business?
Chris: VERITAS Cigars was founded - in 2011. Dave and I are the principles, our consigliore John Staurulakis, and Wayne Young left retail to come on board as sales representatives. We have worked with various artists, but have come to admire the work of Erik “Master Sensai” at Cigar Dojo who designed the band for the “412” and our New magazine ad.
SP: What is your production?
Chris: Upwards of 50K sticks
SP: How many shops are you in?
Chris: At this moment we are in 37 shops, but growing everyday.
SP: Tell us about the VERITAS web site design who are you appealing to?
Chris: When it comes to art I love the old rustic feel of the steam punk style. When you look at the design it is an old style drawing of a zeppelin. Not one thing defines us. We are going to give you stuff that is kind of crazy as we think outside the box and against the status quo.
VERITAS Cigars is based out of Newark Delaware. Both Chris and Dave are from the Delaware area. They also have an office in Miami storage and shipping product..
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