For those that don’t know the story of RoMa Craft Tobac, we are going to entertain you with a brief history lesson about the brand, including the tie between Emerson’s Cigars and RoMa Craft Tobac.
The name RoMa Craft is a blend of the 2 names behind the brand, Mike Rosales (Ro) and Skip Martin (Ma), and for the purpose of this story we need to go back to the early 90’s. It was during this time that Skip Martin was in the Navy stationed in Norfolk that he stumbled in to Emerson’s Cigars on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in 1991 and bought his first cigar. Skip visited the former Emerson’s Cigars location in the Military Circle mall and bought a cigar from former owner Chad Chadbourn. Walking around the mall puffing away on his stogie was the moment that Skip first fell in love with cigars. He had told me a story a few years back of how every time that he went in to the store, Chad knew him by name and would ask him if he enjoyed “xyz” cigar that he had picked up on his last visit. Little did he know Chad kept a “cheat sheet” behind the counter, but this attention to detail was something that impressed Skip in his new found journey in to cigars.
Fast forward to 2006 and Skip, no longer serving in the Navy, was given a chance to become a partner in a cigar shop in Galveston, Texas. With an ever growing passion for cigars he took a chance and began the next phase of his life. Unfortunately, he would end up at another crossroads two and a half years later. In September 2008 Category 4 Hurricane Ike made landfall and Galveston was in its direct path. The wrath of the storm was devastating, Skip’s shop was not spared from the high winds and massive flooding which left the shop mostly destroyed by the storm. Skip wrote about this experience several times on his “Smoke Signals” blog, his story was also picked up by cigar related outlets and local news media at the time.
While trying to figure out his next move, Skip began looking for a replacement of his former house cigar for his customers with the intention to sell them via mail order. This process led him to Mike Rosales who had found success with his own company, Costa Rican Imports, LLC. They began in Costa Rica and found the blends weren’t really working out the way they wanted. In 2010 the pair shifted production and started working on the CroMagnon cigar with Esteban Disla in Esteli, Nicaragua. The production was small at first; working out of Estebans’ garage they rolled 5,000 cigars with a lot of help from other factories in Esteli. Due to Skip’s ever growing presence on twitter, they were able to pre-sell all of the cigars before they had even been boxed up. The more than favorable outcome of the first run continued on to subsequent orders, with a similar demand. It was at this point “RoMa” knew they had to make some changes to keep up and in 2011 the construction of the Nica Sueno factory began.
Over the course of the next 2 years the factory hired over 20 full time employees and went from producing 5,000 cigars a month to over 45,000. In 2013, they again moved the production to its current location in Esteli. This new factory is 2,500 square feet and features a tobacco storage and fumigation area, storage for rolled cigars and a climate controlled packaging facility. In February of this year the pair reached the milestone of manufacturing, importing, selling and distributing 1 million cigars and built a new facility in Austin, Texas to assist with distribution as the company continues to grow.
The success of the CroMagnon line has led to production expanding to several other lines such as Aquitaine, Neanderthal, and Intemperance, all of which have been equally well received upon their release. The blends for most RoMa Craft cigars tend to be more on the full-bodied side with complexity, spice and flavor that match RoMa Craft’s grit and determination. It feels a bit of a natural fit, a “full circle” if you will, to be offering RoMa Craft cigars here at Emerson’s Cigars. If you haven’t had a chance to try them out yet we definitely recommend that you do! We don’t think it will take long for them to become a part of your regular rotation.