Industry veteran José Blanco has joined Arturo Fuente Cigar Co. After spending three years as the senior vice president for EPC Cigar, Blanco left EPC in July of last year. Now, he’s been named the director of sales, eastern hemisphere for Fuente, tasked with building its international business.
“We have many interesting and great plans for Fuente International,” Blanco told Cigar Aficionado. “I love traveling and am thrilled to actually live in and work from Europe. What I truly feel is that at the finish-line in this industry, to arrive at this position for Fuente is like the ultimate graduation.”
Blanco will have a large territory that will span Western Europe to East Asia and regions in between. He said Africa could also be a potential territory. “There will be a lot of traveling,” Blanco added.
“With close to 50 years of experience in sales and a wealth of knowledge in tobacco and cigars, we are very excited to have José join the team,” said Carlos Fuente Jr., chairman of Arturo Fuente and company patriarch. “I have known José for many decades, and find him to be a man of quality, integrity, and passion—all the things we search for when evaluating talent. I’m confident his work in this market will be very beneficial to the continued international growth of the Arturo Fuente brand.”
Blanco has a long history in the cigar business. He joined Grupo León Jimenes, the former parent company of La Aurora, in 1981 as a salesman for the company’s Presidente beer and Marlboro cigarettes. In 1999, he moved to the company’s cigar division in the Dominican Republic, and became sales director of La Aurora. After 12 years with La Aurora, Blanco joined Joya de Nicaragua, where he helped create a cigar brand called CyB, and spent three years there before forming his own cigar company, Las Cumbres Tabaco, in 2014. The Las Cumbres brands—Señorial and Freyja—were turned over to his wife, Emma Viktorsson, in 2016, who distributes them through AFR Imports.
“Carlito and I have been close friends for over 30 years,” Blanco said. “To now be actually working together is a great happiness for us.”