German cigarmaker, founded in 1817, seeks new life in old traditions

Smoke 'em if you got 'em! Source: Arnold André

The floor is carpeted in dark green velvet and an ornate humidor stands next to the door of the Arnold André cigar company. Smoke wafts through the dimly lit conference room. Managing Director Rainer Göhner is almost invisible in the haze. He and a co-worker sit at a solid-wood table, smoking cigars and coughing into the silence.

Owner Axel-Georg André and Mr. Göhner face a fundamental problem. The family-owned company has been in business for seven generations, and although the market for cigars and cigarillos is stable, the industry is under attack because of its health risks.

Cigar maker Arnold André has a two-pronged strategy to keep the flame burning brightly. First, Mr. Göhner wants the company to focus more on premium products from its plant in the Dominican Republic. Second, the cigar maker wants to benefit from a trend toward pleasure. Mr. André is convinced that this isn’t a contradiction. “All these anti-smoking campaigns are for cigarettes only. Unfortunately, the cigar suffers from guilt-by-association. But cigars are a completely different matter, because the focus is on enjoyment,” says the owner.

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