The story behind the JT Signature Series

 

Brandon Hayes:
What's up, man?

Jarrid Trudeau:
What's going on? What's going on? Long time no see.

Brandon Hayes:
It's been crazy. I don't think I've seen you since March.

Jarrid Trudeau:
No. We were in India.

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
And then, when we got back from India, it was like everything went to shit. And so-

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Can I swear? I can swear on this, right?

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. All right. So, yeah. Everything went to shit. So, I haven't had a chance to really come down. And then, you guys were doing the occupancy thing. So, I don't want to take up a seat from a paying customer or something like that. But.

Brandon Hayes:
So, for the few people that don't hang out in the lounge and have never met Jarrid, Jarrid is the Vice President of Sales for Kristoff Cigars.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
Tell you a quick, funny story about the first time I met Jarrid. Jarrid came into the lounge with his rep at the time. He said, "Why the hell are you not selling more Kristoff?" And we had just had a couple lines at the time. Jarrid and I started talking. Jarrid said, "How do you like living in Dallas?" I said, "Well, for the most part, I've lived here my whole life." He said, "What do you think about this area?" I said, "Well, I really like this area. It's kind of a up and coming area. They've built these new apartments back here. We've got the big State Farm project." It was all still just brand new.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
Like, some of it was still under construction.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
And Jarrid goes, "You know, I think I might move to Dallas." I was like, "Well, move to Dallas, man." We were getting along pretty well. I was like, it would be cool to have the National Sales Manager here. Didn't think anything more about it. You know, cigar guys, they bullshit. Right? And I think it was three months later, probably 90 days later, almost to the day, Jarrid walks in and goes, "Hey, man. Do you remember me?" I'm like, "Well, of course I do." Nd he said, "Well, I just moved here. I moved to those apartments we were talking about." And I'm like, man, this guy is not full of shit. And so, you've been in Dallas for how long now?

Jarrid Trudeau:
I don't know. Three years? Three years.

Brandon Hayes:
It's crazy.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Time flies. Huh? Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
I was going to say you've been in Dallas for a year.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
But you've made friends with a lot of the customers from the lounge. You and I have become friends. Amy, which is my girlfriend, and Marissa, which is your now fiance-

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yes.

Brandon Hayes:
Which is fairly recent. Congratulations on that.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Thank you.

Brandon Hayes:
They're friends. So, we get together outside the lounge, but, you know, when we used to talk three times a week or see each other three times a week, we haven't. So, we're just going to catch up on camera, man. What's new with Kristoff?

Jarrid Trudeau:
Nothing. I mean, we've been pretty fortunate throughout this whole thing. The good thing about being a company that's mid size, like ours, is we're a patrol boat, and a lot of these other companies are carriers. We can pivot really easily with the times, and adapt and make our people better. Whereas, there's lots of layers of management that a lot larger companies have to go through.

Brandon Hayes:
Shareholders. You have to be-

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You have to demonstrate shareholder value. So, if you have to make that number and the bottom line, because you have to release earnings and your share's going to be affected for the larger company, then you're going to go a lot of stuff to try to make sales. But right now, our priority from the beginning was keeping our retailers supplied, keeping our retailers happy, and felt like they were still being paid attention to, and keep our reps safe and away from getting sick. So, we took everybody off the road almost immediately. And we went to a series ... And you can appreciate this ... Where there's many manufacturers who are just like, "All right, guys. Try to do what you can do and make phone calls." We had three to five Zoom calls every week with the sales team, where we focused on sales training, we had invited accounts, like you-

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah, we-

Jarrid Trudeau:
Like engaged good accounts to come on and talk to our sales reps about what they like, what they don't like, what their story was, so that we can get more familiar and then spit ball some ideas. So, we've gotten better as a company-

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Throughout this whole process. And I don't know that there's a lot of our competitors that can say the same thing. And, we haven't had to lay anybody off or furlough anybody. This is one of the times in the cigar business where you want my accent and not necessarily a farmer's accent. You know what I mean? Because, I'm a P&L Manager. That's what I do. So, we were able to keep the wheels on and not interrupt pay for anybody. And so, we're really fortunate.

Brandon Hayes:
Good, man. One thing that I noticed ... And I'm not here to slam anybody ... But I noticed a lot of guys turned to the catalogs real heavy. I saw brands that historically have been price protected online and unloading a lot of products that maybe were slower movers, and they just turned to the catalogs to generate cash to get them through this time. And I'm not here to judge anybody for what they had to do to stay alive. And if they made payroll, I'm happy. Because, a lot of these people that work in this industry are my friends. But one thing I notices that y'all didn't do was that it seemed like catalogs were all still price protected. Seems like you guys didn't take the easy road on that. So as a retailer, I appreciate that, man, because I know we got slammed a few times with brands that we've been behind.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. And right now, this is when retailers need price protection the most, because every transaction really counts towards you guys.

Brandon Hayes:
[inaudible 00:05:13] right now-

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
Is vital for the, you know.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. So, we figured pigs eat and hogs get slaughtered, and so, we decided to we would continue to price protect. And then the other thing is, if you get a container, if a container of cigars come in and you sold them to X, Y, Z catalog for a four in one, well, 25 percent of that container is product that you're making zero dollars on. And with back order issues and the Dominican Republic is at 50 percent capacity in their factories, Honduras was shut down, Nicaragua's seen some limitations. So, with all that stuff, I don't want ... If I'm going to get one container every two weeks, I don't want 25 percent of it to be stuff I make zero dollars on.

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
That's when you get that margin compression and cash flow starts shitting it's pants. And then, you go into that death spiral where you're constantly trying to make up. And so, we again, as a P&L Manager, it was really important for us to maintain that. And we've done a very good job. Like I said, profitability for us is way up. And we really haven't fallen too far off where we wanted to be. So, things are good.

Brandon Hayes:
Well, I'm rooting for you guys, but it seems like y'all are doing fine. You have a new cigar out. We don't have to dive too deep into the blend, but for a company that the owner's the face of the company, for them to put your name on it, I thought that was quite the-

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
Compliment to what you're doing.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. It was really cool.

Brandon Hayes:
And so, just tell us briefly about that cigar.

Jarrid Trudeau:
So, it's a project. So, Blend wanted me to be a little bit more involved in the tobacco side of the business. I smoked a new tobacco that the guy who runs our factory in the Dominican Republican, Rolando, he brought with him in a zip lock bag with three cigars in it, to the trade show in Las Vegas, a few years ago. And he said, "I want you to try this tobacco." And I smoked it and I really liked it. And Glen was like, "Well, why don't you do something with it?" I'm like, "I don't know. I got the wrong accent for that, buddy." And he was like, "Well, do something with it." So, I was like, "All right." So, it became what's now called the JT Signature. It's a box pressed HVA Ecuadorian tobacco, which is a Habano style tobacco, Sumatra binder, really, really nice, medium bodied, kind of a departure from the traditional Kristoff profile.

Brandon Hayes:
It's not wildly different than the Kristoff signature profile-

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
But it-

Jarrid Trudeau:
It's different.

Brandon Hayes:
It's different enough.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. And so, it's being sold in an event only, but not really event only. So, you do the event with me in the store to launch the JT, and then you get the ability to continue to sell it afterwards. So, it is something that has returns. It's not like a, Brandon spend six grand with me and you can get these cigars for free at that event. Now, it's an additional channel for you that gives you a leg up over your competition.

Brandon Hayes:
I think we were the first one to launch it. Weren't we?

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah, yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
We launched it in kind of a unique fashion, with a dinner, which was a lotta fun. But the cigar has been really well received around here. But, I think it's cool they put your name on it. Just tell us a little bit about how you got ... Like, what's your background? Because, I know you haven't always been in cigars.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
I think you worked for Target and did some other stuff.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. So, I worked in Fortune 500 retail. I was an Executive for Target and also for Bed Bath & Beyond, over some concepts that they had, Christmas Tree Shops, Harmon stores, all the stuff that they don't really have here in Texas.

Brandon Hayes:
[inaudible 00:08:37]

Jarrid Trudeau:
Buy Buy Baby. Yeah, yeah. Stuff like that. And I sold literally pumpkins to the elderly for quite a few years. And then, I decided to, I met Glen. We became friends. He was growing his cigar business. This was almost ten years ago. And he was growing his cigar business and he said, "Maybe some day, I'll have a need for a guy like you." And then, one day that day came up and I said, "Screw it. I'll quit my job as an Executive." I took an enormous pay cut.

Brandon Hayes:
Your parents thought you were-

Jarrid Trudeau:
My parents, everybody I knew was like, "What is wrong with you?"

Brandon Hayes:
Yeah.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Because, I didn't know anything about outside sales, and I didn't know anything about the cigar industry. And like I said, that was almost ten years ago. And now, we're in 33 countries, we've sold millions of cigars a year, we're-

Brandon Hayes:
That's awesome.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah, yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
I think there's a big benefit from bringing somebody outside the industry in. So, I think that was a smart move by Glen. There's a lot of talented people in this industry, but it's cool to bring people in from outside. So real quick, man, I'm just going to ask you a couple questions. We'll wrap it up. What's your favorite thing to drink with a cigar?

Jarrid Trudeau:
I drink a lot of vodka, as everybody knows, that knows me. So, I typically drink vodka. But, I'm a bourbon guy also, and scotch. So, equal opportunity.

Brandon Hayes:
Favorite city you've ever visited.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Favorite city I've ever visited. I really, really like Charleston, South Carolina.

Brandon Hayes:
Okay.

Jarrid Trudeau:
But, Maui in Hawaii, is my favorite city.

Brandon Hayes:
You got engaged in Hawaii. Right?

Jarrid Trudeau:
I did get engaged there.

Brandon Hayes:
Awesome.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah.

Brandon Hayes:
And then, if you're not smoking one of your own cigars, what kind are your favorite profile?

Jarrid Trudeau:
I smoke the Padron 64 Diplomatico Maduro. That specific cigar and that size really speaks to me. The Davidoff Nicaragua Diademas, I really like that cigar too. So, that's my profile, medium full.

Brandon Hayes:
Cool, man. Well, thanks for spending a few minutes with me, brother.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Yeah. Sure. Cheers.

Brandon Hayes:
It's always a lotta fun when we get together.

Jarrid Trudeau:
Absolutely.






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