Behind the Leaf: An Interview with Liana Fuente of Arturo Fuente & Company

By Randy Mastronicola

The late Carlos Fuente Sr. was a pioneer in the cigar industry, and his backstory is compelling. He had humble beginnings and some challenges as a young man that might have taken a lesser person down. Ultimately, he built an enduring international cigar company powerhouse. The patriarch of the Fuente family passed away in August of 2016 at the age of eighty-one.

Randy Mastronicola, Editor-in-Chief of Cigar & Spirits Magazine, recently met with Liana Fuente to reminisce about her grandfather and talk about what’s on the horizon as the company continues to maintain its standing in the cigar industry.

Liana has become a high-profile presence in the cigar world herself. She’s a fourth generation Fuente to work in the family business, and serves as the company’s Creative Marketing Director.

(Editor’s Note: Fuente’s third generation is well represented, too. Carlos P. Fuente Jr. is the President of the company and Cynthia Fuente-Suarez is Vice President.)

Can you share some thoughts about the impact your grandfather had on you?

It’s funny because as a child growing up, he was just abuelo, a very kind, patient soft spoken, hard-working man. He never stopped working but he always made time for his family.

He took care of all of us. If anyone one had a problem, no matter how small, abuelo took care of it. When I started to work in the family business, my first job was to shadow him. He told me if I couldn’t smell his aftershave and see the smoke of his cigar, then I was too far away. Working and traveling by his side, my appreciation grew immensely. Abuelo did it all, and he noticed everything.

Going to the factory at sunrise, the first thing he would do was say good morning to all the ladies in the front office. He’d ask for his coffee, then go over any accounting he worked on the night before. We’d walk the floor, checking the tobacco, the sorting rooms, the aging rooms and the filler, then we’d randomly check the finished product.

He would tell me, “Liana, tobacco talks to you. You just need to listen.” After that, we’d go through the process all over again. Everyone respected him, his words and his knowledge. Abuelo was “The Man.”

It must have been a bit intimidating following in the footsteps of an industry legend. What are your biggest challenges and joys as keeper of the flame?

I have huge shoes to fill but I’ve had the best teachers before me: my grandfather and Carlito, my father. Tobacco is in my blood, as well as for those who’ll follow in my footsteps. It’s both a blessing and a curse to work in the family business, yet it’s what wakes me up in the morning with excitement. I’m blessed to work in the best industry in the world.

Can you share what’s downfield for the company, and tell us where you’d like to be in the near future?

My dad, Carlito, is growing and investing back into to our factory, farm and foundation. We’re currently expanding our factory in Santiago, and we just finished the “House of Dreams” in Chateau de la Fuente. I swear my father is the Walt Disney of cigars. He’s such a visionary, and is so motivated. He sees things down the road, and is such a perfectionist with an extreme attention to detail. Dad is on fire, just full of piss and vinegar. I have never seen him so passionate and motivated. He’s intoxicating with his passion and determination to leave this to us bigger and better than before.

Your grandfather is revered for his ideals and vision. How does your passion translate to the consumer experience?

Maintaining his vision and standards is not an option—it’s our obligation. My grandfather sacrificed his life through his sweat and tears to grow his father’s company for the next generation. Now it’s my turn to do the same. Growing up, his ideology was imbedded in us. We must honor those who came before us and keep their legacy alive.

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By |2020-08-04T13:31:12-08:00August 3rd, 2020|Feature Interview|Comments Off on Behind the Leaf: An Interview with Liana Fuente of Arturo Fuente & Company
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