It’s an age-old tale–two brothers set out to imprint their vision on the family business, and meet challenges and success head on.
For Alec and Bradley, sons of Alec Bradley Cigars founder Alan Rubin, life in the cigar industry was not always written in the stars. When the brothers were young, they were peripherally aware of the ins and outs of their father’s company. In fact, what they remember more than anything, is a sense of antipathy surrounding the tobacco culture.
Alec recalls from his childhood, “Growing up with your family in the cigar industry is a strange thing when you’re a kid. For instance, I remember my dad couldn’t come to Career Day because he sold tobacco. I remember writing a paper in elementary school about the history of tobacco in the United States, and I got a bad grade on it purely because it was about tobacco. I certainly didn’t understand the negative outlook on it. Even in my youth, I felt that what my dad did brought joy to people.”
This initial defense of the family company, and the industry itself, sparked somewhat of an interest in both sons. Although they were never pressured into working for Alec Bradley, they felt a slow and steady draw towards cigars.
Bradley says, “There was a bit of a struggle. My dad was really trying to find his way within the industry. He started the company when Alec was four and I was one. What we remember most is that the first ten years were a big push for him.”
The brand’s growth was gaining steady traction by 2010. Bradley recognized the value of the family name. “To see our names on it was something unimaginable. Something clicked in me, and I realized that I was involved regardless. I wanted to learn more.” Bradley enjoyed cigars all throughout college, and when graduation came time, he realized there was no better choice than working at Alec Bradley. “Why wouldn’t I want to do this? It has my name on it. I love it. I get to work with my big brother, my dad and my grandfather. To work with three generations of family at the same time–even if it didn’t work out–I knew that time we’d have together was incredibly special.”
Alec, in comparison, felt the transition from part-time work with the company in college to full-time work after graduation was the most natural progression. What might not have been so natural, however, was finding a way to work in harmony with his brother. The brothers needed to adjust to one another’s different ways of handling some situations. “We are different in almost every way possible,” says Alec.