For the first time in five years, we have decided to give out a New Company of the Year award. Beginning with the 2017 Awards, we opted to not name a winner because of a lack of competition. Given the regulations by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there weren’t that many new companies debuting in a given year; for the 2017 award we indicated that we could only come up with two companies.

But 2021 was different. We were able to nominate a half dozen companies that we believed were new. And our staff, unanimously, agreed that Ferio Tego was the most impressive of that list. Ferio Tego is halfwheel’s New Company of the Year for 2021.

NEW COMPANY OF THE YEAR — FERIO TEGO

Like every past winner of this award, Ferio Tego might be new to the cigar industry but the people behind it are not new. Michael Herklots and Brendon Scott launched Ferio Tego one year ago. Both were former employees of Nat Sherman International, the Altria subsidiary that contained the Nat Sherman cigar, cigar accessory and pipe tobacco brands. After Altria decided to shut down Nat Sherman International, the pair worked on selling it to another company. Apparently, a sale was quite close, but then came the COVID-19 pandemic. After the deal unraveled, the pair asked Altria if the tobacco conglomerate was interested in selling the brands to some of its former employees, and that’s what it did. Like everything, there were some major caveats. First, the Nat Sherman Townhouse—the popular Manhattan-based retail store was not part of the deal as the company’s lease on the building was expiring—second, the Nat Sherman name was not part of the deal.

So Herklots and Scott created a new company, named after two words that appear on the Herklots’ family crest: Ferio Tego.

What struck me, in particular, about Ferio Tego was how well the brand seemed to capture the cigar industry’s attention despite the fact that it didn’t have cigars for two-thirds of the year. In April, the company announced that it would be distributed by Davidoff of Geneva USA; in July, Herklots and Scott showed up to a trade show with not only none of their own products, but also unwilling to share information about their upcoming products. The latter was explained as a desire to wait until the timing was right, don’t start talking about the cigars until they were ready to ship. But through all those months, Ferio Tego seemed to be a regular discussion topic within the industry.

In September, Ferio Tego’s first cigars finally headed to stores: the slightly rebranded Timeless Prestige and Timeless Sterling. While Ferio Tego does not have the ability to use the Nat Sherman name, it owns the rights to everything else cigar-wise. So the packaging is more or less the same—previous mentions of Nat Sherman are now references to Ferio Tego—as are the blends, sizes and the factories that are making the cigars.

A month later, the first all-new cigars from Ferio Tego headed to stores, a pair of toros called Elegancia and Generoso. In addition, Ferio Tego has brought back some of the Nat Sherman accessory portfolio and smart packaging through a partnership with HumidifGroup.

It should be of little surprise that Herklots and Scott, two industry veterans, got this right. But it’s interesting to think back at the waning years of Nat Sherman—memories that don’t elicit the word excitement—and then contrast them to Ferio Tego. My how the world has changed.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.