It’s a new year and industry veteran Larry Palombo has a new job.

Palombo has joined Nicaraguan American Cigars S.A. (NACSA) to help oversee the company’s efforts to enter its own brands into the U.S. market. Palombo started working in the cigar business in 1969 and most recently worked at Altadis U.S.A., where he previously had served as vice-president of tobacco.

His most recent role at Altadis U.S.A. saw him responsible for the purchasing tobacco, working on a blend panel and serving as an ambassador for the company’s Montecristo Social Club Roadshow, a nationwide series of events where Palombo educated consumers on tobacco and cigar blending.

In addition to his time at Altadis U.S.A., which began in 2005, Palombo spent nine years with U.S. Tobacco and 22 years with General Cigar Co.

While NACSA is not particularly well-known in the U.S., it was up until a few years ago the largest factory in Nicaragua in terms of production. But more recently, the company has been shifting to a more premium focus. At the old NACSA factory, bundle brands like J.C. Newman’s Quorum dominated daily production, but in 2011 the Newmans opened their own factory, Puros De Esteli Nicaragua S.A. (PENSA), and began moving production from NACSA to PENSA. Omar Ortez oversees production at both the PENSA and NACSA factories despite the different ownerships of each.

A year ago, NACSA moved to a new factory just down the road in Estelí and its production is changing too. Now, cigars like Asylum headline daily production and the factory is attracting newer clients like Acme Cigar Co. and Steve Saka.

Palombo’s role is part of a different chapter for the factory. He’ll be responsible for overseeing the factory’s own brands, which include trademarks new and old, and introducing the U.S. market.

He told halfwheel he expects to have new product on the market at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in July. In recent months, NACSA has been particularly aggressive applying for trademarks.

The factory is owned by multiple partners including Oliva Tobacco Co., which describes its stake as “very small.” Both companies were very clear that Palombo is working solely for NACSA and has no role at Oliva Tobacco Co.

(Oliva Tobacco Co. is a completely different entity and unrelated to Oliva Cigar Co.)

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.