XIKAR has been purchased by Quality Importers Trading Co.
“We at XIKAR are extremely pleased to partner with Mike Giordano and Michael Cellucci at QI, to expand the global reach of both companies’ products and services,” said Kurt Van Keppel, XIKAR’s co-founder, in a press release. “Through this process, my respect and admiration for Mike Giordano and the company he has built grew exponentially. Michael Cellucci was a great hire by Mike. His experience, strategic vision and natural leadership skills have really helped us bring the vision of combining these two great companies into focus.”
Van Keppel and fellow co-founder Scott Almsberger will become executive vice presidents and retain a minority stake in the company. Both will report to Michael Cellucci who is the president and coo of QI, while Giordano remains ceo.
Giordonao told halfwheel that XIKAR’s operational structure will remain in place for at least one year, including the company’s Kansas City headquarters. He said the company will use the time to evaluate XIKAR’s business more closely before making any major changes, though he didn’t rule out the possibility of XIKAR’s in-house salesforce selling other QI brands before the one-year time frame.
“Unlike all of our previous acquisitions, XIKAR contributes a coordinated and experienced team of professionals, as well as a set of high quality, branded products and services, altogether enhancing the value proposition for our retail partners,” said Giordano. “The pure enthusiasm we have witnessed from Kurt and Scott to join the QI team has been inspiring for all of us. As with all transitions of this kind, there is much work to be done, and we will keep our focus on executing in the most effective manner for our customers and employees.”
Van Keppel and Almsberger created XIKAR, Inc. 22 years ago, with its first product the signature Xi cutter, known for its teardrop shape and one-handed motion. In 2016 they celebrated the company’s 20th anniversary with the release of a special edition Xi1 cutter, offered in the same four colors as the original. That same year, the company was also awarded a trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on the shape of the Xi cutter, which ensures its perpetual protection.
The company has since expanded into almost every other cigar accessory category, including lighters, ashtrays, travel humidors, humidification products, butane and others. At one point XIKAR had a cigar line, which it later sold to Cigars International, and the company has made other products such as knives and candles.
Through it all, XIKAR is largely known for one thing: a lifetime warranty.
XIKAR includes a lifetime warranty with every product it sells. This allows customers to walk into any XIKAR authorized retailer and swap out a broken product for free. Customers also have the option to mail the item to the company.
That lifetime warranty allowed XIKAR to take the top position when it comes to cigar accessories and has positioned XIKAR as the category leader, particularly in the mid-tier accessory space.
Giordano says XIKAR’s market positioning will continue. He views XIKAR as the luxury brand within the company’s larger portfolio and he said he will use his other brands like Cigar Caddy, Cigar Mechanic, Palió and others to fill in the gaps below the XIKAR portfolio. In addition, it seems likely the company—under one name or another—will expand into different markets outside of the traditional cigar markets.
“Our goal is to deliver a single all-encompassing solution to our retail partners focused on aggressive sales planning, innovative product development, and outstanding customer service.” said Michael Cellucci. “This group has shown an unwavering commitment to succeed, a group that is filled with fight and drive – and I am proud to be a part of it.”
This is the 18th acquisition for Quality Importers in the company’s 18-year history, though none have been quite like this. Giordano acknowledged that XIKAR is not only an older company, but also employs more people than QI.
Quality Importers was assisted by Svoboda Capital Partners, LLC—who previously assisted Cigars International—as part of the acquisition.
Giordano said the company is open to further acquisitions, including cigar companies.