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Hello and welcome to XIKAR Nation.  Here you will find all the latest information on what is happening with XIKAR.  We will be posting Newsletters, Instructional Videos and the latest cigar and accessories news.

Stay tuned for much more!

The XIKAR Team

April 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
April 2015
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Kurt's Corner

 

 Ten days ago I joined a group of the cigar trade's leading retailers and brand distributors for a four day conference in the Dominican Republic. You can imagine the camaraderie of a cigar translates well to a cigar conference in the DR! A cigar makes a plumber and and president friends, so why not competitors too?! So it goes for at least a week every year.

   Two presentations stood out for their value and urgency. First, most urgent and important, are the fight for tobacco rights in the US congress and in the halls of many state legislatures. We cannot let up either fight, lest our beloved past-time get regulated  and taxed out of existence. The fight is real and the time is now! Please click this link right now and head over to the Cigar Rights of America (CRA) web site. Join, sign the petition, and contribute your financial support.

   We also viewed a presentation by Ken Schmidt, a former VP of marketing for Harley Davidson, who painted a stark portrait of a company that went bankrupt by focusing marketing on product features instead of the lifestyle it creates.  The turnaround at Harley apparently coincides with the birth of the "why" buy a Harley (the experience). You can view an abbreviated version of Ken's speech here.

   I am extremely grateful to enjoy business in a trade that is already "lifestyle", where the why is already well known. Furthermore, I delight in providing you an experience that supports the why, a cool tool for every celebration, and I deeply appreciate hearing from you on your experience with our product.  So, please do keep sending us your thoughts in emails and letters. I like to receive both positive (who doesn't want an 'attaboy'?!), and negative (so that we can improve) news.

Happy spring, and good smoking!

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

March 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
March 2015
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Kurt's Corner

 

    Kurt is currently out of the office traveling, but the XIKAR Team is excited for spring! We have been lucky enough in the Midwest to enjoy some ideal spring weather over the past couple of weeks, and are hoping that the Lion of March doesn't retaliate with the typical winter storms as the month wraps up.
    Whether you are hunting, dusting off the golf clubs, wrapped up in March Madness or gearing up for baseball season, we hope you are able to find time to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful season, great cigars and joyful camaraderie!

The XIKAR Team

February 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
February 2015
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Kurt's Corner

We’re working on a promise!
 
XIKAR recently engaged in some very effective management training, which included the elements of a request and a commitment (promise).  According to the Coach’s wisdom, our whole social fabric revolves around communication. Organizations, or networks of communications made up of requests and promises, will perform best when they effectively achieve a high standard in each.
 
A good request includes a committed speaker, who verbally or in writing states a request that contains a timeframe (delivery date), the future actions, and the expected conditions of satisfaction.  Appropriate mood and context assist in getting to yes – (the right request at the wrong time is the wrong request).
 
The request becomes a promise or a commitment only once the listener declares, “Yes” (I will do it by then).  If that promise is broken, the relationship diminishes.  And not dealing with broken commitments almost always leads to resentment and a drop-off in effectiveness in organizational accomplishment.  Yet we cannot keep 100% of the promises we keep. Thus, managing commitments becomes key in a world where our commitments take most of our time. 
 
How then do we manage our commitments and our time?  First, by learning to say “yes”, and “no”, and then with two more detailed tools. One might reasonably “Commit to commit” when further information is needed. (“I need to check my calendar, then I’ll let you know.”)  Or perhaps one might counter offer (“I can’t get it done by tomorrow, but I could by Friday”).  Finally worth noting is the broken promise: sometimes we have to break a promise.  We should always endeavor to do it up-front, to give advance notice and a chance for a renegotiation.
 
You may wonder why I spent this space on something so simple!  Simply put: we thought we had it right until we brand the formal request / promise approach. It has really helped.  Secondly, it has really helped in other areas outside of business.  I’m sure you can imagine your own examples!
 

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

January 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
January 2015
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Kurt's Corner


On Cuba
 
On December 17, 2014, USA - Cuba detente negotiations suddenly appeared, with much speculation and questions since, surrounding Cuba’s primary exports, tourism and cigars.  “Will you go?”  “Will this be a new boom to cigars and your business?” are two questions I’ve heard every week since the President’s announcement.  My answers are in short: I don’t know. 
 
The big question among consumers, retailers and manufacturers in our trade is of course, “the new boom”. And the answer, once the legalities are worked out, lies in execution of the production, distribution and marketing of that product.  Brands and production quality from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua (among others) are already so well established, that Cuban cigars will hardly receive a red carpet with a free pass to the front of the line.  In short, we’ll see.
 
Will I go?  That depends.  I’d like to go visit a beautiful island paradise that makes great cigars, and more importantly respects and celebrates its citizens’ human, natural and political rights. Unfortunately, the President’s address on this topic is vague and ill-defined.  Perhaps they have it all worked out – but in absence of that information, I’m hereby taking the liberty of making some suggestions.
 
Among the rights I like to observe and enjoy on my visit are the right to due process, including probable cause, and a trial by a jury of one’s peers, under the law.  I’d like to know that I and my hosts are not potential subjects of cruel and unusual punishment, including long incarceration for political speech.  And I’d like that speech to be free to make, whether individually or assembled in a group.
 
And when the government errs, I’d like to see the opportunity for a redress of grievances, without risk of further violations to life and property.  I’d like to visit, perhaps even buy a condo, a place that respects the right to private property, without having the fear of unreasonable search and seizure.  And finally, I’d like my citizen hosts to have the right to keep and bear arms, so that when the government does err, does violate inalienable human, natural, and political freedoms, they may stand firm in protection and preservation of their rights.
 
In return for our consumption, tourism and investment capital, I sincerely hope the current administration secures these rights.  Immediate release of political prisoners, and the restoration of private property confiscated from Cuban citizens under the Agrarian Reform Law of May, 1959 would be a good start.
 
Under these conditions, I’d love to go to Cuba. And after that, I’d love to go to Venezuela.
 
Sincerely,

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

December 2014 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
December 2014
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Kurt's Corner


I hope it was a safe, happy and healthy holiday season for the XIKAR Nation! From all of us at XIKAR, I want to thank each and every one of you for your tremendous support in 2014. We look forward to introducing the new product innovations that have been designed for the upcoming year as we continue to build on our core foundation of superb Form, Feel and Function, all delivered at a Fair price.

Wishing you a safe and prosperous new year! 


 
Sincerely,

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

 

November 2014 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
November 26, 2014
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Kurt's Corner



Happy ThanksGIVING
 
“It is better to give than to receive”. Is this true? I’ll let you be the judge.  Scarleth, who lives in Tampa and worked the Verbena Cigar Festival event last Sunday with us, told me the following story. On that same morning as she was leaving her church in Ybor City, she saw her friend, the homeless man who hangs out there. 

 

He looked distressed, so she gave him a hug and the $10 she had in her pocket.  With tears, he thanked her and wandered off. She watched him enter the church, and fearful that he might be asked to leave, she pursued. Inside, she found him at the desk, sealing a donation envelope. She asked him what he was doing – and he said that he was donating $10 to the church. “That same $10 I gave you?” “Yes.” “But that was for you!” “I know,” he replied, “but I really felt poor and rejected this morning, and asked God for comfort. He sent me your hug. I was so grateful that I wanted to give everything I had for that.  All I had was that $10.” 

  That’s a beautiful reminder that our holiday this week is   really about giving thanks.  It’s my favorite holiday – for   family, camaraderie, good food and libation.  It’s also my   favorite for the simple reason that giving thanks rewards   us far more than getting – as the story above shows.  I   want to thank you, each and every one, for the     enthusiasm, support, trust and loyalty you have given us over the last 18 years.  It is a true gift!

Sincerely,

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

October 2014 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
October 31, 2014
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Kurt's Corner


I am in costume and can't be found, as I
"(cigar) stick or treat" throughout the neighborhood. 

Happy Halloween XIKAR Nation!

Sincerely,

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

 

2014 Product Innovation Quiz

Product and Process Excellence
 
IPCPR and the launch of numerous new items from XIKAR seems like forever ago already.  In the blur of smoke and lights that is Las Vegas, did you get a thorough introduction and learn all of the cleaver tricks that make each item unique?  It's time for a quick quiz!
Did You Know......

- That the X875 cutter features cutting chamber access ports on each side of the cutter that allow tobacco debris to be ejected with each cut?

- That the VX Key Chain cutter has an advanced spring mechanism inside that prevents the cutter from opening in your pocket and also gives it a silky smooth cutting action?

- That the Vintage Bronze finish on the Cirro is applied by hand so no two lighters are the same?

And finally...

- That the PuroTemp System has customizable warnings that can alert you when your humidor requires your attention?

At XIKAR, we go out of our way to design and build products of the highest quality and ultimate convenience so you can have the best smoking experience possible.   

 
Rob Lembke
XIKAR Inc.
VP of Engineering and Process Excellence

September 2014 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
September 2014
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Kurt's Corner

 

Recently, reflecting on the power of observation, I have discovered that in so many of life's facets, observation provides the best first step to success.  There's power in doing nothing!

How can this be true in a world of fast-paced go get 'em business?  First, observation requires quiet, which tends to remove ego from the matter.  So, we stop talking when the sale is made, or more importantly, we listen to the customer's suggestion or complaint.  And by doing so, we learn so much about what's working or not. That's why we developed the PuroTemp remote humidification system - by listening to customer desires.

Secondly, observation gives us the opportunity to deploy the trio of great communication: ask, listen and (really) hear.  This is exactly how we understand the needs of others - whether product needs as noted above, or perhaps just individual needs among team mates. Not only does this integration of others' thoughts make them relevant to the discussions (be they inside XIKAR or out), but they also help us to communicate our respect and appreciation for them.

Most importantly, observation, combined with the tools of listening, enables us to achieve collaborative creativity.  And this powerful result has catapulted us into areas we didn't before dream possible.  You can imagine that we accomplish more and better solutions through collaboration.  And more importantly, everyone is part of the process.  Recently, we attended the Intertabak cigar show in Dortmund Germany, where we had the "official" launch of the Allume lighter family.  Our European distributors collaborated with us in the design and color choice of this lighter family - and it is now the #1 selling launch item in the history of XIKAR.

Enjoy the results of our observation process.  And if you have some observations of your own to make, please let us know!

Sincerely,

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.

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