5x64 turrim

January 2016 Newseltter

XIKAR NATION
January 2016
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Kurt's Corner

 

Twenty years is a short time. Twenty years ago, I had just one, not two kids.  They are now in college, and have grown up so fast that I like to say, “in a few short years, they’ll be older than me!”

And just twenty years ago, Scott and I started XIKAR.  Out of an idea we built in our garages and sold to our local cigar retailers, Scott and I built an iconic* cutter – and then a brand.  Of this, I like to say, “the brand is bigger than the product.” 

How does this happen, when the road to success is littered with innovative product?  We began with a product of great function, form (artful to the eye), feel (ergonomic) and sold it at a fair price.  And we didn’t stop there – we added a lifetime guarantee, with a commitment to treat our customers as we want to be treated: with concern, good communication, consistency and quickness.  Add in a little luck (the cigar boom), and a lot of persistence (we didn’t pay ourselves the first two years!), and that’s how it happens.

How does it continue to happen?  You make it happen. You continue the now twenty-year-old dream by supporting why we exist – through your appreciation of cool product and service you can trust. Thank you!  In the coming weeks, you’ll see a 20th Anniversary commemorative edition cutter, as well as a “thank you tour”.  I hope to meet each of you in person at one of these events.  And at that event, if you can tell me where the name XIKAR originated, I’ll hand you a cool XIKAR pin.

*XIKAR is extremely pleased to announce, on our 20th Anniversary, the award of a Trademark by the United States Patent & Trademark Office on the shape of our cutter. In order to achieve this honor and its perpetual protection, we had to prove to the patent office that our cutter had achieved “iconic” status. From Idea to Icon!


 
 
Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR Inc.

December 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
December 2015
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Kurt's Corner
Happy New Year!


   Happy New Year! We all say that as a matter of course to celebrate the passing of the old into the new. What does that mean?  In my case, I take a moment of gratitude for the good things of 2015 (your support for example), and hope to find, create and enjoy even more blessings in the coming year.
   I’ve also noticed that my festive greetings have changed over time. Certainly into my mid-twenties, happiness (and a good party) were my primary motivations. Between 25 and 45, I usually also wished people a prosperous new year, hoping for the same myself, I’m sure.  More recently I have offered greetings of a joyful new year, as “joy in the journey” has risen in value now that I’m in the third phase of my career (I’m in my mid 50’s).  I anticipate wishing people a peaceful (and healthy) new year in the not too distant future.
   I think “Happy New Year” means all the above, depending on where we each find ourselves in life’s journey.  I wish, for 2016, that your own needs and dreams are fulfilled, so I wish you a Happy New Year!
 
Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR Inc.

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.

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