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February 2016 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
February 2016
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Kurt's Corner

Winds (of change) are blowing! 
 

   I see lots of air moving around us these days!  Here in Kansas City, we’ve had incredibly unseasonal weather - in the 70 degree range.  These temperature swings arrive on strong warm winds from the southwest, usually in a matter of hours. Here we say, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a day!”
   Speaking of warm winds, we get to witness a lot of hot air of another kind, on the political front this year.  Has another political race ever been this raucous and entertaining?  (Apparently so – even the founding fathers were well-known scrappers)  Either way, I predict that if you don’t like the current political weather, just wait a day, or a few minutes, and you’ll continue to see change.
   Wind also changes the environment of your humidor.  XIKAR is proud to announce our newest innovation: a humidor fan which automatically circulates the air in your humidor (for 15 seconds every 15 minutes).  This helps the overall ambience by overcoming gravity: humid air is heavier than dry, and tends to sit at the bottom of your humidor. It needs circulation which the HumiFan provides.  Here’s an additional tip: if you have a shelf / tray in your humidor, keep the cigars away from the sides – this will assist in the air rotation.

Happy smoking!  

 
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.

September 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
September 2015
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Kurt's Corner

   
   All of us at XIKAR are sad to see summer go, but are thrilled that the fall season is upon us! Autumn surrounds us with cool and crisp weather (perfect for smoking!), bright and festive colors and one of America’s favorite past times: football. These elements helped to inspire the new 12th Man collection of cutters. These 2-tone Xi1’s are the perfect accessory to show your team spirit and enjoy the fall smoking season in fanatic style. And just like your undying passion for your favorite team, the 12th Man cutters are guaranteed for life!
   Wishing you a joyful and refreshing fall season. Happy Smoking, XIKAR Nation!
 

August 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
August 2015
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Kurt's Corner
The Nature of Innovation

 
   Nature may be the best innovator.  As Darwin suggested, adaptation to needs (survival) encourages solutions which over time succeed in achieving the goal. These adaptations appear in slow form, with nature favoring one trait over another, or appear in sudden changes such as a genetic mutation of superior survival skill.

   Product innovation follows a similar path, although not always with the survival goal. More often, at XIKAR for example, innovation answers a consumer need or problem that has common appeal.

   For example, Scott and I invented our Xi cutter, which celebrates its 20th anniversary early next year, in answer to my need for a superior cutter function (like scissors) with an ergonomic and artful form. "Nature" or the marketplace, favored our invention to the degree that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office recently awarded it iconic status through a Trademark on the cutter shape. We are very proud of the recognition, and delighted with the perpetual protection it provides!

   Not all our innovations will achieve this.  Some provide solutions over time though evolution of existing products or synthesis of ideas from disparate sources. Our recent launch of the Volta and Forte lighters demonstrate the first, while the PuroTemp, our remote readout hygrometer, illustrates synthesis.

   Whatever the scale of the idea, it begins with a source - you and your "problems" or needs.  We know these needs only if you tell us, through our solicitation in person, in newsletters or in surveys. We value that feedback like gold - because real solutions start with real needs.  Of course, we also smoke cigars daily, and realize some of those needs on our own.  We definitely produce, test and market the best of those.  And we are hungry for more!  If you've got a need, or perhaps even a solution that has common appeal,  let us know - you might have your name on a patent that one day becomes an icon!!

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.

August 2014 Newsletter



XIKAR NATION
August 28, 2014
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Kurt's Corner

 

Kurt is currently away from the office on a fishing trip, putting his hunting/fishing themed Outdoorsmen Gift Pack to good use! 

We hope you all get to experience a similar escape soon, as the upcoming fall season provides the ultimate weather and activities to enjoy the outdoors and your favorite cigar with friends and family! (Don't worry, XIKAR has developed the perfect accessories to accompany the season as well!)

July 2014 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION Newsletter

July 31, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
 
We are back from Las Vegas, and the IPCPR Trade Show
was a tremendous success! Our team works hard all year
to create the newest and most cutting edge cigar
accessories, and this year was no exception. The latest
XIKAR innovations were inspired by beauty and power, from
the heights of mountaintops, to the depths of the ocean.
You will be prepared to take on cigars bigger than you've 
ever imagined
, and will never again find yourself without a
cutter on hand
. Of course, all products exemplify 
superior form, feel and function, the Essence of XIKAR!

The industry received our new accessories with adulation
at the IPCPR Convention, and we look forward to getting them into your hands. This newsletter will introduce you to some of the new XIKAR innovations, and we will continue to feature a new product every month through the end of the year. 


 I want to thank you all for your loyalty to XIKAR as we progress with our commitment to revolutionary product development. I am certain that you will be impressed not only with the new releases, but the future introduction of creative concepts as XIKAR continues to serve you... for life!

Sincerely,


Kurt Van Keppel
President
XIKAR Inc.

May 2014 Newsletter


XIKAR NATION Newsletter

May 21, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
 
On April 10, 2014 my iPad was stolen, along with
other “personal effects” (my briefcase and suitcase),
from my vehicle in Houston.  Theft is a crime that deprives
us of our property, and to some degree our liberty (having
to go shopping for clothes and sundries instead of calling
on customers), and ultimately of our enjoyment or prosperity
in life.  Our criminal laws are very clear on this matter –
theft is a prosecutable crime.  I have been very
impressed with the Harris County Sheriff’s
department’s handling of the matter – I may even get my
iPad back!
 
Our Constitution’s laws are also very clear on the matter of theft: Article V. states “(No person shall) be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”  On July 8, 2014, you may be the victim of a crime.  You may be deprived of your liberty and ultimately your property by the FDA, who will on that date decide how to regulate your enjoyment of cigars.  Unfortunately, when the perpetrator and the prosecutor are the same, the handling of the matter is much less impressive.  You will not get due process of law from a regulatory agency whose purpose is to eradicate your access to a legal product!
 
I know some smokers who are complacent on this and other smoking issues.  They say, “I don’t mind warning labels”.  “Won’t regulation of production protect us?”  Don’t be fooled – you already have the choice, the liberty to smoke or not to smoke, to choose between brands, and try new products, to congregate with others of similar tastes.  Through regulation, the FDA will create a burden on manufacturers that will effectively eliminate new items, killing small manufacturers and also small retailers.  This will be a theft, a death by decree. 
 
But we have a chance!  You do have a voice – the FDA has given us a sliver of hope by suggesting that they may choose to not regulate premium cigars.   We now have 48 days left in the “comment period”.  Your comments will count!  Go NOW to the 
CRA website. Review the situation, click the link, make your comment.  Our passion for cigars, our business, our industry depends on YOU!

Sincerely,


Kurt Van Keppel
President
XIKAR Inc.
 
 

April 2013 Newsletter


XIKAR NATION Newsletter

April 30, 2013

 

Kurt's Corner

 

     Tim, one of my partners, compares marketing to a diamond – many facets that must each have polish, almost to perfection, to create the ulitmate value of the whole.  A single flawed element (in marketing that could be pricing, product or promotion, for example) can wipe out the value of other elements done very well. I view “Management” similarly. 
     Certainly few business activities have more value than the finding of the right people.  At XIKAR, we use interviews, resumes and a “work culture” survey to indicate work style and inherent traits, making sure they fit both the company culture and the job activity – “getting the right people in the right seats” to paraphrase Disney and others. Getting this right, getting high performers who emulate, even live the culture, prevents most problems and facilitates the other facets of management.
     Once at XIKAR, our associates deserve to understand our goals, and should be able to guide themselves by them. We accomplish this by setting overall objectives and then by including them in defining the specifics.  We then leave strive to provide the right amount of autonomy,  with the authority,  to achieve that responsibility.
     Associates also deserve recognition and reward.  We often hear that recognition is the more important of the two.  In my experience, both are required, but of the two, recognition is the harder to give. That’s not because we don’t give it or don’t want to, but because it includes and means much more than congratulating them on a job well done.  It also means recognizing their value to the organization and the value of their input by including them in the ideation and strategy process.  As a result, many of our ideas,  such as our best selling lighter, the Element, come from inside the team.
     And perhaps in our most important facet of management, we strive every day to treat our associates as we expect to be treated.  At XIKAR, we try to create a meritocracy of ideas.  At the trade show this year in July, we will introduce a new era of humidification technology that results from brainstorming, deep study and the outcome of many people synthesizing each others ideas.
     Finally, I view safety as the glue that binds the facets.  As long as we each are focused on innovation and extraordinary customer experience, then team members don’t risk when they take a chance on ideas.
     Hopefully, our diamond of Management creates XIKAR for Life among our team. And when you call, we hope you hear that in our voices and see that in our actions – and make XIKAR for Life your mantra too!

Kurt Van Keppel
President
XIKAR, Inc.

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