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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.

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.

November 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
November 2015
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Kurt's Corner

#XiDay Black Friday

   Throughout the month of November, we find ourselves taking moments to reflect on the blessings in our lives that we are truly thankful for. At XIKAR, we have an endless list of opportunities, successes and experiences for which we are immensely appreciative. Each item on our list seems to connect directly with the one entity we are the most thankful for year in and year out: the XIKAR Nation.
   To show our appreciation to each and every member of XIKAR Nation, we have teamed up with our retailers to present the #XiDay Black Friday Sale! This event, running Friday, November 27th – Sunday, November 29th, features 20% off ALL XIKAR accessories at participating locations. It’s the perfect opportunity to complete all holiday shopping for the cigar smoker on your list, while also picking up a little treat for yourself!
   In addition to 20% off all accessories, we are also offering a special giveaway to #XiDay Black Friday participants, with the opportunity to WIN a new accessory every 15 minutes! Click here for full giveaway details.

   We wish you the happiest holiday season filled with the warmth of family and friends and, of course, a great cigar! 


 
Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR Inc.

June 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
June 2015
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Kurt's Corner

 

   Please bear with me: this is about cigars!  In her seminal work, The Classic Italian Cookbook, (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1978), Marcella Hazan writes, (p.335):
 
"I cannot imagine Italy without its vegetable stalls, filling ancient squares and animating dusty side streets with mounds of fabulous forms in purple, green, red, gold, and orange. In a land heavy with man's monuments, these are the soil's own masterworks.
                                      
Perhaps one day the vitality of these still flourishing markets will be replaced by the pallor of deep-freeze counters, those cemeteries of food, where produce is sealed up in wax boxes marked, like some tombstones, with photographs of the departed.  But I hope it never happens. I would sooner be deprived of all of the marvels of Michelangelo."
 
What creates the “cemeteries of food” she so eloquently describes?  Regulation, the hidden tax on small business, prevents small operators - manufacturers and retailers, from competing (surviving) against well-financed larger corporations who will make up the cost of regulation through increased market share.
 
Can you imagine the USA without its brick and mortar cigar shops?  Can you imagine buying cigars in their plastic tombstones, with a brand label on top and no images whatsoever?  I can imagine it, I have seen it!  If you doubt this – take a quick trip to Canada. 
 
I would sooner be deprived of the works of Mark Twain, who, through his cigar smoke, I imagine would chuckle and agree!  If you also agree, join the CRA!!  This, your (consumer) cigar rights organization, leads the defense charge for you in the halls of Congress and among the States, to prevent over-reaching regulation at both the factory and retail level.  Their work has already accomplished much – and yet they still need your help. We can win this fight! We can win, if you join today!

Kurt Van Keppel

President, XIKAR, Inc.

May 2015 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
May 2015
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Kurt's Corner

 

   "Summer: Hair gets lighter. Skin gets Darker. Water gets warmer. Drinks get colder. Music gets louder. Nights get longer. Life gets better." 
--Unknown   

   It's hard to believe that the prime cigar smoking season is just right around the corner! As you begin to fill your schedule with fishing trips, barbecues and baseball games, the XIKAR Team is hard at work to bring you the latest accessories to take your summer from hot to smokin'! We'll see you at the herf!

 

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

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.

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