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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

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.

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.

 

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

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.

June 2014 Newsletter


XIKAR NATION Newsletter

June 26, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
 
"That's not XIKAR!"

So say some of the pre-launch reviews of our new lighter,
the Allume mini. It's small, it comes in an array of colors
(beyond black, silver and gunmetal). It's sleek, it's stylish,
it's... sexy!


Here at XIKAR, we take design seriously. We take our 
customers very seriously. And we try not to take ourselves
too seriously. So when the marketplace tells us small
and colorful, we set aside our Dutch austerity (Kurt) and
Austrian tech (Scott), and embrace power in a little flair of
color and precision. Imagine Italian cars and French
fashion combined.


We think you'll be impressed - as they have been in Europe, where initial consumer sales are very strong.  And just wait until you see our upcoming social media campaign - adding in a bit of the Riviera.  We think you'll say, "that's XIKAR! Olė!!"

Sincerely,


Kurt Van Keppel
President
XIKAR Inc.
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