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August 2016 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
August 2016
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Kurt's Corner
Guest Author: Rob Lembke, XIKAR VP Engineering and Process Excellence
on Crystal Humidifiers vs. 2-Way Humidity Control

         
 XIKAR and Boveda announced our supply partnership just prior to this year's IPCPR show.  We here at XIKAR HQ are very excited about this development and we welcome Boveda's 2-Way Humidity Control technology to our product line.  For years, XIKAR has provided numerous ways to keep your cigars stored properly and for many people our PG-based products have been (and will continue to be) the best solution for them.  In some cases, however, the XIKAR 2-Way Humidity Control will provide a precise and convenient solution that can only be achieved using Boveda's patented salt-based technology.  A few situations that may be ideal for XIKAR 2-Way Humidity Control are travel cases or other containers that have air-tight seals and non-wood structures.  Containers such as these hold humidity well, allowing for the precision of the 2-Way Humidity Control packs to really shine.  

The addition of the XIKAR 2-Way Humidity Control products to our humidification line rounds out our offerings for consumers, giving you a wide range of choices based on your specific needs, budgets and desire for convenience.  

Find more information on choosing the right XIKAR humidification device for your cigar storage needs in the XIKAR U section below.
   

July 2016 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
July 2016
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Kurt's Corner
IPCPR 2016
 

           The 84th Annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailer Trade Show and Convention took place this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. XIKAR is thrilled to introduce several new innovations to our product line, as well as stunning new finishes to existing fan favorites and a variety of Limited Edition Gift Sets that will be available in time for the holiday season.
   These products were very well received by our valued XIKAR retailers, and we are overjoyed for them to deliver to stores throughout the upcoming months and into the hands of the XIKAR Nation!
   The XO cutter was perhaps the most highly anticipated launch at IPCPR this year. This ultimate cutting machine's revolutionary planetary gear system and unique circular form create an instant visual intrigue, with the popular opinion, "Once you get it in your hand, you’re hooked!”
   The Xidris single flame lighter was another popular item at the show, sure to fast track its way into your accessory collection. This high performance inspired lighter comes in a variety of eight striking color combinations and is equipped with XIKAR’s reliable Direct Inject™ Flame Technology.
   Find an overview of all new product introductions throughout this newsletter and on the XIKAR 2016 New Innovations Page, and keep an eye out for more exciting information including availability, coming soon!

      
     

June 2016 Newsletter

XIKAR NATION
June 2016
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Kurt's Corner
 

        XIKAR is dedicated to our mission to serve great products through honest and ergonomic design to achieve superior form, feel and function. Our team is constantly at work developing innovative concepts and products to deliver only the most attractive and superior functioning accessories to the XIKAR Nation. Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the IPCPR Trade Show and Convention, we are delighted to share sneak peeks of our newest, cutting edge accessories, some of which have been fine tuned in research and development for over 3 years. In celebration of our 20th Anniversary, we reflect back on the original products and constant values that have built the XIKAR brand into the industry leader it is today, while aspiring to revolutionize the standard of accessories in the cigar industry. Stay tuned!

Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR Inc.

 

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.

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.

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

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.

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