April 2015 Newsletter

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.

November 2014 Newsletter

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!


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
VP of Engineering and Process Excellence

July 2014 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!


Kurt Van Keppel

June 2014 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!!"


Kurt Van Keppel

April 2014 Newsletter


April 23, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
I love to eat – I always have.  Over time, it’s become more of a “living
to” than a “living for”.  Cigars are also like that for me – I live for the
moments to smoke them.  This month, we discuss cigars and eating,
which share more in common than just our palate (which truth to tell,
is enough!)
Last week’s trip to New York City provided my passion
extraordinary satisfaction.  The Comfort Diner extended day-after
comfort, while Mario Batali’s Esca found a way out of NY – to heaven
(try the Branzino), and The John Dory Oyster Bar gave me the need
for Comfort – along with the best oysters and lobster po' boy
imaginable. You can find my list of favorite haunts for both food and cigars right here: Kurt's NYC Food & Cigars. Add one of your own!
New York City has among the world’s best cigar shops – with something for every taste, in both cigars and atmosphere.  And rather than pick favorites, I invite you to visit them all.  The cigar world in New York occupies a small space, with just enough stores for the intrepid smoking traveler to visit (most of the others are gone, victims of New York’s draconian tobacco taxes and anti-smoking laws).  Among them you will find sophistication, relaxation and lounges large and small.
For all my passionate eating, my weight hasn’t changed. Some might call it “discerning,” or less kindly, “picky”. Really, I just eat what I like, and beyond that I don’t have much interest.  However, I practice intrepid eating, meaning I’m willing to try anything once. The same is true for cigars – this is key to really, really understanding cigars.  And if you also read about them, study them, perhaps write about them, you will soon find your own expertise.  Howard, who I first met in the Dominican Republic, recently said hello at the TX Cigar Fest.  He carries a cigar dossier with him – of descriptions of almost every cigar he has ever smoked.  Now that’s personal expertise!
At events, consumers often ask what cigar I might recommend.  I always reply, “what do you drink: beer, wine or whiskey?” I find the palate for drinks matches cigars (beer – mild, wine – medium, whisky – strong).  I also find the palate is indifferent to gender: once I suggested a strong cigar to a woman who was sipping a bourbon – she loved it. 
Whichever palate you have, I invite you to intrepid, travel-smoking discovery.  If not to NY, then travel around your city, visit a variety of shops.  “Travel” through the humidor, practice intrepid smoking.  Above all, enjoy!


Kurt Van Keppel

March 2014 Newsletter


March 20, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
We've been talking a lot about Innovation lately, at the office, with our
customers and even on these pages. You see, we believe that 
Innovation (and extraordinary customer experience), is key to growing 
a business that attracts consumers like you to our products and brand.

Innovation began at XIKAR in my hand.  As I observed my hand cutting a 
cigar, I realized that the entire palm could be used to create a much 
more powerful cut - and the Xi cutter was born.  We have made this 
process, of seeking better solutions by observing consumer interaction,
core to our innovation - and now a formal process at XIKAR.  Not only
do we observe, but also we strip away comfortable assumptions of past
solutions, by asking: what's the problem  / what's the goal?

I take great pride in announcing the latest result of this process. Our PuroTemp Wireless Hygrometer System solves the problem of both neglect and hyper-attention to your humidification systems. The system not only gives you a desktop readout of your humidor's temperature and humidity, but also alarms you when either surpasses your set limits.  Now you give both your cigars, and yourself, a worry-free rest. You don't have to open the box to see what's going on in there!

You can find one at your local tobacconist - ask him for a demo.  And while there, pick up a bottle of XIKAR PG Solution, the other key to maintaining proper humidity.  (For more education on this topic than you imagine or perhaps even want, check this link).

In the meantime, we'll be back at XPDS (XIKAR Product Design Services) center, dreaming up more ways to improve your smoking experience.  And on these pages, and on Twitter and Facebook, we'll ask for your help, opinions and advice.  Keep an eye out! 


Kurt Van Keppel

June 2013 Newsletter


June 2013

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Kurt's Corner
Business Start-up/
Entrepreneurship- Part 2
As Seen in the April Issue of Cigar Advisor

Continued from last month's newsletter... 

     Congratulations! Your solution, then an invention, is now a product. The market responded and demands the product.  Are you in business? Maybe. The answer really depends on your financial situation and skills related to the running the business you want to be in.  Prior to XIKAR, my career experience included sales and marketing management, and new product launches for several top consumer products companies.  Scott's included sales, relationship management, factory management and of course a lot of product design.  We were well suited to start and run XIKAR on our own.

Had we not been good candidates for our own jobs, I'm not sure that would have stopped us! Please heed this warning I have come to realize: inventing a product and running a business are completely different. Getting a new product to market carries both financial and business risk (a lot more on that in a later article).  Inventors who are not prepared for both stand to lose their finances and their market space as the business overwhelms them and the market competitors pass them by.
Business startups can be boot-strapped.  We did it; we did it with a unique, patented product in a marketplace that was booming at the time. And, I gave up my salary and home (moved my wife, two young children and two beagles in with my mother in law) for two years. I like to say that not all entrepreneurs have to give everything up, but they have to be ready to!
Partnerships with existing brand marketers and distributors provide a great alternative for most entrepreneurs to launch their products and enjoy immediate market penetration. Sales and profits that correspond with that far outweigh the startup years of a solo effort.  Sure, the inventor gives up a portion of the profit. But often the economics are still better - for the speed of profits and the lack of risk.

We are constantly looking for new products, as are all the other distributors in our trade, and in every trade! Consumers walk into cigar shops and say, "what's new?" I walk into a cigar shop, and the owner (always) says, "what's new?" The Ashtray Can inventor is a great example of how well this can work. I recently saw an invention that will be perfectly suited for the checkout at Wal-Mart, grocery and other big chains. The inventor is a salesman in a tech company, and a mutual friend suggested me to him. So, I passed him to a buddy whose company sells to Wal-Mart, Target and grocery - and I think they are both going to make a lot of money on this deal!
In my case, I was compelled by a new product solution to take to market. I was compelled to start a business because I was "a good employee, but not very good at working for someone else". Some of you out there know exactly what I am talking about! I hope you have a great product idea, and get it to market. Or, I hope you have a great solution, and let me, or another company know about it!

Kurt Van Keppel

February 2013 Newsletter


February 25, 2013


Kurt's Corner


     February brings us both Valentines Day and President’s Day.  It’s therefore fitting to celebrate our love of this country and particularly the freedom it gives us.  


     However, those freedoms are under constant attack, both from within and out!  This column has honored those who have served to protect us outside our borders.  Thousands also protect us from within, among them news pundits, bloggers, associations, and more.  Two associations, IPCPR (cigar retailers’ association) and the CRA (Cigar Rights of America, a consumer association) protect your right to enjoy tobacco.  


     Both of the birthday Presidents knew that attacks on our freedoms would start with attacks on the truth.  And they each prescribe the same solution.


Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light – Washington


I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts - Lincoln


     A real crisis challenges your ability to enjoy cigars.   The federal government has granted oversight of cigars to the FDA, who intends to regulate them out of existence as you know it.  Limited variety, defaced packaging, abolishment of walk-in humidors and cessation of individual cigar selection are among the threats coming from the FDA.  Regulation of production may make handmade cigars disappear entirely!


     A new bill before Congress, H.R. 792, will eliminate premium cigars from FDA oversight.  It will protect your right to enjoy the cigars you love!  This bill received over 220 sponsors in the last Congress.  But with a new Congress, a new Bill needs your support.  CRA will bring you this truth, and help you meet this crisis Act on it!  Join today.  Sign the petition through their web site!  Write your Congressman and Senator!  And, good smoking!


Kurt Van Keppel
President & Co-Founder

New Vitara, double flame lighter!
     Love our Element lighter? Then you have to check out our new double jet flame lighter, the Vitara. With a unique slide-action trigger, it features a built-in side 7mm punch, an oversized fuel adjustment wheel and an easy-view fuel window. Its body is slightly smaller than the Element and comes in 5 finishes including our new Pearl and G2 (gunmetal on gunmetal). 

XIKAR U: How to Light your Cigar with a Jet Flame Lighter

     XIKAR President Kurt Van Keppel demonstrates how to properly light your cigar with a jet flame lighter.

Don't Forget-- Register your Warranty!

     Be sure to register all of your XIKAR products on our website. To register your product, please create a new warranty registration account or use your existing XIKAR account to add a new product. The entire form must be filled our to receive your free XIKAR sheath. The information you provide to XIKAR Inc. is solely used to better serve your needs and is not for sale, nor shall be distributed in any other matter to anyone else. Once you have registered your product, you will receive a free custom-fitted sheath to protect your lighter/cutter in the mail within 3 weeks.
*We do not provide sheaths for the Scribe, Stratosphere, Tabletops or punches due to their unique size. 

Featured Product:
Xi Cutters

     It all started in 1994, when Kurt Van Keppel decided to buy a good cigar cutter. After purchasing several models, he found that both, the inexpensive and high-end models, under-performed. So he set out with Scott Almsberger to match good design (ergonomics and function) with the best styling and materials available. The result was the Xi cutter we all know and love today. XIKAR is proud to offer the Xi1, Xi2 and Xi3 in various designs and finishes to match any style. Whether nylon fiberglass, anodized aluminum, carbon fiber, exotic wood, titanium, Mayan cloisonne' or even diamonds, they are equipped with high quality 440 stainless steel blades backed by a lifetime warranty. 

Upcoming XIKAR Events

     There are a lot of great events across the country year round for you to check out. To hear about all of the latest events/news, visit our tab for Events on Facebook. Here are a few coming up from our XIKAR retailers:
2/28 Fidel's

in Kansas City, MO 5 - 9 p.m.
2/28 Cigar Lounge

in McKinney, TX 5 - 9 p.m.
3/1 The Maduro Room

in Lexington, SC 4 - 9 p.m.
3/2 Tobaccology

in Manassas, VA 3 - 7 p.m.
3/7 Smokin Premiums

in Stuart, FL 4 - 9 p.m.
3/8 The Havana House

in Rochester, NY
3/8 Cigar Castle

in Tampa, FL 5 - 9 p.m.
3/14 DeCuba

in Daphne, AL 4 - 9 p.m.
3/14 The Cigar Room

in Lee's Summit, MO 5 - 8 p.m.
3/14 The Cigar House

in Lawrenceville, GA 5 - 8 p.m.
3/16 The Cigar Shop of Biloxi

in Biloxi, MS 12 - 5 p.m.
3/26 GarVino's

in Oscala, FL 4 - 10 p.m.
3/30 The Briar Shoppe

in Houston, TX 12 - 6 p.m.

X4L Hall of Famer, Dan Kruse visits XIKAR HQ!

     "I was first introduced to cigars when I moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1985. At the time, Red McCombs owned the Spurs and was a friend of mine. At a basketball game, he handed me a cigar so I didn't hesitate to cut, light and smoke it. After enjoying my first stick, I was immediately hooked on the hobby.
     Cigars to me, are like perfume. You either really like them, you don't mind them or you hate them. If you smoke good premium cigars, the smells and aromas are like a great perfume filling the room with complex notes-- there is no better smell. I first heard about XIKAR at an event they did at Club Humidor with owners Tiffany and Keith Rumbo. I smoked the HC Series and immediately liked them because of their flavor and fair price. I have noticed that every cigar introduced in the HC Series has tasted better and better to me. This shows me that XIKAR keeps their commitment to being concerned for the consumer, giving them as much flavor as possible for a reasonable amount of money. I've been in sales all my life and in my opinion, an HC Series is the best cigar you can smoke in the world for many reasons. The most important is the staff, ownership and people at XIKAR use extra care when producing products compared to others in the market. Also, they provide a premium cigar for a good price when they could easily sell them for twice the price.
    Believe it or not, I have about 50 XIKAR cutters, lighters and about 1,000 HC Series cigars. When I was first introduced to XIKAR, I bought fifteen cutters. With such a great design and price, I needed more than one. Also, I purchased ten Tabletop lighters the first time I laid my eyes on one. The Tabletop is by far my favorite lighter because with the lifetime warranty, its large design and reasonable price, you can feel the value in your hand.  I buy multiple products to build a collection and of course to gift. It's fun to give someone a XIKAR product because I know it's a gift for a lifetime; they are going to have it forever backed by its unconditional warranty."
- Dan Kruse



Xi1 Room101 Cutter by Stick Review
Watch the Review

Habano² by Stogie Review
Read the Review
Habano² rated a 94 by Golf Spy
Read the Review

VX V-Cutter by The Smoking Hot Cigar Chick
Watch the Review

Trezo by The Cigar Crook
Watch the Review

XIKAR For Life Hall of Fame

     The XIKAR For Life Hall of Fame Award is designed to recognize an individual who has demonstrated exceptional support and commitment of the XIKAR organization. Nominees are selected based on their affiliation with XIKAR plus their passion and commitment for the cigar industry.

Carolee Martin
Fraser Monk
Jeff McDowell
Robbie Morton
Daniel Kruse
Daniel Dwyer
Jay Bitzer
Michael “Moe” O’Donovan
Alberto Alfonso

Each year, four individuals are inducted into the XIKAR Hall of Fame. The next inductee will be announced in March. Submit nominees to XIKAR at info@xikar.com

Be a part of XIKAR Nation! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to see daily updates of events, pictures and even weekly contests to win XIKAR swag! 


 Who's your Paddy?! 

     It's that time of year to prepare for the holiday filled with luck, shamrocks, green attire and beer. But most importantly, facial hair. In honor of St. Patrick's impressive beard, we are looking for the best beard and cigar combo of 2013. Throw your razor in the drawer and send us a picture at info@xikar.com of your impressive facial hair smoking a stogie by March 17th 12:00 a.m. CST.
     The winner of a rare retired model,  Xi1 Shade Tobacco Leaf Camo Cutter will be announced on St. Patrick's Day! (Our 2012 Winner, Jon Whitcraft pictured above)

Mardi Gras Winner!

     Congratulations to the winner of an Executive II lighter, Carl Byrd!

Here is his winning entry:

Fantasy Football League Winners
     XIKAR has successfully finished their first Fantasy Football season. Although Team XIKAR did not come out on top, three members of XIKAR Nation received some well earned prizes. 
Champion and $1,000 in merchandise: Mark Bischoff "AshMarx"

2nd Place and $500 in merchandise: Kirk Bodick "Prince Harry Billards"

3rd Place and $250 in merchandise: Chris Riccio "Peyton Manthings"
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