Providencia owners Jim Faber and Ray Zinar were interviewed by NICHOLAS SAKELARIS for the June issue of K Magazine and the Star Telegram!

Below is an excerpt from the article. To read the full story please click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Keller-based cigars take off

Church mission work first drew Jim Faber to travel to Honduras but it was his love of soccer and meeting his wife that kept him there for 15 years.

The professional soccer player, who played for a division 2 league in Comayagua, Honduras, had never even smoked a cigar before.

“While I was there playing I got invited to go on a cigar factory tour and that’s where I met Javier Mendoza,” Faber said. “I knew nothing about cigars. When I went to the factory, I fell in love with the process. It was amazing to me. Like fine wine. Every time I’d go back to that city, Javier would take me under his wing, and teach me about the entire process from growing tobacco to blending and creating premium hand crafted cigars.”

Longtime friends Reed Grafke and Raymond Zinar soon joined forces with Faber and together they began the process of creating their own brand that could be sold in the United States someday. After years of hard work and dedication, that dream has turned into Providencia Cigars, a Keller-based company who will warehouse and distribute out of Fort Worth.

For months, they’ve been giving out samples and getting the word out. The first shipment is scheduled to arrived in the first part of June.

“We have 25,000 cigars resting in our Honduran Humidor waiting to be shipped here,” Faber said in April. “Now, it’s a little bit more than a hobby.”

They recently got approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell in the United States, a lengthy process that included inspections and mountains of paperwork.

“We didn’t know how they were going accept us when they came out an inspected us,” Faber said. “We were a little nervous about that.”

Faber currently teaches at Birdville ISD and coaches soccer for the Dallas Texans. Next year, he’ll be a bilingual teacher at the International Leadership of Texas, a new charter school in Keller.

A timeless process

Like proud parents, Faber and Zinar scrolled through photos from Honduras, showing off how their cigars are made. It starts in the greenhouse where the tobacco plants grow from seedlings. After about three weeks, they’re planted in the ground. They showed the photos of workers picking the leaves, drying them and rotating them out, and finally rolling them into cigars.

There’s nothing cookie cutter about cigars, either. The majority of the growing and manufacturing process remains the same as it has for centuries. And they are all natural with no chemicals or additives like those found in cigarettes.

Andy Yaffee, a representative for La Flor Dominicana, said the people behind the cigar industry have fascinating stories to tell. He said there’s been a “cigar boom” in recent years as more people read blogs about all the different flavors and types.

“They are still made by hand, they are still aged and farmed,” Yaffee said. “There’s not a lot of technological impact. People don’t understand how much work goes into making a cigar. They’re not just pumped out of a factory. From seed to you lighting it up, there are about 200 people interacting with that one cigar.”