A year ago, Tim Vanderpool was involved in running the day-to-day operations of his family’s cigar store in Omaha, Neb., when opportunity came in the form of a phone call from Ashton Cigars, a heavy hitter in the premium hand-rolled cigar industry. He was told that a job opening had become available.
“They asked me if I would be willing to come work for them and leave my family business,” he said, adding that the available slot was for Mid-Atlantic Territory Manager. The offer also included the chance to move anywhere in the territory, with the help of Ashton. “After my wife and I discussed it, we figured that if we could move anywhere, why not live at the beach?” he said.
For awhile, he and wife Laura Vanderpool rented a place near Cherry Grove in North Myrtle Beach. They now own a home in Longs – a better arrangement for them as well as for their one-year-old Rottweiler.
“Ashton Cigars [ www.ashtoncigar.com] is an internationally-renowned cigar company – the makers of Ashton Cigars as well as La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal Cigars.”
Vanderpool has been around cigars all his life. “My dad has been smoking cigars for as long as I can remember,” he said. His father would bring him along to a local cigar shop in Omaha called Nickleby’s, and Vanderpool would play chess while his father enjoyed a cigar or two. Over the course of time, his father bought the shop, and Vanderpool took on its day-to-day operations while his dad continued to work his day job at the phone company.
“It was a great learning curve. I handled every detail minus bill paying. It was my father’s money, so he liked to keep track of the finances.” Nickleby’s is still going strong, with both of his parents now there full-time. The family has owned the shop since 1999.
Vanderpool’s work in the brick and mortar trenches put him in a good position to transition into his new situation. “I have been a very fond supporter of both Ashton Cigars and the family that runs Ashton for years. It is their family business. When I was in retail, I very much appreciated the way they ran a business, and the Levins are very down-to-earth and family oriented,” he said. Ashton was founded in 1985 by Robert Levin of Holt’s Cigar Company in Philadelphia.
Ashton cigars are manufactured in the Dominican Republic. La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal cigars are made in Nicaragua. The products are sold in more than 2,000 cigar shops across the U.S. as well as more than 60 countries globally.
Vanderpool’s territory covers South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and a portion of Ohio. “Within the five states that I cover, I visit all of the retail cigar stores in my market and discuss new and current products.”
He says the company is always looking to add Ashton cigars and related products to those that are already carried by his retailers, and also acts as a facilitator. He also handles cigar events and promotions. “I help those cigar stores do more business overall.”
Vanderpool says he is always reachable by phone, text or e-mail. “Even though we might take time off, the cigar stores are still open. They might need an order placed or have a question.” He has received orders via e-mail at 2 a.m. “I have gotten text messages at 6 a.m. from guys that rise early or they call me when they leave the gym.”
Because he is on the road four to five days a week, Vanderpool says he cherishes the time spent with his wife. “We catch up on TV shows that we like or go out to eat. We go to the beach and hang out when the weather permits.” They enjoy movies spanning all genres.
Vanderpool says Omaha spoiled them because it was a testing ground for restaurants. “At one time there were more restaurants per capita in Omaha than anywhere else in the U.S.”
But they enjoy an occasional meal at Sea Captain’s House in Myrtle Beach and can be spotted at BurgerFi in North Myrtle Beach.
As for the future, Vanderpool hopes to keep the cigar game going. “We are constantly in a battle with taxes, fights with the FDA and smoking bans. “What I am hoping for is that I can do my territory justice, help all of my stores equally and increase their growth as well as my personal growth in the industry.”
His wife is from Hartsville, and grew up splitting her time between there and Myrtle Beach.
How is Vanderpool adjusting here?
“It’s a great place to be and a fun place to live. There is always something to do and something going on. The Grand Strand is a great home.”