HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The Story of JM Tobacco, Inc.
A birthday gift from a 17 year old to his father, California jeweler John Mahroukian, led to the creation of Los Angeles-based JM Tobacco, Inc. Anto Mahroukian, president of JM Tobacco, delights in recounting the story. “It was my dad’s birthday in 1994,” Mahroukian recalls. “I bought him an expensive cigar. I don’t even remember what it was, but it cost about $20. He smoked it and he liked it. He asked how much I paid for it, and when I told him, he was shocked.”
John Mahroukian – the “JM” in the company’s name and on its cigar bands – saw an opportunity with cigars selling for such a premium. The elder Mahroukian owned a jewelry factory in the Dominican Republic and told his factory foreman to check out the local cigar factories and ship him some samples. “He found a factory that would make private label cigars for us and my father ordered 10,000 cigars,” Anto recounts. JM Tobacco was born…
Still, John Mahroukian wasn’t quite sure about his pending business venture. “We had a bunch of cigars, but no name and no band,” Anto says. “And my father was a daily cigar smoker. After his initial order, I remember him saying ‘Even if we don’t sell any cigars, we have enough for the rest of our lives.”
More than 20 years later, it’s safe to say it was a wise investment.