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Renewed Enthusiasm

March 31, 2010

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group


As each year passes in my life as small business owner I find myself identifying more closely with other small business owners regardless of their particular industry. Many of you that read this blog know that from time to time I like to write about those other businesses that leave an impression on me. On last Friday, badly needing an overdue day off, I took advantage of an unusually warm late winter day to take my Harley out for a spin. It was actually a one hundred and seventy-five mile spin! Riding helps me relax and clear my mind as does a pipe full of high quality English blend pipe tobacco. 

After wandering north a while, I decided to combine these two and head toward one of my favorite pipe shops in Albany to see their new store location. I arrived just after lunch to find the cigar and pipe lounge filled with a large bunch of men, not a bunch of large men, watching the NCAA basketball tournament on one of the two large flat screen televisions located in the smoking lounge. I helped myself to a cup of coffee from the coffee bar and sank myself down in a deep leather chair for a much-needed rest. 

Several minutes into my visit I couldn’t help but notice the positive energy that seemed to permeate the store. Unlike a lot if small pipe and cigar shops, The Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe  has a fairly large staff as well as a huge warehouse and internet business. I found the excitement contagious. They have quietly built one of the premier pipe tobacco stores in America. I mentioned that I had ridden up from Connecticut and Scotty, the owner, took time out to thank me for coming to see his business. He gave me a nice free gift as a token of his appreciation. Scotty was off to New York City, but still took the time to proudly share with me the roots of his business from its tiny and humble beginnings. He spoke candidly about his desire to be the very best in the marketplace with quality products and customer service. 

After a short while, Russ Ouellette, the master blender, arrived from the warehouse and spent an hour teaching me about the complex art of blending. To those of us into pipe smoking, Russ is a rock star! He also seems quite humble and I think he would be embarrassed at my choice of adjectives! 

We exchanged business cards and I soon looked out to see the sun setting and the winter cold returning. On the cold ride home, I couldn’t help but think about how in a world filled with anti smoking zealots that have little to no understanding of pipe collecting, this store was not just surviving, but thriving

The raging healthcare debate has forced us to endure months of misinformation about our industry and a difficult economy hasn’t made things any easier. In times like these, it would be easy to simply just give up the ship. The fine folks at Habana reminded me that in difficult business time’s, against all odds, success is never out of reach. A quality product backed by outstanding service never goes out of style. 

I arrived home with a smile and a renewed sense of enthusiasm. My smile was still there even after my face thawed out! 

Have a great day! 

Chris Garlasco 

Neither Chris Garlasco, nor the Founders Insurance Group, Inc. is compensated in any way for any statements made in today’s entry.


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