Cigar Work: CAO Gold


My choice to actually carve the diamonds made the painting very difficult, but it was worth it in the end.


I happened to be going to Nashville for a wedding so I decided to take my CAO carving along with me and hit up CAO headquarters while I was out there. I had spoken to some folks at CAO for some time to see if they would be interesting in seeing my carving. I called their offices on my drive from Asheville a luckily I got an appointment for a tour (with the hopes that maybe Cano, Tim, or Ayleen Ozgener would be willing to sign the carving).

When I showed up for the tour I was greeted by a family who was also on the road travelling. CAO scheduled a group tour for the family and myself. We were met at the door by a lovely lady who whisked my carving away and led us down a long hallway that had displays in a virtual time line of the company history. This was the tour which, given their use of space. was very well laid out. At the end of the hallway was a large circular cigar vault and side room. The side room contained the regular CAO lines. The main room was a large circular glass enclosure containing 12 vertical "bins" (Each bin contained thousands of cigars from concept lines that CAO has yet to release). We each picked a cigar of our choosing from the side room which we smoked we watched the "Seed to Soul" DVD in the lounge next to the cigar vault.

After the DVD ended, we were told that the told that the tour was over. Okay folks, at this point I was a little disappointed. I was there to get my carving signed but was also hoping to meet the Ozgeners in the process. I hadn't seen my carving since the beginning of the tour and now it was over and we were about to be led out the door.

A ray of hope: I was told to wait around in the lounge while they rustled up my carving from behind the frosted doors leading to the "corporate offices" (don't you just love the allure of executive secrecy). The family I took the tour with left and I was left by my lonesome finishing my cigar in the lounge. All of the sudden the frosted doors opened and out came Tim Ozgener...then Ayleen....then Cano....each greeting me as if a guest in their home. They brought out my carving, signed perfectly by the patriarch in the center with his son and daughter on the left and right.

I was in heaven. I was rubbing elbows with Cigar Stars in an intimate setting. Just when I thought it was over, Tim asked me to stick around a brainstorm on a project he had. After the "work" had been done, Tim, Micky Pegg (sales manager, AKA The Man!) and I just hung around smoking cigars. A couple of bottles of wine were cracked and a good time was had by all. This was the life.

They sent me off with a few goodies (like I needed any after that!). Laying across the bottom are the fabric bands that will eventually wrap the concept line bundles (of fifty) which will eventually be sold exclusively from their headquarters. The bundle shown above is a bundle of Ecuadorian "tasters" that will be used as taste test samples before the buyer decides to buy 50 full size cigars.

Though a conclusion might be overstating things, I feel as though it needs to be said. This is what dreams and long shots are all about. I took one of my works with me on a wedding trip and look what happened. I am not throwing this up to luck at all. I attribute it all to the hospitality and passion of the Ozgeners. They are a true "family business" and I can fully comprehend their unrivalled success! The word content is not nearly sufficient!

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