Royal Agio: the history of this Dutch cigar manufacturer. The Dutch cigar manufacturer Royal Agio Cigars has a long history. For the premium Longfiller smokers, they are known for the Balmoral cigars. And the San Pedro de Macoris which they launched a few years ago. But the history is longer, over 115 years long, and Royal Agio Cigars makes over 770 million cigars a year. The cigars are exported to more than 100 countries.
Jacques Wintermans founded A. Wintermans & Zonen (Dutch for sons) on May 9th, 1904. The starting capital was 200 guilders, the equivalent of € 2560 today. For that money, Wintermans started a small cigar factory in the southern Dutch town of Duizel, near the Belgian border. In 1908, Harrie Wintermans joined the company founded by his brother. The business is going so well, that in 1911 a new factory and home were built in Duizel. And that’s the location where Agio Cigars is located until today. A part of the old building still remains, the rest made space for a new office and distribution center opened in 2016. The new building has the highest certificate in sustainable building, as mentioned in a previous article about Royal Agio. And from 1913 until 1928, several new locations were opened.
The sons of Jacques Wintermans joined the A. Wintermans & Zonen too in that time period. First was Adriaan in 1925, followed by Marcel a year later. Harrie Wintermans acquired the location in Eersel and starts his own company: Henri Wintermans. In a later stage, Henri Wintermans was acquired by Scandinavian Tobacco Group, which still houses in Eersel. And last September, news broke that STG also bought Royal Agio Cigars.
Before 1935, Royal Agio Cigars produced several brands but none of them under the Agio name. Winzo and Cloveniers were the best-known brands. But then Agio, which translates to ‘added value’ was introduced. Not knowing that this would eventually become the name of the company in a later stage.
And then on May 10th, 36 years after the foundation of A. Wintermans & Zonen, the german nazi’s invaded The Netherlands. During the German occupation, only companies that worked with the suppressors would be supplied with tobacco. Some cigar manufacturers decided to collaborate and work with the fascist regime but the Wintermans family refused. They barely survived the war by making surrogate cigars such as the corona and tuitknak (a perfecto size, very popular back in those days) under the brand name Intermezzo.
After the war ended in 1945, A. Wintermans & Zonen bounced back. And in 1950 the name was officially changed in Agio. For the 50th anniversary, Agio introduced a new perfecto called Gouden Oogst aka Golden Harvest. This cigar became an icon and is still being produced. On the same machine as day one. The wrapper of this cigar is coated in a yellowish powder. Agio chose for that to hide the wrapper. In that era, there was a lack of good looking wrapper. The quality of the tobacco was high, but aesthetically it was not up to standard. And since there was no better tobacco available, the cigars were coated. The Agio Gouden Oogst became an immediate success for Agio. And it’s probably the most recognizable cigar ever to be produced in The Netherlands.
Tune in next week for the history of Royal Agio cigars from 1961 to today.