Every great cigar has a story. “The Road to Cigars— A Memoir,” by Dr. Paul Garmirian takes us on a journey through one man’s remarkable life, and Paul’s story is as insightful as it is entertaining.
“Go and learn. Come back with a doctorate. I will support you as long as it takes,” said Kevork Garmirian to his young son, Paul, as he left his native Lebanon to study abroad. Despite not having finished high school himself, Kevork Garmirian built an exceptional career in construction and real estate development with a philosophy that resonates through his son and his grandson today: “Whatever field you want to pursue, put your heart into it, and do it with love, passion, honor and integrity, and enjoy life, and sleep at night with a clear conscience.” Anyone who has smoked a P.G. cigar can attest to the fact that this is one father’s lesson that was truly taken to heart.
Paul embodies his father’s philosophy, and his memoir takes us through his experiences growing up as an Armenian in Beirut during its heyday, the challenges of the civil war, his passion for music and fast cars, his studies abroad and a love affair with America. We also learn about Paul’s diverse career pursuits on the road to cigars, teaching and real estate brokerage.
Paul’s memoir is laden with entertaining stories about fascinating people he has known in his life, including famous musicians, politicians, actors, and even Supreme Court justices— but let’s not forget, this is also a story that highlights a 60 year friendship with Georgetown Tobacco owner, David Berkebile. There are more than a few great stories of the times Paul and David have shared together, as well as the role David played in encouraging Paul to write “The Gourmet Guide to Cigars” and to launch his own cigar brand.
To be sure, every fan of P.G. cigars— really, any cigar aficionado, will appreciate this chance to hear directly from the manufacturer himself what it took to launch a brand prior to the “cigar boom,” and what business philosophy has shaped one of the most respected brands in the industry.
As often as I reference “The Gourmet Guide to Cigars” as an essential tobacconist’s tool, I will also reference Paul’s memoir for a reminder of what’s important. As his son Kevork writes in the Foreward, “Our values place integrity over commercialism, truthfulness over hype, and pride in our products, over profits.”
Every great cigar has a story, but not every story will be as good as this one…