I've written a number of generally not favorable articles about Nordic American Smokeless (NAS) and their Nordic Ice and Klondike Snus products. This was do in large part to their dysfunctional relationship with then-NAS-owner Taboca A/S. My last Taboca/NAS article spelled out in ugly detail the end of their relationship.
Darren Quinn, the CEO of Nordic American, is revitalized now that Taboca A/S and their Board of Directors in Norway are no longer in the picture. He is aggressively re-launching the new NAS; coined Nordic American Smokeless Version 2 by yours truly. I will tell you there are some very fundamental differences apparent already. There are also challenges and unresolved issues facing Quinn and NAS v2. He was not shy in laying them out for me which is a huge departure in itself from the old NAS.
Rumors, articles and independently confirmed facts underline the reality that Taboca AS, based in Oslo, Norway, and with production in Sweden on Gotland, has gone through a management overhaul.I was acting MD, Scandinavia at Taboca from January 2007 until June, 2008, and have great admiration for the founding team. Tenacity, creativity, honesty, perspicacity, and the ability to turn on a dime were in abundance during my time with the Company. They had to be. Coming into a market dominated by Swedish Match and the large cigarette companies covetous of their own small snus market-shares, an independent upstart was hardly welcome.But Taboca, founded in 2004 by Norwegian entrepreneurs Tom Ruud and Reinhard Rye, came into the market with licenses to produce, as snus, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, two iconic Cuban cigar brands belonging to Habanos SA. With an ex-Skruf Factory Director and a factory full of ex-Gotland staff, and US management, Taboca came onto the Scandinavian market in 2005 with the first true super-premium snus products: The soft-painted metal cans, and perfectly flavored snus including Cuban tobacco are aspirational sensations amongst moneyed Swedes and some Norwegians. In early 2007, it was decided to launch Taboca snus with no Cuban content as a price/value product, while keeping it in a metal can (the Company's calling card, so to speak), and the brand has grown to include loose and strong mini-portions.In the US, Taboca was confronted by Philip Morris for the use of a name which was similar to one they were testing as a US snus at the time. In mid-2007, the issue was settled amicably, and US management changed Taboca USA to Nordic American Smokeless, going forward with plans to launch smokeless products in the US, and leveraging its Scandinavian expertise.
It's no secret that a great deal of tension has existed between the Taboca A/S Board of Directors and CEO Darren Quinn. The primary source of this tension was Nordic American Smokeless (NAS), an American snus company Quinn had championed and also serves as President of.
The Taboca Board and shareholders grew increasingly uneasy as Quinn began to focus more and more on Nordic American and their Klondike and Nordic Ice snus brands. Quinn diverted a considerable amount of funds from Taboca's Norwegian brand expansion and development into building Nordic American. Taboca's brands include Taboca Snus, and the licensed production of Montecristo Snus and Romeo y Julieta Snus for the Swedish and Norwegian markets.
As a police escort led my armoured limousine down Canal Street towards the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, you could still see the signs of Hurricane Katrina. Scattered condemned buildings; other homes and buildings still under reconstruction, but it was still New Orleans. Cracking the heavily tinted, bullet-proof window as we passed a group of restaurants, the mouth-watering aroma of Cajun food filled the limo. The old cemeteries with their beautiful, yet haunting mausoleums stood as though Katrina had never happened. It was good to be back.
Today was the opening day of Tobacco Plus Expo 2009; where tobacco and tobacco products manufacturers, distributors, retailers and VIP's like me gathered together, quoting the Show Directory, "Where relationships are established and business is done".
This month I have some some re-reviews as well as new snus reviews and some interesting news and shopping tidbits to share with you.
I'm working on a truly awesome snus project and it's taking most of my time. Thus the slowdown in new posts. Believe me, it will be worth it! Just hang in there............
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