For those of you who have gone to the occasional pipe show, preparation is probably a fairly straight-forward. You make your travel arrangements, pack your personal effects and make sure you have enough money for purchases (although you could always use more). As long as you get to the airport on time, you should have pretty smooth sailing.
For us, it’s a bit more involved. To go to the Chicagoland Pipe and Tobacciana Show this year, it’s been even a bit more complicated than usual because of the new product introductions we’ve planned. So, in a sense, we’ve been making preparations for the 2014 show for more than two years, now.
It started in early 2012 when I began to work on our newest Hearth & Home Marquee Series blend, WhiteKnight. I had thought about attempting this project for a while, but had hesitated starting because I knew it would be very involved. Shortly after the initial work had begun, I became ill, which laid me up for about 5 months, so progress was halted. As often happens, I had to start and stop frequently because other things took priority.
About a year ago, I had a conversation with Phil Morgan, the general manager of Missouri Meerschaum, about creating a line of pipe tobaccos under their name. He was enthusiastically supportive of the idea, and I began work on some blends. Now, I’m not an owner or executive, so I can’t just make decisions to begin a project beyond product planning, so when I got back to the office, I had to present the idea. As I had hoped, and expected, the concept was accepted, and the development began. I worked on the tobaccos and we turned the packaging design over to our design department, and we worked on planning who we would partner with to manufacture such a (hopefully) large-volume product.
The final result of the work on WhiteKnight and the MM tobaccos will be in our hands by the time we reach the show, and we’ll have samples of them to hand out.