Cuban machine made cigars 20 years later
The company Internacional Cubana de Tabaco SA (ICT), a mixed capital entity between the state group Tabacuba, the island’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Imperial Tobacco Group (ITG) – the fourth largest tobacco group worldwide – has as its corporate purpose the production mechanized tobacco for export, and in its 20 years making machine cuban cigars it has demonstrated with continuous growth its initial purposes.
With an industrial capacity of more than more than 160 million units per year, its products reach its main markets on time, especially Spain, France, Germany, England, Switzerland, Greece, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and to some regions of Africa and the Middle East.
If in the first year of work it sold about 25 million units, that indicator rose in 2017 to 132 million. At the time of its foundation – just on February 23, 2001 – they started operations with 30 machines, each one operated by two workers, while today each operator attends two of the 53 teams that the factory has, located in the municipality capital of Boyeros, a few kilometers from the center of the Cuban capital city.
With production levels comparable to those of factories of the largest lineage in the world, Internacional Cubana de Tabaco SA achieved income last year of more than 21 million dollars, a level similar to that expected for this 2018 in which they forecast around 135 million units.
The ICT workers’ collective holds the national avant-garde parchment ─main emulative prize among Cuban labor centers─. It is made up of 351 workers, of them 233 women and 222 directly linked to production.
At the ICT, 56 of those who founded the entity continue to work, and after interviewing three of those who are still committed to mechanized tobacco production – a directive, a technician and an operator – I came to a conclusion: the best work effort is achieved not only with the benefit of a good salary; The unity of the collective is also imposed, that the criteria of all are taken into consideration, that the attention to the worker is not a mere slogan, and that there is a real commitment from the management to guarantee quality.
They are premises that prevail in this entity, where in 17 years the average salary multiplied by almost four times and they manufacture nine brands and 53 references, or what is the same, 53 presentations in which the product is sold, all headed by Guantanamera, his emblematic seal.
Milagros Fernández Martínez is the founder of the entity and the only one that has moved from a position as a simple worker to one of the seven addresses that the company currently has. She is the Director of Quality Management at Internacional Cubana de Tabaco SA
“I was 30 years old and a university graduate with a degree in Mathematics-Computing. She had been a teacher of that subject in middle school, but had requested the withdrawal by personal decision. Shortly after I found out that this company was organized, I requested my return and underwent an interview and testing process. I was accepted.
“The first thing I did here was learn to prepare the raw material; Later, I went to a machine operator, later a packaging machine, and then I became a Quality Control Specialist.
“We have our quality certified since 2007 – now with the ISO 9001 standards of 2015 – and we have the mission of managing and ensuring that quality prevails in each job position. Business management is highly committed to making the system work.
“Although I am not currently with students in a classroom, I believe that never in my 17 years in ICT have I stopped teaching, since here it is the norm to contribute to the continuous training of all workers. With the demand, people are also trained ”.
“I came to ICT in search of an employment relationship, but based on my previous specialty. Here was the right scenario and to get where I have come I took advantage of that opportunity with work and dedication, ”she says.
Orlando García Martínez is a mechanical engineer specialized in Agro-Industrial Equipment since before coming to ICT. “I am a founder of ICT, with the difference that before I worked with traditional machines. I take care of industrial maintenance. They are automated machines, very productive and contribute to a better quality of the final product.
“It is easy to work in a place like this, because beyond the monetary benefits, that there are, we work very closely. Problems arise, but we solve them all; the ideas of the simplest worker are taken into consideration. Note that here is a premise: ICT is a great family. “
“I already had work experience, but this job caught me, and I am in front of a machine, as well as innovating, anywhere in the factory. In addition, I think that we can improve more and more, be better and that is why we are committed ”.
Odalys Martínez Rodríguez, another of the founders, is an operator in the packaging area. “My machine is called a tobacco banding and cello-milling machine.
“I was previously a nurse and when I started ICT in 2001 I didn’t know anything about tobacco. I had a son, but I received all the help to be able to work, and today I really like what I do, I can even say that in my area I enjoy all the occupations.
“I can assure that ICT continued my training, the one that I brought from my home and from the health sector. Now I am also an instructor and I contribute to the training of other colleagues who have just started in the factory. ”