The Founder Series — Interview with the founder of PerfecDraw
Rod Kurthy, the creator of the PerfecDraw tool and founder of Perfec Cigar Solutions has one of those unique minds that we love to explore and dive deep into it. Rod’s journey in the cigar world started in a very interesting way which you will know more about in this interview. What we know for a fact is that PerfecDraw today is one of the most beloved and inventive tools in the market today.
You created a very unique product. Can you tell us about the concept behind it and how you came up with the idea?
I’m very picky about the draw resistance of my cigars. I tried every possible draw tool (cigar poker) sold, and none of them helped. In fact, when pushing a rod down the middle of a cigar that is already very tight, often causes more pressure inside the cigar and results in the cigar wrapper cracking. It was very frustrating.
I knew the most common reason for a tight draw is too much tobacco stuffed inside the binder and wrapper. So, the only way to truly correct the draw is to remove some excess tobacco from inside the cigar in the tight areas.
I spent many days and hours designing and creating a very thin little tool to remove excess tobacco from inside the cigar without causing more pressure inside the cigar, to prevent damaging the wrapper of the cigar. This tool was just for my own use. When my friends saw me use the tool, they also tried it and were amazed by how well it worked.
Just think about your own draw preferences. I’m sure that occasionally you light up a cigar and after your first puff, you say, “Wow! What a great draw!” And because that draw is absolutely perfect for you, you enjoy that cigar even more than you would if the draw was only “acceptable”.
The fact is that each individual cigar smoker has his or her own personal favorite draw resistance. It’s just like we all have our own individual preference of how we like our steaks cooked. When I explained this to my friends, they all tried making small adjustments to improve the draw of their cigars, which was very exciting for them.
They urged me to manufacture a similar tool and make it available to everyone. Since I was already a successful entrepreneur, it was very natural for me to create another company.
You also asked me about the concept behind the PerfecDraw. The shaft that inserts into the cigar is very thin. The tip is pointed and flattened on both sides.
As the shaft is inserted into the cigar with a twisting motion, the pointed, flattened tip chews up the tobacco preventing outward expansion that could crack the wrapper. There are ultra-sharp 30-degree blades at the base of the tip, and four rings of blades below the tip. These blades cut tobacco inside the cigar. However, we do not simply want to open a channel down the middle of the cigar for the smoke to travel through. We prefer the smoke to travel through the filler tobacco instead of through just an open hole. So you will see three longitudinal channels cut through the blades. This creates very sharp edges, but the angles are only 90 degrees. These sharp 90-degree angles grab onto and pull tobacco to loosen the surrounding tightly-packed tobacco. By loosening the surrounding tobacco, as you continue to smoke, the loosened tobacco expands and fills in any center hole area. The result is less tight, uniformly packed tobacco for the smoke to travel through.
Following the proper instructions is key to success using the PerfecDraw. The instructional video may be found at www.theperfecsmoke.com/instructions. As you will see in the instructional video, the PerfecDraw also works exceptionally well as a nubber.
Are you the founder of PerfecDraw? Tell us more about your background.
Yes, I am the inventor of the PerfecDraw and founder of Perfec Cigar Solutions, Inc., which manufactures the PerfecDraw and all current products we sell, as well as several new products currently in development and manufacturing.
I have an educational background in mechanical engineering. I have been a dentist for 42 years, and a medical/dental research and development scientist for 44 years.
I’ve been involved in the research and development of products, instruments, and techniques, including numerous surgical techniques, in nearly every field of dentistry. Just about every practicing dentist in any first world country uses several products/instruments, and especially techniques, that I have been involved in the development of.
I am currently most well-known in the field of teeth whitening. Thousands of dentists around the world consider me to be the leading private sector teeth whitening scientist. I started my research on teeth whitening way back in 1977. I created a whitening system and the company that provides that system, which is widely accepted as the most effective teeth whitening system in the world by a very wide margin. The name of the system is KöR® Whitening. www.KoRWhitening.com
Obviously, cigar smokers and dentists find it very funny that I am a leading teeth whitening scientist, yet I have a great passion for cigars.
As an R&D scientist of 44 years, it is natural for me to look for a solution to any problem of frustration I encounter. And having a background in mechanical engineering helps. Also being a successful entrepreneur with all the executive staff, sales, warehousing, etc., it’s natural for me to want to bring any great idea to the market.
I started Perfec Cigar Solutions just for fun. I have no plans to ever create and market any cigar accessory just because other companies have similar products. My intent is simply to create new, or greatly improved, products that solve concerns and frustrations of cigar smokers that have not previously been solved.
There’s a story behind the search for the perfect materials, design and manufacturing. Can you tell us what went right and wrong along the way?
I assume you’re still speaking specifically the PerfecDraw. I started out by creating the instrument in my mind. I spent hours and hours thinking about the design and how it would work effectively. Once I could see the design in my mind, I drew up engineering drawings.
Even though I have an educational background in mechanical engineering, it’s been well over 40 years. So I contacted an engineering firm and provided my engineering drawings to them. After much discussion, they assured me that my design was not ideal, and said they could improve on it significantly. I worked for months with them, and of course, paid them many tens of thousands of dollars. Each time they made an “improvement”, it turned out not to work.
The final design was about 98% of what I had originally designed myself. As they say… live and learn.
The next step was to find a factory capable of creating such a small, intricate and precise tool. All the parts seemed to be very straightforward to manufacture…. except for one part …the long, thin shaft with the very intricate and undercut blades and channels. It took a full nine months to finally find a factory that would agree to attempt to manufacture the PerfecDraw.
I wanted the PerfecDraw to be extremely durable — something that would virtually last a lifetime, with the durability of metal instead of plastic. I wanted it to be very small, lightweight, and convenient to carry.
The entire housing of the PerfecDraw is made of lightweight, heat hardened, aerospace-grade 6061-T6 aluminum with a 25 micron deep ‘hard coat” anodizing for exceptional scratch resistance. Being a dental surgeon, and research scientist, I am very familiar with surgical steel. For the shaft and blade area, 304 surgical stainless steel provides the perfect combination of properties for extreme durability of blade sharpness, resistance to corrosion, and ideal rigidity: flexibility ratio.
How are sales going worldwide? What are your biggest markets?
Since I only started the company for fun, we did not market the PerfecDraw for a long time. We spent zero money on any type of marketing or advertising. The sales started by word of mouth, especially on many of the cigar Internet forums and social media, and soon the sales started going up and up, far faster than my expectations.
One day I received an email from the Cigar Journal, telling me that after being nominated, the PerfecDraw had been voted into the final five products for the Best Accessory Cigar Trophy. I didn’t have a clue the PerfecDraw had even been nominated. And I had heard of the Cigar Journal, but I knew very little about the publication.
My wife and I were invited to attend the Cigar Trophy Awards Ceremony, so we flew from the USA to Germany to attend. And when the winner was announced, it was the PerfecDraw that had won the Best Accessory award.
After the award, the sales started going up so fast that we had difficulty manufacturing enough product. Cigar shops and distributors started contacting us from around the world to become resellers of the PerfecDraw and our other products.
The two biggest markets for our products are throughout Europe and North America. However, Asia and the Middle East are also very active.
It seems that it is kind of a trend to customize everything in cigar items. Is your product customizable?
We do not provide any customization options ourselves. However, several cigar groups have purchased large numbers of PerfecDraws and have engraved the name of their groups on the PerfecDraws.
We have one reseller, Troy Rackmyer — www.facebook.com/cigartools — , who fully customizes the PerfecDraw, and does a magnificent job of it. He encases the PerfecDraw, as well as a nubber and cigar pedestal stand, in endless beautiful designs and colors. He also encases these accessories in wood.
How’s the general acceptance of your product so far?
From day one, cigar smokers’ acceptance of the PerfecDraw has been simply overwhelming. Virtually everyone who gets the PerfecDraw absolutely loves it. Many tell me they use it on most cigars they smoke, to fine-tune the draw to their exact preference. We often receive comments by cigar smokers lamenting that the PerfecDraw was not available years ago.
However, the PerfecDraw scares most cigar companies and even some cigar shops. These companies believe that if they were to endorse, or in the case of cigar shops, sell, the PerfecDraw, that would be like admitting the cigars they manufacture and sell have problems with the draw.
Several cigar shops have told us they would not carry the PerfecDraw for this reason. However, after customers started asking them to carry our products, these same cigar shops have started carrying our products.
The Cigar Trophy Awards Ceremony in Germany is an invitation-only event for 300 attendees. It was overwhelming to see so many famous cigar manufacturers and other cigar industry celebrities. It was like a “Who’s Who” of the cigar world. When PerfecDraw was announced as the winner of the Best Accessory award, the audience gasped! Then there was complete silence. As I said, these cigar manufacturers were somewhat afraid of the PerfecDraw.
When I got up in front of the audience to make my acceptance speech, after introducing myself as a dentist and teeth whitening scientist, the audience laughed loudly. Then again, a hush fell over the audience. I then explained that yes, most first purchase the PerfecDraw to fix truly tight and plugged cigars…however, they then realize that 95% of the time they will use the PerfecDraw just to fine-tune the draw to their own personal preference.
I compared fine-tuning your cigar to your own ideal preference, to steak lovers each having their own personal preference of how they like their steak cooked. I then reasoned that no one cigar could have a “perfect draw” for every cigar smoker.
After this explanation, the entire audience then broke out in applause, with most standing to applaud.
Any special editions coming soon?
I do not currently have any special editions planned, but I very well may do so in the future. However, I do have several new, very unique, products currently in development and manufacturing. Each of these new products will be unique in that nobody else has ever provided anything like them, and each will solve significant frustrations that most cigar smokers experience. I’m very excited to see the response to these products that I am very proud of.
Are there any funny/entertaining stories you want to share while developing the product?
No. There are no funny or entertaining stories. In fact, quite the opposite. The development and manufacturing of the PerfecDraw took far longer than I had anticipated. As I mentioned, the engineering firm was nothing but a waste of many, many months, and tens of thousands of dollars. I ended up using my own original design.
And finding a factory that would agree to even try to manufacture the overly precise and intricate blade area was nearly impossible. But something I haven’t mentioned yet is that the first factory to manufacture the PerfecDraw refused to manufacture more after the first run. They said that the difficulty of manufacturing the precise part resulted in them losing money.
So I then had to again start looking for a factory to make the PerfecDraw. I was about to give up and try to create a new design that would be easier to manufacture when one of the factories I had previously contacted emailed me to say they were willing to give it a try. Working together with the factory for 6 months, we were able to figure out how to successfully manufacture the PerfecDraw.
How can our readers order your product?
Our products are available in cigar shops around the world, and available online in many international areas. The Amazon sites in many areas of the world have the PerfecDraw available. And of course our own online store — theperfecsmoke.com — offers all of our products for worldwide shipping.
How did you come to the cigar world?
I was a cigarette smoker when in college and half-way through dental school. Knowing the health dangers, I gave up cigarette smoking after 1976. But it was very difficult to quit. When my wife and I had two children, of course, I taught them the dangers of cigarette smoking.
I lecture to groups of up to 3,500 dentists internationally, often as the keynote speaker. In 2003 I was lecturing for three days at a Ritz Carlton hotel at Lake Las Vegas. It was only a month before Christmas. Behind the Ritz Carlton is a large area of shops and restaurants on the lake. As my wife and I were walking to a restaurant after my first day of lecturing, we were talking about the gifts she had gotten for my son and daughter.
My son is very difficult to buy for because he is a very simple guy, and doesn’t want very much. However, my daughter is easy to buy for because there’s nothing she doesn’t want!
My wife said she’d not found anything for our 20-year-old son except a humidor. I said, “Humidor? What do you mean? The only type of humidor I know of is for cigars.” My wife then explained that our son had started smoking cigars with his friends, but was uncomfortable telling me because he thought I might disapprove. She told me that our daughter also smoked cigars with her boyfriend. I then told her that no, I believe that cigars have fewer health risks. But at that time I had never smoked a cigar.
Immediately after that conversation, we came upon a cigar shop. We decided to go in to purchase some cigars for our son for Christmas. When we went to the cigar shop, my wife said, “Wouldn’t it be funny for us to smoke cigars here and call the kids and tell them what we’re doing?” I agreed that would be funny, so that was my very first cigar.
My dad was never interested in anything I was interested in. So with my children, I’ve always made an effort to learn about and participate in their interests. So my son and occasionally my daughter, and I started having cigars together. I’ve thoroughly loved smoking cigars ever since.
Do you have any advice for all the cigar-smoking beginners out there?
There is no right or wrong with cigars. At first, you have no idea what you will like. You don’t know what level of draw resistance you will like. New cigar smokers should read the information on the Internet, speak with experienced cigar smokers, and take what they read and hear with a grain of salt. Just because an article or other cigar smoker tells you what is best, that doesn’t mean you must follow their recommendations. Just start smoking cigars, and it will all fall into place.
Do you have any personality in the cigar world that you admire?
Yes, there are several. But I think I most admire Carlos Fuente Jr. (Carlito). The entire Fuente family is wonderful. They are all very open, welcoming, and friendly, and the family has a long, rich history of being a major positive force in the cigar industry. In fact, Carlito frequently lends a helping hand to newer and smaller cigar manufacturers without expecting anything in return.
One of my best memories since entering the cigar industry was immediately after receiving the Cigar Trophy for Best Accessory. Carlito and I congratulated each other (he had won the Lifetime Achievement Award), and he welcomed me to the cigar industry by reaching out for a big hug.
Finally, what was your first cigar and what is now your Top 3?
Well, I don’t remember what my first cigar was. The cigar shop owner simply handed my wife and me two very mild cigars “for beginners”.
I tend to enjoy large cigars. I like the feel in my hand. Maybe it’s because thinner cigars remind me of smoking cigarettes. My favorite cigars overall are several Cubans.
One of my very favorite cigars, which for some reason is no longer made, was the Cuban San Cristobal Muralla. It was 7.1” x 54 tapered/torpedo, and a fantastic smoke.
I enjoy the Cuban Montecristo No 2 — also a tapered cigar. But I used to be constantly frustrated with the tightness of the draw. I don’t like to cut much off of the tapered tip, and that used to result in an un-smokable cigar, requiring me to cut more and more off the taper. But the PerfecDraw has eliminated that frustration.
I would say that my current favorite cigar is the Cuban Partagas Series E No 2. It is a conventionally shaped stick, 5.50”x54 ring gauge. It’s a medium body cigar with very creamy flavors such as wood, nuts, coffee, and some spice. It never seems to let me down.
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