The president and CEO of one of the largest cigar manufacturers in the world spent a few hours Wednesday catching up with friends at a cigar and dinner pairing at Smoke Rings Cigar Bar and Lounge in Hazleton.

About three months after Smoke Rings owners Tom Trella and Michael Barletta took cigar lounge staff to Nicaragua for a tour of Perdomo Cigars manufacturing facilities, Perdomo owner and CEO Nick Perdomo Jr. returned the favor by attending the dinner at Smoke Rings.

“I know Mike and the guys from Smoke Rings for a long time,” Perdomo said. “It’s nice to have such a great store in the area.”

Some of the more than two-dozen cigar aficionados who packed the lounge traveling from Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin to get the opportunity to meet with Perdomo, said Trella.

“We’ve been in the cigar business for 20 years — it’s the relationship we built over the years,” Trella said of his featured guest.

Perdomo spent the evening chatting and smoking with staff and clientele at the cigar bar and lounge.

“Cigar smoking is for celebratory purposes,” Perdomo said. “Some people want to relax and have a drink with their cigar. Some people like to have a cigar when they go fishing.”

Cigar bar staff had a representative from D.G. Yuengling & Son on hand to give Smoke Rings customers the opportunity to pair different styles of Perdomo Cigars with Yuengling Lager.

Some of the cigars that were available Wednesday are designed to be paired with beer while other styles of cigars are paired with scotch or bourbon, Perdomo noted.

The event is part of monthly “cigar dinner” initiative that Smoke Rings hosted since it opened in December 2015.

Perdomo, meanwhile, spoke of family and business roots that date back four generations ago in Cuba.

His business took root in a garage in 1992 — and has grown to become the fifth-largest cigar manufacturer in the world, he said. Today, it employs more than 2,000 people and boasts an 88,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, according to the company website.

More than 5,300 stores carry its products, he said.

“My dad always said, ‘If you work hard, you can attain anything you want in life,’” Perdomo said with a smile.

Perdomo lives in Miami and also has a home in Nicaragua, with the latter of the locations housing his cigar manufacturing facilities.

He didn’t hesitate when voicing his displeasure for President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve relations between America and Cuba.

“It’s an absolutely horrible idea,” Perdomo said, adding that Raul Castro’s regime imprisoned his grandfather, had his father shot and had his uncle placed in a labor camp.

“It definitely doesn’t benefit the U.S. or the U.S. citizens,” he said of Obama’s attempts at improving ties between the two countries.

Taxes and regulations imposed by the Obama administration over the past seven years have cost Perdomo’s firm substantially, he said, saying the company has seen its share of fees jump from several hundred thousand dollars per year to millions each year.

The state of the cigar industry, meanwhile, remains healthy. Cigar smoking has grown in population among women while thinner, lighter cigars have been produced for people new to the lifestyle.

sgalski@standardspeaker.com