It happened. As simple as that: life lead me to facilitate a tobacco machinery sale. What really matters is why I stayed. It made me tick. Let me explain.

I have a degree in pharmaceutical engineering. And a consuming passion for physical chemistry, flow and balance sheets (but that is a story for some other time). None of these pointed to tobacco, but they certainly came in handy.

What anchored me into it was the people I hired, grew attached to and felt responsible for. Their ingenuity. And the most fabulous generation of machines, drawn in pencil and exuding love for what comes into them, the operator, the materials, the output, the whole process. I fell for that.

When I started out, I did not really know which is which, some look quite alike. I first told them apart through their purpose: primary lines and the rest. And then I did what we all do when we want to learn: I read, I asked, I looked at pictures. There is not that much knowledge on it laying around, there is no public, real history of tobacco. So many of the old technological solutions have been wiped out in the race to hi-tech.

In tobacco, we labour minutely on heavy machinery with very fragile materials to end up with an intact product. And all that requires, above all, preparation, precision, patience, predictability.

Tobacco, in fact, is both tactile and technical. That is where the art begins: you will be called to balance taste (and all related to it) and hardware.

After so many years in tobacco, the nuts and bolts of this industry became the nuts and bolts of my life. We have grown into an osmotic relationship. And I must say: this art, this constant quest for balance and blend must be what makes me go on. You have to show strength, honesty and determination in order to succeed. And have your wits about you.

A few things come to mind when starting a business in the tobacco industry. One is not to be driven by numbers. You may amortise everything in one year and have a villa on the Riviera in three. But, actually, the stakes will be elsewhere. There will be a lot to learn. To discover by yourself. It may sound and feel overwhelming, as all things worth your time, energy and passion are, but I assure you it can be done the simple way.

And you will come to realise it yourself, after the I-am-so-stuck feeling goes away. This is an Eureka business! It’s all about building a flow of simple processes leading to a good product. Product is key: a good, quality product, pleasant to experience.

Another is that as long as your focal point is your customer, the numbers and the machines will follow. One lead at the time, one step after the other. Taking the first one is what gets you started. We are here to support you.

I made a pledge to support the success of my clients through thick and thin. I built a family around New Wave Inc. and we are proud of what we have accomplished. If I were to say what mattered most through all these years, I would boil it down to guts and the will to run long distances. Everything else can be learned.