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Local Man Turns Cigar Passion Into Thriving Business

Marco V Cigars
(credit: CBS)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- We are wrapping up small business week with the kind of story that we've all dreamed about at one time or another.

Everyone has an idea for a business, but few actually go for it. Not this guy. Marc Keiser from Oakdale and a graduate of the University of St. Thomas took his senior year business plan and launched it.

Eight years later, Marco V has become an international company of cigars, port-like wine and coffee.

In 2005, Marc Keiser was a kid with an idea. Now, he's the owner of a thriving international brand in Marco V.

"Right now we currently operate in three categories: Premium cigars, premium wine and coffee. And all the products have three characteristics. They have to be premium, they have to have some element of being handmade and they have to be high quality," Keiser said.

As Marc puts it, he produces good life products that work together. Each is built to be paired with his signature Marco V cigars, whether it's a glass of port-like wine or a cup of Joe.

Keiser wrote the business plan for Marco V for a school project at the University of St. Thomas.

"It's very much a hustle story," he said. "From there it took four years to iron out all of the different details of the business and develop the blends."

Keiser said it has been quite the journey, one that even took him to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro where he smoked a cigar for inspiration.

"I believed in my business model. I believed in the research I did. I believed in the value I would bring to the customers," he said.

Another Marco V peak was buying a dilapidated building in the Dominican Republic and turning that into a Marco V Factory.

"It all starts with the basic passion for cigars. I grew up as a kid here in Minnesota and like them or not, cigars are a part of our culture," Keiser said. "In my family when we go to baptisms or family get-togethers the guys and sometimes women would be in a circle smoking cigars. It was kind of a right of passage, a celebratory thing."

Now gaining national recognition in magazines like Cigar Aficionado, Marco V is in 300 retailers in 19 states. But like most good ideas, executing it started with a risk.

"It's a 24-hour thing. It seeps out of your body. It's what i love to do. It's what I think about all day long. Eat it, sleep it. But it's fun," Keiser said.

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