Hecho A Mano

Scott Gaertner visits with Kevin Branham , owner of the NEW Hecho A Mano Cigar Lounge, located in TerraVita Market Place, across from Liberty Station. They discuss the atmosphere and features of the lounge including the humidor that Kevin built himself by hand. Kevin explains that the name Hecho A Mano means “made by hand” and the lounge aims to be traditional and evoke nostalgia. They also discuss the lounge’s atmosphere and how the variety of cigars available can appeal to even the most affluent of enthusiasts. There isn’t a better way to finish off a day of golfing with your buds than beers and cigars on the patio at Hecho A Mano as the sun sets behind Black Mountain.

Interview Transcript

– Hey gang, Scott with the Scott Gaertner Group. Today we are in Ter Avita marketplace right outside of Liberty Station, remember that? Great place, but we got a new one for you. Come on over here, Hecho A Mano. You got to come in and meet Kevin Branham. You’re going to love this place. I just got off the golf course. You got to see what you can do here.

– [Kevin] Scott, how are you?

– I am good. Thank you for having us.

– Thank you for coming.

– This is Kevin Branham. And the first question’s got to be, Kevin, what is the name of this place?

– The name, good question. The name is Hecho A Mano, Hecho A Mano Cigar Lounge. And Hecho A Mano means made by hand or handmade. But the thing is, we dug into a little bit of nostalgia, at one time all the handmade cigars used to say Hecho A Mano, so we just wanted to go back in the history, just be a little traditional, which is what we tried to do here.

– I love that, I’ve never heard that before, that’s really good. And yeah, you can feel the tradition in here, the leathers and it’s just got a great atmosphere.

– Well, we worked on that fairly diligently. We tried to make it soft and warm, we tried to make it comfortable and cushy, but basically it has a very relaxed and chilled vibe here. So that’s what we were seeking and that’s what we got. Credit to my fiance, she came up with the paint color, and it really appeals to women, which is exactly what we wanted to do because we want husbands and wives here as often as possible. We want this to be a place where the wives know where their husband is because of their relationship with us as well.

– Well, and that’s it, it’s a gathering place. And in fact, I think I heard, don’t you have some female event here?

– Yeah, as a matter of fact, recently at the beginning of the month, we did a lady cigar social, which we’re going to do again in about two months. But we had a wine tasting, we had a tutorial on cigar smoking and cigar selection. And they just had a great time. It’s a nice social event, there was some networking going on, but the ladies had an outstanding time. So we’re going to try to repeat this again and again. We’re not going to make it too frequently ’cause we don’t want it to play… Become normal, we want it to be special each time.

– [Scott] Yeah, that’s the thing. This way it’s just an event.

– It’s got to be special. Exactly.

– [Scott] So I see you guys even have lockers here too. You got these and some in the back.

– Yes, we do. We have a total of 42 lockers.

– Nice.

– 12 up front, 30 in the back. Let me take you inside, I want to show you the-

– Please.

– Humidor.

– Yeah, I really want to see, that’s a nice size humidor and looks like a great selection.

– Well, we tried to do the best we could with the space we had. There were a couple of mechanical things we had to come up with, but it worked out for us. Most of the cigars in here should be recognized by anyone across the continental United States. I mean, we do have a tourist crowd that comes, so we are a tourist attraction here. So anywhere you come from, you should recognize it. But we stay with legacy brand. Right now, especially when starting up, we have to be very careful with our inventory. And we don’t have the luxury yet of going and chasing after every boutique cigar there is, but when you come in here, you should find a good selection. And I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our customers, they are indeed impressed with what we’ve been able to do, and I’m happy about that. But it’s not static, we’re not done, we’re still going to tweak it, we’re going to move some things in, we’re going to push some things out, so it’ll never be the same, it’ll always be a good, stable variety of cigars.

– [Scott] Well, I think that’s actually what a good humidor is, it’s a living thing that’s always evolving.

– [Kevin] Absolutely, absolutely. So there’s always going to be the latest and greatest that comes out. We can’t chase every single one.

– No, no.

– But there’s always going to be some brand that puts out this cigar you’ve got to have. And so we’ll be there.

– Yeah, I love it. And it’ll definitely be here.

– It’s nice presentation too, the way you’ve got everything open.

– Yeah, thank you for that. We worked on making sure all the vistas were illuminated. We know that the companies do a lot of work on this. There’s a lot of information on those vistas too. People take the time and read them, they’ll see some things that they’ll find interesting, or they won’t have to ask us the question because there’s an awful lot of information that’s on many of them. But they are attractive and because our space is narrow, we open the windows up. This has to become part of our attraction, it has to become part of our interior allure, and this is a good way to do it, just like the boxes up.

– [Scott] But I love it. I mean, you’re actually, if I’m coming up here and I’m coming to have a drink, watch some sports, I actually, while I’m getting my cigar, I can catch the game. This is great.

– Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you a secret, the thing is, when you’re sitting out there at the bar and you’re drinking your beer and watching your game, every time you turn around, there’s an advertisement right there.

– I love that.

– So many people continue to shop even though they’re not in the room, which we find fascinating and kind of fun.

– That’s good. And on all levels, these look like some really nice brands in here too.

– [Kevin] Yeah, yeah. Most of the brands, the brands that we’ve committed to giving a strong presentation to, are on this side. And the brands on this side are going to be priced maybe just a touch higher, because we have offerings anywhere from $30 down to six and $7. Naturally, our six and $7 price range might be small compared to some other stores in the valley, but we still make sure that anyone coming in here can find a nice cigar.

– Well, honestly, this is Scottsdale North, really, the median net worth in this neck of the woods’s very high, it’s predominantly baby boomers, it’s people live in some really nice places, they’re not coming in looking for a punch cigar or something, really, I don’t… Or there’s a maintenance cigar, some guys want it, but I think they’re looking for a nice experience with some good quality cigars. I think you’ve answered that.

– I think we’ve tried to anyway. We do have that luxury of having customers that have a pretty good net income, or high net worth or whatever, and they do, they have demands and we’re here to meet them. I’m proud of some of the things we’ve put in, we’ve put in El Septimo, we have Sans Pareil, we have Padron, and in due time we’ll have the Davidoff collection as well, but I think our collection, I’m pretty proud of it.

– Yeah, you should be. It looks beautiful and I just love the atmosphere in here. And love to go out and tour it with you, I’d like to go outside and sit and just kind of learn a little bit about you.

– [Kevin] That would be fantastic. That’d be fantastic.

– [Scott] All right, we’re out here now. How good is this atmosphere? Sun just went down, got a fire here. I tried to light my cigar in here, Kevin said no, he’s taking care of it for me. Thank you very much, sir.

– Thank you.

– So Kevin, the point of these spotlight videos, we want to show everything. You’ve got a beautiful shop here. By the way, who made that your humidor in there?

– Well, we designed the shop and we had general contractors take care of everything, except the humidor. The humidor, I ended up building the humidor. It was a surprise to me too. But as things in construction go, and I’m sure many people know, there’s always a curve that gets thrown and that curve got thrown at the very end of the project. I got a table saw, a chop saw, routers and what have you, and we went to work and we built that. And the thing was, is we wanted to have a real humidor, so everything that we wanted to use was all 100% Spanish cedar, good Spanish cedar. So it does replicate what a humidor is supposed to be. You’d be hard pressed to find any bare wall, or anything like that, or any metal or anything, everything is a hundred percent Spanish cedar. And the cigars respond to that room very well, very, very well.

– You can hear it in his speaking, this is his love and you were not compromising.

– Nope, we didn’t compromise on that. So I don’t know what else we may find, but we really don’t want to compromise on the quality of our cigars at all. It lends to the smoking experience in ways that you wouldn’t imagine.

– But what I was starting to say is that these are really so that people can get to know a little bit about you. Tell us about you, what’s your background? How did you get into this?

– Well, I had the… When I moved out to Arizona about 11 years ago, I came out and I just wanted to change, it was after the housing crisis and what have you.

– Where did you come from?

– I came from Philadelphia. There was a cigar store that I visited there. And that guy, he had friends out here who were in the cigar business, so he said, “Well, let me call ahead “and see if I can get you “at least a part-time job before you go.” So he called out and as luck would have it, I ended up working at one of the cigar stores that has a chain presence here in the valley. And from there I switched over later and began to manage a store for a guy who’s been in the business for over 40 years. I spent about seven years managing one of his stores. And then we got the god awful idea of opening up one of our own. How audacious. But I didn’t want to sit back later and say, “I wish I had done it.” No, we did it and we’re happy.

– That’s what I love about these things. I think that’s America, somebody has the courage, I almost said the wrong word there, but the courage to put it out there and say I want to do my own and then do at this level. I mean, for your first shop, I got to tell you, you’re kind of over the top, this is amazing, this looks like somebody’s fifth shop, finally figuring out and having the money to do it. So God bless you for reaching.

– Well, thank you. I just hope we didn’t outcry our coverage, or get out over our skis, but God willing, and if the creek don’t rise, we’ll make it through, we’ll be just fine.

– Well, I hope so. And really you guys got to come up, meet Kevin, get a sense to this place, particularly if you’re going to go grab something to eat around here, Liberty Station, or some of the other great places, this is a great place to come afterward, bring your friends, sit out here, you’ll be blown away, the views are incredible, the atmosphere is incredible. This is a great guy, Kevin, we’re going to help you make it. God bless you.

– Hey, thank you, Scott.

– You did it.

– I really appreciate it.

– Thanks for having us.

– Thank you for coming.

About Scott Gaertner

Scott Gaertner

Scott Gaertner

Since 1984 Scott’s real estate career has always been committed to exceptional results and his business philosophy has always been “If you want extraordinary results, find out what the ordinary do – and then don’t do it!” Consequently his career has been a trail of astonishing successes created from ground-breaking methods.

His first year in real estate selling new homes for a large builder, Scott sold 101 homes and became the first recipient of the Arizona Homebuilders Association’s “Most Net Units Sold Award.” The Association created the award that year because they said nobody had ever heard of that many homes being sold in one year before! Later, due to his continued successes, he became the first recipient of the Homebuilder’s Association’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

In the resale home business, Scott continued his innovative trends by opening Scottsdale’s first real estate company devoted solely to representing real estate buyers. This pioneering event in 1990 was long before most had ever heard of the term “buyer’s agency” or considered buyer representation. After years of teaching classes and bringing much needed media exposure to the cause, buyer’s agency has become the accepted standard of practice. That cause complete, Scott moved on to a more traditional role with Keller Williams Northeast Realty. But of course, not in an ordinary way . . .

Shunning the conventional wisdom in resale real estate that says “Specialize in everything!” Scott adopted one small corner of the Scottsdale market to call his own. Using typically unconventional marketing methods and strategies, he became the dominant agent in one zip code of Scottsdale North. Dominant not only in numbers of sales, but in pricing successes for his clients.

By 2018, Scott’s techniques have proven so successful that he is now guaranteeing his results, and expanding his business to a much larger market in the North Valley.