The Prime Time Awards are voted on by each of the three members of the Prime Time Podcasts. The awards look at the impact on the cigar industry. Today, we unveil our choice for 2020 Person of the Year. This award looks at the individual who for better or worse had the most significant contributions to the cigar industry during the year.
Michael Herklots is the winner of the 2020 Prime Time Award for Person of the Year.
For the past nine years, Herklots has been the frontman for the premium cigar business for Nat Sherman. He has been credited for breathing in new-life and excitement for Nat Sherman, the iconic cigar brand founded in 1930. Herklots first did it working with the Sherman family, then followed Nat Sherman into Altria when the tobacco conglomerate acquired it. 2020 was a very different year.
Back in October 2019, it was announced that Nat Sherman International was exploring options for the future of the business. These options included a potential sale of Nat Sherman International from its parent company Altria. Plans for that sale did not work out. In August word came that Nat Sherman would exit the cigar business and close down its flagship Nat Sherman Townhouse retail store in New York City. This would bring an end to the 90-year-old cigar brand.
The latter part of 2020 saw Herklots tasked to bring Nat Sherman’s retail and wholesale business to close. During this time, Herklots did this with dignity and class in a way perhaps not seen in any industry. Herklots has always said he was an honorary member of the Sherman family. Since he joined Altria, he continued to represent the family name with pride, and certainly demonstrated this as the brand came to a close.
Even before it was announced in August that the Nat Sherman brand would be coming to a close, Herklots rose as a statesman for the industry. Earlier this year the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many industry people and consumers being isolated at home. One the first cigar industry people to reach out through livestream was Herklots. He launched a series of Instagram live chats with well known personalities in the industry and outside the industry. Many premiumm cigar industry leaders and companies would follow Herklots’ lead here.
The Prime Time Awards were certified on 12/31/20. Herklots was the only finalist on the ballots of all three panelists and accumulated 13 of 15 points.
Less than a week after we tabulated our vote, Herklots announced that he and former Nat Sherman CFO Brendon Scott were forming a cigar distribution company called Ferio Tego. As a part of that initiative, Ferio Tego acquired the premium cigar brands of Nat Sherman. While we had already decided the Person of the Year, we are glad to know that we will be hearing from Michael Herklots in the premium cigar industry for many years to come.
The full vote results appear here.
The complete list of awards winners is below.
Photo Credit: Michael Herklots, via Ferio Tego