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SFNTC President Mike Little is the head honcho when it comes to developing and maintaining the quality and consistency of SFNTC’s Natural American Spirit blends. Though he has only been with us at SFNTC for 17 out of our 30-year history, he worked closely with our blends for nine years before joining the family. He’s turned his three decades of tobacco-blending skills into a fine art.
“Some people see blending as a science and some see it as an art,” Mike says. “I’m from the old school of blending. I rely more on my experience and the intuition I’ve developed over the years than straight scientific analysis of the tobacco components.”
Mike started his work with tobacco in Wilson, N.C. in 1977, when he joined the leaf processing department of Universal Leaf. He spent the next eight years learning anything and everything about the art of purchasing and blending tobacco: from judging leaf quality and purchasing tobacco at auction, to combining tobaccos to make smokeless, pipe and cigarette blends.
In 1985, he transferred to MZM, a small specialty blending company in Petersburg, Va., which began supplying SFNTC with its tobacco blends in 1986.
“I have a passion for tobacco and producing blends just using additive-free, high-quality leaf...that does it for me,” Mike said.
MZM eventually focused its business entirely on blending tobacco for another manufacturer. So in 1995, Mike joined us at SFNTC, the best place for him to indulge that passion.
Since then, Mike has developed and introduced the company’s U.S. grown, perique and organic tobacco blends, while maintaining the quality and consistency of the other Natural American Spirit blends.
We at SFNTC couldn’t have asked for a better blender, and it sounds like Mike is pretty happy as well. “What more could a blender ask for than to develop premium blends out of U.S. tobacco?” he asks.
“I get a chance to work with the very best ingredients in the world, and after all these years, I still get excited about that."