XIKAR - The Best Thing To Happen To Cigars Since Fire
XIKAR is dedicated to providing value to consumers through unique, artful cutlery at a fair price. XIKAR will provide these products through honest and ergonomic design to achieve superior form, feel and function. XIKAR stands behind its products through a lifetime total satisfaction warranty. XIKAR FOR LIFE
- The XIKAR Story: Following Your Invention Through Kansas City Star 2/7/2007 (PDF)
- XIKAR: A Behind the Scenes by Jacob Krell of the Cigar Nut
- XIKAR Interview by Cigar Press Magazine | Vol V Issue I 2011
History of XIKAR with Kurt Van Keppel
XIKAR is dedicated to providing value through honest and ergonomic design at a fair price. Honest design includes consideration of function, ergonomic comfort with simple, clean lines and lack of superfluous decoration on the product. Good design will enhance a users visual, tactile and mechanical experience with XIKAR products.
The following four fundamentals make up our product development:
- Function: extremely high-functional, mechanical and material quality are essential to each product.
- Form: beautiful design enhances the experience and enjoyment of our product. XIKAR product should be ergonomic (easy to the hand) and artful (easy to the eye).
- Fair: a fair price, combined with quality and design.
- Forever: an unconditional, lifetime guarantee on all XIKAR products communicates our commitment to our consumers and our confidence in our quality.
XIKAR considers consumers of XIKAR products, customers and friends. XIKAR will strive to build and maintain this relationship through exceptional products, the best warranties, and beneficial news to the consumer. This means:
- Offering them a lifetime total-satisfaction guarantee on all products
- Thanking customers for their business.
The following fundamentals create our service commitment:
- Communication: personal, honest and immediate response to consumers also communicates our commitment to them, and has shown to provide a reason for consumers to buy again from XIKAR and to recommend XIKAR to friends.
- Consistency: Everyone should know, in advance, what to expect from XIKAR. (and they should expect the best!)
- Concern: We will treat others as we want to be treated (very well!)
- Quickness: We will turn your inquiry into an urgency!
XIKAR stands behind each of its products with a total satisfaction lifetime warranty. We want to provide our consumers the same benefits we look for in making our own personal purchases.
Kurt Van Keppel, who wanted to buy a good cigar cutter in 1994, found the inexpensive models and the high-end models underperforming. So, he set out with Scott Almsberger to match good design (ergonomics and function) with the best styling and materials. The result was the Xi cutter, which they first assembled in their garages, and is now the market leader in cigar cutlery.
XIKAR originated from the word sikar, which is said to be the first Spanish spelling of the Taino word for cigar. The Tainos were the indigenous populations of Hispaniola and Cuba, where Columbus first landed when he discovered the "New World", and tobacco along with it. We changed the S to an X (representing 2 blades) and had the X cut the i, like a cutter clipping a cigar!
In 2000, Kurt and Scott decided to expand their product development into the pocket folder market. That year, they exhibited at the Blade Show, to "learn about the business," and they got good tips from custom knife makers like Tim Herman, and knife manufacturers like Paul Gillespie and A.G. Russel. The following year, XIKAR presented its first knife design, and in 2002 brought to market its full-scale production knives, the 118 Elan, 138 Excel and 158 Excursion. They expect to introduce two additional models for the knife nut at blade 2003!
Kurt Van Keppel: President (right)
Kurt has introduced new products for several consumer products companies, both in the U.S. and abroad. He has an MBA from AGSIM (Thunderbird)
Scott Almsberger: Vice-President, Director of Design and Production (left)
Scott has worked in sales and in industrial design for several Japanese companies. He has an Industrial Design degree from the University of Kansas.
- Product Design completely by inventor Kurt Van Keppel and Designer Scott Almsberger in late 1996
- Product design and development took 6 months
- 1997: 200 initial numbered prototypes were made by hand in a machine tool shop
- All units were assembled and packaged in Kurt's garage
- First mass produced units completed in May, 1998.
- Official launch at the Retail Tobacconist Dealers Association Trade Show in August, 1998
- 350 Retailers carrying product by November 1, 1998
- Patent approvals (design and utility) notices received November, December 1998!!!