The Echelon Story
From Soldiers to Aficionados to Entrepreneurs...
Echelon Cigar Company was started in 2018 in Southern California by longtime friends and squadmates Nolan Meadnis and Allen Gonzalez, along with Nolan's wife Kat, who all decided to combine their love for cigars with their desire to become business owners.
Meeting up frequently at a local cigar lounge to discuss life and reminisce of the "old" army days and Iraq deployments, Meadnis and Gonzalez tossed around the idea of starting their own cigar line. Kat was immediately on board and took an active role in supporting and promoting the brand. After well over a year of research, planning, networking, and so on, 100% veteran-owned Echelon Cigar Company was born.
Behind The Scenes
All blends in the Echelon lineup are thanks to Marvin Ruiz, his two sons Lenin and Luis, and the many fine people involved with their process. Ruiz Cigars is a family owned boutique company where cigars are rolled in their hometown of Esteli, Nicaragua as well as stateside at their store in Sparks, Nevada (Reno).
Marvin Ruiz is a Master Torcedor who worked for well known factories for over 20 years in Esteli before branching out and starting his own company in 2005. His younger son, Lenin, manages the factory and business in Esteli (Ruiz Cigar S.A.) while his older son Luis assists with the store and lounge in Nevada.
Nolan Meadnis - President, Co-Owner
Nolan served in the U.S. Army from 2005 - 2015. He spent time in both active and reserves, serving most of his time as an MP. Nolan deployed to Baghdad with C Co. 185th Infantry from 2007-08 in support of OIF7.
Today, Nolan serves as Echelon's President while simultaneously holding down a career in marketing. He holds a Bachelors degree in Public Relations from Montana State University.
Nolan's love of cigars began in the Caribbean, where he was exposed to the many types of cigars available in the region. After being scammed for some Cohiba knock-offs (like many American tourists), he decided to educate himself on everything cigars, from the manufacturing process to how to spot those dreaded fake Cubans.
Kat Meadnis - Vice President, Co-Owner
Kat served in the U.S. Army from 1999 - 2007. Like her husband Nolan, she also spent time in both the active and reserve components, spending three years in Heidelberg, Germany as an Administrative Specialist. After active duty, Kat spent time as a member of the reserves in her hometown of Billings, Montana.
Today, Kat serves as Echelon's Vice President of Sales & Marketing while simultaneously pursuing a career in the airline industry. She studied Business Administration at Montana State University.
Kat's love of cigars developed with Nolan as they traveled to the Caribbean and around the U.S together. She enjoys sampling new blends and pairing them with many varieties of craft beer, wine, and spirits.
Allen served in the U.S. Army from 2005 - 2013. He also spent time in both active and reserves, including stops in Vilsek, Germany and Ft. Lewis, Washington. Allen deployed to Sadr City in support of OIF7 from 2007-2008 with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.
Today, Allen serves as Echelon's VP while also working in robotics. He holds an Associate degree in Information Technology from Cerritos College.
Allen's love of cigars began during his tour in Iraq. Always attracted to their look and presentation, he decided to try one while in Sadr City. He immediately took a liking and has been smoking them ever since.