While the children were growing up, I was busy dealing with my responsibilities at Bacardi and finding a way to break them out of their rut and diversify.

But at the company, the mention of diversification was worse than blasphemy. As owners of the nation’s largest Hispanic company for four consecutive years, Bacardi Imports’ shareholders were too smug for their own good. In 1980, it surpassed even Smirnoff as the number-one liquor brand in the United States and continued to speed so far ahead of its competitors, it seemed impossible for them to ever catch up.

However, the company couldn’t ride the same wave forever. It was not only competing against a plethora of liquor brands, the independent family-run company was further threatened ...

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