- July 1, 2021
Cedar Hames, with an expert reputation in marketing, branding and advertising, also knew a thing or two about comedy. Like timing.
“He was a quiet and understated kind of funny,” says Glenn Horn, a Tampa ad executive who was one of Hames' many protegees. “He just always seemed to know the best time” to lighten a difficult situation with humor.
Hames died Feb. 16, after battling cancer. He was 72.
Hames had a 30-year career in advertising and marketing, with a focus on the tourism industry. Notably, he founded St. Petersburg-based Paradise in 2002. That firm, with a second office in Naples, now has 30 employees and is known statewide and nationally for its work in the travel and tourism sector. Clients include multiple tourism bureaus in the Southeast; the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort; Space Florida; and The DalÃ Museum.
Hames, according to a statement the firm posted on its website under the name Travel On, Cedar, “was a consummate gentleman with a sharp wit and even sharper business mind.”
“Of all the attributes applied to business owners, kindness and generosity don't often top the list. But that was Cedar,” the statement adds. “Always well-dressed while the rest of the staff barely met the 'business casual' dress code, Cedar moved through the agency's halls with a casual elegance, never in a hurry.”
Hames is also well known in the Tampa business community for the dozens of young employees he mentored and informally advised. “He opened a lot of possibilities for me,” says Horn, now the creative director at Tampa-based ChappellRoberts. “That was the case for a lot of people.”
Hames launched his career in newspaper sales. He later worked in TV, where he helped build Channel 44 into one of the nation's powerhouse independent stations, the firm says in the statement.
“Cedar loved his employees,” the firm says. “And he always made time for us, as much as we needed. His office door was rarely closed. People stuck their heads in all the time, regardless of job title or tenure, to update him on a project or to just shoot the breeze. You never got the sense he was impatient or eager for you to move on.”
Hames also spent time seeking new owners for Paradise. He ultimately sold the firm to Barbara and Tony Karasek, fellow sales and marketing executives. The Karaseks — Barbara Karasek, now CEO at Paradise interned for Hames years ago — took over ownership of the firm in late 2017.
“He showed me what a great leader could be, and I've never forgotten it,” Barbara Karasek says in a Jan. 30 statement that announced the sale. “To come full circle and step into his shoes in the incredible agency he created isn't just an honor, it's a privilege.”