West Coast Reflections: A Paradise view from 30,000 feet

As I sat on my bumpy flight to the Pacific Northwest to immerse myself in our first West Coast client in the breathtaking Skagit Valley of Washington state, I couldn’t help but reflect on the incredible journey of Paradise. Founded over 20 years ago, our agency has come a long way since its early days. When I joined in 2008, we were a small team of 15 and solely focused on Florida tourism.

Paradise has always been dedicated to Destination and Tourism marketing, and I’ve had the privilege of contributing to our clients’ evolution and growth over the years while at the same time helping to transform our agency to what it is today. It’s been a remarkable journey, especially considering the significant changes that have affected our industry. From economic downturns, crisis and catastrophe, we’ve faced it all, and Paradise has stood tall.

In January 2018, our agency underwent a significant change when Barbara and Tony Karasek brought fresh energy, new perspective and a renewed sense of purpose under their ownership. Unfortunately, just a short time later, we had to weather the loss of our founder and my friend, Cedar Hames. Again, our team and our clients showed support, grit and trust and we were able to overcome a very difficult time.
As we all know, the COVID pandemic hit our industry hard. Travel restrictions, lockdowns, and fear put the brakes on tourism worldwide. It was a challenging period that tested us and our clients. We adapted, reimagined, and stood by our clients as they stood by us as we all navigated uncharted airways. As a result, many of my agency colleagues lost clients, staff and even their business. But I’m proud to say that Paradise emerged resilient, focused, and strong.

Glenn Bowman, Tom Merrick, and Rudy Webb at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park.

Now, our once-small agency is double in size and fortunate enough to work with clients from all corners of the country and many wonderful places in between. We’re no longer just sunshine experts, as we love our urban, mountain and valley clients as well. Along the way, our staff has grown alongside our reputation, and we’ve had the honor of producing great work that impacts the many destinations and businesses we serve. But what truly makes this journey special is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. Colleagues, clients, team members, and partners are now considered friends and are scattered all across the country. And I always look forward to stopping in to my favorite places for coffee, dinner or a drink.

We wouldn’t be here without our amazing clients that have trusted us with their brands and even more importantly, their organizations and communities. And to the incredible team at Paradise – who are, without a doubt, the best in the business, I wouldn’t trade this team for anything. We’re not the biggest but I feel we’re the best, knowing that together, we’ve overcome challenges, seized opportunities, and created outstanding work that has left our mark in the world.

As we look ahead to the next phase and the next evolution of Paradise, I am confident that no matter the turbulence, our team is more than ready for whatever comes our way.