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Trendsetters - Aug. 2004

CSA Marketing
Late Bloomer?

At 58, Martha Mestril retired after 17 years with Johnson & Johnson and ventured out on her own. From her Kendall home, she founded CSA Marketing, an in-store promotions company. A decade later, it generates $15 million in annual revenue and is one of only seven companies Wal-Mart allows in its stores to conduct product demos and promotions. "She always taught us there isn't anything you can't do," says son Jorge Fusté, CSA's executive vice president.

President / CSA Marketing
MiamiOnce upon a time in Cuba: Mestril's family owned a Chrysler distributorship.Pastimes: Traveling with Fernando Mestril, her husband of 20 years and CSA's vice president.Family affair: Sons Jorge, who runs day-to-day operations, and Luis and daughters Nannette and Marietta work at CSA. The fifth child, TV producer Madeline, has free-lanced for it.Retirement?: "We are trying to retire. It doesn't mean we succeed."Mestril came to the U.S. at 24. Her five children were born here, and she stayed at home to raise them, serving as PTA vice president and a religion teacher on Saturdays at her Catholic church. After a divorce, she went into sales and then joined J&J in marketing.

Her firm has been profitable since 1999, when it went national. J&J, Procter & Gamble and Bigelow teas are among CSA clients. Business improved after the 2000 Census showed Hispanics are the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority and companies became eager to reach out to them. CSA got Bigelow into Hispanic stores and chains such as Navarro drugstores, says Bigelow Vice President Robert Kelly. "They've helped our understanding of the Hispanic consumer around the country. We were just neophytes when it came to that," Kelly says.

In addition to in-store work, CSA usually runs four or five booths for companies at Miami's Calle Ocho festival. CSA also ran a contest to win a trip to Miami for lunch with Dentyne's celebrity spokesman, Puerto Rican singer Chayanne.

CSA this year opened a Puerto Rico office and one in Arkansas to be near Wal-Mart. It already had offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. "We have grown faster than we thought we were going to grow," says Mestril, now 69. "I always am kidding I am a late bloomer."

Wragg & Casas
Changing Channels

Manager, client services / Wragg & Casas
MiamiGiving back: "I'm just amazed sometimes at how professionals don't give back."Obsession: Softball.Charles Jones' career-inspiring moment came as a teenager working at the Piggly Wiggly in his native Columbia, S.C. A radio station manager visiting the store noticed how Jones' voice carried and told him his future was in communications. Jones went on to a journalism major at the University of South Carolina. At age 23, he was reporting for Orlando's WFTV.

He had career-refining moments there. He couldn't picture himself at 40 still reporting on sinkholes. He regretted visiting some neighborhoods only when bad things happened. He saw unfair reporting.

So in 2000, he went into public relations for the U.S. Census Bureau and then PR agency Wragg & Casas. He trains clients on everything from networking to dealing with reporters. Clients include San Francisco employment law firm Littler Mendelson on its move into Florida, the builder of the financially troubled Miami performing arts center, and pop star Aaron Carter's mother when the youth wanted to "divorce" her.

On the pro bono side, Jones, 34, has trained members of the National Conference of Black Mayors on media relations -- excellent work, says spokeswoman Bunnie Jackson-Ransom. Jones also chairs fund raising for H.E.L.P., which provides legal help to families with HIV and AIDS. Last year, he chaired publicity for the Miami-Dade Black Family Health Summit, launched during the NAACP National Convention, to address the needs of people without health insurance or a way to get to treatment centers.

Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell
Burnishing a Brand

Disney, Anheuser-Busch, Sunsweet prunes, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Delta, Nike, Sony, Apple Computers -- ad man Larry Tolpin certainly has helped burnish some of the world's best-known brands and products.

Now his task is to help build Orlando's Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, where he took over as president and chief creative officer in March. With $150 million in total billings, YPB&R is one of Florida's larger ad firms.

President, chief creative officer / Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell
OrlandoFamily: Wife, Meredith, son, Cole.Married on the Fourth of July: He and Meredith figured they would always have their anniversary off. "Sure enough, we moved to Canada."Best TV and movie depictions of the ad business: Thirtysomething, Nothing in Common, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.Aphorism: "Good work costs no more than bad work. It all comes down to people."Creativity: "Either you're born with it, or you're not."Tolpin, 49, grew up in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. With visions of Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, he went off to the University of Oklahoma to become a vet. But being a vet was messier than he anticipated, so he switched to journalism and marketing.

He came to Florida to work for Disney as a senior writer ("Come discover the world this weekend") then worked for the Busch theme parks and industry majors such as BBDO and J. Walter Thompson, where he was Thompson's worldwide creative director. He's been a "Creative Director of the Year" three times, and agencies he's been with have been "Agency of the Year" five times.

At YPB&R, he joins a firm known for its travel and leisure clients and research. With Yankelovich Partners, it produces the National Travel Monitor. Tolpin wants to broaden YPB&R's client base. He says his task is "to give YPB&R clients a world-class creative product and to help attract national clients that would normally go to a New York or California agency."

YPB&R has added clients and is hiring. Though based in Florida, 80% of YPB&R's business comes from outside the state. "Our competition is not the Florida shops," Tolpin says. "Our competition is national."