Ron Smith, founder of the communications company S&A Cherokee in Cary, N.C., has announced his retirement effective January 1, 2018. He will remain as a part owner of the company, having slowly ceded the day-to-day operational duties over the past year to Chuck Norman, APR, and Bill Zadeits, two other owners/principals.
Smith will remain a member of the management team, which includes Norman, Zadeits, Amanda Dunlap and Michael Colborn. The company has about 40 full- and part-time employees.
Smith founded Smith and Associates in 1982 and later started Cherokee Publishing Company in 1990. Smith and Associates was a full-service public relations firm and Cherokee Publishing produced magazines. Smith rebranded the company as S&A Cherokee in 2005 when all activities were established as one business entity.
S&A Cherokee now houses two divisions: S&A Communications, a public relations and marketing firm, and Cherokee Media Group, publisher of numerous print and digital publications, and organizer of several automotive industry trade conferences in the United States and Canada.
Smith grew S&A Cherokee from a one-person PR firm to an award-winning company that has been named to the Inc. 5000 and the Triangle Business Journal Fast 50, and was named Small Business of the Year by the Cary Chamber in 2010. Smith himself has won numerous awards and recently received a lifetime achievement award from the National Remarketing Conference at Used Car Week in Palm Springs, California.
S&A Communications is an integrated marketing organization that grew from deep-seated PR roots and evolved into a team of strategic marketing professionals. It provides services such as public relations, marketing, design, digital, advertising, photography, event planning and custom publishing. S&A Communications’ client base includes Bell and Howell, Cirque du Soleil, the NC Chamber, Precision Tune Auto Care, Campus Enterprises – NC State University Dining, MetroGistics, Brunswick County and SearStone.
Cherokee Media Group is a leading North American B2B media and event management company. Among the company’s titles are Auto Remarketing magazine, SubPrime Auto Finance News, The BHPH Report and Auto Remarketing Canada. The company also produces industry-leading events such as Used Car Week, Auto Remarketing Canada and the Upcoming Automotive Intelligence Summit coming to Raleigh in the summer of 2018. CMG also publishes Cary Magazine and hosts local events including the Women of Western Wake Luncheon, Movers & Shakers Celebration, and the Maggy Awards Party.
Smith has always been interested in both journalism and public relations. He first got into journalism when he went to work with the Nashville Graphic as a high school junior. Following his studies at Brevard College, Smith joined the Rocky Mount Telegram and quickly became the paper’s city editor. After earning his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Wesleyan College, he served as the City of Rocky Mount’s first public information officer.
Smith and his wife Donna later moved to the Triangle area where he accepted a position with a Raleigh public relations firm, and then later became the assistant executive director of the National Independent Automotive Dealers Association. He left NIADA to start his own firm.
“Ron is an incredible businessman, mentor, boss and partner, and an even better husband and father,” said Zadeits. “We hope to continue his legacy of providing excellent service and communications with the highest ethical standards to our clients and constituents.”
“I can’t say enough about what Ron has done for me professionally and personally,” said Norman. “It’s truly been an honor working with him, and after decades of hard work and sacrifice, he’s earned a rewarding retirement. We know he’s just a phone call or email away, but everyone on our staff wishes him their best.”