Jim Hettich’s last waltz.

We’ve been very careful not to use the “r” word around here, so instead of this being a nod to Jim’s retirement (shhhhh), let’s consider this Jim’s “farewell performance.”

While I never knew Jim back in the day as a young ad guy, I’ve certainly heard the stories, and the way I picture it, Jim was your everyday Pete Campbell (obligatory Mad Men account guy reference) – an eager, young account executive looking to prove himself through hard work, dedication, and a naturally competitive spirit.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Niagara University and a master’s degree from American University, Jim began his advertising career in Buffalo, where he stayed for a short stint before having the unique opportunity to move his young and growing family to Anchorage, Alaska with the DDB West agency network. After seven years with DDB and then BBDO, Jim returned to Western New York to join The Wolf Group. It was with Wolf that Jim evolved his career from strategy and client service to COO of the Rochester Wolf Group office.

Then fate – and a few breakfasts with Jean Fletcher, Dave Buck, and Joe Crowley – brought him to us and the rest is history.

Jim landed at Crowley Webb in 1998, starting his tenure as Senior Vice President and later becoming Executive Vice President in 2002. Jim became Chairman/CEO in 2005 before passing the CEO baton to me in June 2023. In this latest evolution of Jim’s role, he will remain a member of the agency’s Board of Directors, providing counsel and oversight as needed.

Over the course of his career, Jim has worked with a number of marquee brands in a variety of product and service categories including ARCO, Bausch & Lomb, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Canandaigua Wine Company, Citibank, Eastman Kodak, ESAB, Fisher-Price, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Independent Health, M&T Bank, Mobil, National Fuel, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Phillips Lytle LLP, Sealtest, Siemens Corporation, and Xerox. I’m sure there were many more along the way, but these are the standouts we’ve always discussed.

Jim has served in various capacities for important industry organizations, always representing our agency with class and earning the respect of everyone he’s met. Never self-absorbed or egotistical, Jim is to be commended in that he always seems to put others first – whether they be coworkers, clients, or peers. Jim was very active with the AAAAs for decades and served on the organization’s New York State Board of Governors. Most recently, Jim has served on the board of directors for AMIN worldwide, an alliance of more than 50 independent marketing agencies across the globe that Crowley Webb is fortunate to be part of.

In addition to his work with clients and numerous industry organizations, Jim has worked tirelessly on behalf of many charitable organizations as well. He has served on the boards of the MS Society of WNY, Bornhava, Arc Erie County New York, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

And the best part of all these roles and accomplishments? You’d never know it. Jim is truly one of the most selfless and humble people I’ve ever met. He’s also a bit of an acquired taste, which is probably the number one reason people love this man. He’s served as a mentor and father figure to so many of us, and led our agency through every up and down imaginable. Let’s face it, the man is a legend and he’s leaving an indelible mark on Crowley Webb and the advertising industry near and far.

Enough from me. We couldn’t help but send Jim into this next chapter without a heartfelt and celebratory video from so many of us, so sit back, grab some tissues, and enjoy some stories about our pal, Jim.