Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Carroll Hynson, Jr.

Jan 26, 2015 09:57AM ● By James Houck
He’s an idea man; a mind always on the move. Local business entity—and he really is an entity—Carroll Hynson, Jr. begins reciting one potential business venture after another when I meet with him in his West Street Annapolis office. It’s an energy that catches me a bit off guard, but one which pulls me immediately into his world. And Hynson’s world is full. What those ideas are…I won’t say, for sake of privacy, but they’re good…really good. And as his eyes widen with excitement, so do mine.

Hynson has always been this energetic. Even at 78 years old, Hynson’s business acumen, community involvement, and love of life is as fresh and vibrant as when he was a Morgan State University graduate in 1960 (he spent three years previously at Penn State U.). His story is one of opportunity; always seeking it and it always finding him. He’s also a man of firsts, which you’ll learn as this story unfolds.

Today, Hynson is known in many circles as a resourceful businessman, one who’s maintained, prospected, and developed many arms of business under his name. Among his endeavors: Image Power, Inc. (a marketing/advertising/public relations firm); a gaming entity involved in Maryland casino projects; a food distribution company; and bail bonds, a business founded by his father, Carroll, Sr., in the 1940s. His ancillary interests are many, but he’s particularly fond of entertainment (specifically radio), high performance automobiles (specifically Corvettes), boating, and, in his words, “helping the less fortunate.”

Hynson’s lending a helping hand has, perhaps, been most impactful in the community and it’s his vision that has propelled local organizations. He is a founding member of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, for which he continues to sit on the board. Hynson is also a board member of Vehicles for Change, the Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation (also a founding member), the DNR Parks Commission, and Corvette Annapolis. His philosophy is simple. “We should share our success, both personally and financially. Everyone is not economically sound and we should reach out to those who need help.”

He shares this nugget as we listen to smooth jazz playing in the background. It’s a comforting thought; an obligation to help others. And it’s one that he learned first-hand from his father at a very early age. “My father would help you,” Hynson says matter of fact. “Really, I mean you. You could come to him with any problem. Maybe you need $200 to float you for a bit. And my father would give it to you, not even knowing who you are. He cared for people, he trusted people.”

Growing up the son of Carroll, Sr. and Addell Hynson in 1940s Annapolis taught junior quite a few life lessons, particularly about reading people, developing relationships, and creating opportunity. He says the minority dynamic at that time was one of “scratching backs.” “The Greek, Jews, and Blacks all helped each other out,” Hynson recalls, as he leans back in his chair. An anecdote proceeds. “My mother went to NYU to get her master’s. She and Philip and Rachel Brown would drive to New York City on a Friday afternoon, take classes all day Saturday, and come back Sunday. My father would arrange for me to go to the Pantelides’ Royal Restaurant for meals. I’d usually eat in the back kitchen. One time, Mrs. Pantelides invited me in to eat at a regular table. Here I am, this little black kid, dining in the main room. That had to be a first.”

More anecdotes follow, as Hyson is able to rattle off names- and businesses-past as if they existed just yesterday, but it was that dynamic and his father’s multiple business endeavors throughout town (bail bonds, loans, real estate, mail delivery, among others) that stuck with Hynson as he embarked on his own career pursuits. Upon graduating college with a degree in sociology and psychology, Hynson became a probation officer, then a social worker, but those jobs never felt right for him. His true calling came to fruition in the 1960s when he set out to become a radio DJ. Despite friends in the business (such as Hoppy Adams) repeatedly telling him he had a terrible voice for radio (something Hynson enjoys telling me, laughing), Morris Blum of WANN in Annapolis gave Hyson his first break in the business. “He said, ‘just play the music and don’t talk much,’” Hynson says with a smirk.

For the next 15 years, Hynson’s radio career flourished, taking him to Washington, D.C., even landing him a prime slot during morning drive time. It was a career that set him up with the skills to pursue public relations next, which he did, first landing as a PR manager at Provident Hospital in Baltimore (ascending to Vice President of Public Affairs within six months), then becoming Director of Transportation and Trade at BWI Airport. “I was then tapped by Governor Harry Hughes to accept a position at the Maryland Lottery as Sales Director. I was the first African American there [in that department],” Hynson says. He would retire as Director of Public Relations/Legislative Affairs in 1997, and it’s then that Hynson returned home to pick up the family business and develop others.

In the time since, Hynson—whose family life includes three daughters, one son, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild—has been an asset to the business and philanthropic communities. He says he once showed longtime friend and city businessman Harvey Blonder the vacant Goodman building at the foot of Main Street. “I said, ‘Harvey you should buy that property,” Hynson tells. “He did, the rest is history.” (Blonder would turn that property into Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs, the anchor to a portfolio of Blonder-owned restaurants).

“If I can be nice to somebody, and can share what I do with other people, then I’m a happy camper,” Hynson says. “And most of the stuff I do, works,” he concludes with a laugh. As for those ideas on the horizon, you’ll have to wait and see. But rest assured, his intent is to bring people together, build community, “and make a little money on the side.” If opportunity knocks, Carroll Hynson, Jr. will answer.