3 Tampa businesses helping to pull off a safe and successful Super Bowl — and profiting off the event

  • Tampa businesses have jumped at the opportunity to boost revenue during the Super Bowl.
  • Robyn Donaldson of Renew Construction Services and ReliaQuest CTO Joe Partlow shared how they won contracts with the NFL.
  • Deonte Cole of My Black PPE has been profiting off his company’s vending machines as visitors come in.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

While quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady will be squaring off on the field this coming Super Bowl Sunday, the eventual champion between their two teams — the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — won’t be the only winner in town this week. 

Tampa’s business community has hustled to make the most of the opportunities surrounding the big game, and even with a smaller crowd this year some companies have still benefited from the event with a boost in sales and clientele. 

Robyn Donaldson, CEO and owner of Renew Construction Services, a post-construction cleaning and janitorial firm that’s been serving the Tampa Bay area for seven years, secured a $120,000 contract to clean and stage the NFL Super Bowl Experience, the “interactive football theme park” put on by the league in the week leading up to the game. She’d originally bid on the job 15 months ago through the Super Bowl LV Business Connect program run by the NFL and Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee designed to promote suppliers and vendors of diversity, competing with over 1,200 applicants. 

“It was a lot of waiting and wishing and hoping, but honestly, if I did not get a contract, I learned so much, and when I was selected, it gave me an advantage — it was a great marketing tool,” she told Insider.

Donaldson, who has a background in architectural design and building, started her company as a way to penetrate the construction industry. Hoping to one day become a general contractor, she began cleaning residential spaces. Renew eventually progressed to cleaning trailers on construction sites, then post-construction cleaning, which enabled her to develop relationships with prime contractors. In 2018, Donaldson secured a contract with the Tampa Convention Center. A letter of referral from her client there became a key part of the package that helped sell the NFL on Renew.

When Donaldson learned she’d been selected, she posted about the success on her social media channels. A post on LinkedIn resulted in a call from a local hotelier inquiring about the possibility of Donaldson, who’d had to lay off 25 employees at the onset of the pandemic, staffing merchandising booths at his properties.

“I reached out to the NAACP CareerSource, you know, just to get people back to work, just to fill that void,” she said. Donaldson, who said in 2020 she made just over $200,000 in revenue, reported she’s on track to make $250,000 this month. 

Hotels also play a role in the Super Bowl-related business success of Deonte Cole, a former US Marine who owns My Black PPE. Cole became a realtor after retiring from the Marines three years ago, then decided to do his part to contribute to “bringing PPE to everyday people” during the pandemic with his website, which debuted in March of last year. In May, the company added vending machines to augment the online business, placing the machines at Tampa-area hotels and stocking them with masks, hand sanitizer, and other items that visitors might need on a last-minute basis. 

“We lived in Japan for about four years, and they vend everything — there’s a vending machine for everything you can think of, so it was kind of an easy transition for us, it was something that required very little overhead cost to get into, and something we could make happen quickly,” Cole said. 

Cole has vending machines in four strategically-located hotels in the Tampa area. The city of Tampa currently has a mask ordinance, as does Hillsborough County.

“It was pretty easy to get into,” Cole said regarding the sell-in to the first family of hotels, a chain of Hiltons. “One of the hotels we’re at is really close to the airport, so anyone coming into that hotel is going to have the ability to grab it quickly.”

Cole hasn’t stopped looking for opportunities, saying that the portability of the machines means that if the opportunity arises he could reposition one closer to the big game. With the products he stocks in the machines priced for convenience, Cole said they’ve been consistent money-makers. 

“Every month from the first month we put the machines in, we’ve turned a profit,” he said. “The beauty of it is, if there’s ever an issue, we can always pivot. And, as long as people need the product, we’re here.”

Being in a position to help protect those coming into the city for the game as well as his fellow residents of the area is a side benefit of the endeavor. 

“There’s definitely a level of concern when you have people potentially coming in from all over for the Super Bowl,” Cole said. “But at the same time, we recognize they will be here, and if we can do anything to make that process smoother, even though it’s a business opportunity, we want to keep people protected as possible. That’s even better.”

Protecting the local community is also top of mind for ReliaQuest CTO Joe Partlow this week. The Tampa-based cybersecurity firm, which told Insider it counts well-known national and international brands like AAA, Campbell’s, and Abercrombie & Fitch among its clients, is also the official cybersecurity partner of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee. Partlow said that as a partner for the NHL Lightning, the company was well positioned to be selected for the job.

The company signed on to work with the Bucs at the beginning of this season when “there were a lot of personnel additions” to the team, Partlow said, referring jokingly to former New England Patriots Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski joining the team. The company’s contract with the Host Committee began in early 2020. Meanwhile, the company reported solid profitability throughout the pandemic, named at the end of last year to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 for the fourth consecutive year for reporting 229% growth for 2020. 

Partlow said ReliaQuest is working in collaboration with federal and local law enforcement and the NFL to help keep the game safe — an area of particular concern since the pandemic has forced the league to innovate in creating more online immersion for fans at a time when fewer spectators will be allowed. 

At a high level, he said, he’ll be concerned about physical security, such as preventing somebody from getting into the stadium or sensitive areas where they’re not supposed to or access to various systems like the scoreboard or electronic payment systems. “There are a ton of volunteers that are associated with putting on an event like this, as well as vendors, so we’re also concerned with making sure all of their personal information is secure, and that we’re not opening up our vendors and volunteers to identity theft,” he added.

ReliaQuest will also be securing all of the credit card transactions for the point-of-sale systems in and around Raymond James Stadium. Partlow said he’ll be on-site on Sunday just to make sure the whole thing is going well.

“I’ll probably be floating around there just checking in and making sure that everything’s going smooth,” he said. “Maybe I’ll glance up at a TV and see how the game is going.”

He added he’s pulling for the Bucs, of course.

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