Wednesday April 16, 2014 Special Delivery: Billy D, UPS team up for honorary shipment to local customers
Updated: 1:41pm, April 17
Updated: 1:41pm, April 17
ALACHUA, Fla. -- Tom Rose was holed up in a third-floor conference room Wednesday morning at his RTI Surgical office about 15 miles north of the University of Florida campus. RTI’s executive vice president for administration was on a video conference with the company’s president and CEO, whose image was projected on large screen at the front of the room.
Suddenly, the meeting was interrupted.
In walked a UPS courier.
In walked UF cheerleaders, followed by Albert the Alligator, plus a film crew.
And in walked Billy Donovan.
“I have no idea what’s going on right now,” said a stunned Rose (pictured right).
Just a routine work-day delivery, that’s all.
OK, maybe not so routine.
Donovan, just off his 2013-14 basketball team’s run to the Final Four, donned UPS logo wear and made the day for a pair of local execs who double as big Gator fans and loyal UPS customers. The special deliveries were part of Donovan’s endorsement deal with UPS -- a follow-up to his “logistics” commercial (see below) that ran throughout the NCAA Tournament in 2013 -- and will be featured along with several other basketball personalities (such as this one with Jay Bilas) on the company’s website.
In the packages handed off to both Rose and later to Jody Phillips, chief financial officer at Exactech in Gainesville, were basketballs that were soon unpacked, signed and presented by the UF coach to the customers for their steadfast commitment to UPS.
Both men were afforded photo opportunities with the coach and his delivery crew, followed by some Gator cheers and chants alongside co-workers. Donovan even had a few words for that RTI executive, Brian Hutchison, on the other end of the teleconference being beamed in from Germany.
“Congratulations on a great year,” said Hutchison, who oversees a corporation that provides sterile biological implants for surgeries worldwide. “Hopefully, you can find some replacements for those four seniors in time for next year.”
Said Donovan: “If not, I’ll be doing a lot more UPS deliveries.”
It won’t take long for RTI Surgical or Exactech, a global innovator for bone and joint restoration products, to get the word out of their unexpected and pleasant distraction Wednesday.
“Total shock,” Rose said later. “Everybody in the company will know within about 15 minutes what just happened. We’ll have it on our internal website and I’m sure people will be calling friends and family. What a great surprise.”
Phillips, who attended the Final Four with his son two weekends ago, was in a closed-door presentation when Donovan and friends came calling. After the mini-ceremony, Phillips had glowing things to say about the Gators, the UF program and the coach.
“I just love how he does things and how he does it the right way,” said Phillips (surrounded by his Exactech colleagues, right). “Great delivery guy too. Certainly travels with quite the entourage.”
Some may recognize the real-life courier in the photo above. That’s Wyndell Jenkins, the Gainesville-area UPS delivery man who appeared in the last year’s commercial with Donovan and his staff.
But it’s also Wyndell Jenkins, local hoops hero. He led Hawthorne High to the 1987 Class 1A state title, averaging 21 points, eight assists and six steals a game. Jenkins eventually signed with UF, played sparingly as a freshman and transferred to Daytona Beach Community College.
Donovan strapped into the fold-down passenger seat in the UPS truck and rode shotgun alongside Jenkins to both delivery sites.
“Got the whole treatment," Donovan said. "First class all the way."
Same for his customers.