The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots won't be the only teams headed to the Super Bowl. A local team of armed and unarmed guards is headed there as well.
More than 80 guards from Barkley Security, a Gadsden County company located about 7 miles outside the Quincy city limits, will keep watch over entertainers and events at this year's Super Bowl.
The company landed the contract after the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee held its company showcase last year. Barkley Security, which has an office in Jacksonville, was among the businesses invited to attend.
"We set up our booth and showed them what we were all about," said Lomar Barkley, co-owner of the 307-employee company founded by her husband, Robert Barkley, Sr. about 16 years ago.
The Jacksonville office is run by the Barkleys' daughter Melissa and their son Robert Jr.
Apparently Super Bowl representatives took notice. The host committee added Barkley Security to its vendors list and asked the company to submit a bid. After background checks and interviews to determine if Barkley had the necessary personnel and experience, the Barkleys landed the contract.
"I felt like we would get something," Lomar said. "I know what we're capable of doing."
So how much was the contract? The Barkleys, who said their company grosses "several million" a year, aren't saying.
"It's one of the largest for a short span of time." Lomar said.
The company's work starts this weekend and continues until the festivities end Feb. 6.
And some of the gigs the company is providing security for aren't too shabby - the hotel where the players are staying, the gala for the NFL wives, the celebrity golf tournament and bowling challenge as well as some big-name entertainers. Celebrity parties by rapper Jay-Z, former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson and music producer Jermaine Dupree are among the planned Super Bowl events.
"We got a call the other day for a bodyguard for one entertainer," Lomar said. "They haven't told us who it is yet."
The Barkleys say their business has come a long way since it began with one employee and one contract, with the Quincy IGA. In that first year, they grossed about $40,000.
Now, they can boast of contracts across the state, including the state Department of Management Services, the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami, the city of Tallahassee and Florida A&M University, as well as several contracts in Jacksonville.
"My goal was to provide the same type of security service that anyone else could," said Robert Sr., a 30-year veteran of the Gadsden County Sheriff's Department. "Now we know we can provide that type of service."