Tampa’s HCP Associates Celebrate 30 Years of Memorable Marketing

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — HCP Associates’ Chairman R. Patrick Hill and Senior Partners Sean Coniglio and Eric Polins announced today the firm will be celebrating its 30th anniversary throughout 2016.

For the past three decades HCP has provided professional consulting focused on three overlapping marketing disciplines; research, business strategy and communications. Catering to a dozen different market segments with companies and organizations throughout the state of Florida, the U.S. and around the globe, HCP has been headquartered in Tampa for three decades. Known by most as a marketing consulting and research firm, HCP has played important roles in leading clients through difficult strategy challenges utilizing the broad experience of HCP leadership and a countless number of associates.

In the early 70s, Pat Hill, an eager USF graduate who helped to start the first ever Oracle Newspaper on the campus of USF, left Tampa for Cincinnati launching an exciting executive marketing career with Proctor & Gamble. After P & G, Hill continued his oversight of national brands, serving as a senior officer of Griswold Eshleman (Midwest/NYC) and Bozell & Jacobs (West/Southwest) before returning to Florida, where he joined Ensslin & Hall as a partner. Back in Florida, he gained significant distinction pioneering major marketing initiatives, lecturing and providing institutional guidance on both state and regional entities. In 1985, Hill “retired” from the advertising business to form Hill & Associates.

Around this time Sean Coniglio was making his way through business and economics at Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia while earning national accolades as a collegiate soccer player. He continued on with a short injury-plagued career at the University of Tampa his junior year then decided to hang up the cleats for a future in business. He studied marketing and management at the University of Tampa and interned in downtown Tampa with Trenam Law, Dean Witter Brokerage, Sound & Vision Communications and eventually Promotional Marketing Incorporated (PMI) out of Chicago. After serving as an executive with MetLife for a number of years, Coniglio became restless for marketing once again. Coniglio and a co-worker helped to build a large real estate publishing and direct mail company which was subsequently sold eight years later. During this time he looked at the technology sector and the “dotcom” boom. In the late 90s, Coniglio accepted a Sales Director position with Inteledigm Communications, a Tampa-based Internet Incubator that housed a popular interactive brand, The Agency Applet; which coincidentally had been created by Inteledigm’s Marketing Director at the time, Eric Polins and funded by Allen Reeves of Reeves Import Motor Cars.

Polins graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in journalism broadcasting and after a stint in the United States Marine Corps was honorably discharged after numerous knee injuries. Shortly after, during a visit to Tampa in 1994 to visit his brother, Polins relocated to Tampa in 1995.

Polins said, “I was in management training with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Pennsylvania and requested a transfer to Tampa; I worked there until I got my first break with a small publishing firm, then was lucky enough to become one of the first webmasters in the industry working in Sarasota for Infresco Corporation, a subsidiary of Computer Associates (CA). Shortly after a Tampa-based opportunity became available with Amherst Marketing and eventually The Lipphardt Agency. The rest is history.”

The bursting of the “dotcom” bubble brought together Coniglio and Polins to form Ybor City-based 361 Media which was sold within a year. Coniglio Polins Interactive (CPI) was then born and little did they know their first website project as CPI would be with Hill & Associates and longtime client, Sheraton Sand Key Resort.

Coniglio recalls, “Eric and I moved into Hill’s office in 2000 and ‘shared’ a small office. At the time we found ourselves very busy working on all types of interactive projects as technology was in its infancy stage and very few interactive firms existed during those years in Tampa.”

Hill recalls, “In the late 90s I had the opportunity to work with some ‘dotcom’ agency guys –Coniglio & Polins Interactive, CPI — who were looking for a place to hang their shingle. At the time I realized this was becoming a very important tool for which we were lacking. I learned that CPI understood research, public relations, management, marketing and interactive and felt they would be a good fit for the future. They joined as minority partners with the goal of one day taking over the operation. It’s been a very rewarding partnership and I know these guys will take HCP to its 50th Anniversary, no question!”

According to Hill, the firm had its first street address in the summer of 1985; a 10-story bank building across the street from what is now the Bank of America (which was under construction as the Barnett Bank). The firm was on the 2nd floor over some printing presses that ran all day and night. Later, when the Barnett Bank building was completed, the firm moved to the top floor (on the same floor as the Tampa Club) and these were some of the company’s biggest growth years. Hill remembers, “A conference room and my office had an outside deck overlooking the port of Tampa, which was part of our image/marketing plan. The location led to hundreds of visitors and lots of business; and me buying lots of lunches. Our most notable visitor might have been the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, negotiating a business contract for his country.”

“We moved to a historic building on Franklin Street where we housed our largest staff and saw the first use of computers; it’s true, graphics did not exist on computers then! At this time, we also had a London office, as well as service locations in upstate New York and Tennessee. The graphic support in London was by far the coolest asset. We were early adopters of Fax machines, allowing assignments to come in at end of day with responsive artwork presented to clients in the early morning— thanks to the five hour time difference.

From this location we broadly expanded our national and international scope while taking on extensive medical, tourism, government, and consumer products. This time period also brought us expanded land development business with Vantage, Paragon, Tampa Palms, Cross Creek, Wachesaw, Tidewater, Olde Beau and many others throughout the US. We then moved to the old WFLA executive suites where I first met Sean and Eric in the late 90s. In 2010, we moved to The Joseph Garcia International Center (Port Tampa Bay) where we remain today.”

According to Hill, The first local paying Tampa clients were SunTrust Banks, Pinch a Penny Pool Supply Corp, Media General, and the Shackleford Farrior Law firm. Early national projects were under way, supplemented with many pro bono assignments including the first research projects. In its first year, 1986, the company showed an operating profit. The first professional employee was John Rusher who recently retired as EVP of a large Agency in South Carolina and now President of a hugely successful hospitality services company. The longest continuing relationship is Sheraton Sand Key Resort and Seaway Hotels. Other historic clients with ongoing relationships include Raymond James, DENTCO, Palm Island, Useppa Island, Acme Sponge & Chamois, Hill Ward & Henderson, and The Tampa Tribune.

HCP is based on the philosophy that “marketing cannot be successful without proactive, strategic planning that includes measurable objectives, grounded in research and evaluated for a return on investment.” This concept has been the foundation on which the firm’s growth has been built.

Over the past three decades, HCP has created an impressive portfolio rooted in a rich history of local, national, and international clients. In addition, the partners and associates serve the community by donating time, services and participating on a large number of diverse non-profit boards. Coniglio and Polins were both instrumental in creating the first Gasparilla International Film Festival and have owned and operated the independent film company Gulf+Atlantic Films together for nearly 18 years. In 2006, they produced the motion picture film “Descansos” starring Gary Busy, Charles Durning and Cindy Taylor. Since then the production company has won numerous accolades ranging from Tellys to film festival nominations for short films and hundreds of commercial videos; predominantly filmed in Tampa.

Polins said, “When I first moved to Tampa in 1995, I had a degree in Journalism from Penn State and a little programming experience in HTML. After a few years of struggling to break into the biz, one of my most memorable opportunities besides going into business with Pat and Sean was learning branding from the late Bill Lipphardt (The Lipphardt Agency). All I can say is…if you really want to do something, go out and do it; or someone else will. I look forward to another 20 years until Sean and I hand over the keys to new leadership that will continue the mission and power the brand forward.”

While the firm’s impressive portfolio is a reflection of a very positive business reputation, HCP’s active involvement for the past 30 years in local foundations, public/private partnerships, and community development initiatives are also at the heart of the company’s mission. With native Tampa residents among the leadership of HCP’s team, the deep commitment to the community and history of involvement will only continue to grow and expand for years to come.