LAKELAND | The owner of Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop in Lakeland won a trip to Spain, influenced how the company operates and preserved the legacy of her late brother in Friday's episode of the CBS reality TV show "Undercover Boss."
Robert Powells, co-founder and president of Rocket Fizz, a chain with 54 locations in 18 states, went undercover as a reality TV contestant named Lee to discover what improvements need to be made to his business.
Marianne Banales, 47, owns franchises in Lakeland, Tampa and Sarasota. Powells made four stops in the covert tour of his business, and Banales' Tampa store was one of them, along with a store in Vista, Calif., a bottling plant in Lone Pine, Calif., and a warehouse in Camarillo, Calif.
Banales said she never expected she was on "Undercover Boss," but she did suspect that not everything was as it seemed.
"There were a couple times when I wondered if something was going on because (Powells) was kind of bumbling and goofy, and I would give him a task and he couldn't do it or he would stop the task and walk out and talk to customers and I'd have to bring him back, but I never thought it was 'Undercover Boss,'?" she said.
Powells said the experience was rewarding, both professionally and personally.
During the episode, the two bonded over the loss of Powells' girlfriend and Banales' brother.
"For me, it was, in a sense, closure. I talked about something in my life that happened a few years ago that I haven't spoken about in so long," Powells said.