South Padre Fun, Fishing Raises Big $$$ for AGC PAC

Written by  Gary Scharrer


RIO GRANDE VALLEY AGC MEMBERS have come up with a good way to raise money for their PAC: Come to South Padre Island and let’s go fishing.

Bring the family.

The 3rd Annual Gulf Coast Classic fishing tournament (Aug. 10-11) netted the Pharr Area PAC more than $28,000. Participation increased with 22 boats this year compared to the 14 boats that attended the first event.

“It’s perfect. We have the island and most of these guys don’t have to come too far to participate,” AGC Pharr Area Chair Ben Salinas (Valley Infrastructure) said. “This is a good way to support the industry.”

Trey Pebley (Foremost Paving) has been the lead organizer for the event. He sees ample opportunity for the AGC event to grow.

Fishing II
Trey Pebley, Carter Biel, Captain Eddie Curry and Joe Forshage fishing off South Padre Island.

Fishing III
Aaron Cabaza lands a trout.

“This is a great place to bring the family and have fun. If you’re in another part of the state, it’s really easy to hop on Southwest or United or American and get down to either Harlingen or McAllen – and then it’s a short ride,” he said. “The tournament is broken up into ‘guided’ and ‘non-guided’ so if you don’t have a boat or you don’t know the water, you can get into the guided division and have somebody take you out that knows the area and have a great time.”

Rio Grande Valley AGC members decided to try a fishing tournament to help fund their political action committee for two reasons.

The AGC of Texas Administrative Conference formerly took place on South Padre Island until it moved to the San Antonio area three years ago.

“The thought was that there were still a number of folks who, maybe, would be interested in coming down to South Padre for an AGC event,” Pebley said. “This PAC fishing tournament would be a great way to get people down here and be able to enjoy South Padre.”

The fishing classic also replaced a golf tournament that Rio Grande members formerly used to raise PAC money. But the golf gathering didn’t attract enough contractors, Salinas said. The tourney drew mostly associate members.

“We are getting more participation. We try to get each individual contractor to [invite] the people they deal with day-to-day and who benefit from what we do,” Salinas said. “We try to get them motivated to participate and to contribute – whether it’s time or money or whatever. I tell them this is a good way to support the industry.”

Member participation in AGC events increases when child and family friendly activities are planned, which also applies for the annual AGC Management and Administrative conferences.

The family atmosphere “softens things up a little bit,” Area Chair Salinas said. “People lower their defenses a bit. You have kids running around. It’s my only opportunity to get my family involved.

“We’re raising money for the cause – and bring your family. It’s a win-win,” he said.

Pebley said he approached Joe Forshage (Foremost Paving) after several Rio Grande AGC members began talking about a fishing tournament. They agreed to plan the event with Foremost Paving signing up as a top-level sponsor.

“The event allows you to support the PAC,” Forshage said. “It takes personal money coming into the PAC, and it also takes sponsorship money to help put on the event. The good that we do with the money is invaluable in terms of advocating for highway funding and our industry causes. It takes money to do that.”

More than a dozen raffle items, including Yeti cups and coolers, a custommade fishing rod and a drone package generated enthusiasm - and $6,000 for the PAC.

Rio Grande Valley AGC leaders hope to see moderate growth for their fishing tournament.

“We’d love to see more interest from all over the state. It’s a good place to come to. It’s a fun atmosphere here and great fishing and good people,” Forshage said. “It’s a good, relaxed atmosphere.”

Aaron Cabaza (Aaron Concrete Contractors) keeps a boat near South Padre Island and headed to the coast from Austin to participate in the Gulf Coast Classic ($1,000 entry fee for a boat).

“Going fishing makes it a little easier. It’s always nice to fish during the week rather than having to save it for the weekend,” Cabaza said, adding the workload could determine whether a contractor can break away for a few days.

AGC members enjoy some fellowship before the competition begins.

He handled a few business-related calls while fishing from his boat.

Participants in the two-day event uniformly agree that mingling with folks who might be tomorrow’s competition is a healthy break from the routine.

Berry O’Bryan and son Garrett with a first place trophy for the largest stringer (10.2 lbs.) and largest trout size.

“You get to put together a name and a face and you get to see who’s-who in the event that you need to talk to somebody (about business),” Cabaza said. “You get to know the boss, and you get to know the guys. You develop the relationship.”

A.C. Cuellar of J-III Concrete settled for runner-up after his team won the championship cup last year.

But the fishing is less important, he said, than “the camaraderie” established with other industry players.

“You get to meet people who are usually competitors. You get to hang out with other people in the trade,” he said. “And we’re having fun. That’s what it’s all about. If you can’t have fun, you shouldn’t be here.”

Cuellar’s message for industry folks who missed the event?

“Everybody needs to get together and be more impactful in what they do,” he said.

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