September 5, 2019 marked the 9th Annual AGC of Texas Scholarship Gala and the 25th Anniversary of the AGC of Texas Scholarship Program. Members of AGC of Texas have a strong, timehonored tradition of “members helping members,” and the gala is no different. Year after year, the scholarship gala shatters the previous year’s record, and this year highlighted another record-setting performance, made possible by the generosity of members that helped net $1.1 million to help finance the collegiate and vocational careers of employees and their dependents.
The gala, held at Austin’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, attracted a record 542 attendees, who bid generously on both silent and live auction items before the Charlie Daniels Band topped off the memorable night with its Grammy Awardwinning and Country Hall of Fame hits.
When not at the auction table tallying the results from high bidders, you could find Executive Vice President Jennifer Woodard on the dance floor enjoying the music. “It is amazing to see our members come out in such strong force every year. It seems like every year we put this event together, we are consistently adding more tables and more square footage to the dance floor.” In 2019, the event was so popular among members that co-chairs Elizabeth Zwak and Seth Schulgen had to fit six more tables into the ballroom to meet demand.
“The annual scholarship program would not be possible without the time and the talent and, most importantly, the treasures that you all are getting ready to spend,” AGC President Trey Pebley said in his opening remarks while offering a nod to longtime industry leader and scholarship supporter Johnny Weisman of Hunter Industries, who has long encouraged members to contribute their “time, talent and treasure.”
The event raised enough money to add an additional 27 four-year scholarship recipients to the program’s roster. With the cost of four-year universities and vocational training rising year after year, the scholarships are extremely desirable for those needing assistance with their educational aspirations.
Ben Salinas of Valley Infrastructure knows exactly how much these scholarships mean to the recipients. Speaking about his personal experience receiving an AGC scholarship, Salinas said, “Looking back, it was a big financial struggle for me to attend school in Houston, so the money was really a blessing that was used to pay tuition, books, rent, and to purchase food.” Salinas, president of Valley Infrastructure, a DBE Company out of Edinburg, serves as area chairman for AGC’s Pharr Area.
Longtime promoter of the scholarship program, Seth Schulgen of Williams Brothers, shared credit for 2019’s success. “The driving force behind this year’s success was President Trey Pebley and Tracey Borders from the AGC staff. They never wavered from their commitment to set a new record and take the title belt away from past president Chad Clark. Thank you to all those who helped make this goal a reality and set a new benchmark for next year,” said Seth Schulgen of Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc., who co-chairs the AGC of Texas Gala Committee.
Fellow Co-Chair Elizabeth Zwak of Hunter Industries reflected on the impressive and rapid increase of scholarship proceeds. “What an accomplishment to raise over one million dollars. I’m pretty sure five years ago, no one even imagined raising such an awesome sum for the scholarship fund. We are so thankful for the generous donors each year. From the great music to the generosity of our membership, the evening was truly an overwhelming success!”
Deflecting credit in turn, President Pebley complimented Seth and Elizabeth for their enthusiasm, hard work, and dedication to make this night possible. He also recognized Borders for her “colorful dress” and effort to “make me look like I know what I’m doing.”
In his invocation, AGC President-Elect Robert Adamson of Longview Bridge and Road offered gratitude to God “for this opportunity to help the lives of young people as they grow and learn.”
Raising $1.1 million in a single night hinges on the support of industry players--including the major underwriters for the event, items donated for the auction, and the high bids offered by members. Some of the auction items brought in more than $45,000. Harry Levy, for example, offered $47,000 for a Canadian fishing excursion sponsored by Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, and McCourt & Sons bid $47,000 for a trip to Belize, donated by A.L. Helmcamp.
President Pebley spotlighted the sponsors, starting with Event Sponsors Anderson Columbia, Hunter Industries, and Williams Brothers Construction, who underwrite the cost of the venue and catering. Holt Cat, Mustang Cat and Warren Cat team up every year to pay for the entertainment, and AR Daniel Construction provides the event gift to all who attend the gala – which this year was a box of Godiva chocolates.
Platinum sponsors included Advanced Drainage Systems, AmeriTex Pipe & Product, Barricades Unlimited, Jobe Materials, Knife River South, Lhoist, McGriff Seibels & Williams, Roadway Specialties, and Zurich North America.
Gold sponsor contributors were A.L. Helmcamp, Bank of Texas, Closner Equipment, Dean Word Company, Pipe Wholesalers of Texas, Pitts Birdsong Bonds & Insurance, Terracon, and Thomas R. Bohuslav Consulting Engineers.
The generous support of the sponsors allows the auction proceeds to go directly to the scholarship fund without the need to defray event costs. Pebley also praised Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers for handling the always-exciting auction part of the program. “Our live auction would not be the success it is year in and year out without Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers,” he said. “I think everybody here has bought at least one piece of equipment from these great folks.” Veteran auctioneer Alan McVicker told the crowd he always looks forward to the AGC Scholarship Gala. “We have a lot of nice items donated tonight. We have a big milestone to climb from last year. We’ve got to move along at a pretty rapid pace because I don’t want to be the one that holds up Charlie Daniels,” McVicker said.
He moved the auction through at a quick pace, and members responded on cue as they always do.
Reporting on the total proceeds from this year’s gala at the monthly board meeting, Gala Committee co-chair Elizabeth Zwak and major underwriter Johnny Weisman joked with President-Elect Robert Adamson that it would “be a hard mountain to climb to beat this year’s record set by President Pebley” but “not to worry…we will all be there for you next year!”
President-Elect Adamson was quick to reply, “I’m going to remember that!”