The third annual Eagle Ford Excellence Awards recognize community involvement, safety and environmental stewardship.

It’s an event that organizations in south Texas look forward to all year.

And again, the Eagle Ford Excellence Awards luncheon was worth the wait.

The third annual event, which is put on by the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable (STEER), took place on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

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The awards luncheon honors companies that go above and beyond in the gas and oil industry.

“This is so well received in south Texas for this reason, when you go to most awards banquets, they’re geared towards the operators -- because STEER is made up of a board of directors of operators, this is an opportunity to give back for companies that are not operators in south Texas, both small and large companies,” STEER President and CEO Omar Garcia says.

“This is their day to shine. It’s a neat event.”

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Roughly 275 people attended the luncheon, which is a larger attendance than the previous two years. It keeps growing every year.

“I think it’s just reaching out to more and more people,” Garcia says. “I think we’ve done a good job of letting folks in south Texas know these awards actually exist, and furthering that message and bringing more people to the table because the more the merrier, as far as we’re concerned. Everybody’s a winner, not just those that were recognized (at the luncheon), but the nominees are also winners as well, too.”

There were 52 submissions this year – up from 30 in the first year and 50 last year – for eight awards in four categories.

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“(That) is a positive sign that companies really value the recognition and most importantly that we all know that there’s activity in the Eagle Ford shale,” Garcia says.

The most entries were received in the safety performance category. “That’s really neat to see because safety is our No. 1 priority for companies in south Texas,” Garcia says.

The awards were broken down into companies that have fewer than 250 employees and more than 250 employees. Garcia says that way small-business owners have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with the big companies. A panel of three judges chose the winners.

In the safety performance category, Listo Services won for fewer than 250 employees and FTS International won for over 250 employees. In the community and social investment category, Energy Waste won for fewer than 250 employees and NuStar Energy LP won for over 250 employees. The environmental stewardship award for fewer than 250 employees went to Exclusive Energy and the award for more than 250 employees was nabbed by Weatherford.

“We had a good mix of small businesses and large businesses that won,” Garcia says. “Whether it was a company that took pride on really training its employees for additional safety or companies really going above and beyond for water recycling and lessoning the amount of utilizing the water for drilling purposes.”

Energy Waste has now won a community and social investment award an unprecedented three years in a row.

“They have a culture that has allowed their employees to give back to the community through numerous volunteer hours,” Garcia says. “And the generosity of the executives of that company give back to several nonprofits in the area.”

NuStar Energy has won three awards in the last two years after claiming a pair at last year’s luncheon.

Making an impact
Last year, STEER added the Impact Award. It’s become the signature award at the luncheon.

“It allows nonprofits, school districts, community colleges to submit an entry for the Impact Awards, where the first three awards are really for businesses that are related to the oil and gas industry,” Garcia says.

There were two winners this year: Victoria College and Falls City Education Foundation.

“Falls City has done a phenomenal job of being able to go into the community and raise money to give back to the school district,” Garcia says. “So this is a foundation that is separate from the school district and the taxes that are provided from the state for the school district. So the foundation works to generate more money, to provide more training and to do things that a normal school district couldn’t do with more money. Their No. 1 focus with the foundation is to train the kids at Falls City Education to enter the workforce.”

The Victoria Economic Development Corporation has nominated Victoria College the past two years for the Impact Award. Victoria College won the prestigious honor in its second year due to its brand-new technology complex. In June, Victoria College, located in Victoria, Texas, finished its 120,000-square-foot facility. One of the two buildings includes a conference and education center. Prior to the new facility, there wasn’t a conference center within a 100-mile radius of the city of Victoria.

Along with building a conference center, Victoria College saw a need for an industrial training facility to go along with what the school was already using.

“The industrial training center part of the complex actually houses six high-bay training areas with six related classrooms, and we’ve been able to expand our industrial training program to brand new associate degrees – industrial maintenance mechanics as well as machining,” says Jennifer Yancey, Victoria College Vice President College Advancement & External Affairs.

Adding a state-of-the-art facility to Victoria College has expanded student interest in gas- and oil-related jobs.

“Not just the gas and oil industry, but also those that are affiliated or those that benefit from the enhanced oil and gas industry,” Yancey adds. “Victoria College is centered and surrounded by petro-chemical organizations. ... Our students, while they may not be going and working on the rigs or working on the particular sites that are direct Eagle Ford, they’re working in the industries that are affected by the activity in the Eagle Ford.”

Yancey believes the judges chose Victoria College for an Impact Award because of community support, the innovativeness of the facility and the economic engine that the facility has become.

“We’re honored and we appreciate what STEER is doing in our south Texas region,” Yancey says. “Victoria College is truly proud to be a part of that.”

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