Relax and Reload: Oil and gas professionals enjoy customer appreciation event in Bridgeport, WV

BRIDGEPORT — Customers, clients and employees of local companies owned by entrepreneurs Mark Urso and David Alvarez enjoyed a day of target practice Thursday during the annual customer appreciation event held at A Mountain Clays in Bridgeport.

Attendees were invited to take their turn shooting clay pigeons and rabbits from the front porch of the secluded lodge before heading out back to a heated tent where a catered lunch of steak sandwiches, butcher-cut bacon and deep-fried oysters from Audia’s Restaurant in Nutter Fort was served.

Alvarez and Urso — who own Energy Transportation, Applied Construction Solutions, Bear Contracting, Bear Utilities, EnviroEnergy Solutions and several other companies — began the yearly event as a way to give back to the members of their extended business family, Alvarez said.

“We started the customer appreciation events about four years ago,” he said. “It involves hanging out, having some good food and camaraderie as well as shooting some clays. As we’ve grown our organization we’ve now gone to two days.”

More than 400 people from various roles across the organization’s multiple companies were expected to have taken part in the event by the end of Thursday, Alvarez said.

“During the holidays it can be tough to fit everyone in and so rather than trying to go and meet everyone individually, we’ve created a collaborative environment,” he said. “We’ve got people from oil and gas companies who get to talk to each other and we get to talk to all of our customers.”

The first customer appreciation event was significantly smaller, with only about 30 people in attendance, Alvarez said.

“Our company has grown to 800-plus employees,” he said. “The objective is just to celebrate the year and the holidays. It’s always good to be around the other people who work in your industry in such a nice environment.”

Alex Brnjlovic, logistics manager at Newpark Mats & Integrated Services of Clarksburg who attended Thursday’s event, said his company works closely with Urso and Alvarez’s companies.

“We have a good relationship with them and I appreciate them asking us to come out here and do this,” he said. “A lot of guys like to go golfing, but I myself know I appreciate this much more.”

The afternoon gave him the chance to shoot using a family heirloom, Brnjlovic said.

“I actually brought a gun with me that was my great-grandfathers to shoot with,” he said. “I like to get that out of the cabinet and use it and this opportunity allowed me to do so.”

The event gives professionals from different parts of the region’s extraction industries a chance to socialize and relax, Brnjlovic said.

“I think a lot of times in oil and gas we’re just go, go, go all the time,” he said. “It’s nice that they took the time out to appreciate their vendors and their customers.”

Beau Gump, director of operations for USA Compression, said the shooting-centric event appeals to the sensibilities of many of those who work in the oil and gas industry.

“A lot of the people in this industry aren’t golfers and aren’t meeting type of people,” he said. “So I think this is a lot more enjoyable for a lot of folks.”

Gump, who has attended several previous customer appreciation events, said the annual gatherings get larger each year.

“It’s a lot more people now,” he said. “The event keeps growing and they keep adding more things. The food is always awesome, you can’t get any better than that.”

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