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Gulf aviation: it's all about family

HARLINGEN, Texas –Phillips 66® Aviation branded Gulf Aviation, Inc. has been in the FBO business at Valley International Airport (KHRL) for over the past 37 years. With a background in aircraft mechanics, founder David Garza started the company (originally called Garza Aircraft Service) in his mid-twenties. Overcoming economic recessions and competitors, Garza and his wife, Elena, built up the business from a one-man show to where it stands today – a well-respected and successful organization that provides a multitude of aviation and ground support services to the commercial, business and leisure aviation community flying into the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Today Garza's daughter, Arlene, and son-in-law, Hector, drive the business and manage all aspects and services of the day-to-day operations which include aircraft refueling, ground support equipment and maintenance, hangar storage, weather monitoring and reservation assistance. This is all done with a focus on helping general aviation and commercial airline clients receive a full-service FBO experience. In addition, Arlene and her staff are skilled in the areas of business finance operations, contract negotiations and enforcement, business insurance, sales and marketing, and have extensive knowledge of FAA guidelines consistent with aviation compliance, maintenance and general aviation operations.

Through her childhood, Arlene spent a good part of her time at the airport, and throughout her high school years worked as a customer service representative. She continued working her way up the career chain at Gulf Aviation into leading the company today. In 2005, Arlene earned her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Texas A& M University-Corpus Christi and in 2009 she completed her Master's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis of Global Management from the University of Phoenix-Arizona.

Providing Aviation and Agricultural Support Services

Since 2009, Gulf Aviation has partnered with Phillips 66 Aviation because of their passion as avid aviation supporters since the early days of flight. Gulf Aviation utilizes Phillips 66 Partners-Into-Plane contract fuel program to provide the most competitive product and pricing. The program also provides streamline fueling and billing processes for a number of Gulf's large contracts with commercial clients, including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and Delta Airlines, and freight clients including such giants as Federal Express, UPS and DHL. Additionally, Gulf Aviation holds governmental service contracts with Texas Department of Agriculture, Med-Fly program, United States Army National Guard, hangar and office space rental and aircraft refueling for Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense flight operations.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) developed and implemented the Mexican fruit fly eradication program to alleviate the fruit fly population from the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas and the northern municipalities of Tamaulipas, Mexico, as well as California, Arizona and New Mexico. Since the initiation of eradication program, Gulf Aviation has provided aircraft and aviation support with two aircrafts, C207 and C206, to disperse sterile Mexican fruit flies over crops in Cameron County, as well as select areas of Willacy County. This process helps to protect the area's crops and keeps local grocery stores' shelves stocked with homegrown produce, including green onions, ruby red grapefruits and oranges.

Dispersal flights typically operate, Monday through Thursday, and on average 60 million flies are dispersed weekly within specified grid-mapped areas provided by USDA APHIS daily. The Mexican fruit fly dispersal process is quite intricate, and Gulf Aviation has mastered daily operations down to a science. Frozen fruit flies are delivered in release boxes to Gulf Aviation from APHIS Mexican Fruit Fly Emergence and Release Facility located approximately two miles from the FBO. From there, timing is everything, especially considering the South Texas heat. Once delivery of release boxes arrive at Gulf Aviation's facility, Mexican fruit flies must be kept frozen and in a dormant phase until aircraft is ready for takeoff. Needless to say, Gulf Aviation's pilot must be ready go, with a fully fueled aircraft positioned ready for takeoff. Gulf Aviation takes pride ensuring on time, every time performance measures through all aspects of this eradication operation.

A Family Affair

"Throughout the many years of operation, the Garza family has been extremely blessed and believes Gulf Aviation's continued success is because of their undying faith in God, their employees and loyal customers," said Arlene.

Arlene speaks very passionately about her family – her husband, Hector, of 14 years, has managed the Flight Line Fuel Services sector of the company for the past nine years. Together they have four children JR, 16, David, 12, Allison, 11 and Emily, 10 years old, who, during the summer months, all work at various capacities at Gulf Aviation. Arlene is also very fortunate to have the love and support of her parents who serve as great role models not only as parents but as grandparents too.

"My father is a book of knowledge," said Arlene. "Even though he's retired and has traded in aircraft maintenance for working on his Corvette, I can still count on him if I have questions."

"I would like to express a sincere appreciation to my family for their continued support, as well as, to all of our staff at Gulf Aviation for their hard work and dedication that has kept us going through the years," said Arlene. "I'm very fortunate to employ and work with some of the most amazing folks. It is because of our great team, our company continues to flourish and provide promise and return for all levels of aviation we connect with. I'm truly amazed every day at the amount of talent we have within our company. As a small business owner, challenge is the name of the game and it is with our team work and unique sense of business style that allow us to surpass and continue breaking barriers."

For more information about Gulf Aviation, visit