Barbecue Cook-Off Unites Gas Industry for United Way

Returning champions, Team Cleveland Brothers, represented by (top, from right) Jim Shawley, Phil Moser, and Aaron Moser are congratulated by Tammy Bonnice of Williams for their Grand Champion win and People’s Choice award. Hague Equipment employees (above, from left) Steve Brown, Linda Gaskill, and Dave Gaskill accept their team prize for their ribs and beef brisket. Team members from Ariel, which operates out of Springville and provides compression services for the natural gas industry, included (below, from left) Nate Baggs, Joe Hagan, Mike O’Grady and David McCoy. Their big wins for the day came form their pulled pork in both the blind-taste judging and VIP categories.

By Rick Hiduk

The United Way agencies of Susquehanna and Wyoming counties in Pennsylvania and Broome County in New York were the beneficiaries of another successful barbecue cook-off conducted by Williams on Sept. 16. Approximately $70,000 was raised through vendor fees and the generosity of barbecue fans to which Williams will add a match for all eligible funds raised. It is one of the largest gatherings in the region of energy companies and those who support the natural gas industry.

It’s one of the highlights of the year for UWBC staff to socialize with and, more importantly, thank the Williams team for their long-time commitment to the many communities they support,” said Tom Connors, director of resource development for the United Way of Broome County. “The barbecue is a positive setting, and the food is always great.”

This was the 10th year for the fundraiser at Lazybrook Park in Tunkhannock, with just one year off in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. The number of teams in the three meat categories – pulled pork, beef brisket, and ribs – varied, but nobody in attendance should have gone hungry. Portions were generous, and other vendors help compliment the meats with side salads like coleslaw, broccoli salad, and “cowboy potatoes.”

There were basically two kinds of judging. Blind tasting was conducted under the Williams tent, where a trio of judges were brought samples that were only numbered. Jim Garner of Tunkhannock is a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society master judge, having taken classes for judging and lending his well-trained taste buds for more than 30 events so far. Across the table was Wendy Wagster, a proud novice from Williams’ Princeton, NJ, office. Another team of volunteer judges (VIPs) fanned out across the grounds with score sheets, sampling meats in a particular category.

Three teams that have fared well in previous years – Hague Equipment, Ariel Compression Services, and Cleveland Brothers – pulled off big wins again, with Cleveland Brothers named Grand Champions. Hague took first in the blind-tasting of their ribs and beef brisket and first in VIP judging with their brisket. Ariel had wins with their pulled pork in both the blind-tasting and VIP judging. Cleveland Brothers also won the People’s Choice award for collecting the most cash donations – an additional $2,115 from patrons that goes directly to the United Way.

This event is a major contributor to our overall budget for the year,” said United Way of Susquehanna County regional manager Tom Follert. “We are thankful to Williams for putting on such a great event and pulling together so many great businesses.” While it is Follert’s first year in the position, he has participated in the past as an employee with other companies. “I’m a believer that the ‘united’ in United Way is meant to stand for something, and this event is representative of that,” he remarked.

Williams’ commitment to making the world a better place is truly inspiring,” Tom Connors concurred.

This event is huge for Wyoming County. It’s one of our top corporate gifts that we get from anyone,” United Way of Wyoming County director Kristen Huff related. “We could not fund as many agencies as we do or help as many people as we do without Williams’ support. It’s a good time, and we’ve been blessed with great weather.”

Prior to the announcement of the winners, Williams VP of regional operations Jack Walsh thanked the many Williams employees who contributed to the event, including two barbecue teams. He also expressed his gratitude to the members of the two dozen teams who arrived on Thursday evening to set up camp to begin the process of slow cooking their offerings for the midday event.

As a board member of the United Way of Wyoming County,” Walsh stated, “I’ve been able to see where the money goes and how many people it helps.” In addition to their time and participation fees, Walsh noted that each team invests an ample amount on their own supplies.

Not every vendor provides food. Some put out baked goods, coffee and other beverages. Some collect business cards for the awarding of company merchandise. And others participate solely for the networking opportunities and to support of Williams’ efforts, proudly giving away hats, T-shirts and novelties to guests.

We like that Williams not only helps meet the energy needs of the northeastern United States, but that they also serve the local communities along their network of pipelines,” said Rob Shoaf, president of Point Compression Solutions. It was PCS’s first year being involved with the barbecue, though sister company, Point Integrity Solutions, has been a big supporter of Williams’ fundraisers for more than a decade. Shoaf noted that the welcoming and assistance from the event staff and the ability to meet so many others in the natural gas industry was impressive. But his favorite part was “getting to eat so many barbecue team’s offerings in one setting.”

Williams’ Tammy Bonnice and Nick Lee shared emcee duties throughout the day, reminding guests to get their votes in on their favorite barbecue choices and to purchase raffle tickets for a variety of nice gifts donated by supporters.

Everyone works together to make this the best of its kind in the northeast,” Bonnice remarked. “I can’t tell people often enough how proud I am to work for a company that cares not only for its employees but also the community and its people where we work and live.”

Williams’ fundraisers for the United Way are geared to the communities in which their employees reside. In addition to the barbecue event, Williams already conducted a 3D archery shoot and a softball tournament. On Oct. 7, Williams will conduct a golf tournament at the Towanda Country Club to benefit the United Way of Bradford County. Between all of the events, Williams will be giving funds to six different United Ways, not counting funds earmarked through employee contributions.

Photos by Rick Hiduk

Scott Graver of S2W (right) won numerous items on the prize wheel hosted by Cleveland Brothers’ Lee Hunter.

Kevin Nowlin (right) of Rockford Energy Services of Dallas, TX, samples the offerings of PTW Energy Services of Tunkhannock, represented by Brian and Brooke Douglas.

Enjoying some R & R and award-winning barbecue at the Williams event were Evergreen Oilfield Solutions employees (from left) Casey Chamberlain, Matt Swartley, and Daniel Clark.

Representing ADMAR at the cook-off were (from left) Shane Kiess, Matt Cox, and Kyle Falkenberg.

Angela Ganther (left) and Wedny Pely of ARM Group had an opportunity to talk to guests about their civil and environmental engineering services.

Jill VanDeMark (left) and Corey Podminick represnted both Arrow Surveying and Folsom Engineering at the barbecue.

From cupcakes to key chains, the crew from Borton-Lawson, including (from left) Hanna Kormis, Cody Butler, and Bobby Cragel, had plenty of swag to share with barbecue fans.

Alex Shema (left) and Brett Jones of Cardinal Valley Industrial Supplies were collecting business cards to give away prizes at the conclusion of the event.

Civil & Environmental Consultants (CEC) employees (from left) Nick Vosburg, Rob Schwarz, Cooper Babcock, Justin Theodorakas greeted barbecue guests with beverages and a variety of company-embossed gift items.

Fehlinger Construction, including (from left) Ray Strazdus, Chuck Crane III, Dustin Scouton, Steve Andrejko, Ben Sevenski, and Tommy Scouton finished third in the VIP-judged pulled pork division.

Flynn Energy, represented by (from left) Shawn Sullivan, Clint Jones, and Jess Scranton placed second in the blind-tasting pulled pork category.

JHA companies was one of many engineering firms on hand. Greeting guests on their behalf were (from left) Ted Austin, Travis Long, Anja Whitehead, and Wade Weber.

A.J. Magnotta III (left) and Ryan Fiorillo talked to guests about services offered by LaBella Associates of Dunmore.

Representing the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas at the Williams Barbecue Cook-Off was a new experience for instructors Hayley Rupakas (left) and Jeremy Yadlosky since the School moved to Tunkhannock in 2021.

Cooks from Phoenix Specialty, including John Mishler, Brett Knapp, and Tim Nierstedt, catch their breath before dolling out the beef brisket that garnered them second place in the VIP-judging division.

The Williams barbecue was a new experience Point Compression Solutions, represented by (from left) Mike Neagle, Rob Shoaf, and David Fennell.

Rain For Rent employees (from left) John T. Hahn, Vince Rebar, and Rachel Barkofsky offered snacks and gave away prizes throughout the event.

S2S teammates, including (from left) Mike Shanks, Kelly Adams, Emmery Withee, Tim Salsman, Julie Kline, Holly Stratton Withee, and Stacey Frank treated barbecue guests to a full meal that included both meats and sides.

United Way managers from Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, Tom Follert (left) and Kristen Huff (center), thank Tammy Bonnice of Williams for the companies continued support of their endeavors.

Tunkhannock Borough and Tunkhannock Township police officers, including (from left) John Zdaniewicz, Mark Papi, Dustin Cokely, Tim McCoy, and Ed Morristel, stopped by the barbecue cook-off and sampled some of the offerings.

U.S. Inspection & NDT LLC representatives included (from left) Devin Burdick, Kris Lehman, Lorinda Camburn and Marc Paonessa might have won the prize for “biggest swag bags,” which guests use to hold items distributed by event vendors.

Plaques and the Grand Champion trophy await distribution at Williams’ annual Barbecue Cook-Off for area United Way agencies.

Williams Ohio Supply Hub and Susquehanna Supply Hub Energy Team pulled together to form a cooking team called G&P Tech Slathering.

Representatives for the Women’s Energy Network included, Sarah Johnson, Allison Savoy, and Lynse West.

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