Art Favre is as busy and productive a businessman as you’ll find anywhere. Nevertheless, he always takes the time to listen when it comes to the subject of America’s Veterans. This past fall, he leant an ear to long-time fishing buddy and fellow businessman Matt McDonald’s proposal to host an AHERO Warrior Hook-Up event for wounded and injured U.S. military Veterans and active-service members in Orange Beach, Ala.
“You actually have the perfect place to make the Warrior Hook-Up an annual event,” McDonald suggested. As members of the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club, he and powerhouse organizer Brian Leiser had put together Alabama’s first AHERO Warrior Hook-Up in 2018 out of the Orange Beach marina. Now McDonald was referring to Favre’s fabulous resort, marina, and entertainment venue known as The Wharf at Orange Beach.
A relative of football legend Brett Favre, Art Favre had forged his own extraordinary success in business over the past several decades, and he acquired the 222-acre resort in 2011. Poor management had left it underdeveloped and deteriorating, but Favre saw its potential and brilliantly re-imagined its scope.
Today the contrast between The Wharf past and present is startling: A beautiful and flourishing destination resort for all ages, it offers rides, delightful dining, entertainment, shopping and places to relax. Visitors can enjoy amphitheater concerts featuring national touring acts, as well as the world class marina facilities where offshore billfish tournaments are hosted and where docked sport-fishing yachts can be seen at rest, including, on occasion, Favre’s own exquisite 92-ft Viking, “A Work of Art.”
“Long before the place was initially bought for development, I would come here from Baton Rouge to relax and fish,” he told us in a recent interview. “The canal was just a creek bordered by woods and fields. It was basically my getaway place.” The area’s potential had struck him even then–so much so that he subsequently bought a condo nearby and later, built a house.
By nature an energetic entrepreneur, Favre had learned the value of hard work on his family’s farm, where they raised everything from beef cattle to okra and cantaloupes and just about all you can name in between. “We had chickens for fresh eggs and pigs for fresh pork and bacon,” Favre said. “Basically, we lived off the land. I had lots of chores, and a summer job in town stocking the shelves of my uncle’s Ben Franklin store while I was still elementary school age.”
A different form of work grabbed his interest as a youth: construction. “My dad taught me a lot about driving nails and such,” he explained. “When I was about 13, we moved off the farm into Gulfport, Miss., and built our own house. We drew the plans ourselves and got a contractor, and I got interested in that. Once we’d moved in, I made a friend next door whose dad was in the homebuilding business. On weekends I would ride with him and help.”
That was in the ’Sixties. Favre played in a rock-n-roll band on weekends as a teenager, saving for college. But his interest in construction had grown, and he found a job in a structural steel fabrication shop as a helper and weld grinder the summer before college. He’d looked to choose a school with a program in construction or building, but found no college offering one. “SoI decided to go for architecture, since I liked drafting,” he said, “and I was accepted at LSU, where I discovered I didn’t have the artistic capability to be an architect. It really wasn’t what I wanted to do, anyway.” He paused, then added with a grin, “I just wanted to build things.”
His first job after college was with an industrial company that built refineries and chemical plants. “I started as an estimator,” he said. This gave him a basis in the practicalities of industrial construction and, over the next several years, expanded his understanding of the business. His tireless work ethic and those “apprentice years” paid off. In 1979, still a young man, Favre combined his love of building with his expertise in the industrial field to start a company he called “Performance Contractors.” Now national in scope, the firm builds refineries, power plants and other industrial facilities vital to America’s economic development and prosperity.
But Favre’s interests go beyond the purely entrepreneurial. He’s also a stalwart supporter of our military Veterans. “The closest I came to serving was two years of ROTC in college,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for our armed services people. So many Americans take freedom for granted. And freedom is not free. We only have it because of those sacrifices they made and make every day.”
It’s great when a person’s actions live up to his words. A few years ago, Favre instituted theVeterans Employment Program at his company. Seeking the right director for it, he recalled an Army Vet he’d met who ran a restaurant in Baton Rouge, David Theriot. David now heads up the highly successful program and you can read more about him and the program in our story in this issue.
Favre’s agreement to host the 4-day AHERO Warrior Hook-Up at The Wharf in May is, as he described, “Just one of things we think will help our Vets, giving them the opportunity to do something a little different. There’s nothing better to clear your head than getting out in the Gulf of Mexico and catching a few big fish.” The ever-busy Favre, who owns homes in both Baton Rouge and Orange Beach, knows all about that. Business commitments keep him from spending as much time here as he’d like, he said. He’s working hard to change that.
“I’ve been coming here to Orange Beach and the Wharf for years,” he said. It’s my stress relief. I think it will be that for our Veterans, too.”