New spark for Captain’s Challenge

When Sam Gardel realised The Brisbane Golf Club was looking to sign a new sponsor for its monthly Captain’s Challenge event, the idea sparked a thought process that has finally come to fruition.

Sam’s company, Gardel Electrical, has signed to sponsor the Captain’s Challenge starting on Friday, February 28. And the event will be aligned with a new charity partner, the TIACS Foundation.

The Captain’s Challenge was originally established midway through 2013 and is played on the last Friday of each month. Following the final event for 2019, National Market Manager, Communications and Electrics of Vinidex P/L, Greg McClure, announced his company would not be continuing its five-year sponsorship.

That announcement, and a recent story on The Brisbane Golf Club website appealing for a naming-rights sponsor, triggered the curiosity of Sam who is the owner and managing director of the electrical installation and service company, which specialises in commercial solar.

But it wasn’t just the opportunity to promotehis business that struck a chord with Sam, who has been a member of TBGC since 2014.

“We share an industrial shed at East Brisbane with Ed Ross and Dan Allen, the two guys who founded TIACs after they lost a close mate to suicide in 2015,” he said.

“I have been in awe of what Ed and Dan have done in getting the charity up and running, and I saw this sponsorship as a great opportunity to support them in their effort to drive a cultural shift around the mental health conversation. If we can make more people aware of the importance of practising mental wellness and at the same time raise money for the charity, this sponsorship will be well worthwhile.”

In the five years – from 2015 – that Brisbane-based Vinidex P/L sponsored the monthly Captain’s Challenge, almost $50,000 was raised for charity beneficiary, the Leukaemia Foundation, through specific fundraising events, donations and support of post-game raffles.

And while Greg McClure deeply regretted Vinidex not continuing its sponsorship arrangement, he is delighted another local company – and a fellow club member – had taken on the sponsorship.

“In fact, I would have been surprised, and disappointed, if the event did not continue with the support of another sponsor,” he said.

“The association we have had with the club, and in particular with theLeukaemia Foundation, has been one of the most fulfilling associations I have enjoyed in my business life.”

While Sam Gardel is throwing his support behind TIACS Foundation, he is also keen to raise awareness of his business.

“When I play golf with people and they ask what I do, it is surprising how many will inform me they recently had solar installed, or had an electrical job done,” he revealed.

“That tells me I need to get my name out there among the members, and hopefully generate some business from them. I understand that taking on solar can be scary to some people, particularly when there are so many shonky operators.

“Knowing someone that is around the club as a member is, hopefully, an assurance that my company is 100 per cent genuine and reliable.”

Gardel Electrical has five vans operating from their premises in Stanley Street, and Sam employs 13 people. Two recent commercial solar installations were an 850-kilowatt system on the Callamvale Central Shopping Centre and a 1600-kilowatt system at Brisbane Airport.

The Brisbane Golf Club General Manager, Geoff Kuehner, welcomed the support of Gardel Electrical and said the swift sponsorship renewal was an indication of the popularity of the Captain’s Challenge.

“While it was disappointing to end the association with Vinidex and the Leukaemia Foundation, we felt confident a new naming-rights sponsor would come on board,” he said.

“And because Sam has a close and personal association with the two social entrepreneurs who started the TIACs Foundation charity, that integral side of the monthly event will also continue to flourish. I have no doubt our members will concur with the issue of mental wellness.”

The Captain’s Challenge was originally established midway through 2013 and is played on the last Friday of each month, with both morning and afternoon shotgun starts. The golf course is set up as its most difficult, with pins in tougher positions than even Championship events. As a reward, any player who beats their handicap in the Medley Stableford receives one dozen golf balls. – TONY DURKIN