Banking Towards a More Prosperous Community: Spotlight on Gabe Guerra

Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Guerra graduated from Miller High School and left the Sparkling City by the Bay to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Finance at the University of Texas in Austin. Upon completion of his BA, Guerra went on to complete a program with the Southwest Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Corpus Christi native, Gabriel “Gabe” Guerra,  President and CEO of Kleberg Bank, wears many hats and sits on several boards, which include Commissioner for the Port of Corpus Christi, Vice Chairman of the Christus Spohn Hospital System, Past Chairman and Board Director for the United Way of the Coastal Bend, past chairman of the Corpus Christi Economic Development, and Board President of the South Texas Council of the Boy Scouts of America just to name a few. 

“As a banker, I want to do my part to help make  the community a better place,” Guerra said. 

Guerra’s finance career started at Ford Motor Credit Company in Austin, where he was chosen for a prestigious Accelerated Training Program. Within two years he was promoted to a new position in Dallas and quickly moved up in the ranks, from customer service manager to managing commercial, wholesale, dealer services and dealer accounts. 

A few years later, Guerra’s path led him to Wells Fargo Bank where for nearly nine years, he served as Regional Vice President for a 12-state area overseeing sales underwriting and operations for indirect lending.

“I was very fortunate that my role with Wells Fargo continued to grow me professionally. The division I oversaw produced an average of $250 million of new loans each month for the Central States region,” Guerra said. 

Then in 2007, Guerra was given the opportunity to be part of Kleberg Bank, one of the oldest community banks in the Coastal Bend, bringing Guerra back to his hometown after 15 years away. 

“I was recruited by Joe Henkel, former CEO who then handed me the baton in 2018 to be the next President and CEO of Kleberg Bank, an exciting opportunity for me,” Guerra said.

“We are the oldest locally-owned community bank in our region, with about $700 million in assets, serving customers throughout Texas. Kleberg Bank was founded in 1905 in Kingsville, Robert J. Kleberg Sr., the son-in-law of Captain and Mrs. Richard King of the King Ranch. The bank has been part of the same family of ownership for seven generations. I’m extremely proud and very blessed  to carry the vision and the baton and to lead the bank into the future.”

Port of Corpus Christi: 100 Years of Achievements and Its Growing Importance to the World

As the Port of Corpus Christi celebrates its centennial anniversary, 2022 also marks Gabriel “Gabe” Guerra’s appointment to serve as the newest of the seven Commissioners.

“The Port of Corpus Christi has had many successful achievements these past several years, from ship channel deepening and new leased facilities to breaking records in tonnage each year as well as increased transportation capabilities,” Guerra said.

The Port of Corpus Christi is currently the top oil export Port in the United States.

“We export nearly two million barrels of oil that goes out of the Port of Corpus Christi per day, and that oil goes to other countries that are users of that oil,” he said. 

“The US produces more oil than it consumes, therefore Corpus Christi uses oil, refines it, into gas and jet fuel, and what is excess, is transported overseas. Because of our location, we are at a strategic energy port for the world.”

According to Guerra, the three oil pipelines that were built connecting the Permian Basin to Corpus Christi create tremendous opportunities for commerce to grow.

“Our cheap natural gas has attracted large companies like Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (Exxon/SABIC), Steel Dynamics, and Cheniere to expand in our region. As an example, the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project created 600 permanent jobs that pay an average salary of  $100,000 per year, driving additional prosperity to Nueces and San Patricio counties. The Port has directly contributed to 98,000 jobs directly or indirectly in our region.”

At the time of this article writing, the Port of Corpus Christi set another tonnage record in the third quarter of 2022, (a large part being crude oil) with 48.3 million tons surpassing the previous quarter tonnage record of 46.4 million tons, a 4 percent increase. The growth was a result of  Western European buyers who have moved away from Russian crude imports due to restrictive trade sanctions on Russian crude oil by US and Western European allies as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Additional strength in exports came from refined petroleum products and liquefied natural gas (LNG) and added renewable energy components as more wind turbines and blades are moved through the Port of Corpus Christi in 2022. 

“The world continues to rely on oil exported from the Port of Corpus Christi. The United States’s oil and gas companies are part of some of the world’s most highly regulated industries.  New industry in our region has complied with strict U.S. laws and regulations while we continue to play a key role in exporting crude to the rest of the world,” Guerra said.

“The companies that come here to our region are held to the highest environmental standards to keep our air and water clean. Oil resources will continue to be available to supply global and domestic markets for many years and the Port of Corpus Christi is an important contributor to our region’s economic future and growth.”For more information on the Port of Corpus Christi visit www.portofcc.com.

Port Corpus Christi is currently the largest port in the United States in total revenue tonnage and is a leader in U.S. energy export ports and a major economic engine of Texas and the nation. 

Strategically located on the western Gulf of Mexico with a 36-mile, soon to be 54-foot (MLLW) deep channel, Port Corpus Christi is a major gateway to international and domestic maritime commerce. 

The Port has an extensive railroad and highway network connectivity via three North American Class-1 railroads and two major interstate highways. 

Overseen by its dedicated staff and seven-member commission, Port Corpus Christi is “Moving America’s Energy.”

Photos: Michael Wyatt, Wyatt Aerial Productions

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