We honor former student Sam J.
Sam J. Salvato ‘75 points directly to his own experiences and the success he has achieved
to illustrate the outstanding value and limitless potential of a Texas A&M University at Galveston education.
Salvato’s professional career spanning from May 1975 to the present day ― and encompassing the marine, oil and gas and insurance industries ― stands as a testament to his skill and determination as well as the ability of his TAMUG Marine Engineering degree to open doors to tremendous opportunities.
Today, Salvato is an independent contractor specializing in oil and gas insurance and risk management. Foremost among his clients is Schlumberger, a company acknowledged around the world as a leader in providing oilfield services.
Previously, he spent 18 years with Matthews-Daniel Co., a firm offering adjusting, risk assessment and surveying solutions in energy, industrial and marine environments. Although he began in Houston as a surveyor/adjustor in May 1978, in six months he found himself in London as senior surveyor for Matthews-Daniel London (the base of the company’s operations in Europe).
Some eight years later, in 1986, he returned to the States and became president of Matthews-Daniel Houston.
Finally, between 1989 and 1996, Salvato served as the company’s world-wide chief executive officer.
For 28 years, and running concurrently with several of this career positions, Salvato owned and operated a Beefmaster cattle ranch in Leon County.
However, looking back to the year he graduated from high school in Dickinson, Salvato admits that at that time he did not have a clear idea about what to do next. Instead of heading straight to college, he took a job as a laborer and boiler-maker helper at Todd Shipyard in Galveston.
Next, after a year at the shipyard, he stepped up to a position with Designers and Planners, the naval architecture firm for Todd Shipyard. This new work first led him to drafting classes at the College of the Mainland – and eventually to TAMUG to study Marine Engineering.
“In 1972, I became the first Sea Aggie enrolled in the Texas Maritime Academy who was not a member of the cadet battalion,” Salvato said.
Following his graduation in 1975, He was ready to take a job at Houston Lighting and Power. However, Todd executive Emmett O. Kirkham, who ― along with banker Robert Hutchings and harbor pilot Sherman B. Wetmore ― played an essential role in establishing a maritime academy (and subsequently a branch of Texas A&M University) in Galveston, personally recruited Salvato to return to the shipyard.
Thanks to Kirkham’s efforts, Salvato accepted a shipyard job as project manager charged with overseeing elements of the construction of various vessels including tugs, ferry boats and drill ships.
“I never would have gotten that job – or Mr. Kirkham’s recommendation – without the knowledge and experience I gained from my studies at TAMUG,” he said.
“I believe this school furnished me with the preparation, the guidelines for character development and the confidence to make things happen on my career path,” Salvato said.
Salvato and his wife, Linda, now live in Bryan and enjoy as many TAMU events as they can.
He has three grown children -- Anthony, a school teacher; Daniel, a sergeant in the U.S. Army who served as a field medic in Afghanistan and is currently based in Colorado; and Theresa, a homemaker. He also has five grandchildren in whom, according to son Daniel, Salvato has “instilled a tradition of everything Aggie.”
On Sept. 11 2010, the Texas A&M 12th Man Foundation honored Salvato in the “Bugle Call” at the Aggie - Louisiana Tech football game at Kyle Field with a presentation that cited him as an Aggie fan with “extraordinary” Aggie Spirit.