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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Billie and John McAvoy tried out their season-ticket seats at Snapdragon Stadium in SDSU Mission Valley. Billie and John McAvoy tried out their season-ticket seats at Snapdragon Stadium in SDSU Mission Valley.

Supporting SDSU and Snapdragon Stadium — How Nice!

You may not have heard of "Nice Guy" John McAvoy’s company but you probably pass by its products every day.
By Jeff Ristine

John McAvoy (‘82) was in no hurry to complete his time at San Diego State University as he worked toward a bachelor of science degree in business management. A commuter transfer student, McAvoy worked busily at a Kearny Mesa restaurant and was taking some of his courses in the evening.

Then his father offered him a deal: “Get your act together and actually graduate and finish up,” Frank McAvoy said, and put that degree to good use in the company he had just started with a partner. The younger McAvoy accepted and started his job in January 1983, just weeks after earning his diploma.

Now he’s president of Irvine-based McAvoy & Markham Engineering & Sales Co., which supplies materials for electric utilities in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, including San Diego Gas & Electric and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. They’re providers for products as diverse as the structural steel for substations and those orange aerial warning balls strung onto overhead power lines.

And “some of those green boxes you see on the street that you don't know what they're there for? They're mine,” McAvoy said.

In the evening courses at SDSU McAvoy often received valuable business lessons from adjunct faculty who were professionals in their fields. “My economics professor was a banker (in) real life,” he recalled. “That’s great.”

McAvoy’s longtime support for SDSU as an alumnus led to a major contribution this year to the Stadium Excellence Fund, part of the financial structure for Snapdragon Stadium. He and his wife, Billie, have premium season tickets for football in the loge box — “pretty much the best seats you can get,” he said. “It’s like you’re sitting in your living room there.”

RELATED: Donor Support for SDSU is Strongest Ever

He has also endowed a new scholarship for SDSU undergraduate students in business management.

The McAvoys were longtime Chargers season ticket holders, too, and when SDSU demolished the former NFL stadium that occupied the Mission Valley property, they received the three blue-and-white H4 parking-lot signs that had marked the section where they held tailgate parties.

McAvoy’s other big passion is the Nice Guys, a longstanding San Diego charity focused upon families in need.

The Nice Guys specialize in one-time gifts such as wheelchair vans, computers, food and clothing, and hold an annual gala for a community “Nice Guy of the Year.”  This year’s event, scheduled for Oct. 1, honors former Aztecs basketball coach Steve Fisher, the winningest coach in both SDSU and Mountain West Conference history.

McAvoy takes pride in the fact that the Nice Guys are a 100% volunteer, non-profit 501(c)3 organization with no overhead, no office space, and no paid staff. “Every dollar we receive in donations goes back to those in need in the San Diego community,” he said, with all operational expenses underwritten by members.

“We're up over $22 million that we've given back to the community since we were founded in 1979 by a group of businessmen that just wanted to do something different,” McAvoy said.

Previously chairman of the Nice Guys’ “fun committee,” McAvoy takes over as president next year. He hopes to rebuild its COVID-depleted general membership, which is limited by charter to just 100 individuals.