Mavericks Personified: Alan Petsche
Connecting business and music
Occasionally, Alan Petsche likes to kick back in a smoky bar, drink a beer and remember what it’s like to be 20 again, banging out a tune on his guitar.
At that age, he was in his fifth semester at UT Arlington studying management and had just joined a popular Arlington band, The Pengwins, after seeing them perform at his fraternity’s formal. The group was like many garage bands of the day, creating music that often sounded raw but entertained a dedicated following.
Members, including Petsche, Lannie Flowers, Delbert Raines and Danny Wilkerson, were students by day and rocked fraternity parties and area clubs like J. Gilligan’s, Mother Blues and Dallas Alley by night from 1972 to 1993. They covered such tunes as The Knack’s “My Sharona,” “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend” by The Cars and plenty of Beatles and Rolling Stones. They played a few original numbers, too, including “Life After High School,” “Small Vacation” and “Don’t Be a Girl About It.”
The band tried to make it big in summer 1981, touring England.
“I came back with no record contract and no money,” Petsche said. It was time for a change.
Time to take life more seriously.
He started his own computer business in 1984, which for a while boasted more weekly sales than Michael Dell’s startup PC’s Limited, before eventually moving into a role in his family’s business, A.E. Petsche Co.
Petsche (’80 BBA) is chief operating officer for the aerospace company, which is widely recognized as the industry’s leading supplier of high-performance interconnect products. He oversees operations for the company’s 22 locations throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
But along with his briefcase, he still carries a guitar case.
He keeps a hand in the music industry as a “big record company executive” (a.k.a. owner) of Aaron Avenue Records in Arlington. The 12-year-old label has cultivated a bevy of Texas artists by not looking in the traditional places for musicians.
Petsche and label partner Raines discovered Gerry Van King at South by Southwest in Austin in 1997—not at the festival, but on Sixth Street, playing his electric bass and grooving for anyone who would stop and listen.
“The bands we saw didn’t make much of an impression, but we could remember Gerry’s songs,” Petsche said. “He sang catchy, original songs, and we thought we could put together an album. What we didn’t realize was how talented he was. He brought a whole concept, including parts written for horn and keyboard.”
Aaron Avenue Records supports more than 16 artists who play everything from funk to Christian rock and has released more than 20 albums.
Petsche is married to UT Arlington alumnus Bonnie Smith Petsche. They have two sons and two daughters ranging in age from 4 to 13.
“If I have my way,” he said, “they will all go to UT Arlington.”
— Becky Purvis