A son of a King Ranch cowboy, Marcus Becerra grew up with a rope in hand and started flagging some 15 years ago.
“I started flagging when I was in college,” said the now 37-year-old, who began taking in-arena gigs with the Texas-based Team Roping Association. “It was kind of how I made my beer money back in college, or entry fee money.”
Becerra took a break from working the arena when he found oil field work, until the Wildfire Ranch’s Billy Pipes set out to give his main flagger some assistance.
“A good friend of mine, Chuck McAllister, was his main flagger and he called me,” Becerra said. “And they did all the World Series ropings and the Businessman along with the Open to the World that they had there for a long time.”
In the lull between flagging gigs, however, the oil industry had also lulled.
“The oil field started going downhill and my boss was like, ‘Hey, here’s what’s coming down the pipeline. It’s not looking very good, and if you have another option, you might want to start entertaining it.’”
Coincidentally, Becerra’s buddy had called him a week prior seeing if he was interested in applying to be an insurance agent.
“I really didn’t get into insurance for anything other than being lucky and being an Aggie,” quipped Becerra, a Texas A&M alum. “I think I started in June of 2008. I’ve been doing insurance ever since.”
Becerra spent the next seven or so years with the Texas Farm Bureau before teaming up with the same Aggie buddy who got him the original interview.
“One of the biggest things in the insurance business is retention, and keeping customers for a long time,” Becerra explained. “I still have some policies with the company I used to work for, and I loved it but, if you don’t own the book of business, it belongs to somebody else. So, we started entertaining the idea of going out on our own.”
Today, Becerra and buddy Cody Gladney are partnering owners of Goosehead Insurance, a franchise business they bought into in 2017. They’ve successfully grown their book, but Becerra is particularly grateful for the flagging opportunities he had in those early years.
“One thing that was really scary was, when you build a book of business, we literally started from scratch. My girlfriend at the time—now my wife, Megan—she’s been awesome. When we first started, you’d get a $600 or $700 check and your bills are $5,000 every month, so I had to go get her in the Dollar General parking lot because she was having a mental breakdown.”
It’s a story the Becerras can laugh about now, all while giving a nod to this industry for helping them make ends meet.
“Honestly, if it wouldn’t have been for the team roping industry and flagging three or four weekends a month, I wouldn’t have been able to pay our bills,” Becerra stated.
These days, Becerra, who’s been enjoying his first year of fatherhood, mostly flags for Watson Team Roping and at a more reasonable pace of about a weekend per month, but he’s gotten enough experience over the years to have just finished flagging the heeling at October’s ARHFA World Championships in Fort Worth.
“That short round there,” Becerra said about the event he’s been flagging since it started, “I don’t think I’ve flagged [a short round] at the Finale, but the US Finals and a lot of bigger Opens but, for some reason, that one there is pretty electric. The horses were sharp. The steers were sharp. The ropers were sharp. It made for really good watching and a really good roping.”
When he doesn’t have to mind everyone else’s runs in the arena, Becerra holds his own on either end of the steer and, right now, he’s got a horse to match.
“He’s 12 and we bought him when he was 2,” Becerra said of the horse he calls Jace. “We got him from the [J.J.] O’Brien Ranch down in Beeville…. He was a scraggly looking thing. He had maybe 90 or 120 days. I’m a cowboy, but I ain’t a top hand. I like to get them when they’ve got 120 days, couple months on them, and then I take them to flag on for a couple years, and it really helps them a lot.”
Jace proved himself as a worthy heel horse but was versatile enough to be a teaching horse when Megan was learning to rope, too.
“She started heading the dummy on him,” said Becerra, who took the pair to their first OTRA roping not long after. “I think she won the first two she went to. She went to the finals and the district finals. After that, I figured out he was a pretty decent head horse and that’s what we started doing.”
Becerra won four qualifications to this year’s Ariat World Series Finale on Jace, who’s proven to be a winning horse for whomever climbs aboard, as witnessed at The Daddy in Cheyenne, Wyoming, this past summer.
“The kid that went with me, he won third in the #11 on him and, then, Johnny won the Legends roping heading on him,” Becerra said of the event’s producer, JX2’s John Johnson. “I thought that was kind of cool. I told Johnny he’s not for sale, though.”
Policies, on the other hand, are for sale, but Becerra emphasizes the importance of finding a good agent first.
“You’ve got to trust them,” he said. “Having an agent is really important because the technology is there…. Anybody can just buy a policy straight off the internet without knowing if they’ve got good coverage or not. But, at the end of the day, it’s always good to have an agent you could talk to.”