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Avoiding FCC Fines ■ Proactive Oilfield Safety ■ Mixed-Use Development

October 2013


S: R E 9 TOP 4USTERS KB S — BLOC USINES— —— — B — — F O —— -NINE

— ORTY —— — F — SSES P — E O N I S —— THE T ED BU EVENUE N W O — A S R ———— ALASK BY GROS— E K A — T — ED —— — ENE 1 RANK C — S — — — — E — DAT 1 013


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Phil Cheasebro, director of the Midnight Sons Acapella Chorus, the Alaska chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, appears on our October cover in homage to Alaska Business Monthly’s 2013 Top 49ers: Blockbusters of Business. Tenor Cheasebro appeared with the Midnight Sons quartet “Breaking Point” at the Top 49ers Award Ceremony held at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage October 2. The Top 49ers special section begins on page 92.

From the Editor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Inside Alaska Business . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Right Moves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Alaska This Month . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 Events Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Market Squares . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 What’s Next . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Alaska Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Ad Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162

Cover photography ©Chris Arend Photography Cover design by David Geiger



© Seanna O’Sullivan Photography

12 | Mike Erickson, President Alaska Glacier Seafoods Compiled by Mari Gallion


14 | Alaska Is a Top Travel Desitnation Everything under the sun, and northern lights By Julie Stricker


18 | Alaska Native Healthcare Systems Elevting health and wellness By Laurie Evans-Dinneen


23 | The Challenge of College Affordability University of Alaska is a bargain in shaping the future By Ashok K. Roy


26 | Alaskan Brewing Co. BeerPowered-Beer Crafting sustainability in sustenance By Nicole A. Bonham Colby



Photo courtesy of AWWU

AWWU Anchorage Midtown offices.



30 | Urban Water & Wastewater Systems: Anchorage Part One of a Series By Rindi White

ICONIC ALASKANS 38 | Marc Langland By Shehla Anjum

Photo courtesy of YKHC Public Relations


42 | Alaskan Innovations Avoid FCC Narrowbanding Fines, Ensure Safety Allowing industry to ‘Keep on Trucking’ By Mari Gallion


46 | Fairbanks Natural Gas and TOTE Pioneer LNG Fuel in Alaska Two firms in it for the long haul, by land and sea By Will Swagel


50 | It’s Your Business By Rachel Petro

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Martha Flores, PA, shares a laugh with a patient as ER nurses remove a bandage.


52 | Delivering Rural Power in Alaska Off the Railbelt, on the road system By Gail West


58 | Mobile Migration Methods Improving business efficiency and enhancing service By Tracy Barbour

No one knows Alaska like we do. Trust your business banking to the local team with a genuine interest in your success.

Where Alaska’s business dreams grow.


Alaska Business Monthly’s 2013 Top 49ers: Blockbusters of Business 92 | Executive Summary By Tasha Anderson 96 | 2013 Top 49ers 122 | Top 49ers by Industry Classification 124 | Top 49ers 5 Year Rank & Revenue

A CLOSER LOOK AT SIX TOP 49ERS 126 | Builder’s Choice, Inc. Taking manufacturing to a new level By Margaret Sharpe Mark Larson

142 | Matanuska Electric Association Growing an enduring electric cooperative By Margaret Sharpe

130 | Seekins Ford Lincoln, Inc. Creating a culture of family, community, and employee satisfaction By Julie Stricker

Joe Griffith

Ralph Seekins

134 | Watterson Construction Building Alaska By Tasha Anderson 138 | Calista Corporation’s Positive Impacts Focusing on energy, voting, and operations By Julie Stricker

Bill Watterson

146 | Carlile Transportation Systems Securing the load for future generations By Susan Sommer Harry McDonald

Andrew Guy



61 | Help Successfully Maintain Your Company’s Growth— Conduct a Legal Audit Conquering and embracing the changes that need to be made By Renea I. Saade


62 | Making the Case for Mixed-Use Development in Anchorage By Nichelle Seely


65 | New Mixed-Use Residences Planned Bringing a vision to life By Rindi White


66 | The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery A marvel of modern science and art By Joette Storm




73 | Proactive Oilfield Safety Taking a zero-tolerance stand to risk By Rindi White 76 | Breaking Rocks Hydraulic fracturing oilfield tactic has deep history and a bright future in Alaska By Wesley Loy

80 | Tax Policy Impact on Production Implications of the initiative By Mike Bradner


84 | Why Alaska Needs to Reduce State Spending (and how to do it) By Bradford G. Keithley


88 | House Money Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation investments grow more and more diverse By Wesley Loy

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

The opening sentence of “High End Homes” Alaska Business Monthly Sept. 2013, contained an editing error. It should have read: Homes available for sale in Anchorage were at a three-year low in May—705, south of the 774 for sale in May 2012—and the vast majority of those homes sales fell into the $300,000 to $500,000 range, according to the Alaska Multiple Listing Service’s Market Statistics. The number of CIRI shareholders was misstated in “Alaska Native Regional Corporations: An economic powerhouse for Alaska. Alaska Business Monthly, Sept. 2013. The current number of shareholders is more than 8,100 and is constantly growing, according to CIRI. In “Village Corporation Overview: Finding creative ways to use assets and benefit shareholders,” Alaska Business Monthly September 2013, a contract awarded to UIC subsidiary SIKU Construction was misnamed. SIKU was awarded a design|build contract for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center project in Soldotna.

FROM THE EDITOR Follow us on and

Volume 29, Number 10 Published by Alaska Business Publishing Co. Anchorage, Alaska Vern C. McCorkle, Publisher 1991~2009


Managing Editor Associate Editor Editorial Assistant Art Director Art Production Photo Consultant Photo Contributor

Susan Harrington Mari Gallion Tasha Anderson David Geiger Linda Shogren Chris Arend Judy Patrick


President VP Sales & Mktg. Senior Account Mgr. Account Mgr. Survey Administrator Accountant & Circulation

Jim Martin Charles Bell Anne Campbell Bill Morris Tasha Anderson Melinda Schwab

501 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 100 Anchorage, Alaska 99503-2577 (907) 276-4373 Outside Anchorage: 1-800-770-4373 Fax: (907) 279-2900 Editorial email: Advertising email: Pacific Northwest Advertising Sales 1-800-770-4373 ALASKA BUSINESS PUBLISHING CO., INC. ALASKA BUSINESS MONTHLY (ISSN 8756-4092) is published monthly by Alaska Business Publishing Co., Inc., 501 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 100, Anchorage, Alaska 99503-2577; Telephone: (907) 276-4373; Fax: (907) 279-2900, ©2013, Alaska Business Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Subscription Rates: $39.95 a year. Single issues of the Power List are $15 each. Single issues of Alaska Business Monthly are $3.95 each; $4.95 for October, and back issues are $5 each. Send subscription orders and address changes to the Circulation Department, Alaska Business Monthly, PO Box 241288, Anchorage, AK 99524. Please supply both old and new addresses and allow six weeks for change, or update online at Manuscripts: Send query letter to the Editor. Alaska Business Monthly is not responsible for unsolicited materials. Photocopies: Where necessary, permission is granted by the copyright owner for libraries and others registered with Copyright Clearance Center to photocopy any article herein for $1.35 per copy. Send payments to CCC, 27 Congress Street, Salem, MA 01970. Copying done for other than personal or internal reference use without the expressed permission of Alaska Business Publishing Co., Inc. is prohibited. Address requests for specific permission to Managing Editor, Alaska Business Publishing. Online: Alaska Business Monthly is available at, www. and from Thomson Gale. Microfi lm: Alaska Business Monthly is available on microfi lm from University Microfi lms International, 300 North Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

Going Mobile


he latest viral iteration of information technology is taking shape across the world—people are going mobile. Mobile is the new way of computing, condensing, connecting, and doing business. People are keeping their mobile devices near and dear, and the trend for increased use is growing at an accelerated pace. Phone calls, texts, browsing, social media, and mobile commerce all come into play through the constant use of mobile technology. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, a global trade association established to lead the growth of mobile marketing and its associated technologies, “As technology ignites a new world of interconnectivity, mobile converts every object into a medium and every place into a message. Each engagement is an opportunity; each connection is a potential customer; each sale is a gateway to loyalty.” Going mobile is becoming the way of the world. Just as people are disconnecting because busy schedules give us less time for face-toface in-person meetings, smartphones and tablets have taken over and touch-screen technology brings interaction closer—to our fingertips, no longer kept at arms length on a desktop. So while we are ever becoming less personal, we are getting closer. Whether iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows, mobile technology is ramping up to include not only smartphones and tablets, but now wearable devices as well—watches and glasses are the next big thing, and while the screens may be getting smaller, the audience is growing larger. Digital business analytics giant comScore reports that at the end of the second quarter, mobile commerce was up 24 percent over a year ago, and predicts continued and accelerated growth. Interestingly, spending per user was less on smartphones than tablets, but because so many more people have smartphones than tablets, smartphones accounted for 63 percent of mobile commerce dollars, according to comScore. I’ve tepidly tried mobile commerce—paid for coffee with an app, texted back an ok to pay my mobile phone bill, and instantly ordered books on my tablet. Mobile commerce is quick and easy, relatively painless once all the accounts and passwords are set up. I can’t wait until time for holiday shopping, and though I won’t be able to wait until Christmas Eve this year, I will be able to spend more money faster on my smartphone and tablet and take care of my list in record time. Going mobile is rapid and quickly becoming a ritual. Just like our Top 49ers are a ritual at Alaska Business Monthly. This year is no exception, from our annual awards luncheon where we name the Top 49 businesses owned and operated by Alaskans to the pages of the magazine where we’ve devoted a large share of the October issue to these Blockbusters of Business. You might need to pop some popcorn and grab a beverage to get through this month’s issue. The team at Alaska Business Monthly has put together another really great issue. Enjoy! —Susan Harrington, Managing Editor October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly




Doyon Anvil

oyon Emerald and Alaska Anvil announced they will expand their existing strategic alliance and merge their respective Alaska engineering and consulting operations to create Doyon Anvil, headquartered in Anchorage. This new joint venture is created to better serve clients within Alaska. Doyon Anvil services will include full service multi-discipline engineering and procurement, process safety/risk management, project management, and construction field support. Doyon and Anvil have very similar corporate cultures with complementary experience and values. Both companies focus on developing long-term relationships with their clients and their employees. Their missions are directed toward providing quality services and continually enhancing their position as financially strong companies that provide stable and rewarding careers for their employees.


Bin There Dump That Alaska

in There Dump That Alaska, a new mini dumpster company with small but mighty solutions, has launched a franchise in Anchorage. The company has franchises throughout the United States and Canada, serving most major metropolitan areas. This new locallyowned franchise is launching the mini bin service to the Anchorage area with future plans to expand into other areas of the state in time. Bin There Dump That has four dif-

Compiled by Mari Gallion

ferent sizes of mini bins that are built specifically to accommodate the tighter spots that residential projects may need. They can fit easily in driveways, alleys, and other spaces where traditional large dumpster trucks can’t fit. With a residential friendly bin on one side of a driveway, it is still possible to drive a car into the garage. For commercial contractors, Bin There mini bins are ideal for getting close to job sites, helping save time and work to load. Bins are ordered on a weekly basis to allow customers to fill them at their leisure, whether they need a bin for a remodel, a roofing job, a garage clean out, or getting trash out of the yard.



orthrim Benefits Group announced the formation and launch of Enroll Alaska. This new division of NBG is focused on individual health coverage for the nearly 66,000 uninsured or underinsured Alaskans. Enroll Alaska will help guide individuals through the new insurance marketplaces that have been created with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and help those who may qualify for immediate tax subsidies. Starting in 2014, there is a federal mandate that all individuals have health insurance, whether through an employer policy or purchased through a Federally Facilitated Marketplace. Individuals with household incomes between 100 to 400 percent of Federal Poverty Level may be eligible for premium assistance via a federal tax subsidy. Enroll Alaska helps people determine if they qualify for a federal tax subsidy and select a health insurance plan that’s

right for them and their family. Enroll Alaska will have locations throughout the state to help individuals and families during open enrollment from October 1through March 31, 2014. More information is available online at or by calling 855385-5550.


Harbor Business Compliance

arbor Business Compliance announced its official launch of small business incorporation and compliance services in Alaska. Harbor is a start-up helping startups. They help small business owners choose a business structure, file government registrations, obtain tax identification numbers, and learn to administer compliant business entities. Local Alaska small business owners now have one more option when getting help starting their business. Harbor will be launching a campaign to connect with local Alaskans by promoting free educational Alaska-specific start-up and compliance guides on their website


Arctic Benson Park

rctic Benson Park now features a new fenced dog park as part of a neighborhood effort to transform the park into a safe and healthy place. In 2011, more than fift y neighbors and volunteers filled out report cards critiquing Arctic Benson Park, cumulatively giving it an F. Thanks to a dedicated committee formed to identify

Your Project, Our Responsibility. 24/7 Service Pacific Pile & Marine has a robust fleet of marine equipment including our recent addition of a 600-Ton 4600 Ringer. I (907) 276-3878 276-3873 8

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

From critical lifts to platform support, PPM is sufficiently resourced to deliver a wide range of construction services. 620B East Whitney Road I Anchorage, AK 99501

INSIDE ALASKA BUSINESS needed park improvements, the Anchorage Park Foundation successfully secured $83,000 from the Alaska State Legislature to improve Arctic Benson Park in the summer of 2013. Organizer Karen Dechman has been devoted to this project for two years. “This is a very big deal for dog owners, especially our disabled veterans and elderly who struggle with finding a place to exercise their beloved dogs.” But Dechman believes that the improvement will also affect those without pets. “It is also a great way for people who might have few other opportunities to connect with their community, to meet neighbors and make friends.” The Alaska State Legislature, Rasmuson Foundation, and the Anchorage Park Foundation worked together to raise the funding for this project, which was implemented by the Anchorage Parks & Recreation Department. Thanks also go to SPCA, Access Alaska, Midtown Community Council, REI, Wells Fargo, ML&P, AWWU, and all the individuals who generously gave of their time to promote this popular project.


Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital

he Arctic Slope Native Association, in partnership with the Indian Health Service and the Denali Commission, invested over $160 million in both design and construction of the newly built Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Barrow. Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital is the only hospital and critical access facility within the northern region of Alaska. Access to

Compiled by Mari Gallion

the six villages served by Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital is primarily by air and no roads connect. The 109,000-square-foot new hospital is a much needed and welcome expansion for the North Slope community. The new facility will provide North Slope residents with additional exam and dental operatory rooms, increased specialty care clinics, and an expanded pharmacy. New services will also be offered including physical therapy, CT scan, and an eye clinic. Additionally, more than fifty new jobs have been created and it’s estimated that thirty more will become available as the hospital opens for service and becomes fully staffed. Doors were scheduled to open the last week of September. Arctic Slope native Association constructed the new hospital through a joint venture contract with local construction companies UIC Construction and SKW/Eskimos, Inc., subsidiaries of Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, respectively.


In this integrated business model, clinical care will be managed by Alaska Regional Hospital. Customer services as well as business relations will be integrated and managed by the hospital. EagleMed will operate the aircraft, a twinengine King Air B200, and provide the pilots for this specialized service.


he Anchorage office of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT was selected by Safeway, Inc. to manage and provide full leasing efforts for seven shopping centers in three Alaskan cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Dutch Harbor. The Safeway, Inc. shopping center portfolio is comprised of approximately one million square feet of retail space and will include a Safeway store or grocery affiliate as the anchor tenant at each shopping center location.


agleMed, LLC will manage the aviation assets of Alaska Regional Hospital’s LifeFlight air ambulance program, extending the Wichita-based company’s North American reach to its farthest point west. EagleMed is a leader in the air medical industry. LifeFlight is Alaska Regional Hospital’s specialized fi xed-wing medevac service based in Anchorage. EagleMed assumed responsibility for the hospital’s fi xed wing flight operations on July 15.

Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT


Anchorage and Valley Radiation Therapy Centers

oth the Anchorage and Valley Radiation Therapy Centers have been awarded three-year terms of accreditation in radiation oncology as the result of a recent review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The centers are two of three facilities in the state with current ACR accreditation in radiation oncology. The ACR is the nation’s oldest and most widely accepted radiation oncology accrediting body with twenty-five

Your Project, Our Responsibility. 24/7 Service

Pacific Pile & Marine has a robust fleet of marine equipment including our recent addition of a 600-Ton 4600 Ringer. I (907) 276-3878 276-3873

From critical lifts to platform support, PPM is sufficiently resourced to deliver a wide range of construction services. 620B East Whitney Road I Anchorage, AK 99501 October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


INSIDE ALASKA BUSINESS years of accreditation experience. The ACR seal of accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting specific practice guidelines and technical standards developed by ACR after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field.



n a seismic announcement by a household name in advertising, the Nerland Agency will now conduct business as Spawn. A two-time recipient of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work in America honor, Spawn will enter its third generation as an agency in Alaska, beginning in 1975 as Mystrom Beck, and operating as Nerland Agency since 1991. In 2005, Nerland became employee owned under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The firm will continue to provide brand strategy, design, digital, and other communications to its growing list of clients. Current Spawn clients include: General Communication, Inc. (GCI), Northrim Bank, The Alaska Club, Alaska McDonalds, The University of Alaska, Alyeska Resort, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, and Ocean Beauty Seafoods.



n an effort to empower AT&T customers with sustainable choices, increase efficiency, and minimize impact on the environment, AT&T is teaming up with The Nature Conservancy to encourage AT&T customers to skip

Compiled by Mari Gallion

the bag when purchasing items from its retail stores in Alaska. With this program, which runs now through January 31, 2014, AT&T will donate ten cents to the Nature Conservancy for each check out bag its customers choose to forego. AT&T’s Skip the Bag campaign is in support of The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to protect and restore the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy takes innovative action to invest in the planet’s environmental and economic future. Funds generated from AT&T donations will be used to support The Nature Conservancy’s work. For example, The Nature Conservancy restores salmon streams and wildlife habitat in the Tongass National Forest of Southeast Alaska. For many people in Alaska, catching salmon is an essential part of the Alaska way of life. The state’s commercial fisheries are a mainstay of local economies, and the value of the salmon tradition is simply beyond measure.

Alaskan Leader Fisheries


laskan Leader Fisheries and Copper River Seafoods have announced a marketing alliance that creates a new opportunity for retail and foodservice operators. This partnership with Alaskan Leader Fisheries enables Copper River Seafoods to offer customers the highest-quality whitefish along with world-famous salmon on a year-round basis in quantities that will support high-volume programs. Both companies were formed by Alaskan fishermen who share many of the same core values including the creation of more full-time jobs in Alaska.

Alaskan Leader Fisheries is one of the largest sources of sustainably harvested, frozen-at-sea, hook-and-line caught, wild Alaska cod. Alaskan Leader Fisheries’ eco-friendly fleet of vessels have been globally recognized for their environmentally friendly fishing methods. Their newest vessel, the Northern Leader, is the largest most eco-friendly vessel in the North Pacific fishing fleet. By fully utilizing the vessel’s targeted catch and incorporating cutting-edge green technology, such as a diesel electric propulsion system that substantially reduces fuel consumption, the Northern Leader is one of the most innovative fishing vessels in the world. Alaskan Leader Fisheries will be dedicating 100 percent of the Northern Leader’s Alaska cod to its program with Copper River Seafoods which gives customers total traceability and the benefits of the most modern and innovative quality controlled processing line.


Lynden Transport

ynden Transport once again was voted a top Less-than-Truckload (LTL) carrier in the Western Region in Logistics Management magazine’s thirtieth annual Quest for Quality Awards. Lynden earned the No. 1 ranking for on-time performance and was ranked second overall among the top four competitors. The award asks shippers to evaluate providers on the following criteria: on-time performance, equipment and operations, value, information technology, and customer service. With this year’s award, Lynden Transport has received seventeen Quest for Quality Awards. 

• General Contracting • Marine Infrastructure • Design Build

Dutch Harbor - Unalaska, Alaska I (907) 276-3873 10

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

620B East Whitney Road I Anchorage, AK 99501

View from the Top

Compiled by Mari Gallion

Mike Erickson, President Alaska Glacier Seafoods


he son of a commercial troll fisherman, Mike Erickson moved to Alaska with his family in 1966. Erickson spent summers fishing with his family and attended school in Petersburg through the other three seasons. In his early adulthood, Erickson took a job in Juneau with White Pass Alaska Fuel, helping construct, and later managing, the tank farm now known as Petro Marine. Separated from his family—who were living in Fairbanks at the time—he spent much of his spare time fishing. Often catching much more than he could consume or give away, he started selling his catch for “gas money.” Realizing that his hobby was both fun and profitable, he founded Alaska Glacier Seafoods (AGS) in 1995. Today, AGS employs 145 people at the peak of its season. GROWTH SPURT: Alaska Glacier Seafoods, as a company, took a major leap when we constructed a fifteen throusandsquare-foot facility in Auke Bay in 2005. The company puts a lot of emphasis on fresh fish sales: halibut and salmon fillets. Another avenue that AGS is a major player in is the live king crab markets, and we source crab from the Southeast to the Aleutian Chain. It is common for us to charter a 737 aircraft and fly a load of crab out at any given time. Most of this product goes into West Coast markets. WHOLE CATCH PRACTICES: One of the things we are really excited about is working towards 90 percent-plus utilization of purchased fish most recently because most of the fish trimmings are now ground for use in the pet foot industry—and that is from all species of fish with the exception of crab shells. A PERMANENT POSITION: I think one thing we are very proud of is the longevity of the employees that are here at AGS. It is a family owned business. No interest is owned outside of the family. My son, Jim Erickson, is the vice president of AGS, and he is mostly responsible for domestic and overseas sales. My wife, Bonnie Erickson, and daughter in law, Kristie Erickson, are instrumental in managing and keeping the accounting of the business. We are all very committed. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: One of the biggest challenges that we face continually would be moving product to market 12

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

© Seanna O’Sullivan Photography

in a timely fashion. Because this is fresh fish it’s very time sensitive so we are always looking for the best method to transport to markets. Markets for our fresh product can be found on the East and West coasts, Australia, Taipei, and Japan. Our frozen product is worldwide with a lot of European sales in Ukraine, Japan, and China. PERSISTENCE PAYS: Obviously, success requires working hard, as most business owners know, and understanding it’s not a forty-hour work week, which is especially true when you are dealing with perishable products. It requires constant attention and monitoring. AGS is able to do this because we deal with such a large variety of Alaskan products and the company is essentially opened year round. It’s not a five-month seasonal operation—it’s a twelve-month operation that lends itself to keeping long-term employees because of the year round employment. I have a pleasure boat named Persistence. MINDING YOUR BUSINESS: Really understanding what you intend to do is a key element. Learning everything you can about your proposed business and making sure you have a financing plan in place with enough cushion to get through tough times. Do not plan on a forty-hour work week. I think being passionate about what you are doing is a very key motivator. 



Professional Services firm BDO Expands to Alaska Brings more expertise and service capabilities to the marketplace


n July 1, BDO extended its geographic reach into Alaska by acquiring Mikunda, Cottrell & Co. Inc., Photos by Kevincertified Smith Photography the largest public accounting firm in the state. The acquisition brought the Anchorage-based company under the corporate umbrella of one of the largest professional service organizations in the country. BDO was in a growth mode, and Mikunda Cottrell presented an opportunity for the company to expand its footprint and provide services in a different operating area, explained BDO Anchorage Office Managing Partner Jim Hasle. “I think it will bring a lot of value to the Alaska marketplace,” he said. “It will bring in one of the world’s leading accounting firms and allow for some worldclass expertise.” BDO is the brand name for BDO USA, LLP, which provides assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately-held companies. For more than 100 years, BDO has provided quality service through the active involvement of experienced and committed professionals. The firm serves clients through 49 offices and more than 400 independent alliance firm locations nationwide. As an independent Member Firm of BDO International Limited, BDO serves multi-national clients through a global network of 1,204 of offices in 138 countries.

Under the BDO brand, the former Mikunda Cottrell office will operate with a local touch backed by national and international resources. The added expertise and service capabilities will enable the Anchorage location to offer a broader range of consulting services and cater to different niches, such as the energy sector and financial institutions. “We expect to continue to grow with BDO,” Hasle said. Mikunda Cottrell—which had 110 personnel in Anchorage as of July 1—has been serving Alaskans since 1977. It has always endeavored to provide real value to its client base, as well as create a place that fosters real careers and an environment where people enjoy working. That philosophy matched well with BDO’s corporate culture. BDO has distinguished itself as a client-focused, value-driven company that nurtures talent and technical excellence. This is evidenced by the recognition BDO has received P A I D


f from various industry and business publications. Honors received in 2013 and 2012 include Best Places to Work for Recent Grads (Experience, Inc.), Fifth Best Firm To Work For Among All National Accounting Firms (Vault Accounting 50), Top 50 Company for Executive Women (The National Association of Female Executives Executives), Best & Brightest Companies to Work For (101 Best & Brightest and Corp! Magazine Magazine), 2012 Working Mother 100 Best Companies (Working Working Mothers Magazine Magazine), and Diversity Leader Award (Profiles in Diversity Journal). The legacy of BDO’s professional accomplishments will continue in Alaska at Mikunda Cottrell’s existing Midtown location. Moreover, BDO’s presence in the city will bring a depth of resources to the entire state. Hasle emphasizes that BDO has made a real investment and commitment to the Alaska marketplace. “We plan to be here for the long haul,” he said. “Our future plans are to serve this market with distinction.”

BDO USA, LLP Jim Hasle, Office Managing Partner 3601 C Street, Suite 600 Anchorage, Alaska 99503 Phone: 907-278-8878 I Fax: 907-278-5779


Alaska Is a Top Travel Destination Everything under the sun, and northern lights By Julie Stricker

© Steven Kazlowski/

Caribou bull in fall colors with Mount McKinley in the background at Denali National Park and Preserve.


t’s a rare sunny day in Southeast Alaska. The sun glints off towering, snow-capped peaks, with dark forests and misty waterfalls blanketing their lower shoulders. Glaciers dip icy toes in the emerald waters. A brown bear prowls a rocky beach looking for dinner, while far out at sea a pod of orcas leaps through the waves and humpback whales breach, slapping their huge tails as they splash back into the ocean. It’s a scene worthy of a postcard, and it’s the one the majority of tourists who visit Alaska each year hope to see. “Alaska is something very iconic,” says Roy Neese with the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB). “We’re very much on TV and very much in the public eye and public mindset.” For most travelers, Alaska is a oncein-a-lifetime destination. 14

They’re drawn by the wildlife, culture, glaciers, and the scenery. Neese says, “It’s kind of the whole Alaska experience of the mountains and the scenery and the bigness of the place.” The majority of tourists see Alaska from the vantage point of an Inside Passage cruise, one third arrive via airline, and a small percentage arrive by ferry or by driving the Alaska Highway. According to the Alaska Resource Development Council, tourism is the second-largest private sector employer in the state. Alaska’s size and geologic diversity create many regional differences in the scenery, wildlife, and activities.

Southeast In Southeast Alaska, cruise ships dominate the industry, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to see what

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

is stereotypically thought of as Alaska: mountains, glaciers, and wildlife. In the port towns, tourists can take a walk along Canal Street in Ketchikan, view totem poles and other Tlingit and Tsimshian cultural sites in Saxman, or take a tram up Mount Roberts or hike to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. They can go flightseeing, fishing, or take a helicopter to the top of a glacier for a sled dog ride. Sitka is a popular stop, although its location outside of the Inside Passage means fewer cruise ships stop there. About 110,000 cruise passengers were expected to stop in Sitka in summer 2013, according to Tonia Rioux, executive director of the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau. That compares with Juneau and Ketchikan, which both see more than 1 million cruise ship visitors annually.

Summer arts camps bring thousands of people to the town from a couple dozen states and five foreign countries. Sitka Fest, which includes a music festival, lasts a full month. Sitka’s draw is its spectacular scenery, the arts and the fishing, Rioux says. “We have so many little islands that the horizon when you’re looking from the shoreline is pretty amazing.” The town is spread along a fourteenmile corridor of coastline backed against the mountains on Baranof Island. Mount Edgecumbe, a 3,201-foot dormant volcano that has been compared with Japan’s Mount Fuji because of its striking symmetry, is a prominent landmark. “The populated area only goes inland maybe half a mile because it’s so mountainous,” Rioux says. “It’s very dramatic having those steep towering mountains on one side, and on the other is the Pacific Ocean.” The top local tourist attraction is a wildlife boat tour by Allen Marine Tours, Rioux says. Kayaking and fishing are also big draw. Onshore, tours highlight the totem park and Tlingit culture as well as Sitka’s Russian past. “Sitka is definitely one of the most historic towns in Alaska because at one time we were the capital of Russian America,” she says. “In the 1860s, we were the center of the fur trade and were once the largest town on the Pacific Rim. Sitka was known as the Paris of the Pacific. It was a very posh and swank town back then.” Sitka was named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the best small towns to visit in 2013, Rioux says. “It is really, really picturesque. There aren’t a lot of industrial things happening in the downtown, so it’s kind of like stepping back in time,” she says. “We have a cultural richness that makes life very rich.”

Southcentral About six hundred miles north, Anchorage offers a different vibe to travelers. Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage offers urban comforts on the doorstep of the state’s wilderness. Neese, at ACVB, says the city is often a jumping off point for people just arriving in the state or a place to cram as much as possible in before having to leave after a cruise. “They want to go to Kenai Fjords or

Raven totem pole and Beaver House at Saxman Totem Park in Ketchikan. © Sunny K. Awazahura-Reed/

they want to go to Denali Park,” Neese says. “They want some sort of iconic Alaska experience.” Many travelers head south to the Kenai Peninsula for a Kenai Fjords cruise out of Seward, to visit Whittier, go hiking, or take the tram up the mountains at Alyeska, he says. Local attractions such as the Wildlife Conservation Center and Portage Glacier are a big draw. More people want to go bicycling, bird watching, or hiking, even if they only have a couple of hours. Travelers with limited time will call the visitors bureau and say they’ll be in Anchorage between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., when their flight leaves. “They want to

make use of every minute of their time to see Alaska while they can,” he says. The visitors bureau has itineraries drawn up for excursions from four hours to four days in various configurations to fit almost every interest and itinerary. Entries are broken down in the time it takes to get from one place to another and what visitors can do with a limited number of days. “They’re trying to fill all their little gaps in their itinerary,” Neese says. “How can I do it? Can I do it? Is this a realistic expectation to get all these things done in the time we have? “A part of what we do is education,” he adds. “We try to do that through our

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Summer flowers at the Museum of the North, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

for Alaska travel, although cruise ship travelers trend older, he says.

© Patrick Endres/

website, we try to do that through visitor publications.” Even Twitter? Neese laughs. The bureau does get a lot of requests via Twitter, but it’s hard to fit an Alaska itinerary in 140 characters, he says. He redirects them to the “Ask a Local” portion of their website so he can email an answer in more detail. Social media has proven to be a boon. Neese can see where people are checking in from and when. “If we want to target a post, if there’s a good airfare that pops

up from Australia or Europe, we know when the people in Europe are online and looking at us, so we can shoot something off. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we have more concrete numbers and can better target people.” Increased air traffic and lower fares are bringing more people into Anchorage. Carriers such as IcelandAir are funneling more Europeans to the state, where they go in search of wilderness. Most visitors are forty-five years old and older, a fairly consistent demographic


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Interior In Fairbanks, direct flights from Japan and Germany are also fueling a tourist boom—in the winter as well as summer. The city’s location near Denali National Park and Preserve, home to Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, as well as abundant wildlife, is a prime draw, says Deb Hickok, executive director of the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There are a varied and robust set of reasons people come to Fairbanks,” she says. “One is just the journey here, whether by road or for the folks that are traveling by rail. It’s a great experience and Denali is a highlight of that. Our location in Alaska’s Interior and right next to the Arctic makes it a pretty exotic destination for people.” Fairbanks has great attractions, such as the Riverboat Discovery, the Tanana Chief sternwheeler, University of Alaska Museum of the North, and Gold Dredge No. 8, Hickok says. A newer attraction, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, “just blows people away,” she says. “That really goes with why people come to the Interior, which is its history and culture.” A whole host of smaller businesses talk about living in the north, its dog mushing lifestyle, and what life is like in remote Alaska, Hickok says. The Morris Thompson Cultural Center highlights Alaska Native culture and also hosts the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, which provides information about visiting the wilderness on Fairbanks’ doorstep. Local businesses provide flightseeing trips to the Arctic and Interior villages. “People get to see how people are living today in villages with no road access,” she says. “It really is extraordinary.” Summer solstice is the peak of the Fairbanks travel season. “People want to experience the solstice in Alaska and Fairbanks is really a great opportunity for that,” Hickok says. “People want to add that notch in their travel belt.” A host of events herald the solstice, including the Midnight Sun Baseball Game, which was called one of the “10 Must-See Baseball Events” by Baseball

America. The game, which features college athletes, begins at 10:30 p.m. on June 21 and is played in its entirety without artificial lights. The Midnight Sun Run is a ten-kilometer run/block party through Fairbanks neighborhoods on solstice weekend, beginning at 10 p.m. The Midnight Sun Festival in downtown likewise goes until midnight. What you won’t see in the summer are fireworks, because the midnight sun far outshines them. Fairbanks’ big fireworks displays are held in the winter. While summer’s twenty-four-hour daylight is a big draw, Fairbanks is best known for its extreme winter weather and the aurora borealis. Lonely Planet named Fairbanks the No. 2 travel destination in the United States in 2013. It says the biggest draw will be the aurora borealis, or northern lights, which are expected to be active since it is expected to be the height of the eleven-year solar activity cycle. National Geographic named Fairbanks, particularly the Chena River Recreation Area and Chena Hot Springs Resort, as one of the ten best winter trips worldwide.

“People like the idea of extremes, whether it’s the extreme sunlight in the summer or the extreme cold in the winter,” Hickok says. And in the winter, there’s the aurora borealis, which is beckoning more and more travelers in what was once considered the off-season. Hickok calls winter the “opportunity season.” “It’s coming more and more into its own,” she says. “As winter has grown, we’ve gotten a lot more products, such as aurora tours and winter tours. We’ve always been a great aurora destination, but our winter businesses have become more successful.” The aurora season is eight months long, from the time it starts to get truly dark at night the third week in August to late April, when the midnight sun once again gains sway. In addition to the lights, Fairbanks is home to extraordinary ice art. In December, the Christmas in Ice park is built in North Pole—next to Santa Claus House. The World Ice Art Championships are held from late February to mid- to late-March in Fairbanks, drawing artists from around the world. All

winter, ice sculptures appear around town. The long winter is a boon to Alaska’s mushers, and sled dog races are held throughout the year. The highlight is the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, a one thousand-mile race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon. A couple of weeks after the Quest finishes, sled dogs sprint through downtown Fairbanks as mushers with some of the fastest sled dogs in the world compete in the Open North American. Whether they experience Alaska on a cruise ship or behind a team of dogs under an aurora-streaked sky, for most people it’s a once in a lifetime journey, and Alaskans all over the state are working to make sure travelers can pack in everything they can under the sun, or the northern lights. “We don’t want them sitting at the airport for hours wondering what they could have done,” Neese says. 

Julie Stricker is a journalist living near Fairbanks.




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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Photo courtesy of YKHC Public Relations

Alaska Native Healthcare Systems

One of the first Centering Pregnancy groups, a prenatal program the YKHC brought to the YK Delta. The program has received phenomenal reviews from patients.

‘Elevating health and wellness’ By Laurie Evans-Dinneen


ealth and wellness in Alaska has had its growing pains, particularly for the Alaska Native community. The soothing, compassionate doctor who made house calls in the middle of the night, birthing children or treating dire illness, is not a scene reminiscent of life on the tundra or the harsh northern coastline or the Aleutian chain—that scene hardly played out in Anchorage or Juneau. Precontact, well-being was traditional healing and the wisdom of the elders in the remote Native communities of Alaska. Post-contact, there was illness that had never been seen before, and well-being became healthcare, which meant a substandard and poorly funded healthcare system dictated by the federal government in offices far removed from Alaska. 18

The historical relationship between the federal government and Alaska Native healthcare has been one of love-hate, of entitlement and poor service. Because the US government was responsible for the country’s pioneering westward expansion, taking away land from the indigenous people of the Lower 48 and creating the reservation system, the federal government is forever responsible for Native healthcare, which was captured in the Constitution in 1787, Article 1, Section 8. The long misunderstood concept about free healthcare for American Indians and Alaska Natives was just part of the Difficult Dialogue series, originally funded by the Ford Foundation’s initiative of the same name and facilitated by fac-

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

ulty of the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University under the 2008 theme, Alaska’s Native Peoples: A Call to Understanding. “Free healthcare,” however, doesn’t necessarily mean top of the line services.

Who Defines Healthcare Indian Health Services (IHS), which was formed in 1955 and removed healthcare oversight from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was the controlling force in indigenous healthcare, providing and dictating health and social services on a national level. The effort was to consider health issues on the local level and on the national level, and often the national level won out based on theories and research toward mainstream

ture and assimilation, which followed the funding. The IHS relied on the US Public Health Services’ Commissioned Corps of professionals who wanted to work with the underserved and disadvantaged populations. Some would say these were the best efforts, and others knew services could be better. “There is still the common stigma of tribal healthcare that you won’t be seen until it is too late or you are too sick,” says Donna Bach, director Public Relations and Intergovernmental Affairs for Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC). “The old saying was, ‘You better hope you get sick in October before the money runs out by June,’” she laughs. The focus was on symptoms rather than on prevention. In 1975, the Indian Self-Determination Act was passed by the US Congress, which allowed for Alaska Natives and American Indians to determine their own path for wellness and the well-being of their people. The Act allows for the tribes themselves to have greater control in decisions regarding their own welfare rather than allocating the decision making to government

officials. Once the Act was passed, this opened the door for Alaska’s indigenous people to begin to chart their own course toward health and well-being. Alaska Native tribes had taken over all contractible functions from IHS because it was considered substandard. “The real benefit is extraordinary empowerment to control their own health services programs,” states Dick LaFever, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Southern Montana and President/CEO of Crossroads Leadership Institute consulting, which has many clients including ANTHC and other tribal organizations. “Instead of relying solely on the Commissioned Corps, [tribes] can now hire their own doctors and specialists based on the needs and priorities identified locally.” The effort to move Alaska Native healthcare forward gained momentum through the years. The twelve Alaska Native Regional Corporations designated health and social services components through their nonprofit organizations, and some of the regional health centers became incorporated. In 1982, under the tribal authority of Cook Inlet

Region, Inc. (CIRI), Southcentral Foundation became incorporated and is the largest of the CIRI nonprofits. The institution has grown from the small building of offices shared with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council to its own campus and outlying medical facilities, serving sixty thousand Alaska Native and American Indian people living in Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and the sixty rural villages in the Anchorage service area, according to its website. Southcentral Foundation and ANTHC operate the Alaska Native Medical Center, the highest level trauma center in Alaska.

Customizing Care Definitions A major component of this new era of indigenous healthcare services is the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), created in December 1997 to manage statewide health services for Alaska Native people. “All Alaska Natives, through their tribal governments and through their regional nonprofit organizations, own the Consortium. We employ, for the better health of our service population, ap-


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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Native Healthcare Timeline

Building Shareholder Value

r e h t e g o T

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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

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■ 1787—US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 sets grounds for the government-to-government relationship between federally recognized tribes and the United States government. Because the federal government took away tribal lands, it established that it would be forever responsible for Native healthcare. ■ 1955—Indian Health Services is formed, moving healthcare from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Public Health System. ■ 1968—Established Alaska Tribal Health Service and Alaska Native Health Board—advocacy voice for Alaska tribal health issues. ■ 1971—President Richard M. Nixon resolved the issue of Native land claims—oil had been discovered and there was concern that if land claims were not settled, Alaska and the United States would lose ability to stimulate economic development. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed December 18, 1971. It established twelve regional Native corporations, and the 13th Native Corporation was later established for Alaska Natives living outside of Alaska. The regional corporations (subsurface land rights) and two hundred village corps (surface rights) received money for lands, and the 1971 enrolled Alaska Natives became the shareholders. They can develop lands and invest money to grow and benefit shareholders. ■ 1975—Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, recognized 557 tribes in thirty-seven states, 220 in Alaska. The Act, Public Law 93-638, established Title III Tribes can be self-governing or remain Title I Tribes and continue receiving services under Indian Health Services. ■ 1994—Alaska Native Tribal Health Compact, signed by twenty-two original Title V members and seventeen Title I members. It sets government-to-government relations through the IHS. Alaska is the only state in which more than 99 percent of health programs are managed by tribes and Native organizations. ■ 1997—Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is formed and is owned and managed by Alaska Native tribal governments and their regional health organizations. ■ 1998—Alaska Native Area Health Services signed a contract that transferred services to ANTHC. ANTHC is a member of the Alaska Native Health Board and works closely with the National Indian Health Board. ■ 1999—ANTHC partners with South Central Foundation to take over management of the Alaska Native Medical Center. ANTHC becomes the largest tribal self-governance organization in the United States. ■ 2013—The Alaska Tribal Health Service serves Alaska Native people, and all indigenous people, through regional health corporation services (rural hub communities), sub-regional services (rural sub-hub communities), statewide services, village clinics, and Community Health Aides. ANTHC has extensive telehealth services and Alaska e-Health Network connects electronic health records. ANTHC has a dental health aide program. 


Alaskans Together “ Connecting with your heritage is just a flight away.

proximately two thousand people and operate under a half-billion dollar operating budget,” according to the ANTHC website. “As a member of the Alaska Native Health Board, ANTHC is able to be a part of the budget negotiations with the IHS, which really determines the priorities,” affirms LaFever. “Annual priorities are laid out at the statewide level, and the individual health corporations will have their own emphasis within their own budgets.” For example, Bach really believes in the prevention measures that YKHC can provide. Located in Bethel, incorporated in 1969, YKHC has grown over the last seventeen years. According to Bach, YKHC, along with twenty-two other tribal organizations, is a co-signer to the Alaska Tribal Health Compact, a consortium which secures annual funding agreements with the federal government to provide healthcare and to allow for third party billing for services as do mainstream nonprofit hospitals. Tribal health organizations depend on collections from Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance to sustain or grow operations. This source of revenue has really opened up innovation, expansion, and services. YKHC is the largest healthcare employer in rural Alaska. Employability also equals wellness because YKHC is a viable, reliable resource and a culturally responsive employer. “Prevention is more effective, especially when we can provide much needed services to our clients. People will seek medical help the closer you bring it to them,” Bach says. “YKHC has five sub-regional clinics and forty-two village clinics, and the SRCs may employ Community Health Aides and may have a Physician Assistant or locum assigned. In our capacity, we are elevating health and wellness by being able to provide preventive screenings as well as routine well-child exams and immunizations to our younger populations. Each SRC also has a Dental Health Aide Therapist to help combat our extremely high dental carries rate, and this is a big initiative we have been championing over the last decade.” Bach added that due to the Balanced Budget Act, “sequester will play a role in the reduction of available spending—in the next ten years, it may grow from good, to bad, to worse.”

Bringing Alaskans Together Some services are provided by other airlines in the Era Alaska family.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Accommodating People The major regional nonprofits have established regional hospitals or health centers to accommodate their people: Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Juneau, Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue, Chief Isaac Andrew Health Center in Fairbanks, Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation in Dillingham, and Samuel Simmons Memorial Hospital in Barrow. Each area is represented by the Alaska Native Health Board and ANTHC in the funding cycles, declaring priorities and setting programs annually. The health centers coordinate services with the regional nonprofits, which mainly provide the social services and behavioral health components. There is always a give and take in the negotiations. For YKHC, establishing healthcare priorities requires listening to the fifty-eight federally recognized tribes it serves. The Act of 1975 states that YKHC has to provide two services annually that are of priority on the local level. At the annual tribal gathering, two representatives from each of the fifty-eight tribes attend and hear the annual report and put forth their tribe’s priorities for the top ten in the strategic plan. “Priorities are varied and change over the years,” Bach says. “In 2011, the number one was suicide prevention, which is consistently in the top ten; and in 2013 the top one was ER wait times in Bethel.” And, while input on priorities is important, it is then up to the governing board to work out the details and move up the command to the final negotiations with IHS and legislative priorities. LaFever adds, “It is an enormous undertaking. There is real effort to focus resources—the school districts, RuralCAP, the regional health corps. This allows a central approach. Before, it was a blanket approach.” There is also the telehealth and electronic health records system today, which allows the sub-regional and some other clinics to have diagnosis right at the local level. The Community Health Aides who have completed the federal program are a vital component of the community as well. Graduates of the program provide the first step of primary care, knowing their patients and getting vitals and working with the regional or sub-regional health centers for 22

further diagnosis. And, LaFever says, “with the e-records system, you can travel to any Alaska Native medical facility and your records are right there.” The regional priorities, however, have a foot in Western medicine, and while taking care of health is important, it is also significant to remember the wellbeing of the whole being. Larry Quuyux Merculieff, founder of the Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways, speaks of healing in the “wisdom of the elders for modern times.” Most organizations, he says, “are focused on what we are choosing to move away from rather than what we are moving toward.” As such, healing is a process for the “real human being,” which, according to Merculieff, involves always living in the present moment, and “making decisions with the heart. We are too brain focused from birth, how to think and how to act all the way through needing to get a PhD. This is not real intelligence of the human being, but only a part of it. We need to have intuition, heart sense, and mind.”

Defining Wellness This is the bridge for indigenous healthcare and wellness, according to Merculieff. Western medicine has its place for medical illness, but the wisdom of the elders requires an additional way of thinking for healing such issues as suicide and alcoholism. “We can’t solve the problem with the same consciousness that created the problem. We need to strive toward what traditional people call the real human being. Nurturing cultural practices—dance, song, rites of passage, grieving ceremonies—are necessary to keep the human being real,” Merculieff stresses. Bach, a Yup’ik of Bethel, having grown up under the umbrella of the IHS system, appreciates all of the innovation that has coincided with YKHC’s journey towards self-determination under the Public Law 93-638 clause, which allows the tribes to own and govern their own health care system. “The progress of owning and managing it from the tribal perspective, versus being subject to whatever the government used to provide is night and day,” she says, agreeing with Merculieff. YKHC has a program called Calricaraq Yuuluaqauciq—Yup’ik for “living in ultimate purity, to live in

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

completeness”—a holistic model promoting health and well-being and celebrating traditional values. This is a traditional model similar to what Merculieff speaks to in raising children from birth to be “present in the moment and to live life like that.” The Calricaraq cycle is “all-encompassing of our Yup’ik ancestral wisdom and knowledge, skills, values, teachings, ceremonies, activities, and our subsistence living.” And, most importantly, ensures “that this way of life is passed on to the next generation in the journey of life.” Bach says this program shows how Yup’ik ancestors used traditional methods to address issues and bring about conversations on such topics as suicide, domestic violence, and substance abuse. “The prevention aspect is to bring about the conversation,” she says. “At the core,” LaFever says, “is psychological wellness—having the ability to determine their own future.” The healthcare industry is growing in America and in Alaska, and the Native healthcare industry is no exception. Southcentral Foundation is building a new hospital in Knik, and there is a new tribal hospital in Homer. YKHC will continue to bring services to its smaller communities, as will other regional tribal health centers. Telemedicine is making many illnesses and diseases easier to diagnose and helps prevent them from becoming life-threatening. Modern medicine and wisdom of the elders for the modern times—as members of their communities, the Community Health Aides are likely bridging the two. Bach says, “They are providing care to rural residents through daily communication with presiding physicians or practitioners, providing the indigenous version of health care across an expansive geographic region in some incredibly innovative ways.”  Laurie Evans-Dinneen has been in Alaska since 1992 and is the Director of the cross-cultural immersion programs at the Alaska Humanities Forum. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon in 1990 and has written for various publications, including Anchorage Magazine and the Forum.


The Challenge of College Affordability: University of Alaska is a bargain in shaping the future ByAshokK.Roy The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and not of the University of Alaska. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. —Chinese proverb


he canvas is epic. Over the last decade, student debt in America has skyrocketed to more than $1 trillion (per the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau) which will lead to a total lifetime wealth loss of $4 trillion for indebted households without accounting for the impact of defaults. The average student debt is approximately $26,600 (the average University of Alaska student debt is approximately $24,000). Roughly $864 billion is outstanding in federal student loan debt while the remaining $150 billion is in private student loan debt. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, of the approximately 20 million Americans who attend college each year, almost 60 percent borrow annually to help cover costs; and there are around 37 million student loan borrowers with outstanding student loans today. The cost of a college education is increasing two to three times the overall rate of inflation per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average cost of a baccalaureate degree at a public university went up 46 percent in real dollars from 2000 to 2010. In 2012, the national average for state appropriation per student was $5,906, and the share of revenues that comes from tuition at public institutions was 47 percent. The Center for the Study of Education Policy estimates that in 2012-13 the average tuition and fees at four-year public universities was $8,655, and that states spent $71.9 billion on higher education. Of the US population, 27.6 percent have a college or advanced degree.

Lifetime Earning Power That begs the question: Is a college education worth it? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Apart from the quest for knowledge, a force for enormous social good, and producing more informed citizens, the reason is more mundane or pedestrian: according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, college graduates earn 74 percent more over their lifetimes than high school graduates, and two-thirds of all new jobs now require some type of postsecondary degree. Another compelling statistic is provided by a recent Brookings Institution study that estimated the investment return on a fouryear college degree at 15.2 percent a year, which is double the average stock market return. So, the challenge is that as a college degree becomes more important for a student, the cost, unfortunately, has shifted inordinately to students themselves, a majority of whom pay for their higher education with loans. Much like the complexities of controlling health care costs, controlling higher education costs is complex. Questions of quality, performance, and relevance have to be addressed in addition to cost and access. Oftentimes local community colleges offer the best educational value. From there students can transfer to a local university to finish their baccalaureate degree, thereby cutting the cost of a degree almost in half with no room-and-board expenses if they live at home. Addressing the Rising Cost To address this rising cost in higher education, many universities across the nation are freezing tuition or approving the smallest tuition increases

in years: The University of Michigan 1.1 percent increase; Ball State University 2 percent; Indiana University 1.75 percent; University of Vermont 2.9 percent; University of South Carolina 3.5 percent; Washington State University 2 percent; University of Washington and Central Washington University a freeze; North Carolina’s sixteen public universities including UNC Chapel Hill a freeze; Purdue University a freeze; South Dakota’s six public universities a freeze; public universities in Massachusetts a freeze. So, the question that naturally arises for Alaska is where does the University of Alaska (UA) stand? At UA, three dominant themes are guiding discussions on tuition: student achievement, revenues, and student access and affordability. Affordability is a basic component of any tuition discussion. UA has a notable low cost in terms of tuition. The tuition increase for 201314 across UA was 2 percent, the lowest in a decade. Keeping a high quality UA education affordable is an important component of students’ success. Besides keeping tuition low though productivity gains, UA makes available financial aid and scholarships. Examples of what students receive include federal work-study programs ($5.1 million); need-based financial aid ($31 million); tuition waivers; UA-funded UA Scholars program; and the UA College Savings Program (a tax-advantaged way families can invest and save their own money for their children’s future). The State of Alaska offers the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska Education Grant. Then there are several federal government programs such as Pell grants, the American Opportunity Tax credit, and others to comple-

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


UAA Men’s Basketball fans at Wells Fargo Sports Center.

ment state and local aid—the federal government distributes $150 billion in annual student aid nationwide. At the University of Alaska, the average student full-time equivalent in FY11 was billed an estimated $5,900 in tuition and fees for the year, offset by an average $2,300 in non-loan aid and $3,920 in loans for the year; the total average tuition and fees (net of nonloan aid) charged to an “average” student full-time equivalent in FY11 was $3,600. This is remarkable, indeed, against the canvas of what universities 24

in the rest of the nation charged their students. UA’s baccalaureate tuition is low in comparison to the fifteen members of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE):

WICHE Rates for Four-Year Programs—­Resident Tuition and Fees Institution 2012-13 1 Wyoming $4,278 2 New Mexico $4,708 3 Utah $5,388

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Montana Alaska Nevada Idaho North Dakota Hawaii Average South Dakota Oregon Colorado California Arizona Washington

$5,625 $5,788 $5,834 $5,932 $6,442 $7,063 $7,465 $7,676 $8,022 $8,060 $8,468 $9,693 $9,766

12 13 14 15

Washington Oregon Alaska SouthDakota

$4,235 $4,381 $4,570 $5,554

In comparison to WICHE members, the UA two-year program ranks on the high side because we are being compared to state community colleges that are significantly subsidized by local governments; such support does not exist to the same extent in Alaska. Note that UA has both the university and the community college missions—unique in the nation. In the end, the circular journey brings us right back to where we started about Alaska college affordability. Forget comparing us with the roar of New York, the rattle of Wall Street, the hum of Chicago, even the tranquil prosperity of California. Goethe’s Mephistopheles observes cynically in the second part of Faust that, “In the end we are all dependent on monsters of our own creation.” UA has been working very hard and has been forward-looking in the area of college affordability for Alaskans. After all, at the end of the day, universities are in the business of ideas. With the great migration of human population to cities (84 percent of the US population lives in cities, accounting for 90 percent of Gross Domestic Product), it is ontologically imperative to provide quality university education at an affordable cost to prepare students to be competitive. We are wedded to the notion that when a student succeeds, we all benefit from it. A university education remains the escalator up to a better life.  © 2007 Clark James Mishler/

WICHE Rates for Two-Year Programs—Resident Tuition and Fees Institution 2012-13 1 California $1,104 2 NewMexico $1,505 3 Arizona $2,225 Average $2,363 4 Wyoming $2,391 5 Nevada $2,700 6 Idaho $2,711 7 Hawaii $3,100 8 Utah $3,108 9 Montana $3,372 10 Colorado $3,537 11 NorthDakota $3,977

Dr. Ashok K. Roy is the Vice President for Finance & Administration/Chief Financial Officer for the University System of Alaska and Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Roy has significant experience, at senior management levels, at three other large universities, local government, and in the private sector. Dr. Roy holds six university degrees and five professional certifications and has authored seventy-three publications in academic and trade journals. October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Co.

Alaskan Brewing Co. co-founder GeoffLarsonoperatesthecompany’smashpressfilter,whichispartofthecompany’s beer-powered-beersystem.

Alaskan Brewing Co. Beer-Powered-Beer Crafting sustainability in sustenance ByNicoleA.BonhamColby


t’s been a good year for beer—particularly for the Juneau-based brewery that is the 49th state’s namesake. With new product releases out last month, and a recent study touting millions in total economic impacts to the state’s economy by Alaska’s handful of beer distributors, Alaskan Brewing Co. is also enjoying kudos rolling in from its unique sustainability effort to serve “beer-powered-beer.” That move toward greater sustainability by fueling part of its operation from the spent grain left over from the brew process has made the company the first craft brewer in the world to use the byproduct as a primary fuel source. Such innovation 26

is not incongruous for the company that was started by a couple who researched its early recipes from those first used during the Gold Rush years. Crafting its beer since 1986, Alaskan Brewing Co. is successfully spreading its signature Alaska images and Last Frontier-centric brands across the western nation from the labels of its popular craft beers.

Brewing a Beer Tale Started by Marcy and Geoff Larson more than a quarter century ago, Alaskan Brewing Co. was the nation’s sixty-seventh brewery when it started up in Juneau—and that city’s first brewery since the end of Prohibition. The

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

couple’s story is quintessential Alaska: drawn to the state’s natural beauty and lifestyle, but challenged to make a living and stay. After a friend suggested they start a brewery, the couple—a chemical engineer/homebrewer and accountant/ aspiring pilot—combined their brain power to create what is now a popular commercial presence throughout the western Lower 48, appearing on Tshirts, screensavers, and bottle labels from Washington state to Texas. That first batch of Alaskan Amber was hand packed by the couple and ten volunteers. It’s a story that is ripe with all the touchstones of Alaska—the lure of

venture, some adversity along the way, eccentric and creative solutions, the challenge of sticking to a plan through the years, the possibility of payoff for hard-won efforts, and, finally, success. Add to that Alaskana story the eccentricities of the craft brew culture—a grassroots collection of homebrewers and artists that increasingly are finding a commercial market for their unique, niche recipes. Some, like Alaskan Brewing Co., incorporate sufficient business know-how and process to eventually create a viable commercial operation from their initial good idea.

Brewing the Bucks Though linked through marketing and careful brand strategy to comforting images of good times spent with friends and family, beer—and increasingly craft, artisan beers—is, in fact, big business, particularly in Alaska. One indicator of the industry’s influence is to examine the economic impact of the distribution chain for beer. In Alaska, beer distributors—those who fill the logistical role of delivering the bottle of beer from the brewhouse to the

table—generate $158 million in total economic impact, according to a study released by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) earlier this year. The report, which examined ten beer distributor establishments in Alaska along with others across the nation, was produced by researches Bill Latham and Ken Lewis of the Center for Applied Business & Economic Research at the University of Delaware. The study considered how beer distributor-related activities link to various economic sectors, including community-support activities and economic development, as well as the personal services sector. Regarding their methodology, researchers used an analytical model developed by the Minnesota IMPLAN Group software and uses official US government data for related subjects. The study was in answer to a request by NBWA for deeper, broader examination of both the role and value of beer distributors in the United States as a nation, and by state. The study focused on the middle distribution tier—those operations that source beer directly from a brewer and deliver it directly to a retailer.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Co.

Alaskan Brewing Co. uses spent grain as fuel.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


New Brews Just in time for the fall harvest season, Alaska Brewing Co. has released its newest in its Alaskan Pilot Series: a pumpkin porter. “It’s kind of amazing,” says Andy Kline, a long-time Southeaster and the company’s communication manager. “It has kind of crazy amounts of pumpkin in it: eleven pounds of pumpkin in it per barrel.” Enthusiasts will also taste hints of the company’s smoked porter. “We’re using some of the same smoked malt that we use in that porter in this as well,” he says. To reach that perfect hint of pumpkin, the brewers tasted many different pumpkin varieties until settling on the Red Hubbard variety. “It had the right taste qualities they were looking for,” Kline says. The Alaskan Pilot Series offers a collection of specialty beers packaged in twenty-two-ounce bottles, as well as kegs, and is available in limited quantities throughout the company’s distribution area, now fifteen states. Offering a chance to highlight bold, creative brews, each recipe first goes through a development phase in the brewhouse and then is tested as part of the Rough Draft series, which features draft-only beers. Those beers that survive and thrive are considered for a limited special release 28

Image courtesy of Alaskan Brewing Co.

Among its number crunching, the study found that Alaska beer distributors employ some 581 people directly, with impact to 1,098 jobs when considering related capital investment and community involvement, according to the study. Beer distributor activities contribute some $36 million to the tax base across the board, as well as an additional $22 million in alcohol excise and consumption taxes on beer sold in-state. Beer distributors’ contributions to local community activities created $350,000 in annual economic impact, the study says. Across the nation, 3,300 independent beer distributors employ more than 130,000 workers, resulting in a traditionally undervalued “hidden gem,” according to the researchers. Easily available at outlets across the western states and recognizable with its vivid Alaskana-style labels, Alaskan Brewing Co.’s brews are bringing the bucks home to Alaska and spreading its quintessential images of the Last Frontier far and wide. Alaskan Brewing Co.’s use ofitsspentgrainasthesolefuelsourceforitsnew steamboilermakesitthefirstcraftbreweryintheworldtousethebrewingbyproductinthisway,reducingthecompany’sfueloilconsumptioninbrewhouse operationsby60to70percent.

as part of the Pilot Series. Past selections include the Perseverance Ale, Alaskan Raspberry Wheat Ale, and Alaskan Barley Wine Ale, among others. Last month was also the debut of another in the company’s Rough Draft series, the Sentinel Rye, a pale ale with rye. “We do three to four Pilot Series releases per year and three or four Rough Draft releases per year,” Kline says. “We have this kind of year-round line up. This is a place where we’re able to experiment a bit and do beers of lower volume.” For its flagship beer, Alaskan Amber, the company this summer kicked off a campaign with long-time Alaska outfitter Filson—like with the original receipt for Alaskan Amber, Filson has similar Gold Rush ties, serving as the original outfitter to the gold fields. Alaskan Brewing Co. announced it would give away a gold nugget worth $10,000 to the person who found a ticket hidden in Seattle. In other notable advertising partnerships, the brewer teamed up with Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association this summer to support the

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Dallas Observer Iron Fork, an onstage, moderated competition between two known chefs to win the title of Iron Chef. Then in May, Alaskan Brewing Co. participated in a Live Life Alaskan giveaway while partnered with the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Alaska Fly Out, and Alaska Airlines to offer two roundtrip airfare tickets wherever Alaska Airlines flies, with five nights at the luxury fly-in Tordrillo Mountain Lodge near Anchorage. Last spring, the company and Eaglecrest Ski Area sponsored the thirdannual High Gravity Games, which started in 2011 and helps raise funds for the Southeast Alaska Independent Living nonprofit. Finally, in perhaps its most significant news, the company just expanded to its fifteenth state last month—New Mexico—and its brews are now available as far east as Wisconsin and Texas and in all western states except Utah. Also this summer, Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Freeride American Pale Ale won a gold medal in the Pale Ale category at the US Open Beer Championship, which included a

global set of competitors and 2,500 beers across sixty-eight categories.

Beer-Powered-Beer By transitioning to using its wet, or spent, grain byproduct as fuel for its operations, the company estimates it saves 60 to 70 percent in fuel oil consumption at its brewhouse. “The beerpowered-beer is a process that is working right now and we’re fine-tuning it,” says Kline. “It’s cranking along.” The company first began the project nearly twenty years ago when they installed a grain dryer. Because Southeast Alaska doesn’t have farms and ranches, the dryer was designed to dry the material for shipment south for use as a feed for livestock. The dryer used up to half of the grain as a supplemental fuel source to operate the dryer. In 2008, the brewery enjoyed another “first” when it installed a mash filter press; becoming the first craft brewery in the nation to do so. The press provided greater efficiency and resulted in a dryer spent grain, which improved the grain’s ability to be used as a fuel source. Then last year, the brewery completed the last step in its alternative-fuel scenario by installing a $1.8 million spentgrain boiler. This transition required a mix of existing combustion technology with new innovations to result in the final product. The expectation is to negate use of fuel oil in the grain drying process and offset one-half of the fuel necessary to create process steam in the brewhouse. The company estimates it will save some 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil in the next decade. Such efforts appear to bring credence to the slogan used in some of the company’s marketing that it is “Inspired by Alaska, Sustained by Innovation.”

beer distributor activities, ranging from the traditional direct support to the less tangible community involvement. The resulting numbers speak to the impact of that simple brew, beer. Some may find it surprising that beer distributors added $54 billion to the gross domestic product. Nationally, distributor activity “is intimately tied to the fabric of the American economy, evidenced by the multiplier processes that connect beer distribution to the other parts of the economy,” according to the NBWA study. Furthermore, “beer distributors are good

citizens in their communities across the United States. They support numerous community events, a wide array of charitable activities, and many activities promoting local economic development. In addition, they play a role in efforts to eliminate drunk driving, alcohol abuse, and underage drinking through alcohol awareness, server training, and education initiatives in schools and the media.”  Nicole A. Bonham Colby writes from Ketchikan.


Future Ahead Given the awakening recognition that beer brewers and distributors are significant commercial players in many states’ economies, the beer industry in general is gaining new street cred. The NBWA report by the University of Delaware’s center took the traditional study methodology—examining exclusively the economic impacts of the distributors, such as materials purchases, support operations, and labor—and investigated more deeply to quantify the varieties of

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Photo courtesy of AWWU

An aerial view of Anchorage’spristinewatersupply,EklutnaLake.

Urban Water & Wastewater Systems: Anchorage Part One of a Series ByRindiWhite


aterandwastewateraresomeofthemostexpensiveutilitiestoprovide andthemostvitaltokeepingacommunityhealthy. TheAmericanCouncilforanEnergy-EfficientEconomysaysmunicipal waterandwastewatertreatmentsystems“areamongthemostenergyintensivefacilitiesownedandoperatedbylocalgovernments,accountingfor about35percentofenergyusedbymunicipalities.” InAlaska,costscanbeevenhigherthanthosenationalaverages,especially inruralandremotecommunitieswheregroundwaterisbrackishorsoils unsuitableforbuildingwastewatertreatmentfacilities. Butwhat’shappeningwithwaterandwastewaterinAlaska’surbanareas? ArewaterutilitiesmuchdifferentinAnchorage,Fairbanks,Juneau,andMatSuthanOutside?Whataretheissuesfacingtheseutilityproviders?Over thecourseofthenextseveralmonths,AlaskaBusinessMonthlyreaderscan learnaboututilitiesinAlaska’smajorpopulationcentersandfindouthoweach communityispreparingforthefuture.


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013


nchorage has some of the besttasting drinking water in the nation. Few major cities supply its residents with lightly treated glacier water straight from the tap. But tapping into glacier water for municipal consumers doesn’t just make for fresh-tasting water; it also means an inexpensive method of supplying that water. On the other end of the treatment spectrum, the state’s largest municipality operates the state’s largest municipal wastewater treatment facility, the John M. Asplund Wastewater Treatment Plant, which processes roughly 28 million gallons of wastewater every day. And here’s a fact that most people

From Glacier to Faucets First, a little more about the water source. Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility treatment division director Richard Steckel says the Municipality of Anchorage—which spans from Eklutna to Girdwood—uses around 25 million gallons of water each day, on average. The number varies by season. Most of that water—90 percent, Steckel says—is supplied by Eklutna Lake, derived from Eklutna glaciermelt and snowmelt or rain from the surrounding Chugach mountain peaks. The city also has a water treatment

Photo courtesy of AWWU

who flush a toilet or wash a dish in Anchorage might not know—most of that wastewater is screened, lightly treated, and discharged directly into Cook Inlet. The municipality has a modified 301 9h0 permit from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, that allows them to do so; a waiver some say might disappear. Critics say it’s irresponsible for Anchorage to put sewage into the same body of water that is home to the salmon that stock so many Alaskans’ freezers.

The Eklutna Lake water treatment facility, as seen from the air. Eklutna Lake providesabout90percentofAnchorage’swatersupply.

plant at Ship Creek near Muldoon and the Glenn Highway that supplies about 2 percent of the city’s water supply. The remaining 8 percent of the city water supply comes from municipal wells. “We’re very fortunate to have pristine water sources. All three are very good. Most communities around the nation

would love to have [sources as pristine],” Steckel says. Steckel says the other water sources are there for a few reasons: preparation for peak demand and having a backup plan in case one water system fails. Wherever the water comes from, it goes through a treatment process.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Steckel says the city uses a traditional five-step filtration process, similar to treatment plants across the nation. But the process is simplified because the raw water is so clean, he says. “We don’t have to rechlorinate [the water] throughout the distribution system,” he says. Helping make the water fresh and clear, Steckel says, is that the Municipality is the primary user of Eklutna Lake. Other cities around the nation rely on rivers or water sources with other communities upstream—meaning those other communities might be extracting drinking water and also discharging treated wastewater or stormwater into the same body of water. Whether it’s the glacier-fresh source or the light treatment along the way, water that comes out of the tap in Anchorage is tasty. The Municipality in 1998 was recognized as having the best tasting water in the nation at the United States Conference of Mayors. The Municipality was invited to compete, Steckel says, and the city held the “best tasting” title for ten years, as the Conference of Mayors doesn’t hold the competition every year.

Added Bonus: Gravity Makes the Flow (Almost) Free While Ship Creek and municipal wells provide alternative water sources, getting water that way would be more costly than the water piped down from Eklutna Lake, Steckel says. The lake is at 870 feet above sea level. It flows through a pipe down to the municipal treatment plant, which is at 630 feet above sea level. From there, it drops gradually into the municipality, meaning the water arrives without having to use pumps to speed it on its way. “The gravity puts it through the treatment process,” Steckel says, and most of the way to the main distribution system. Down the Drain So what happens when that pristine water goes down the drain? Depending on where in the Municipality the water is draining, different things might happen. Steckel says the Municipality operates three wastewater treatment facilities: one in Girdwood that treats about 465 million gallons a day, one in Eagle River that treats around 1 million gallons a

day, and the Asplund facility, which treats about 28 million gallons a day. The Girdwood and Eagle River treatment facilities apply what’s called tertiary treatment—a treatment process that removes up to 99 percent of all the impurities from septic waste, leaving almost drinking-water quality discharge. The Asplund facility treats at what’s called a primary level—the sewage is screened to remove large objects, grit, grease, and solids. As Steckel described it, first the sewage goes through a screening system—flat screens with quarter-inch holes. The debris that’s taken out gets compacted and trucked to Anchorage Regional Landfill. The screened sewage moves on through a grit chamber, where the grit is allowed to settle out. The remaining liquids go into clarifiers—six large 120-foot diameter pools, fifteen feet deep, where the water is skimmed on top and solids are swept off the bottom. The solids are concentrated, dewatered, and pressed into a cake, which is incinerated on-site with the skimmed liquids—generally greases and anything else that floats.


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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

The John M. Asplund wastewater treatment facility atPoint Woronzofis thestate’s largestwaste treatment center.It processes about28 million gallonsof wastewater everyday. Photo courtesy of AWWU

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Photo courtesy of AWWU

The Asplund wastewater treatment plant has an impressive view of Sleeping Lady.

The grit, removed earlier, is taken along with the ash from the incinerated solids and deposited at the Anchorage Landfill. The remaining liquid is chlorinated and sent out a pipe that extends eight hundred feet into Cook Inlet, near the end of the North-South runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Steckel says the concrete discharge pipe rests on the bottom of the inlet and the waste flows out somewhere between forty and seventy feet below the surface. The range, he said, is due to the extreme tidal fluctuations of Cook Inlet. Those tidal fluctuations are in part what has so far allowed the Asplund facility to continue discharging into Cook Inlet. Steckel says scientific data shows the inlet flushes routinely—once every four to seven days, he says. Discharging into Cook Inlet takes a Clean Water Act Section 301 (h) modified permit from the EPA. The Municipality is one of about forty facili34

ties nationwide—nine of which are in Alaska—that are allowed to discharge into marine or estuarine environments, according to EPA Region 10 representatives. Most 301(h) modified permits are for facilities in Alaska, New England, and the US Territories. EPA representatives say Asplund is the largest site with a 301(h) modified permit in Region 10, and one of the largest in the nation. Asplund operates on what’s called a 30/30 permit, Steckel says. The Municipality has to remove at least 30 percent of the biochemical oxygen demand of the sewage and 30 percent of the solids. According to wastewater management groups, biochemical oxygen demand is the amount of oxygen used by aquatic microorganisms to break down organic material found in the water. When the removal rates were tested last year, Steckel says, the facility was removing nearly 75 percent of the solids and better than 45 percent of the biochemical oxygen demand.

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

“So we’re somewhere around 2.5 times greater than what’s required [on the solids],” he says. If that’s the case, why not take the step to provide secondary treatment? Steckel says secondary treatment typically requires removal rates of 85/85, or 85 percent of the biochemical oxygen demand and 85 percent of the solids. Getting to that level takes a lot of investment, he says.

Secondary Treatment Secondary treatment would bring another level of treatment, typically aeration basins. The sludge is allowed to settle out, oxygen is pumped into the beds, and the aquatic bacteria that break down the sludge are allowed time to work. “[It would mean] large aeration pumps and other equipment. That’s where the cost comes in. When you’re talking about the waste discharging, the permit might not achieve a great improvement

Left and Above: beltpressintheAsplund wastewatercenterpresseswateroutofsludge thatwilleventuallybepressedintocakesand incinerated.

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Photo courtesy of AWWU

The outfall tower on the shore of Cook Inlet is one of the last stops for treated wastewater before it enters Cook Inlet.

[in the removal efficiency percentages], but it would be costly,” he says. How costly? The Municipality studied the issue in 1997 and updated the numbers about ten years ago, Steckel says. The study pegged the cost at complying with secondary treatment at between $500 million and $800 million. He estimated for the average ratepayer, it would mean a jump in rates from about $40 a month to about $120 a month. “It’s a substantial impact to the Municipality and to Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility’s customers,” Steckel says. “This is a huge project ifit is undertaken—it would take multiple years and multiple funding sources to get the project done and, in the end, what money is not available through special grants [and other sources] would have to be received through rates.” Some, like Alaska Center for the En36

vironment, say the Municipality should demonstrate its commitment to the local environment and increase its level of treatment. “Alaska’s biggest employer is the fishing industry, on which the state’s economic viability is reliant,” states Alli Harvey in a thesis encouraging Anchorage to step up to secondary treatment. “Cook Inlet’s marine environment has been noted by scientists as among the most productive ecosystems in the world… If the inlet is not protected, neither is this industry. Additionally, related recreation, tourism, and subsistence will suffer if fish populations decline. With the unknown effects of disposing screened, chlorinated effluent in Cook Inlet, it’s a far safer bet to find money to upgrade the facility now and protect the resource than it would be to create a viable economy from scratch

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

further down the road.”

Meeting 301(h) Waiver Criteria Could the EPA not renew Anchorage’s 301(h) permit modification? According to EPA Region 10 officials, new wastewater treatment facilities are not eligible for 301(h) modifications and must meet secondary treatment standards. Only treatment facilities that applied by 1979 and meet certain criteria are allowed to request a waiver, as long as they continue to meet the 301(h) criteria, which are “intended to ensure that 301(h) facilities are discharging into healthy receiving waters and do not cause or contribute to adverse impacts within the receiving water or violate water quality standards.” The facilities are required to have monitoring programs in place to assess the health of the receiving water, the performance of the facility, and any

impacts the facility might have on the receiving water. Asked if Anchorage’s permit could be revoked, EPA Region 10 representatives, in an email in which they asked not to be individually identified, wrote that as long as the Asplund facility continues to meet the 301(h) criteria, it could continue to operate under the 301(h) program “in perpetuity.” Anchorage Water and Wastewater spokesman Chris Kosinski says Anchorage is currently operating with a waiver last obtained in 2005. EPA Region 10 officials are in charge of administratively granting renewals. EPA officials said it’s premature to comment on the specifics of their evaluation of the renewal application. “Asplund has been a great partner throughout this process and we look forward to working with them as we move closer towards a decision on their waiver renewal,” the EPA Region 10 representatives wrote in an email.  Photo courtesy of AWWU

Rindi White is a freelance journalist living in Palmer.

An operator cleans the headworks screen at the Asplund wastewater treatmentfacility.


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Marc Langland ByShehlaAnjum

Photo courtesy of Northrim

Iconic Alaskan Marc Langland isChairmanandC  EOofN  ort hrimBanCorp ,Inc.


arc Langland does not remember the motto of the first bank where he worked. But the 1964 calendar from Tri-County State Bank in Zearing, Iowa, promises customers that their bank is “Strong Enough to Protect You . . . Large Enough to Serve You . . . Small Enough To Know You.” Langland, chairman and CEO of Northrim BanCorp, Inc., which owns Northrim Bank, found a career in banking by way of a gas station job. One summer day when Langland was seventeen and working at a Zearing gas station, the Tri-County State Bank’s president


stopped for gas and casually asked him if he wanted to work in his bank. Langland accepted the offer, although the paycheck wasn’t much more than the gas station’s forty dollars a week. “I had little idea of my future career except that I would go to college and get a business degree, but I knew a bank job was better than greasing cars.” He worked there through high school and college summer breaks, and learned the basics of banking. With a population of five hundred, Zearing, Iowa, is the kind of place where everyone knows and watches out for each other. “People in Midwestern small

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

towns live with basic values: Be straightforward, honest, and be involved,” Langland says. Those values were to guide his banking career of more than fifty years and shape his life. Langland, now seventy-two, is semi-retired but still involved in both his bank and his community. Like many Alaskans, Langland came to Alaska intending to stay a few years. He had heard a lot about Alaska from his wife’s aunt who lived here, which made him want to work here temporarily. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he spent one year at a Denver bank, and while there he began

Into the Bank Business In 1977 Langland left NBA to join his friend Arne Espe in forming a holding company that owned two banks, later bought by Key Bank in the mid1980s. After the sale Espe and Langland worked for Key Bank for three years, but left in 1988 just as the Alaska recession was tapering off. During that 1980s recession thirteen Alaska financial institutions failed, the housing market collapsed, and about twenty thousand people left the state. By 1990 the remaining banks had consolidated, and Langland and Espe decided the time was right to create a new bank. At the time the move took nerve. “We felt there wasn’t enough competi-

tion and businesses needed more choices, so we formed a public company to raise new capital,” Langland says. With $9 million in capital, Northrim Bank began operations in December 1990 in a trailer in midtown Anchorage. The money came from a diverse group of investors from both Alaska and the Lower 48 and included two Alaska Native Corporations, Natives of Kodiak, Inc., and Klukwan, Inc. Shareholders of both corporations serve on the bank’s board. Irene Rowan, former president and chairman of Klukwan, and Tony Drabek, former president and CEO of Natives of Kodiak, were appointed to the board in 1991 and continue to serve today. There is no doubt that Northrim is successful. The bank now has $1.1 billion in assets, ten branches in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Eagle River, and Wasilla, and 260 employees. The small-town qualities that shaped Langland are evident in Northrim’s success and its position as a leader in community service. But Langland worries about the threat to Northrim and other community banks from credit unions. “Alaska is one of the few states where credit

Photo courtesy of Northrim

ing for jobs in Alaska. In 1965, National Bank of Alaska (NBA) hired Langland, the start of nearly twelve years of working for NBA in Anchorage, Wrangell, and Fairbanks. He credits NBA’s chairman Elmer Rasmuson for his success. “I learned a lot from Elmer Rasmuson— the basic principles of being a good conservative banker and how to manage banks in the Alaska environment.”

Northrim Bank opened in atrailerin MidtownAnchoragein1990.

unions have such a dominant position in the market,” he says. Credit unions now offer their services to more people, not just select members as they formerly did. Unlike banks, they pay no income tax, and credit unions don’t have the same regulatory oversight that banks do, Langland says. “It should be a level playing field and, just as banks do, credit unions should also pay income taxes.”

Customer Service Priority Perhaps, even more than banking, it is Langland’s commitment to community and customer service that earns him accolades from many. As a local bank,

Serving Alaska with pride and environmental stewardship for more than 50 years.

Our strength comes from our people. Experience. Trust. Dedication. Commitment. These continue to be our most important assets.


October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Photo courtesy of Northrim

was on the board of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation from 1987 to 1991, as chair in his last year. He still serves on the boards of Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, and Usibelli Coal Mine. He is past chairman of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, the Fairbanks Chamber, and Commonwealth North. Despite the public presence, Langland has managed to maintain a low profile in the forty-eight years he has lived and worked in Alaska. Modest is perhaps the right word to define him. Former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles says he knows Langland well Marc Langland at an early Northrim “as a fishing buddy, banker, and comBankevent. munity leader—and I admire his talent Northrim takes pride in how it treats its in all. Marc has always flown below the customers, both large and small. Its larger radar screen because he doesn’t look for clients include Native corporations that any kind of public recognition.” have become some of the bank’s most valued customers, Rowan says. “Marc underWorking with People stands the importance of Alaska Native One of Langland’s strengths is his ability corporations to Alaska’s future. Northrim to work with people, says Steve Lindbeck, developed a close relationship with Native general manager, Alaska Public Media. corporations under him,” Rowan adds. Lindbeck worked with Langland on the Even in semi-retirement, Langland “Principles and Interests” project, which continues to be active. He holds, or has examined the future of the Alaska Perheld, positions on several boards. He manent Fund. Langland not only “raised


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

a substantial amount of money but was also was engaged in its intellectual design,” Lindbeck says. He also lauds Langland’s ability to gather “people who are intelligent and eager to contribute, and he does not let his personal ideology define who he is going to work with.” As a community leader, Langland has dedicated himself to a combination of financial stability for the community and the state, and “he puts his money where his mouth is,” Knowles says, referring to Northrim’s continuing financial support of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER). Scott Goldsmith, ISER’s former director, knows about Langland’s commitment to ISER’s work on analyzing the state’s fiscal policy. “The state is not willing to spend money on that kind of analysis, but Marc is committed to making Alaska’s economy as healthy as possible to ensure long-term prosperity.” In April this year, Northrim gave ISER an additional $100,000 to continue the research, bringing its total funding to $1 million. The project at ISER, “Investing for Alaska’s Future,” began in 2000 and is

Langland’s personal initiative, Goldsmith says. “He is eternally optimistic and gets upset when policy goes in the wrong direction. He wants continued work on the issues in an optimistic way and believes if we work hard enough and get the information and facts out people will make the right decisions.” One of Langland’s strong beliefs is that Alaskans must encourage the oil industry to continue to invest because it is the “core main industry that funds our state government and is the foundation of our economy.” He fears that Alaska’s taxes and regulations will drive the industry out, spelling disaster. “We don’t have a big enough citizens’ base that we could tax to support government.” He took action when he and Jim Jansen, of Lynden Transport, formed the “Make Alaska Competitive” group, or MAC, to educate Alaskans and to lobby the Legislature for passage of oil tax reform legislation.

Community Investments In Zearing everyone pulled together to make that small town work, and in a sim-

ilar way the employees of Northrim also pull together to help their communities. “We gather deposits in our community and then we lend out into the community. But our involvement doesn’t stop there,” says Jay Blury, the bank’s marketing and communications director. “Marc believes our people are our strength and that is the foundation of our success. The bank has invested time to instill the value of community in all of us.” Employees are encouraged to be active in the community and hold positions on many boards, and the bank also contributes more than $500,000 annually to various civic organizations such as the School Business Partnership. In 2012, employees raised a record $122,000 for United Way with 100 percent participation at several branches. The bank also financed and invested in the $16 million Coronado Park Senior Village in Eagle River, a Cook Inlet Housing Authority senior rental housing project. The bank took its involvement further by becoming an investor in the project by purchasing approximately

$10 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Blury says.

Keen Interest in Alaskans Langland is not as involved in the bank’s daily affairs today, but he continues his keen interest in issues that concern all Alaskans. He will work actively to urge voters to not repeal SB21, the Legislature’s bill reforming oil taxes, at the polls next year. A referendum repealing the bill promoted by opponents to tax reform may appear on the August 2104 primary election ballot. He worries about the state’s future because it is his home and he wants a state where his young grandchildren can thrive. Scott Goldsmith best summed up Langland’s contributions to Alaska: “We could use a lot more Marc Langlands in this state. He understands how the economy works and what drives the state. He is a committed Alaskan who is willing to work to make it a better place.”  Shehla Anjum writes from Anchorage.

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Alaskan Innovations Avoid FCC Narrowbanding Fines, Ensure Safety Allowing industry to ‘Keep on Trucking’ By Mari Gallion


oung fans of popular trucking TV shows of the 1970s—like Movin’ On, Cannonball, and BJ and the Bear—might have come away with the impression that the primary purpose of two-way radio communication is to chat with your good buddy, stay one step ahead of your nemesis, and warn your entertainingly dubious co-worker that he’s got Smoky on his tail. However, two-way communication is essential for safety and efficiency in the trucking business, an industry on which we all depend largely for our basic necessities for life—a business with strict timelines, stiff regulations, and significant safety concerns. Truck drivers carry a high level of accountability to themselves and their employers. If 42

“The narrowbanding mandate was necessary. Having agreed on that, how you implement it could be more or less disruptive. I think that the FCC made a mistake when they took the whole doggone band at once. It was hugely disruptive. They could have gone about that in a different way.” —Linda Peters Chief Administrative Officer and General Manager, ProComm Alaska LLC

there is an industry in which a professional can get away with being fly-bynight, the Alaska trucking industry is not one of them. In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) handed down the FCC Narrowbanding Mandate, which in layman’s terms means that

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

the channels that all industries were using for two-way communications were made illegal in lieu of narrower channels, so there could be more of them. In highly populated areas of the United States, this mandate was necessary in order to cut down on congestion of these radio channels and

low people to communicate. However, while this may have solved problems in the Lower 48, it created unnecessary problems for Alaska, much like it would if federal regulations required every Alaska home to have an air conditioner. Alaska did not have any issues with overcrowding, yet because of this mandate all businesses that use two-way radios—if they haven’t already—must now convert to narrowbanding. “It doesn’t fit Alaska at all,” says Gene O’Neal, chief technology officer for Carlile Transportation Systems. “[Alaska] is almost one quarter the size of the entire country,” not to mention the most sparsely populated state, the vast majority of which is not even accessible via the road system. In most cases, compliance with the mandate requires purchase, installation, and programming of a new radio for each vehicle in a company’s fleet, as well as the cost of applying for and licensing frequencies for them to use. This process is extremely time-consuming and expensive. Many industry professionals agree that the mandate was not well thought out. “The narrowbanding mandate was necessary,” says Linda Peters, chief administrative officer and general manager of ProComm Alaska LLC. “Having agreed on that, how you implement it could be more or less disruptive. I think that the FCC made a mistake when they took the whole doggone band at once. It was hugely disruptive. They could have gone about that in a different way. They could have said, ‘Okay, VHF, which is one portion of the spectrum—VHF Commercial now, VHF Public Safety now’ to stagger the times.” Despite the rampant industry rumors suggesting that Alaska is exempt from this new mandate, Alaska businesses are indeed subject to the new rules as well as associated fines. Every incident can carry a fine of $112,500—and because most radios have programmed access to several channels, each one regarded as a separate incident, one radio can result in a potential fine of more than a million dollars. However, the FCC is slow to begin enforcement of the mandate in the Alaska trucking industry. “Right now they’re slammed because they did this,” O’Neal says, “and now

they have to respond to everybody, and everybody is coming out of the woodwork. So it’s probably taking most of their manpower to deal with that.” But Peters warns trucking companies not to mistake the current lack of enforcement for a lack of intention to enforce the mandate. “The days of the FCC not caring are over,” Peters says. “While trucking companies outside of Alaska have been cited multiple times since the first of this year, not one single trucking company inside Alaska has, so

it’s almost like they’re giving us grace,” Peters says. “However, every single week somebody in Alaska is being cited for illegal frequencies in their radio—just not trucking companies—yet.”

Solution Inspiration Alaska Trucking Association (ATA) Executive Director Aves Thompson— along with Peters, O’Neal, and representatives from various trucking companies around the state—came together to try to find a way to minimize financial and technological strain on

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


“The state folks are pleased,” Thompson says. “At our press conference, we had a representative from the governor’s office, a representative from the DOT commissioner’s office, a representative from the Alaska State Troopers, and the director of the division of measurement standards of commercial vehicle enforcement— that’s who we interact with mostly. All came and all spoke in favor and support of the program, that it could be a benefit to us all.” — Aves Thompson Executive Director, Alaska Trucking Association (ATA)

those companies making the transition to narrowbanding while maximizing safety and effective communication at the same time. “ATA has planned a really comprehensive system,” Peters says. The final product is called the ATA Radio Alert Program, and the program is described in detail on the ATA’s website (aktrucks. org) for anyone who wants to join, or to use the program as a model to help find a solution for their own state. “The first discussion we had was we’d have all of our members sign deals with each other,” Thompson says, “and that way they could use their own company frequencies. Well then as we talked some more about that, that wasn’t an optimum solution because sometimes you want to talk on your company frequency without others listening in. “We came up the with idea of getting our own channels, but in that case, the troopers couldn’t monitor because of the changes in the rules, so there was there was no way to report emergencies. You couldn’t contact the troopers legally. We realized we need to be able to do that as well. “So as we worked our way through this the plan sort of crystalized. We have an alert channel to contact emergency services, and we have what we call a hail channel where drivers can go to ‘hail’ another driver, and say, ‘Hey meet me at one of ATA’s ten chat channels,” Thompson says. “The state folks are pleased,” Thompson says. “At our press conference, we had a representative from the governor’s office, a representative from the DOT commissioner’s office, a representative from the Alaska State Troopers, and the director of the division of measurement standards of commercial vehicle enforcement—that’s who we interact 44

with mostly. All came and all spoke in favor and support of the program, that it could be a benefit to us all.” According to Thompson, there is even talk of the program being used as a model for other sites in the Lower 48 also struggling to comply with the new FCC rules. However, not everyone is pleased with the plan, and getting a large number of trucking companies to buy into the program is central to increasing the system’s efficiency and safety. “The more people that are in the plan the better it will be,” Thompson says. Peters agrees: “If I’m coming down the Haul Road in February, I need to be able to get whatever truck is with me,” Peters says. “The member companies of ATA are probably 75 percent of the trucks on the road,” Peters says. “So you’ve got the member companies of ATA creating this momentum. So if all the independents don’t go, all the ‘bigs’ are already on—so it is more likely that the truck coming at you down the road has the same frequencies. That’s a good thing that ATA’s project has accomplished.” Some companies, most of them smaller trucking companies, are resistant to join the program. O’Neal advises against this. “If they do something on their own, they’re not going to have access to these frequencies, which include the talkback frequencies and the safety and emergency frequencies. If they don’t join, we can’t let them use the frequencies because it’s a violation of FCC rules,” O’Neal says. “We didn’t want any of this to happen,” O’Neal says in response to backlash from businesses and individuals who are resistant to joining the ATA plan, many of whom feel as though they

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

are being strong-armed into paying fees to an association of which they are not a member, or are resentful that they are suddenly subject to federal mandates that did not take their circumstances into account. “We were perfectly fine with the way radios were running.” But Thompson counters these perceptions with a reminder that joining the ATA program is less expensive than for a company to buy and license their own frequencies. “We are charging a fee, but it’s a pretty nominal fee.” Although the pricing is two-tiered, with the pricing for non-members higher than the price for ATA members, Thompson says, “This is not a profit center for us. This is a member benefit and an industry benefit. You could go out and get your own frequency, but that would cost you $750 to $1,000—or you could come on board with us with one radio for $50 a year, or $150 if you’re a non-member.” “The biggest thing is explaining that this is the law and is something that had to be done, and that our interest is solely in finding a way to do it that keeps everybody safe and legal,” O’Neal says. And even he is not exempt from the headaches of getting into compliance. “First thing I had to do of course was check all my licenses and make sure we had our licenses in order for [narrowbanding],” O’Neal says, “which we’ve done—we’re ahead of the game on that. But like everybody else, getting all the equipment prepped and all of that is going to take some time, and we’re still not there yet. In the interim time I found that I had some frequencies in Prudhoe Bay that are not quite right, so I’m reapplying to those frequencies as well, and waiting on that. FCC moves kind of slow on that stuff.”

Future Challenges Despite the ATA’s success in designing the ATA Radio Alert Program, there are further challenges that must be navigated. Although ProComm Alaska is not the only company in town that can be contracted to help the trucking companies get into compliance, Peters’ participation in consulting with the creators of the ATA Radio Alert Program has provided her with extensive knowledge of what a transition entails, as well as the challenges that are sure to arise within

the industry as a result of the mandate. According to Peters, one of the main challenges is that, due to the time and expense, many companies are not in compliance and are struggling to find what will be a less expensive alternative for them. “I get phone calls every week from independent drivers still proposing some variation on an illegal solution,” Peters says. Another challenge is that the ATA Radio Alert Program may have solved many problems for truckers who are traveling well within the state—but crossing borders, as well as crossing state lines, brings challenges that are practically impossible to mitigate under the current FCC rules. “You have to stop using channel 1 one hundred miles outside of Tok,” Peters says. “This is a major problem. If you’re a driver, and you’re focusing on driving, the hazards, your loads… you have to remember, ‘Let’s see, I can use channel 1 through 12 anywhere in Alaska. But when I cross into Canada, I have to use channels 3 and 7. And if I make my entry through Washington, I have to use channel 19. But if I make my entry through Montana, I have to use…’ And the next state, and in the next state: It’s different.” “If truckers were to be fully compliant,” Peters continues, “they’d have to license hundreds of channels, and they’d have to keep track of which ones to use in which states, which is just functionally impossible. So the only other alternative is don’t use a radio.” However, the ATA Radio Alert Program is a good start, and gives companies some way—if not a permanent way—to get into compliance and avoid catastrophic fines, as well as keep their drivers safe. “This fills a safety need,” Thompson says. “When our drivers go to work every day, the highway is their workplace. We want to keep it as safe as we can.”  Mari Gallion is Associate Editor at Alaska Business Monthly.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Photo courtesy of Fairbanks Natural Gas

Fairbanks Natural Gas and TOTE Pioneer LNG Fuel in Alaska

Part of the Fairbanks Natural Gas team in front of one of the company’s LNG powered tractors and LNG tanker. From left, Sandy Stamper (Customer Service/AR), Wesley Smith (Controller), and Zach Dameron (Accounting Manager).

Two firms in it for the long haul, by land and sea By Will Swagel


he rapid growth of natural gas production in the United States is causing fuel-dependent industries to calculate the cost and benefits of converting diesel-fueled equipment to natural gas—which can save a third or more in fuel costs. Because natural gas burns cleaner than diesel, running on liquefied natural gas, or LNG, can also


help establish a company’s “green” credentials and may qualify them for tax breaks or other subsidies. While short-haul vehicles generally run on compressed natural gas, or CNG, LNG is being seen as the fuel for long-haul truckers and even ships because more energy can be stored on board. LNG is natural gas which has been cooled to temperatures of

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

minus two hundred degrees Fahrenheit or even lower. It is generally stored in tanks that work like high-tech thermos bottles, reducing the need for additional refrigeration to maintain the gas as a liquid. Almost daily, two trucks powered on LNG—and hauling the same—run about 350 miles along the Parks Highway between Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Photo courtesy of Fairbanks Natural Gas

A Fairbanks Natural Gas LNG powered tractor pulling an LNG tanker. FNG is proving that LNG technology works in Alaska.

Passing such trucks on the road, a motorist would see nothing different from a usual diesel-powered big rig. Except the fuel for this truck costs a third less. And fuel costs are the largest line item across the transportation industry.

Demonstration Project “Because we are in the production business of liquefied natural gas, we’re looking to expand our market into the transportation industry,” said Dan Britton, CEO and president of Fairbanks Natural Gas, which owns both trucks. “We wanted to prove and have proved that the [LNG] technology works in Alaska.” Fairbanks Natural Gas, LLC (FNG) is the natural gas utility providing service to Alaska’s second city since 1998. FNG purchases natural gas from the Cook Inlet area and trucks it to Fairbanks, where the company supplies gas to homes and businesses. FNG’s two T-800 Kensworth trucks were built for LNG using Cummins/ Westport Innovations technology, which developed a number of engine models that run on various types natural gas. Carlile Transportation Systems supplies the drivers, who have reported few operational differences between LNG and diesel-fueled trucks, said Gene Carlson, Carlile’s vice president of trucking operations, based in Anchorage. “They say there is a little less horsepower because you lose a bit in the conversion to natural gas,” Carlson says. “But everything else about it is a very standard Kenworth.” Except the price. Britton says an LNG-powered truck costs $80,000

more than the $130,000 fleet owners would expect to pay for a conventional diesel-fueled truck. So, proponents of LNG as fuel—like Britton—have to face what more than one of them have called “a chicken and egg problem.” That problem is: How do you convince truck owners to spend the 60 percent extra for LNG-fueled rigs, when there are only a few places for them to fuel up? Conversely, who will make the investment in building filling stations when LNG trucks make up only a small fraction of the overall fleet? In the Lower 48, several companies are building LNG service centers along major routes. Large firms like UPS are making the investment in new LNG-fueled trucks. UPS is even developing its own network of a dozen or more fueling stops, placed at strategic locations. But in Alaska, LNG use in transportation is still in its earliest stage. “We’re pioneering in the state of Alaska,” Britton says, “proving the technology so that it can begin wide-spread use.” For their initial two-truck demonstration project, FNG’s sister company Arctic Energy Transportation, LLC built one LNG filling station in “Big Lake in an existing truck stop, and built our second one in Fairbanks,” Britton says. “Ultimately, we look to perhaps construct additional fueling stations throughout areas of the state to provide the support necessary to the trucking industry.” FNG was one of the bidders in a plan to partner with the state to build a $200 million LNG plant at Prudhoe Bay. Fifty trucks would then haul about three October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


hundred thousand gallons of LNG per day to Fairbanks for heating and to generate power. “We’re continuing to finalize our evaluation and consider the addition of more LNG trucks to our own fleet,” Britton says. “We are working on projects that increase the availability of Liquid Natural Gas in the state for the transportation sector, as well as for space heat.”

TOTE Sails Into LNG Totem Ocean Trailer Express is pioneering, not only for Alaska, but worldwide, with the company’s plan to convert two of its Tacoma-Anchorage container ships to run on LNG. When the $90 million conversion is complete, two 840-foot Orca-class vessels—Midnight Sun and North Star—will be the first large ocean-going vessels anywhere to run primarily on natural gas. The company has also ordered two new Marlin-class LNG-powered container ships for its Puerto Rico trade, expected to be the largest ships of any kind to run mostly on natural gas. TOTE’s Marlin class of container ship recently won the prestigious Next Generation Shipping Award at the Nor-Shipping

Rendering courtesy of TOTE

This illustration of TOTE’s planned ORCA-class LNG vessel conversion shows two 1,000 cubic meter LNG tanks. The design agent for the conversion is NASCCO, a subsidiary of General Dynamics. TOTE has stated that the two Orca ships being converted to run primarily on LNG will be the “most environmentally friendly ships calling on Alaska ports.”

2013 conference in Oslo, Norway. “TOTE is proud to be a leader in using natural gas as a marine fuel,” wrote Project Manager Ben Christian in an email. “It fits our values of prioritizing safety and the environment.” The environment figured greatly in

the company’s decision to make the enormous investment on both coasts. The two Alaska-bound ships are only ten years old—of an estimated thirtyyear life span—and were designed to be among the most environmentally friendly ships in the world.

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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

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But a dilemma was presented by more stringent emission standards scheduled to take effect in 2016 in the North American Emission Control Area, which covers the Tacoma to Anchorage route. The two more tried-and-true methods of meeting the new standards would have been to purchase expensive cleaner-burning fuel or to install expensive and untried smokestack scrubbers. The third option— the less conventional one—was to invest in retrofitting the company’s existing Alaska-bound ships to be capable of operating largely on LNG. Last year, the US Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency granted TOTE a waiver from the North America Emission Control Area while the company converted its ships. “LNG will virtually eliminate sulfur dioxide and particulate matter and result in reductions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide beyond any other fuel source,” Christian stated. The retrofitting—at $45 million per vessel—is to be completed by October 2016. New dual-fuel engines will be installed that can run on either LNG (with a small amount of diesel in the mix) or on pure diesel. This gives the

natural gas as a transformative fuel for America. To address LNG’s central dilemma, he wrote an article for Marine Log magazine entitled: “LNG: Breaking the Chicken and the Egg.” Future LNG use, he says, depends on cooperation and coordination between natural gas suppliers, the transportation industry, and government regulatory and licensing agencies. LNG may mean changes in fuel contracting and the need for new port infrastructure. Some tax policies, for instance, put LNG use at a disadvantage, while it should be “at least tax neutral, given benefits as a lower cost alternative fuel that lowers pollution,” Graykowski says. “The private sector should drive [deCooperation and Coordination velopment], but there may be some place “TOTE deserves a lot of credit,” says for subsidies, especially in port areas to John Graykowski, a Washington DC- help them get jumpstarted,” he says. based policy expert, who worked with “The question is: ‘How long is it going to the company on securing the waivers take?’ The time is now [for LNG policy] and permits. “It’s extraordinary that to move forward, if we want to be at a they have the ability and the foresight certain point five years from now.”  and the courage to do this.” Graykowski’s twenty-five years of experience in marine policy has been Alaskan author Will Swagel writes augmented with a zeal for promoting from Sitka.

vessels valuable redundancy, especially while the conversion is underway. TOTE plans to conduct a portion of the conversion while the ships are underway or in port, in order to maintain sailing schedules. A large part of the expense is installing two large above-deck LNG tanks to give the ships the fuel capacity for the trip north. TOTE plans to use double-wall piping and sensors throughout the fuel system for additional safety. “The design of the Orca-class conversion to LNG is well underway. Both vessels will be completed by 2016,” wrote Christian. “We are working closely with our design agency, General Dynamics NASSCO, to select critical vendors.”

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly




Your Business By Rachael Petro


he first leaders of the All Alaska Chamber, as it was originally called, discussed tax incentive legislation, development of the state’s forest and mineral resources, promotion of the tourism industry, and increasing agricultural production. With statehood, the name was changed to the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, and the organization represented the first unified effort to have the voice of business in the state legislature. The mission of the Alaska Chamber has remained the same since its inception in 1952. We exist to promote a positive business climate in Alaska. Today, more than sixty years later, we are the Alaska Chamber. Recently the Alaska Chamber updated our brand identity, including dropping the “State” and “of Commerce” from all marketing material. Legally, we’re still the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, we’re just doing business as Alaska Chamber.

Reflecting Accurately The updated name and brand identity more accurately reflect our expanded presence throughout the state. The logo is modern, has Alaska imagery, and an energetic color scheme. Essentially, our new logo reflects our forward momentum and determination to improve Alaska’s business climate through advocacy, education, and fostering economic expansion. To be sure, legislative advocacy remains our key strategy in promoting a positive business climate in Alaska. Getting sound policies on the books is important, but we realize that to truly be beneficial, such policies need to stay in place providing certainty to businesses. Along with education and support for businesses large and small, we are working to actively support and create a robust business environment for the present and the future. 50

People instinctively understand the importance of a vibrant and healthy business sector but often don’t understand the role practical pro-business policies have in creating that environment. When Alaskans don’t understand this cause and effect relationship, there is increased risk that sound policies may be displaced or discouraged. That’s why we launched the “It’s Your Business” public information effort.

Whether its permit requirements or tax levels, policies affect Your Business and our economy. The It’s Your Business campaign lets everyone know that just because they aren’t involved in mining, it is still Their Business. Although they aren’t involved in tourism, it is Their Business. And, they may not be in or know anyone that works in the oil and gas industry, but it is very much Their Business. It’s Our Business.

Equipping Next Generation Another critical element of Alaska’s economic future is equipping the next generation of Alaskans with the guts, skills, and resources to build Alaska’s economy. And that is just what the Alaska Chamber’s Alaska Business Week is all about. Alaska Business Week is an entrepreneurial boot camp for high schools students. Not every graduate will turn out to be an entrepreneur, but every graduate does leave the program armed with the basic principles of private sector business. One of the most exciting outcomes of Alaska Business Week is that light bulbs turn on; young adults become inspired and students realize the relevancy of their school coursework. A lot of effort goes into making this happen. Not the least of which is the

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

work of our Company Advisors (CAs). Businesses looking for an excellent professional development opportunity need look no further! CAs are business professionals who volunteer for a week to guide a group of approximately ten participants, a.k.a. The Company, through an interactive real-world business simulation during Alaska Business Week. The role of a CA is to engage, educate, and empower the students, and each CA brings his or her own unique set of personal and professional skills. CAs will tell you that the experience is exhausting, but in the next breath will tell you that it was one of the most rewarding weeks of their lives. In addition to making a real difference in the lives of teens, a week at Business Week inspires CAs to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. CAs build confidence while their business, management, and personal effectiveness skills are challenged and honed. Not all business leaders can participate as a CA, but there are other ways Alaska businesses can support Alaska Business Week. The program relies heavily on corporate contributions to fund the necessary housing, food, and materials needed for the week, and professionals are needed to deliver keynote addresses and role-play shareholders and investors. Contact us to participate. If you’re not yet an Alaska Chamber member, join today (alaskachamber. com). Sponsor an event, our public communications, or Alaska Business Week. After all, it’s not just our business, It’s Your Business too.  Rachel Petro is Alaska Chamber President and CEO.

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Photo courtesy of Homer Electric Association

A Homer Electric Association field crew participates in a series of fish studies at Grant Creek this summer.

DELIVERING RURAL POWER IN ALASKA Off the Railbelt, on the road system By Gail West


ith the cost of diesel driving energy prices to dizzying heights and placing rural communities in a more and more untenable position, many are investigating alternative sources of power. Unlike the Lower 48, Alaska’s power transmission infrastructure is still in the pioneering stages. From Fairbanks to Seward and Homer and in much of Southeast Alaska, communities are connected to “the grid” and getting their power from larger member cooperatives and government entities. In Bush Alaska, villages rely primarily on diesel and can take advantage of the state’s powercost-equalization program to help offset sky-high kilowatt-hour charges. There are a few communities, however, in Interior and Southcentral Alaska on the road system but off the Railbelt’s grid that are continuing to rely—in large part—on diesel generation and are looking for viable alternatives.


Alaska Power and Telephone Hydro is an obvious choice for some of these communities, but others, such as Tok, aren’t situated close enough to a water body. Alaska Power and Telephone (AP&T), the company which provides power for Tok and surrounding communities, has been studying the use of woody biomass. “Right now, Tok is 100 percent diesel,” says Greg Mickelson, vice president. “Tetlin, Tanacross, and Dot Lake are connected by power line; then on south toward Glennallen, Slana, Chistochina, and Mentasta communities are connected from a central generation point in Slana. We have stand-alone generation in Eagle, in Bettles, and in Alakaket. Alakaket also serves Alatna across the river. They’re all diesel.” AP&T has looked at hydro, wind, and biomass options very hard over the past five years, Mickelson adds. Woody biomass seems to be the best of the options.

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Benjamin Beste, a mechanical engineer with AP&T, says the company received funding from the Alaska Energy Authority last year for a feasibility study and results indicated biomass was viable. “Now,” he adds, “we’re expanding that study to look at biomass as a source of heat for the community and for other communities.” Beste adds that AP&T will have a long-term agreement with the State of Alaska to harvest the timber that would be chipped and burned to provide heat. A byproduct of the heat generation, he says, would be electricity, so the biomass fuels both. “It’s an immediate resource,” Beste says, “and it’s local.” Even better is that much of the biomass harvested in the first years of operation would come from timber removed by the Department of Forestry in their Wildfire Protection Program as they clear trees to protect populated areas, transmission lines, and roadways. Another local

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efit will be that the forestry and harvesting operations will provide jobs. “In Skagway, we’ve operated the small Dewey Lakes hydro project since 1957,” says Mickelson, “then AP&T brought the Goat Lake hydro facility on line in 1998 and Kasidaya Creek in 2008. All three projects provide energy to Skagway and to Haines through a fifteen-mile submarine cable. Both communities now have 90 percent hydro generation augmented by diesel only at peaking and low-water periods.” Power on Prince of Wales Island was completely reliant on diesel, says Mickelson, who lives in the island’s largest community of Craig. AP&T took over the power system in 1965; then, in 1995, they commissioned the Black Bear Lake hydro project and in 2005, added another at South Fork. These two projects substantially reduce the use of diesel fuel. The company also has been building transmission lines since 1993, and Mickelson says he anticipates all but one of the Prince of Wales’ communities to be connected by the end of 2014. “Hydro is clean and renewable and has a low operation-maintenance cost,” says Beste. “It’s a very good long-term investment. However, it is expensive to develop and can take years.” Beste adds that AP&T continues to work on its own and with its partners in the state to study new alternative energy technologies being developed worldwide. In 2010 the company installed one of the country’s first hydrokinetic systems on the Yukon River in Eagle through a pilot study and is currently working with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power to study the application of a small generation system that will use residual heat recovered from the Tok power plant diesel engines. Next year, AP&T plans to install a large solar electric power array in Eagle with support from the Alaska Energy Authority and a grant from Round VI of the Renewable Energy Fund. Robert Grimm, AP&T president, says his company set its goals “early on” to be as close to 100 percent diesel free as possible. To that end, he continues, they’ve been developing hydro projects and extending transmission lines to carry hydro energy as far as possible. “We’ve gone from 100 percent diesel dependant to 30 percent,” he adds. 54

Photo courtesy of Copper Valley Electric Association

A Copper Valley Electric Association stream gauge monitors water leaving Allison Lake for flow volume at the upper end of Allison Creek.

Homer Electric Association At the end-of-the-road community, Homer Electric Association (HEA) is also working to add to its alternative power sources, primarily hydro to serve its service area of more than three thousand square miles. Part of that service area includes Seldovia, Port Graham, and Nanwalek—all across the bay from Homer and completely off the road system. “Because of that remoteness,” says Brad Janorschke, HEA’s general manager, “we have oil-fired back-up generation units in both Seldovia and Port Graham. When we have problems in those communities, they’re generally caused by weather and our response time is limited for the same reason. We can only get there by boat or plane.” HEA currently purchases much of its power from Chugach Electric Association, but that contract will end January 1, 2014. At that time, the cooperative will begin generating its own power at its Nikiski plant. Some power will continue to come through HEA’s share of the stateowned Bradley Lake hydro project with additional energy available at its Bernice Lake power plant—recently purchased from Chugach—and, eventually, at the new Soldotna gas-turbine power plant. “We’ll be operating at 90 to 92 percent on natural gas,” says Janorschke. “The remainder comes from hydro.” HEA plans to continue to develop alternative sources of power if they prove

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

practical. It can be expensive to integrate alternative technology into the electric grid, says Joe Gallagher, HEA’s public relations coordinator. Small hydro projects, though, can be very feasible and HEA is currently conducting natural resources studies at Grant Lake near Moose Pass in preparation for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license application on this proposed five-megawatt hydro project. Under current plans, an intake structure at Grant Lake would take water into a 3,200-foot tunnel to a powerhouse where the water will be discharged back into Grant Creek. The cooperative is also working with Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), a Portland, Maine-based company, and its wholly owned subsidiary ORPC Alaska on harnessing tidal energy through a pilot project near Nikiski. The project will begin as a demonstration to document how a commercial application would work in Alaska. Janorschke says that, in partnership with HEA, ORPC expects to install additional power systems in Cook Inlet, which has the second-highest tidal range in North America. ORPC says the inlet could deliver a nearly constant supply of clean, reliable, economic power to the Railbelt grid. In addition, ORPC’s RivGen™ Power System designed for river use will be operated in the Kvichak River at Igiugig next summer, and more could be in the state’s future if the

demonstration effort is successful. “ORPC developed a commercial facility in Cobscook Bay in New England at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy,” Janorschke says. According to ORPC’s webpage, this is the first commercial, gridconnected, tidal power system in the country. In the bay, which has the largest tidal range in North America, “100 billion tons of water flow in and out every day with the force of eight thousand locomotives.” That power is now harnessed and fed into the country’s electrical grid. Looking for new energy sources is certainly a good way to lower eventual production costs, but another is to maximize the use of current plant. A new steam turbine in Nikiski will raise that plant’s efficiency by about 45 percent, Janorschke says. “There aren’t a lot of easy answers,” Janorschke says. “I wish there were a silver bullet, but there isn’t.”

Copper Valley Electric Association Robert Wilkinson, CEO of Copper Valley Electric Association (CVEA), agreed there are no easy, sustainable solutions

to solving the high energy cost problems in rural Alaska. Like HEA, CVEA is a member-owned cooperative, though it covers a geographic area the size of West Virginia. Encompassed in its boundaries is Valdez, which gets an average of 339.6 inches of snow a year. “Last year,” Wilkinson says, “there were more than 500 inches of snowfall and that presented some significant challenges.” Glennallen is headquarters for CVEA and adds below-zero temperatures to CVEA’s challenges. “Last year, at one point,” Wilkinson says, “it was minus fift y degrees for the better part of three weeks.” CVEA generates power from four plants, Wilkinson says. “During the summer months, the Solomon Gulch hydro project carries the entire system load. During the winter [October through May], the hydro operates at reduced capacity and is supplemented first by the combustion turbine cogeneration project in Valdez with the rest provided by either the Glennallen or Valdez diesel plant.” In CVEA’s search for an affordable, sustainable power supply, hydro comes

the closest to meeting strategic goals, but Wilkinson outlines some of the many challenges in bringing new hydro projects online. “Hydro produces clean, renewable energy and after it’s constructed, it produces power at a fairly stable cost,” he says. “Its biggest disadvantages, though, are that it’s very costly and time consuming to develop. We have to study and evaluate the potential impacts of a project on aquatic, wildlife, bird, and cultural resources as well as those impacts to land, wetlands, and wildlife habitats. Properly done, this process takes many years. It’s quite a piece of choreography to get a project designed, permitted, constructed, and operating in a cost-effective manner. Add to that, we have to be able to sell the energy from the project to recover the costs of the investment and operations and maintenance over the project’s useful life.” On August 1 CVEA was granted an original license to construct the Allison Creek run-of-river hydroelectric project by FERC. Since applying for a preliminary permit to evaluate Allison Creek

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in early 2008, CVEA has spent $3.7 million in resource studies, permitting, and engineering design—and it’s a relatively simple project, according to Wilkinson. When complete, CVEA anticipates Allison Creek will lessen the cooperative’s reliance on fuel—going from 50 percent to about 65 percent hydro. There is another site currently under consideration for an additional hydro project—the Tiekel River, which drains 450 square miles and flows into the Copper River. Based on reconnaissance studies conducted thus far, the Tiekel River system has a maximum development potential of approximately 400 million kilowatt hours annually. While a large hydro project on the Tiekel River is beyond CVEA’s capability, it might present a good opportunity for the Railbelt, particularly if the Railbelt transmission grid were extended to the Copper River Valley. Wilkinson suggests that, as part of the proposed Susitna-Watana project, the state should take a hard look at expanding the transmission grid to serve the eastern Alaska/Richardson Highway corridor. “Doing that would improve electric system reliability to all Railbelt customers and create economic development opportunities,” Wilkinson adds. “Maybe one day Tiekel River gets built and then CVEA could sell the power back into the system—making the project feasible. It would also lower rates for customers along the way. The state is looking hard at the Susitna [Watana] dam, and I think we should be able to leverage other projects alongside that multi-billion dollar investment.” According to Wilkinson, it is an exciting time to be in the electricity business with the emphasis in recent years on regional planning, development of state energy policy, the success of the Renewable Energy Fund, and significant investment in new and emerging energy. Wilkinson laments, however, the lack of attention paid to heat energy in rural Alaska: “My communities are losing customers and businesses are closing because of the high cost of energy, primarily heat.”  Gail West writes from Anchorage.


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

AGENDA October 2013

Alaska CHARR Convention

Symposium for Alaska Native Leaders

October 1-3—Kodiak Harbor Convention Center, Kodiak: Annual convention of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant & Retailer’s association. This year’s theme is “Strut Your Style on the Emerald Isle.”

Alaska Business Monthly’s Top 49ers Luncheon

Compiled by Tasha Anderson

October 2—Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage: Come honor the Top 49 Alaska companies ranked by gross revenue at our annual luncheon. Contact: Melinda Schwab, 907-276-4373,

Alaska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting

October 7-11—Princess Lodge, Fairbanks: This year’s theme is, “The Practice of Fisheries: Celebrating all who work toward sustainable fisheries in Alaska.”

Alaska Travel Industry Association Convention & Trade Show

October 8-10—Sheldon Jackson Campus, Sitka: Gathering for Alaska’s tourism industry leaders with delegates from tour operators, wholesalers, Alaska vendors, destination marketing organizations, and elected officials.

Northwest Tribal Water Rights Conference

October 9-10—Alaska Native Heritage Museum, Anchorage: A regional dialogue addressing Alaska Native Tribal Water Rights and water sovereignty with a focus on strategies for Alaska Native Tribal governments concerning water quality and quantity passing through traditional Native lands.

■ ■

Alaska Statewide Payroll Conference: The Great Land of Payroll October 18—The Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage: Payroll training and networking event; payroll and finance vendor fair.

October 24-26—Carlson Center, Fairbanks: Annual gathering of Alaska Native peoples to discuss current news and events on a state, national and international level. This year’s theme is “Traditional Family Values,” with keynote speaker Nelson Angapak. 907-263-1307,

ALASBO Annual Conference

October 25-28—Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage: Annual conference of the Alaska Association of School Business Officials. October 28-30—Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage: This is the largest conference and trade show for public power utilities in Alaska, held every other year. It provides opportunities to learn about the latest practices, innovations, and technology in the electric utility industry through education sessions, a trade show, and networking. Contact: Gail Patterson, 360-816-1450,

Alaska Miners Association Annual Convention and Trade Show

November 4-10 (trade show November 6-8)—Sheraton Hotel, Anchorage: Includes luncheons, banquets, keynote speakers, and short courses.

Associated General Contractors of Alaska Annual Conference November 13-16—Anchorage: AGC of Alaska is a nonprofit construction trade as-

November 20-21— Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage: The conference provides timely updates on projects and prospects, addresses key issues and challenges and considers the implications of state and federal policies on Alaska oil and gas, mining, and other resource development sectors.

Bilingual Multicultural Education/ Equity Conference November 20-22—Sheraton Anchorage, Anchorage: BMEEC is the largest gathering of educators in Alaska every year, sharing strategies and practices that increase the expertise of all educators in an environment of collegial exchange.

December 2013

Council of Education Facilities Planners, International-Alaska Chapter Conference

December 5-6—King Career Center, Anchorage: CEFPI is a worldwide professional 501(c)(3) nonprofit association whose sole mission is improving the places where children learn. The conference includes the presentation of the Len Mackler Award.

Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit V December 10-12—Marriott Hotel Downtown Anchorage: Created by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, this summit is designed to provide information and opportunities for fishermen under forty and/or in the business for less than five years.

January 2014

Alaska Marine Science Symposium

November 2013

November 18-22—Anchorage: Joint conference of the Alaska Municipal League and the Alaska Conference of Mayors.

RDC Annual Conference: Alaska Resources

NWPPA/APA Alaska Electric Utility Conference

Alaska Chamber Annual Fall Conference

October 22-24—Centennial Hall Convention Center, Juneau: This year’s theme is “The Future of Transit in Alaska.”

Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention

October 9-11—Anchorage Marriott Downtown, Anchorage: Events include keynote speakers and training sessions. October 15—Fairbanks Westmark Hotel, Fairbanks: The state’s premier business conference. This year’s topics include healthcare reform and implementation, workers’ comp reform, grass roots advocacy, small business workshops, etc.

October 21-23—Carlson Center, Fairbanks: Sponsored by the First Alaskans Institute, the conference stimulates dialogue between young people and Elders, and encourages the maintenance of traditional Native values and practices in a modern world. Registration required., 907-677-1700

sociation dedicated to improving the professional standards of the construction industry.

Annual Local Government Conference

Alaska Community Transit/ Department of Transportation Conference

Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Conference

Native Knowledge: Respecting and Owning our Living Culture

All-Alaska Medical Conference October 7-9—Westmark Hotel and Conference Center, Fairbanks: A continuing medical education conference put on by the Alaska Academy of Physicians Assistants, providing up to 25 CMEs.

October 21-22—Westmark Fairbanks Hotel, Fairbanks: Brings Alaskan tribal leaders together to meet, exchange ideas, and share success stories regarding the unique challenges facing Alaska Natives. Attendees will hear from both tribal and corporate experts on a myriad of topics, including economic development, the energy industry, health care, education, and land conservation.

January 20-24, 2014—Hotel Captain Cook and Egan Civic and Convention Center, Anchorage: Scientists, researchers, and students from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond come to communicate research activities in the marine regions off Alaska.

Junior Achievement of Alaska Awards Banquet January 30, 2014—Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage: Four new Alaskans will be inducted and recognized with this prestigious award. Attended by over four hundred business representations, the program consists of a networking reception, dinner, and awards ceremony.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Mobile Migration Methods Improving business efficiency and enhancing service By Tracy Barbour


ast year, the Matanuska-Susitna Convention and Visitors Bureau (Mat-Su CVB) made a well-calculated move by launching a separate website——to cater specifically to smartphone users. Visitors connect seamlessly through the main site at, which detects their mobile device platform and redirects them to a modified version of the content. The mobile site ties directly into the database of the main website, and visitors hardly notice they’re browsing a different web address. “We wanted responsive design,” says Mat-Su CVB Marketing and Communications Manager Casey Ressler. The mobile site is essentially a pareddown version of the full website: MatSu Valley Alaska. Built for speed, it delivers quick access to information most people want to know while visiting the Valley. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to stay longer and see and do more things in our area,” Ressler says. “The mobile site gives us an opportunity to continue marketing to them while they’re here.” The adoption of the mobile site is going well. From last summer to this summer, the site has seen a 20 percent increase in mobile visits, according to Ressler. He’s not surprised, given the increasing popularity of mobile devices and demand for mobile content. Creating a more mobilefriendly website was inevitable. “Two years ago, we thought it was cutting-edge to get a mobile site,” he says. “Now if you don’t have one, you’re behind the curve.” Alaska businesses and organizations like the Mat-Su CVB are taking advan-


© Alaska Communications

Brett Meyer and Isabella Vance, two Voice over Internet specialists, in the Alaska Communications Customer Experience Lab at Anchorage Headquarters. Alaska Communications recently launched Voice over Internet service in Southcentral Alaska.

From Clary’s perspective, mobile migration can encompass all of the elements a business identifies as being necessary to successfully connect with clients and deliver a message. This could include creating a mobile website specifically formatted to take into account Mobile and Responsive Websites how information is accessed by smartWith nearly 60 percent of American adults phones and tablets. Mobile-optimized owning smartphones and more than 30 sites are typically designed to be simpler, percent owning tablets, it’s no wonder easier, and faster to navigate on smallerAlaska businesses are migrating to mobile. sized screens. On the other hand, sites Many businesses are definitely aware that aren’t properly formatted for moof and understand the value of the mobile bile devices may appear distorted, load market, says GeoNorth Project Manager slowly, and have limited functionality— Andrew Clary. GeoNorth specializes in all of which can result in lost traffic. information technology solutions such as That’s a scenario Chugach Electric geographic information systems, database Association wanted to avoid with its design and development, web design and online power outage reporting tool. development, and mobile applications. So the utility company recently had Clary is seeing an emerging interest in GeoNorth build a different version of mobile solutions in a variety of industries, the reporting feature for mobile device from sports and energy to oil and gas. users. “It’s formatted for small screens, In previous years, GeoNorth had to and it’s very easy to use,” Clary says. convince clients of the value of mobile Increasingly, mobile websites are being websites. Now clients have flipped the designed to respond to visitors. A responscript. Clary explains: “Within the last sive site is the same site you would browse year, pretty close to every website cli- from your desktop, but the site reacts and ent has at least asked about mobile. It’s reorganizes the content dynamically for definitely on people’s mind.” smaller screens. It’s a very cost-effective tage of a variety of solutions to migrate to the mobile space. They’re tapping local and national resources to implement mobile websites, applications, and payments, as well as social media, quick response codes, and other solutions.

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

way to deliver a mobile solution, according to Clary. “It’s not that much more in cost compared to what you’re already going to incur building a new site,” he says. Recently, GeoNorth launched its own new mobile site as a live illustration of the functionality of a responsive site. The new site allows mobile-device users to move and resize text and images, plus modify the menu and stack design elements vertically as the display becomes narrower. For some companies, having an easilyaccessible mobile site is essential to improving client service. Perkins Coie LLP is a prime example. The Seattle-based firm—with more than nine hundred lawyers in nineteen offices nationwide and Asia—has about ten thousand pages on its full website, according to Digital Marketing Manager Sarah DiCaro. But the company, which has operated an office in Anchorage since 1977, wanted to ensure its massive site was easy to navigate by the growing segment of mobile-device users. So several years ago, the firm created an abbreviated version of its full website, which maintains seven years’ worth of news items, events, and other content, including nine hundred attorney bios and a vast number of publications on timely legal topics. The idea behind the condensed mobile site is quick access, says Chicago-based DiCaro. “We tried to organize it in a way that identified the key information most clients are looking for on our site,” she says. The full and mobile sites are distinct, but inconspicuously managed off the same platform. Much of the information on both sites is the same, with some content provided in multiple versions. The attorney bios, for example, are presented in a shorter format for mobile users. About a year ago, Perkins Coie upgraded the mobile site to make it even more functional and responsive for users. It recognizes when someone is using a mobile-device platform and automatically accesses the mobile site for them. The site was also enhanced to be more icon-based and reflective of current mobile best practices. When Perkins Coie launched the original mobile site three years ago, BlackBerry phones were very common. Now, the site allows for more clicking on different icons and more hidden navigation bars that can be expanded— which is ideal for tablet users. “We’re

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


ways looking at ways information can be packaged as mobile,” DiCaro says.

Mobile Applications Mobile applications also afford Alaska businesses a feasible way to leverage mobility. Apps, as they’re commonly called—which are simply small software programs that provide a defined functionality—can improve the way companies do business, respond to customers, and even compete in the marketplace. Alaska businesses without app development expertise in house can easily secure mobile apps from external sources. GeoNorth, for instance, creates apps for public use and private companies. Its Board Meeting Manager app allows boards to conduct meetings electronically from iPads. Users can sign into the iPad app and download a digital board book, instead of hassling with printed stacks of paper. “It’s been a huge value,” Clary says. GeoNorth’s iPad apps for private companies have helped to address a variety of specific needs. One app helped a client organize its emergency response information. It syncs wirelessly and is even available offline. Another app made one company’s directory available and searchable through an iPad. The company also developed an Anchorage Concert Association app that iPhone and iPad users can download to explore events, get show suggestions, read reviews, and sample music and video selections. AT&T also offers a variety of customized mobile application solutions. According to its website, larger organizations can use AT&T’s Mobile Enterprises Application Platform to design, build, deploy, and manage dynamic mobile sales, service, and support apps, while smaller businesses can choose from more than two hundred apps. Other popular sources for mobile apps include Apple’s App Store, Google Plan (formerly known as the Android Market), the Amazon Appstore, BlackBerry World, and the Windows Store. QR Codes and Social Media Building a mobile website is one thing, but building awareness of it is another matter. Some businesses are using innovative marketing methods like QR codes and Facebook to promote mobile sites and overall activities. 60

Perkins Coie is a business that employs QR codes to support its marketing efforts. Not everyone likes having paper on them, and QR codes offer a convenient option, DiCaro says, adding, “If they’re going to a tradeshow or coming into our office, they can use the QR code and download it to their phone or tablet and read it when they like.” The law firm routinely offers paperbased marketing collateral, along with information people can opt to download from QR codes. For the past two years, Perkins Coie has been using the codes to disseminate attorney bios, practice descriptions, and other information. “It’s a nice alternative to not have to print the paper if we don’t need to,” DiCaro says. One can invest money into a mobile website, Ressler says, but unless people know about it, it’s not going to work. So when the Mat-Su CVB launched its mobile site last summer, it sent table tents out to all of its members with a QR code going to the mobile site. The marketing message on the table tent read: “Your next adventure awaits. Scan this QR code with your smartphone for special events and more information.” Ressler says mobile and social media are driving much of the marketing at the Mat-Su CVB. “It’s cross pollination, with Facebook leading to mobile and mobile leading to the regular site,” he says. The Mat-Su CVB has also been taking advantage of Facebook advertising, which Ressler says has been incredible. Once, the bureau spent $1,000 for a two-week ad campaign that generated 1,900 new page likes. “Those are people who are now engaged,” Ressler says. Even posting a photo to Facebook offers the potential to connect with a multitude of people. For instance, Ressler uses his smartphone to snap beautiful photos to share on the bureau’s Facebook page. “Within minutes, I have reached several thousand people,” he says. Anchorage photographer David Jensen has been using Facebook to indirectly promote his upcoming animal photography book. He started with a personal page four years ago and transitioned to a business page, which now has about 2,100 fans. It was slow going initially, but Jensen—who is patient and goal-oriented—didn’t mind the process. Interestingly, he rarely uses the page as an advertising vehicle. Instead, he uses

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

it as a platform to share an inspirational photo or information that’s sweet, fun, and laughter-oriented. “People know they can open our page and see something pleasant to start their day off nicely,” he says.

Mobile-Based Communication Alaska Communications offers another way to help businesses benefit from mobile migration—Voice Over Internet service. Transmitting voice signals over the Internet is nothing new. But Alaska Communications has configured Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to make it easier for workers to be more mobile. With the service, business customers can have all the features of their VoIP office phone system on a smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. “It’s not like a phone line to a location, but instead, it’s a business line set to a person,” says Alaska Communications Senior Product Manager Brett Meyer. Alaska Communications’ service is designed to deliver a full-featured, business-class phone system—without the cost or hassle of having an on-site system installed. It also gives users the flexibility to ring multiple devices, phone numbers, and even apps. The Find Me, Follow Me feature forwards calls to another phone number. “If you’re not available at all, it takes your voicemail and turns it into a .wav file, and then turns it into an email,” Meyer says. “It gives you the capability to not miss an important call.” Research indicates that up to 70 percent of employees have mobility as part of their job at one point or another, according to Meyer. Alaska Communications’ VoIP system addresses that trend by helping workers stay connected on the go. At the same time, it allows businesses to add and modify phone lines while lowering costs. The company’s enterprise-level bundle includes just about everything customers need for around $35 a seat (or phone station). To Meyer, Alaska Communications’ Voice Over Internet service is more of a communication solution than a phone. He says: “It works the way businesses work today; it’s evolving with business.”  Former Alaskan Tracy Barbour writes from Tennessee.

Legal Speak

By Renea I. Saade

Help Successfully Maintain Your Company’s Growth— Conduct a Legal Audit Conquering and embracing the changes that need to be made


any management consultants will argue that the recipe for growth is essentially fail-proof. Just mix a little entrepreneurial spirit with some vision, lots of hard work, and a committed team, and your company’s business will grow. Those same consultants usually agree that successfully maintaining that growth is where the real challenge begins. Most people cringe at the phrase “legal audit,” but conducting one can help your company conquer and embrace the changes that need to come with growth. Conducting a legal audit helps identify which corporate formalities and company policies and procedures need to be modified or implemented so that your company can maintain and build upon its successful growth.

Review the Nuts and Bolts To be effective, a legal audit does not need to be onerous or bring your company’s progress to a screeching halt. But a productive audit does require owners, management, and key personnel to slow down and thoughtfully review the nuts and bolts of the business. The scope and path a legal audit takes will depend upon the company’s size, industry, history, and geographic locations, but most legal audits include a review of the following issues: 1. Corporate Formation.Asacompany grows,thecorporateformationitwas createdundermaynolongerbeitsbest fit.Alimitedliabilitypartnershiporcompany,Scorporation,orothercorporate formatmayhavebeentherightfoundationforyourcompany’sorigination,but itisworthreviewingtomakesurethe formatsuitsitscurrentstate. 2. Board of Directors.Theroleofa company’sboardofdirectorsoften

positionoftheboardshouldreflectthe needsofthegrowingcompany. 3. Corporate Recordkeeping.Growth isusuallyachievedbywayofmerger, acquisition,orfinancing,allofwhich generallyrequireareviewofthecompany’sbooksandrecords.Auditingthe corporaterecordsallowssuchreviews togomorequicklyandseamlessly. 4. Job Descriptions/Performance Reviews.Liketheboard,theroles andresponsibilitiesofmanagement andkeypersonneloftenchangewith acompany’sgrowth.Alegalaudit thatincludesareviewandanynecessaryupdatestojobdescriptionsand thecompany’sperformancereview processhelpsensurethatthecompanyanditspeopleareworkingfrom thesamesetofexpectationsand thatthecompany’sneedsarebeing addressedbytherightpeople. 5. HR Policies and Procedures. Many employmentlawobligationsandbest practicesdependuponthesizeofa company,itsindustry,anditsgeographicallocations.Thus,ifanyofthosehave changed,itshumanresourcespolicies andproceduresshouldbereviewed andmodifiedasnecessary. 6. Employee Covenants/Agreements. Acompanywithplanstogrow,or thathasrecentlygrown,typicallyhas builtvaluableproprietaryinformation thatitneedstoprotectinorderto maintainitsmarketshareoracquire additionalbusiness.Alegalauditcan helpdetermineifemployeecovenantsoragreementsnottocompete, nottosolicit,ornottodiscloseshould beimplemented(orrevisedifalready inplace).Anauditcanalsoevaluate whethercertainat-willemployees

shouldbeofferedemployment agreementstohelpreduceturnover andperhapscreatefurtherprotectionsforthecompany. 7. Intellectual Property. Intheirrush toreachthenextlevelorpursuean excitingnewdevelopment,many folksneglecttolegallyprotecttheir company’sintellectualproperty(for example,applyingforpatents,trademarkingsignsandlogos,orcopyrightingtheircreativework).Alegalaudit canhelpidentifyassetsandarecommendedapproachtoprotectingthem. 8. Federal/Local Legal Obligations. Themanyfederalandlocallaws thatapplytoanygivencompanyare constantlychanging,andacompany’s growthcanimposeacompletely newsetoflegalobligations.So,last butnotleast,alegalauditevaluates acompany’scompliancewiththe federalandlocalstatutes,codes,and regulationsthatapplytothecompany givenitsnewsize,businessoperations,workforce,andlocation. Again, while a legal audit may be the last thing on everyone’s mind as your company celebrates its recent growth and looks forward, it is often the catalyst and foundation for many more exciting times for your company.  Renea I. Saade is a partner at Stoel Rives LLP, She provides legal advice and representation to companies in connection with their employment law needs and contract disputes. Saade may be contacted at 907263-8412 or * This article is provided for educational purposes only and does not serve as an adequate substitute for legal advice.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Making the Case for Mixed-Use Development in Anchorage ByNichelleSeely


few years ago, a friend who had never been outside Alaska travelled to the Czech Republic. When he returned, he couldn’t stop talking about how people in the cities could live directly above their shops. He gushed about streets full of pedestrians, sidewalk cafes, and residents sitting on their balconies to observe the scene below. He’d never seen or experienced anything like it. He asked me: why isn’t there something like this in Anchorage? Fast forward to the present. I’ve been working on the renovation of a downtown building with retail on the bottom

“a real estate project with planned integration of some combination of retail, office, residential, hotel, recreation, or other functions. It is pedestrian-oriented and contains elements of a live-work-play environment. It maximizes space usage, has amenities and architectural expression, and tends to mitigate traffic and sprawl.” Note that this organization is a commercial real estate development association. It isn’t some academic think tank with piein-the-sky ideas but a practical group with practical interests. The report notes that it has been shown again and again that mixed-use development can lead to revi-

sive one. A quick search on the Internet shows that rent for a two-bedroom apartment ranges from $768 to $2,495 per month, with most units falling between $1,000 to $1,200. That usually doesn’t include utilities or deposits. At prices like these, it’s cheaper to get a mortgage. But what about individuals who don’t want to buy, either because they lack the down payment, don’t want to settle down yet, or don’t want the hassle of home maintenance? There are precious few options— most apartment complexes are outside the urban core and necessitate driving. The rental market simply doesn’t seem to serve

Whatexactlydowemeanby“mixeduse”?Ina2007reportentitled“Mixed-UseDevelopment:AReviewofProfessionalLiterature,”TheNAIOP(NationalAssociationofIndustrialandOfficeProperties) ResearchFoundationdefinesitas“arealestateprojectwithplannedintegrationofsomecombination ofretail,office,residential,hotel,recreation,orotherfunctions.Itispedestrian-orientedandcontains elementsofalive-work-playenvironment.Itmaximizesspaceusage,hasamenitiesandarchitectural expression,andtendstomitigatetrafficandsprawl.” and low-income housing on the second and third floors. In examining other nearby buildings, I noticed that there simply aren’t any other structures that combine retail and residential. I realized that, when I travel to cities in the Lower 48 and other countries, I see something that doesn’t exist in our largest Alaska city: a vibrant downtown core that mixes commercial and residential functions in a seamless, animated whole.

Planned Integration What exactly do we mean by “mixed use”? In a 2007 report entitled “MixedUse Development: A Review of Professional Literature,” The NAIOP (National Association of Industrial and Office Properties) Research Foundation defines it as 62

talized downtowns and suburbs. An active urban center is good for the economy, attracts tourists, and is enjoyable for the community residents. In addition, it can be a profit center for a canny developer. So why don’t we have more of it here? The downtown core is zoned B2A, B2B, and B2C—all of which allow for some degree of residential development. However, there are only a few apartment complexes on the edges of downtown and some upscale penthouse condominiums in office buildings like the Peterson Tower. There is no real mixed-use development with integrated and complementary functions. Is there not enough need? I have a hard time believing that—Anchorage has a very tight rental market and an expen-

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

young professionals who don’t want the responsibility of a house and want to be a part of a vibrant, urban environment. Anchorage is decades behind cities like Portland, Seattle, or San Francisco in which mixed use development is common.

Unique Neighborhoods Taking Portland as an example, there’s a whole spectrum of mixed use, which contributes to the uniqueness of various neighborhoods. A number of years ago, the city of Portland made the Pearl District—an area of warehouses, vacant lots, and underutilized commercial spaces—available for mixed-use development. The result? A lively, pedestrianfriendly area where people can live and work in the same neighborhood; where

emerging professionals can choose to be carless because they can either walk to work or take public transportation; a place where groceries, shopping, and restaurants are all accessible to residents within a few blocks from home. In the Hawthorne District, again in Portland, the city allowed the establishment of live/work units; that is, a retail or gallery space on the first floor and an attached studio loft above accessed by stairs within the lower commercial space. The combined commercial/residential unit was available as one element—a small business person or an artist could literally choose to live where they worked and not have to lease two spaces. Both of these models show that there are workable possibilities being utilized in other cities. Every year the University of Alaska turns out hundreds of new graduates, many of whom would surely choose to remain in Anchorage to follow their chosen profession. What do they do if they can’t find housing? Are we losing promising young professionals to other, more vibrant and enticing cities? One of the issues which is currently in the news is the problem created when the

One of the issues which is currently in the news is the problem createdwhenthedowntownbarscloseandreleasetheirclientele onto the streets. We’ve heard that there’s not enough police to patrol,notenoughtaxistoservetheneed.Whatifsomeofthose latenightrevelersactuallyliveddowntown?Theycouldwalkhome, ratherthandrivewhileintoxicated. downtown bars close and release their clientele onto the streets. We’ve heard that there’s not enough police to patrol, not enough taxis to serve the need. What if some of those late night revelers actually lived downtown? They could walk home, rather than drive while intoxicated.

A Fine Line Admittedly, designing a successful mixed-use development isn’t as easy as extruding big box stores, one after another. It’s less about the product and more about the place, more about creating a setting for a particular experience. The market analysis for such a project is complex. Each type of use must be self-supporting as well as complementary to the other uses. People who live in the com-

plex will also utilize restaurants, grocery stores, and some retail. Offices might support dining establishments, medical clinics, and other service providers. The magic triangle is “live, work, play.” A successful project will incorporate elements of all three. Each use should be able to generate revenue from the other users on site. For example, residents in the apartments/condominiums will work in the offices and become customers at the retail stores, and the place will, to a certain extent, become self-supporting. A savvy developer will do extensive master planning to determine feasibility, capital procurement tactics, and design strategies. The design itself must take into account zoning; transportation (including private vehicles, public

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


conveyances, bicycles, and pedestrians); site amenities such as green space and lighting—items that don’t generate revenue on their own but serve to attract residents and businesses; and of course the actual structures. What’s more, people can spot a fake Disneyesque place from miles away. Any design has got to seem natural, authentic, and attractive rather than coy and flashy. It’s a fine line to walk, and not all developers are capable of recognizing it. Not only is it important to attract people to come once, it’s vital that they either keep coming back or end up staying on as residents. It’s painful to see another parcel of urban forest mown down to accommodate yet another big box store or strip mall. The Municipality of Anchorage could take a stronger stand on directing development by providing incentives and help for developers, such as: ■ Allowingmultipleusesona singlesite ■ Allowinghigherdensity development ■ Assistingwithlandparcel assembly

■ Propertytaxabatementsor creditsforqualifyingprojects

Bottom Line Other cities have taken the initiative, and their economies and urban fabrics are richer because of it. The short-term interests of builders and developers do not always coincide with the long-term interests of citizens. A municipality seeking to create economic diversity as well as become an attractive location to encourage long-term residents should invest in planning and visioning. We should all be asking the question: What do we want Anchorage to be like in fifty years? Do we really want to leave the answer up to fly-by-night developers looking to make a quick buck, to get in and get out? Do we want to cater to transient companies and outside interests? Or do we want a more livable, beautiful city that is self-sustaining and serves a rooted population base? Mixed use development isn’t the only answer, but it’s a start.  Architect Nichelle Seely writes from Anchorage.

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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

New Mixed-Use Residences Planned Bringing a vision to life

A mixed-use residential space designedfor downtown Anchorage.



ringing a modern vibe to the fur district in downtown Anchorage, a new mixed-use residential building planned for Fourth Avenue and A Street incorporatesawallofglasspanelsto afford retailers plenty of window spaceand,onthesecondfloor,two high-end penthouses, each with a luxuriousrooftoppatiospacewhere ownerscandrinkinviewsofSleepingLadyorhaveachoiceviewofthe ceremonialstartoftheIditarod. SparkDesign,anup-and-coming six-member design firm at work in Anchorage, provided developerAdamBlomfieldofBlomfield Construction with a full-concept design package for the building. It’s now in the pre-development phase; once funding is secured, the project can move forward to construction.SparkDesign’spartners say it’s too early to release constructioncost. DeannaWlad,TaraGallagher,and DeannaNafzgerfoundedSparkDesign after working together at anotherAnchorage-baseddesignfirm. Thetriohasworkedtogethersince 2006andisbehindseveralprojects currently being built in Anchorage. The new Natural Pantry at 36th and A Street and KTUU’s Northern Lights Media Center at 40th Avenue and Denali Street are both SparkDesign’screations. The partners say they see their role as a medium to bring their clients’ vision to life. They say they take a flexible, adaptable approach to projects and, by being involved atalllevelsofaproject,reachagoal ofprovidingthehighestlevelofservicetotheirclients. Collaboration is key—the company’sworkspaceinMidtownisalarge open space where team members

Graphics courtesy of Spark Design

talk freely about projects across workstations. The open studio incorporatesalargetableinthemiddleofthespace.EverySparkDesign employee is involved in every project. “We all do everything,” Wlad, Gallagher,andNafzgersay. The Fourth and A Street mixeduse residential building began as a concept. Wlad, Gallagher, and NafzgersayBlomfieldcametothem seekingamodern,urban,eye-catching design that incorporated commercialandresidentialspace. Their design is a building clad in glass, where transparent windows alternate with opaque glass as necessary for views and tenant exposure.Theapproachallowsfor acontemporary,reflectiveexterior finish while providing an energyefficientshell. Above the retail space, accessed by a glazed stair tower, are two 2,500-square-foot penthouse condos.Windowsdominatewhilewood accents help bring warmth to the space and relate to the residential natureofthecondos. The rooftop deck is bordered by

glass panels that extend upward from the commercial space below. The building faces the southwest, affording plenty of solar exposure, andcanopiescoverpartofthedeck areatoallowyear-rounduse.Inside and out, Cook Inlet and the surrounding mountains will dominate theview. With just two units, the space is designedtobeauniquejewelinAnchorage’s bustling downtown landscape. The Spark Design partners say Blomfield consciously kept the numberofunitstoaminimum. While it’s too early to say what the condos will be priced at, the units are clearly planned as highend residential space. Spark Design’s touch is on every aspect of thebuilding,fromthemoreobvious structural elements to the finishes intheresidences. Being involved at all levels of a project is really important to all threepartners,thewomensay.  Rindi White is a freelance journalist living in Palmer.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery A marvel of modern science and art ByJoetteStorm

Š Jim Kohl Photography

Returning adults provide eggs forthenextgeneration.Here,ahatcheryworkerreleasestrouttogrowinstarttanks.


inety million dollars may seem like a lot of money to spend on raising fish. For Alaskans, who dream of and brag about their fish, the price tag for the new sport fish hatchery on Ship Creek in Anchorage is worth the money. After all, fishing contributes an estimated $1.4 billion to the State’s economy and produces more than $500 million in income every year. Fish are important to the Alaska lifestyle. The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, built through a collaborative ef-


fort of fourteen government and industry partners, is the largest indoor sport fish hatchery facility in North America, capable of rearing 6 million fish a year. The facility features an energy efficient system that recirculates warm water to save money while fostering fish growth. It incorporates natural lighting and mechanical lighting that mimics nature. Part of the imposing three-acre facility is a visitor/education center that allows the public to observe hundreds of thousands of tiny fingerlings, or smolt, swimming

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

in their individual species tanks. Five species of fish are reared in the hatchery: chinook and coho salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling. They are released in more than two hundred lakes, streams, and saltwater locations across Southcentral Alaska to feed the appetite of sport anglers, says Andrea Tesch, hatchery manager for Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). The project was paid for by sport fish license fees, taxes on fishing equipment, and state grants, she says. The

William Jack “Bill” Hernandez ByJoetteStorm


hemanthenewsportfishhatcheryisnamedforwouldbejustly proud of the innovations and technical improvements at the new facility. William Jack “Bill” Hernandez wassomethingofaninnovatorhimself. His story is that of a man who overcameadversitytoforgeacareerand contributetosociety. Hernandezwasacivilianemployee workingforMorrison-KnudsonConstructionCo.in1941buildingfortificationsonWakeIsland. Hewasjusttwenty-onewhenWake IslandwasattackedbytheJapaneseon December7,1941,thesamedaythey attacked Pearl Harbor. A sixteen-day struggle ensued between the Marine regimentontheislandandtheJapanese forcesbeforetheJapanesetooktheisland.Hernandezwastakenprisoner.He wasaPOWforthreeyearsbeforebeingreleasedfollowingthesurrenderof theJapaneseforces. DuringhisimprisonmentinChina,he attemptedanescapebutbrokeanankle whilejumpingfromatrainandwasrecaptured.Thisstorywaspublicizedaffishing public is welcome at the facility to view king salmon smolt and other fish in a mini hatchery of their own. The second-floor observation deck is equipped with digital screens interpreting the rearing and stocking processes. The displays vividly tell the story of the salmon’s lifecycle and how the hatchery enhances the sustainability of this important natural resource.

1 Percent Well Spent As with other State buildings, 1 percent of the budget was dedicated to art. A number of artists contributed to the décor in and around the hatchery. Michael Anderson’s ceramic wall hangings are featured in the visitor corridor. Pat Shelton created a glass mosaic of fishing lures installed in the entrance. Cammie Walker fashioned the fish that hang in the east corridor. Ray Troll’s whimsical characters transform the stocking trucks into a mobile mural, and Peter

terthewarinthebook,Jim’sJourney: AWakeIslandCivilianPOW’sStory,by LeilaniAllenMagninoandpublishedby HellgatePress. Twoyearslater,Hernandezenlisted in the US Army, first serving as a foreign language interpreter. In 1957, he wasassignedtoFortRichardsonwhere hebecameaFishandWildlifeConservation NCO. In fulfilling his mission to rehabilitate lakes and streams on the post,Hernandezformedapartnership withtheAlaskaTerritorialDepartment ofFishandGame.Hisideawastouse theFort’spowerplantcoolingpondas rearingareaforfish. Over time, his efforts resulted in producing twelve thousand rainbow trout,onehundredthousandchinook salmon and two hundred thousand coho salmon. His success won him a reputation and a job with the State Department of Fish and Game in 1968whenheretiredfromtheArmy. In 2010, the Alaska Legislature honored William Jack “Bill” Hernandezbynamingthenewstate-of-the arthatcheryinhishonor. Busby’s giant sculpture graces the exterior of the building. Last July, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) selected the Hernandez hatchery as the first ever recipient of its Envision TM Gold award for sustainability. ISI, a nonprofit educational organization formed by industry organizations, created the tool to provide the public sector with guidelines for sustainability in civil works such as roads, bridges, pipelines, and public buildings.

Envision the Future The self-evaluation process uses the broad categories of Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate & Risk to encompass best practices in the building field. ISI Executive Director Bill Bertera says, “The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery provides a great fit for the first-ever ISI Envision project award. As the heart of Alaska’s sport

fish stocking program and the largest indoor sport hatchery in the nation, it is also the largest application of water recirculation technology for a hatchery. The sustainability of this project guided the vision and development of every aspect of the hatchery, and all facets of building and site design incorporated sustainability principles that will last far into the future.” The hatchery project was spawned by the need to replace two aging hatcheries on Fort Richardson and Elmendorf military bases. Those facilities, built in the 1970s, made use of waste heated water from the military power plants to provide warm water in which to rear the fingerlings and smolt. When the military privatized its electrical systems, the power plants at both bases were decommissioned, eliminating the warm water supply. Tesch says ADF&G staff wanted a new facility that would be easily accessible to Southcentral’s population and the lakes and streams stocked with fish each spring and that the public could enjoy. Of the sites considered, the Elmendorf Power Plant cooling pond location offered a supply of clean well water, proximity to the brood stock in Ship Creek, and is ideal location for public visitation and education programs. Dave Kemp of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities took on the task of project manager, bringing together the hatchery staff, design team, and the contractor for the planning, site selection, design, and construction of this very technically complex project. “Since the free heat from the military power plants was no longer available, a new much more energy efficient hatchery was the logical option,” says Kemp. He credits Jeff Milton, Sport Hatchery Program Manager, and the hatchery staff for setting the goal of sustainability. ADF&G’s mission is, after all, to develop the resources for the people of Alaska in a sustainable manner. Milton, who served as the ADF&G representative on the project team, says he always tried to ask what the most durable and sustainable building and fish culture systems were, how they could be utilized, and if the State could afford them. “Every choice is likely a tradeoff of some sort. We essentially tried to de-

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Photo courtesy of HDR

Photo courtesy of HDR

Early construction work included pouringconcreteintothefoundationwallsoftheWilliamJackHernandezSportFish HatcheryinAnchorage.

The hatchery’s recirculation technology reusesupto95percentofits water. 68

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Site plan. Rendering by HDR

sign things as sustainably as possible within our budget. Once we had capital funding fixed we tried to do as much as possible within that limit to minimize operational costs by choosing longer lasting materials and systems such as passive lighting,” he explains.

Transcending the Vision What resulted is a recirculating aquaculture system that is innovative and efficient. Fifteen water-recirculating systems provide the treatment and reuse regimes in the hatchery. They include 107 round rearing tanks that have a dual water separation system for fish waste and particulate matter. Water is treated to remove ammonia and excess carbon dioxide, then oxygenated. Treatments vary with the species. More than 8.5 miles of pipe and conduit course through the facility in a complex network conveying domestic wastewater, compressed air, natural gas, and water for the building heating system as well as the rearing pond water. Add to that the conventional conduits for electrical, communications, and data control systems, and you have one giant maze.

Milton says the group did not set out to make such a mechanically complex facility, “It just turned out that when we considered all the requirements associated with the fish production programs we had few alternatives available that would meet the demands. The recirculating aquaculture systems provide the environmental control needed to regulate fish development and growth effectively enough to achieve our production goals within a single facility.” HDR, Inc. the international firm selected to design the hatchery, is a charter member of ISI and the first company to commit to credentialing its staff as Envision Sustainability Professionals. In 2006, when HDR was considering the hatchery design, says Dan Billman, vice president and project manager, the firm did not have a formal procedure for inserting sustainability techniques. “It is just the way we think,” he says, “part of our culture. What we did have was a client that was passionate about the concept of sustainability.” The decision to locate the hatchery at the site of the old power plant cooling pond posed both opportunities for


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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Photo courtesy of HDR

Connecting process water supply pipesattheRepumpbuilding.

sustainable operations and some challenges. The cooling pond offered a supply of clean water, proximity to the brood stock in the creek, and an ideal location for public visitation and education programs. However, the pond would need to be drained and the water table lowered to dry out the top twenty feet of alluvium. Soil stability and ground table water levels were key factors in construction. HDR’s design solution involved allowing the sediment to settle by placing a permanent sheet-pile cutoff wall on two up-gradient sides of the building. These walls would divert subsurface water flow around the site. That and a curtain drain lowered the water table enough to consolidate the surface for construction. Another challenge was the presence of soils contaminated with petroleum waste. HDR’s staff immediately addressed the need to remove contaminated soils and restore the brownfield while protecting Ship Creek and the fish that provide brood stock for the hatchery. The question was how would they drain the pond, lower the water table, and im70

prove the site with that in mind? They proposed a three-step approach to dealing with contaminated soils, preventing damage to any cultural artifacts and maintaining Ship Creek quality. Uncontaminated high quality soil would be used for site backfill. Other soil material and low-level contaminated soil would be placed in berms to be used for landscaping. Only the most contaminated soil would be shipped for incineration and disposal. Techniques such as these, along with those of prime contractor, Kiewit Building Group, and the other partners, PRA Aqua Supplies, BBFM Engineers, Shannon & Wilson, Inc., McCool Carlson Green, Land Design North, MBA Consulting Engineers, Inc., Alaska Construction Management, WHPacific, Superior Plumbing & Heating, and Alcan Electrical & Engineering, would later be reviewed against the ISI’s criteria. HDR and the people associated with the hatchery conducted a self-evaluation rating it for best practices as identified in sixty credits, explains Bertera.

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

The evaluation team was led by an individual credentialed by ISI. That evaluation is later verified by an independent firm on contract to the Institute, also credentialed as a peer reviewer. Each project is evaluated on its own merits, Bertera says of the Envision award. The process is meant to be a tool that designers and builders will use to encourage sustainable practices at every point in the construction process. “Our goal as an educational and research organization is to encourage public sector entities to incorporate sustainability in their civil works,” he adds. “This matter of sustainability would not be on anyone’s mind if it wasn’t increasingly apparent that our world only has a future if we begin thinking about that future differently than we have to this point.” Michaella Wittman, HDR’s sustainability director, says, “We think Envision will be a game changer, doing for sustainable infrastructure what the now-commonplace LEED rating does for sustainable architecture.”

Putting it Together A critical element to the success of incorporating so many innovative techniques in the hatchery project was Kemp’s leadership in facilitating the team and his method. “We made a decision early in the project,” says Kemp, to use the Contract Manager|General Construction (CM|GC) method of procurement. The CM|GC method brings the contractors into the planning and design phase of the project so that “the individuals who will actually perform the construction are familiar with both the technical aspects of the project, as well as the vision of the folks who will own and operate the hatchery. “This was a bit more costly at the beginning of the project but ultimately resulted in a less expensive overall project because the contractor was part of the planning and design, and their expertise is incorporated early instead of via expensive change orders during the construction phase. This method also avoids the ‘us versus them’ atmosphere that can occur on many traditional design|bid|build projects.” Kevin Welker, senior vice president Kiewit Building Group, notes, “The ben-

efits of the CM|GC method of procurement allowed the entire project team to mature quickly. The team developed a relationship where they actively sought the clients’ input and shared responsibility and ownership of the many challenges the hatchery presented. The result was far fewer questions and changes during construction.” The atmosphere was decidedly positive according to Tesch. “Early on everyone understood the intention to make this a model of innovation, a once in a life time project. Workers were really psyched,” she recalls. “One subcontractor even had jackets made with the hatchery logo.” In its critique of the project, ISI reviewers noted how the partnership approach positively affected the operations. The team earned points for repurposing existing water and sewer infrastructure; creating connections to existing bike trails; and creating a parallel bike trail through a park-like setting with trails, boardwalk, and educational signs. This resulted in a high score for improving community quality of life. Actions such as Kiewit’s implementation of an on-site recycling program

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Photo courtesy of HDR

In selecting the artwork that adorns the building exterior, the team also carried forward the sustainability theme. It considered the durability of materials. Rather than choosing a wood carving that might require special care, they opted for wire sculptures that would be more easily maintained just as they chose durable materials for interior doors that would stand up to the humid conditions. Since completion, the hatchery has also been awarded the Alaska General Contractors’ Alaska Excellence in Construction award. It was a top finalist in the 2013 ACE Outstanding Engineering Achievement Awards. Kemp, who describes the project as one of the easiest yet most complex of his forty-year career, calls it a joy for the opportunity to work with so many smart, creative people. “The Alaska public has a hatchery that is as efficient as possible and was built to meet the demands of the future,” he says. 

Accepting the first Gold awardforSustainableInfrastructure,fromleft,Dave Kemp, PE, PMP, Chief Statewide Public Facilities, ADOT&PF ; Andrea Tesch, fish hatchery manager; Jeff Milton, regional hatchery-program director; and Wayne Klotz, PE, chairman, Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, which awardedthefirstEnvision™ratingtotheWilliamJackHernandezSportFish HatcheryinAnchorage.

and vehicle|equipment idling policy also ranked well in the Natural World category. Welker feels Kiewit Building Group’s environmental stewardship

contributed to the focus with its onsite mitigation measures and policy to mitigate impacts on neighboring residents.

Joette Storm writes from Anchorage.

Tight budget? Aggresive schedule? Limited skilled labor? Challenging energy codes?


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013



Proactive Oilfield Safety Taking a zero-tolerance stand to risk ByRindiWhite


laska is home to some of the most dangerous jobs in America. Commercial fishing, a fastmoving construction industry, and natural resource extraction are among the most dangerous jobs in the nation, according to the federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ census of fatal occupational injuries. According to information from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 450,000 people across the nation worked in oil and gas extraction and support services in 2011. Between 2003 and 2010, 823 of those workers were killed on the job; a rate that OSHA says is seven times greater than the rate for all US industries. For that reason, safety is perhaps more important to oilfield companies than it has ever been. Across the board, oilfield companies and oilfield service companies are taking a zero-tolerance stand to risk in the workplace, implementing new and more effective safety strategies. “It doesn’t matter the producer, every producer is demanding safe operations. And if you can’t provide them, you’re not going to be there long,” says Peak Oilfield Services President Mike O’Connor. “Our workforce kind of knows and understands that, it’s a requirement of the job.” At ConocoPhillips, the state’s largest oil producer, a recently implemented safety program decreased workplace incidents by 60 percent in 2012, according to company officials, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. “Culture change is a journey,” writes spokeswoman Natalie Lowman by email. “We strive to be a learning organization and seek continuous improvement, and as such encourage the reporting of both actual incidents and near misses. We investigate the cause of

“Itdoesn’tmattertheproducer,everyproducerisdemandingsafe operations. And if you can’t provide them, you’re not going to be therelong.Ourworkforcekindofknowsandunderstandsthat,it’s arequirementofthejob.” —Mike O’Connor President,PeakOilfieldServices

every incident and implement corrective actions to address the root cause in order to prevent recurrence.” BP, whose fields account for more than two-thirds of Alaska’s oil production, has safety as its core focus as well. The company uses a behavior-based safety process, or BBS, through which workers observe and identify safety-related behaviors that are critical to performance. “BBS builds a strong safety culture through communication, networking, and developing empowerment opportunities for employee involvement at all levels of the organization,” says BP Alaska spokeswoman Dawn Patience. The process has been in place longer than two decades and has lowered recordable injuries on the job throughout that time, but 2011 and 2012 were the best years during that period, Patience says.

Establishing a Culture of Safety Takes Everyone Grey Mitchell, director of the state Division of Labor Standards and Safety, says both BP and ConocoPhillips participate in the state-run Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). They are among eight of the twelve companies statewide participating in the program, a number Mitchell is working to increase. Although Occupational Safety and Health employees frequently get tagged as ticket-writing bureaucrats on the lookout for violations, programs like the VPP symbolize an effort to work

with employers to improve safety standards and reduce workplace accidents. The general idea behind the program is that getting employees involved in developing and communicating safety measures leads to a safer workplace. According to the state’s VPP website, companies that participate in the voluntary program see about 52 percent fewer workplace accidents than their competitors. “This program is fairly rigorous to become approved [in] and to maintain the approval is also quite rigorous. It not only focuses on the actual illness and injury rate in comparison to industry standards, but also to unusual things like the degree of employee involvement in safety and health management,” Mitchell says. Employees are the key, he says. “You don’t get safety just because someone says ‘Hey, be safe.’ It comes because people are taking responsibility in the right environment,” he says. That’s what the VPP program aims to encourage—employees seeing the sense in safe behavior and being confident that they can point out unsafe conditions or actions without fear of being singled out as a troublemaker. ConocoPhillips has earned the VPP Star award at five of its locations: Anchorage, Kuparuk, Alpine, Tyonek, and Beluga. Star status means the employer has demonstrated “exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of safety and health hazards,” Lowman says.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Participation in the program isn’t a one-time application process. Employers participating in the program are reevaluated every three to five years to remain in the program. Lowman says a key factor in renewal in the program is demonstrating continuous improvement. ConocoPhillips Alaska saw that this year—the company won a SPIRIT award, given within ConocoPhillips, for having its best-ever safety performance in 2012. Lowman says that in 2011 ConocoPhillips Alaska managers realized focusing on individual safety accountability was key to boosting safety performance. They set a goal of creating what they term an Incident-Free Culture, or IFC. “While culture change and good safety performance ultimately result from the many programs, processes, and procedures that guide operations every day, a key focus of the launch of our IFC journey was on defining and subsequently educating the workforce regarding behaviors which would help to cultivate the change in individual safety accountability,” Lowman says. Shell Alaska doesn’t currently participate in the state’s VPP program but safe-


ty for the company is a top priority, Shell officials say. The company encourages a “stop” culture, in which any employee has the authority to stop a task that is not being conducted safely. Intense and frequent training for contractors and employees, along with a commitment to “Goal Zero” are indicative of Shell’s belief that the company can operate in the often difficult conditions it faces in Alaska and around the globe without fatalities or significant incidents. “While we still have work to do, we are making good progress,” the company states on its website.

cal stresses that may be part of a coldwater crash event. Not everyone who takes the course passes. Alaska oil producers operate a number of offshore platforms to which supplies and personnel must travel by helicopter. Shell is preparing for drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, where platforms can be dozens of miles from shore. The company invested more than $1 million for the helicopter simulator and other equipment used in the cold-water survival class, but the training course is open to (and used by) employees of other oil companies working offshore as well.

Extreme Safety Measures Shell Alaska contracts with the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska to hold sixteen-hour cold-water survival and helicopter underwater escape training at the Challenger Center in Kenai. The course is required for employees and anyone visiting an offshore drilling rig. Participants are expected to understand, among other skills, how to use safety and survival equipment on board the helicopters and be able to cope with physical, psychological, and physiologi-

Safety Is Good For the Bottom Line Mitchell says one reason companies participate in safety programs is they have learned that being safe gives them a direct economic advantage over competitors who don’t pay as close attention to safety measures. “These companies have recognized that the company that can shave 50 percent or 20 percent or whatever it is off their cost of workplace accidents, it puts them at a tremendous advantage over a

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

company that might not be recognizing that,” Mitchell says. Saving money goes beyond a company having to shell out money to pay workers’ compensation benefits or lawsuits over workplace injuries. There are hidden costs of injuries, Mitchell says, including loss of productivity, low employee morale, and higher turnover. And the benefits of working on safety plans, particularly plans that empower employees to take charge of safety at the work site, are numerous, Mitchell says. “It’s not only a financial awakening, but from there it becomes … a catalyst [for employers] to work more in partnership with their workforces. It becomes a teamfocused event looking at all of the aspects of making a company do better,” he says. Peak Oilfield Services was a VPP participant for several years and received awards from the state for safety practices at two of its sites several years in a row. The company, which is owned by oilfield producer Nabors Industries and primarily provides oilfield services to Nabors, does everything from moving enormous drilling rigs to building ice roads, hauling potable water to offshore drilling rigs, and repairing or replacing damaged sections of oilfield pipelines. O’Connor says as a contractor working for other companies, it’s imperative that everyone involved in a project get together and outline responsibilities and safety measures before work begins. “If we drop something [with a crane] and it ends up in the middle of their facility, then they have a problem and we have a problem,” O’Connor says. “There are a lot of drawings that need to be done before you lift something over a facility that might be worth $100 million.” Safety takes planning, time, and commitment, not to mention money. But O’Connor says it pays off. Peak Oilfield Services is enjoying a reduction in severity of injuries due to increased safety measures. For him, that means more restful nights. “It’s been a really, really nice change for me,” O’Connor says. “I don’t have to get up at night and hear somebody got hurt. And I can be confident that our safety crew is doing a good job.”  Rindi White is a freelance journalist living in Palmer.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Hydraulic fracturing oilfield tactic has deep history and a bright future in Alaska



he technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been a boon for domestic oil and gas production. In Lower 48 states, including North Dakota and Texas, companies are using the technology to free hydrocarbons from “tight” shale formations. Fracking, however, also has sparked widespread controversy, with critics saying it poses a threat to drinking water sources. Whether pro or con, Alaskans might wonder: When will hydraulic fracturing come here? In fact, companies have been using the technology in Alaska for decades. It has made a big impact in helping produce huge volumes of North Slope crude oil and Cook Inlet natural gas. ConocoPhillips, the state’s top oil and gas producer, says thousands of fracking jobs have been permitted and performed in Alaska. What’s more, the procedures have been done safely, drilling regulators say. “In over fifty years of oil and gas production, Alaska has yet to suffer a single documented instance of subsurface damage to an underground source of drinking water,” the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said in a 2011 white paper on fracking. “As long as each well is properly constructed and its mechanical integrity is maintained, hydraulic fracturing should have no potential to damage any fresh groundwater.” The Lower 48 hoopla over fracking, however, is resonating in Alaska. State regulators are moving to clarify regulations on the technique, potentially increasing requirements for oil and gas operators. On the production side, operators are importing advanced fracking processes


Hydraulic fracturing has been important for the development of Alaskaresources,saysConocoPhillips,whichoperatestheKuparuk andAlpineoilfieldsontheNorthSlopeandownsamajorstakein giantPrudhoeBay. to Alaska’s oil patch. Plans include targeting North Slope shale formations, which could hold enormous volumes of oil and gas.

How it Works Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation treatment for impermeable reservoirs that don’t readily release their oil and gas riches, as do conventional reservoirs with porous rock that lets hydrocarbons flow through. Fracking involves pumping water at high pressure down wells to crack the reservoir rock. The cracks provide paths for hydrocarbons to enter the well and flow to the surface. Particulate material, known as proppant, is typically mixed with the injected water. Halliburton, an oil field services company, describes the fracking of a gas well on its Hydraulic Fracturing 101 website: “It starts with a good bit of water and a lot of sand. Mix those two together, apply a couple thousand pounds of pressure, and introduce them to a reservoir several thousand feet below, often with the help of a small percentage of additives that aid in delivering that solution down the hatch. “Then physics take over. The force of the water creates a network of tiny fissures in the impermeable rock. The flow of water acts as a delivery mechanism for the sand, which finds its way into those newly created cracks and holds them open. This creates passageways though which the previously

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

trapped natural gas can travel to get to the wellbore.” On average, it takes three to ten days to complete a fracking job, allowing a well to produce for twenty or even fift y years, Halliburton says. Over the past six decades, hydraulic fracturing has helped deliver more than 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to US consumers, and today nearly nine of ten onshore wells, both gas and oil, need fracture stimulation, the company says. Regulators say about 25 percent of Alaska’s wells have been fracked. Hydraulic fracturing has been important for the development of Alaska resources, says ConocoPhillips, which operates the Kuparuk and Alpine oil fields on the North Slope and owns a major stake in giant Prudhoe Bay. The company is also a big Cook Inlet gas producer as operator of the Tyonek offshore platform and the Beluga River gas field. Most wells in the huge Kuparuk field and its satellite developments have been fractured, ConocoPhillips says. “Much of the oil produced from those wells likely would not have been developed if the industry lacked confidence that it could successfully receive permit approval for hydraulic fracturing,” the company told regulators in April. The company added: “ConocoPhillips is not aware of any instance in Alaska in which hydraulic fracturing has been associated with an environmental or other incident. Yet, we understand that the rapid pace of ‘unconventional’ oil

New Regulations Proposed For several months, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been working on possible new regulations on hydraulic fracturing. The three-member commission includes an engineer, a geologist, and a lawyer and regulates drilling operations. The commission chair, Cathy Foerster, says the agency isn’t developing the regulations because state rules are weak. Rather, it’s an effort to clarify and possibly expand the regulations. The commission says its statutes and regulations already include stringent well construction requirements to protect underground water sources and ensure mechanical integrity during production and injection operations. One change the agency is considering is grouping relevant regulations under a new section titled “Hydraulic Fractur-











Brookian Shale Oil AU AK

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

and gas development in the Lower 48 has brought concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing to national attention. We support a transparent public process to ensure that Alaska has the right standards in place.”

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National Oil and Gas Assessment region boundary

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ing.” This will make it much easier for the general public to find the rules on fracking, Foerster says. The commission is also proposing to add a number of regulations. One would require companies planning to

U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey

fracture a well to notify nearby landowners. Operators also would have to test area water wells before and after fracturing. And companies would have to disclose the chemical makeup of fracking fluids.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


in whic Brittle l phatic l and ver concret in the B mostly and brit Ad was use to evalu to occu gamma from ex tion of history North S most im Sh the low and eng ment. A ultimate and sha of wells success are liste

Industryplayerssayarequirementforsamplingprivatewaterwells isunnecessaryandproblematic,asthewellownerswouldhaveto consentandcooperate.Further,thelogisticsofhandlingwatersamplescanbetricky,andonlylabsoutofstatecandocertaintesting.


These requirements have drawn both praise and concern. A group of eleven environmental organizations, including The Wilderness Society and the Alaska Center for the Environment, said in written comments submitted in April: “The proposed regulations ... go a long way toward providing the public with critical information regarding fracturing.” Industry players say a requirement for sampling private water wells is unnecessary and problematic, as the well owners would have to consent and cooperate. Further, the logistics of handling water samples can be tricky, and only labs out of state can do certain testing. “Many states with new hydraulic fracturing regulations have decided not to require water sampling of personal drinking wells ... for these rea-

sons,” said the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, which represents most of the state’s producers and refiners. Service companies including Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Baker Hughes also worry the proposed disclosure requirement could expose “trade secrets” embodied in hydraulic fracturing additives developed at a cost of millions of dollars. As with the Coca-Cola formula or “your mother’s secret apple pie recipe,” the fracking blends are intellectual property worth protecting, the service companies say.

Pioneer and Great Bear To some degree, hydraulic fracturing in Alaska is different than in the Lower 48. On the North Slope, the state’s most productive oil and gas area, freshwater isn’t a concern.

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“In this part of Alaska, a thick layer of soil is underlain by permafrost – ground that remains frozen year round – so there is no liquid water, other than surface water, to a depth of one thousand to two thousand feet,” the oil and gas commission says. “Below the permafrost, only saltwater is present, with very few exceptions. Regardless, wells on the North Slope are held to the same stringent construction requirements as other wells throughout the state.” Hydraulic fracturing figures prominently in the plans of two relative newcomers to the Slope. Pioneer Natural Resources, which operates the Oooguruk oil field, in 2012 executed “the North Slope’s largest hydraulic fracture stimulation” in one of its wells using a Lower 48 completion technique. The company, based in Irving, Texas, has fracked more wells since and has reported excellent results. Great Bear Petroleum, a small Anchorage-based company, is looking to pioneer oil production from shale or so-called source rocks. These formations, with names such as Shublik and Kingak, are thought to have held oil and gas that migrated over the ages to reservoirs known today as Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk, and other fields. The US Geological Survey in 2012 estimated North Slope source rocks potentially could hold technically recoverable reserves of up to 2 billion barrels of oil and nearly 80 trillion cubic feet of gas. The chances for recoveries that high, however, are small, the US Geological Survey said. Great Bear drilled a pair of test wells in 2012 along the Dalton Highway, a few miles south of Prudhoe Bay. The company has said rock cores showed oil, but the drilling results remain under analysis. If production from the source rocks proves commercially viable, it likely would involve the drilling of hundreds of horizontal wells, all of which would be hydraulically fractured. This intensive development is typical of the shale plays in the Lower 48, says Bill Barron, state oil and gas director. 



Magtec Alaska, LLC (907) 394-6350 Roger Wilson, Prudhoe Bay Skeeter Creighton, Kenai (907) 394-6305

Journalist Wesley Loy writes from Anchorage.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Tax Policy Impact on Production Implications of the initiative ByMikeBradner


he controversy over state oil tax reform just seems to go on and on. Last spring the Legislature passed a major overhaul of the state oil and gas production tax in Senate Bill 21 (SB21). Governor Sean Parnell and the forty-member Republican-led state House supported the bill as did the twenty-member state Senate, but by a bare one-vote margin. Shortly after, critics of the tax change rallied behind a proposed voter referendum that would repeal SB21. Sufficient signatures on petitions were gathered and it appears the referendum will be qualified to appear on the August 2014 primary election ballot. If the question is given final approval for the ballot(Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell must still give final certification)–the issues of oil tax reform will be debated once again, this time before the voters. The financial impact of SB21 is estimated at $420 million to $495 million in reduced revenues in Fiscal Year 2015, the first year the bill is fully in effect, assuming the state’s forecasted oil price of $109 per barrel that year. The financial impact would rise to between $745 million and $840 million in FY 2018 under the revenue department’s analysis, but that estimate assumes that oil prices will rise to $118 per barrel that year, which has the effect of increasing the cost of the tax, or the difference between SB21 revenues and what the previous tax would have brought in. However, those estimates assume no new oil production. The revenue department has also estimated that increased activity could result in enough new oil by 2018 to earn the state an additional $1 billion per year in royalties and taxes, largely offsetting the cost of SB21.


ThecriticismofSB21hasmainly been that it lacks guarantees that investments by companies in new oil will really be made, andthatthestatewillmeanwhile suffer increased budget shortfallsandcutstopublicservices. The development assumptions that would do that include four additional rigs drilling wells in existing fields, one new well pad in an existing field, and one small, new field outside the existing fields. Since SB21 was enacted in April, the companies have announced several development initiatives including new rigs, new pads, and small producing projects outside the existing fields, which in total appear similar to the development scenario laid out by the revenue department. Whether this really happens remains to be seen.

Background Prior to SB21’s enactment, Alaska had one of the highest oil tax rates in the world. The large, but mature oil fields of the North Slope are declining, but industry investment in developing new oil to stop the decline was lagging. The governor argued the lack of investment was due to the high tax rates. Industry agreed, and pointed to robust new investment and drilling in Lower 48 producing states like North Dakota, which has now surpassed Alaska in production. Under the previous tax, which the voter referendum would reenact if the measure goes to the ballot and passes,

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

the “total government take” (the total of all revenues to government) from Alaska oil production averaged 74 percent. The newly enacted SB21 has reduced this to between 60 and 65 percent depending on the size of the oil field. The effect of SB21 has been to take Alaska from near the top of world oil producing regions in total tax take to the upper middle tier of producing regions, according to EconOne, a Los Angeles consulting firm working for the revenue department. The criticism of SB21 has mainly been that it lacks guarantees that investments by companies in new oil will really be made, and that the state will meanwhile suffer increased budget shortfalls and cuts to public services. Proponents of the tax change do not dispute these claims, but they ask that the oil companies be given a chance to demonstrate what they say will happen, that there will eventually be new drilling and more oil. The budget gamble is an acknowledged risk, because it is almost certain that there will be steeper revenue declines because of the tax change than there would have been without SB21, and that they will occur before new oil production, and new revenue, can happen. However, it can also be argued that even without SB21 revenues will decline because of the drop in production. By giving industry new incentives, the reasoning goes, the drop in production can be halted, or possibly even reversed. Without this the oilfields and the trans-Alaska oil pipeline may be in a continuing death spiral.

Complex Features The mechanics of ACES, the previous oil tax, and the changes made by SB21, are fairly straightforward but there are features of both that are complex.

Thechangefromagrosstonetrevenuesproductiontaxhadbeenadvocatedforyearsbyeconomists intheDepartmentofRevenuebecausethegrossrevenuestaxcauseddistortionsintherisksandrewardsbalancebetweenindustryandthestate,whichtheeconomistsfeltwaspoorpublicpolicyand tothestate’sdisadvantageinhighoilpriceranges. ka has a net-profits type production tax, having changed from a gross-revenues production tax in 2006. The difference is that prior to 2006 the tax was on gross revenues at the oilfield calculated by subtracting transportation costs (tanker and pipeline) from market sales revenues on the west coast. The tax was on the gross revenue with no allowance for production or field costs. In 2006, deductions for production and field costs were allowed, so that the tax functioned more like a true income tax. The change from a gross to net revenues production tax had been advocated for years by economists in the Department of Revenue because the gross revenues tax caused distortions in the risks and rewards balance between industry and the state, which the economists felt was poor public policy

and to the state’s disadvantage in high oil price ranges. At lower oil prices the gross revenues tax functioned so that the state taxed the bulk of the net profit per barrel. This put the companies at a double disadvantage because not only were prices low but taxes were high. At high prices the reverse happened: The companies’ share of net profit climbed sharply and the state’s share dropped, thus the state missed out on most of the gains during periods of higher prices. Switching to a net profits tax changed this equation so that the producers and state shared the gains, and burdens, as oil prices went up and down. The two were more correctly aligned in the risks and rewards balance, economists said. There were some objections in the Legislature to completely eliminating

the gross revenues feature of the tax, however, out of concern for some “safety net” for the state in case oil prices crashed. Thus, the post-2007 ACES tax (and the changed version after SB21) contains a provision that changes the net revenues tax back to gross revenues if oil prices drop to a certain level.

Other Changes There were two other important changes made in 2006 and 2007 by the Legislature. One was the addition, in 2006, of a capital investment tax credit feature that was intended to reward companies for investing their Alaska profits back into new oil development. The initial proposal for this was simple, a straight 20 percent tax credit for new capital investments. Provisions were also added, however, for exploration wells at a 40

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


percent tax credit (this built on an exploration incentive credit that previously existed), and provisions for sale of the tax credits for companies new to Alaska that were exploring or developing new fields and that did not yet have Alaska production. A further provision was added later to this allowing the state to buy the tax credits from the explorers and developers directly because if the tax credits were sold on the private market they sold at a discount, diminishing their value to the explorer. This, however, put the state into the position of directly financing, essentially writing checks, for a portion of exploration and development costs. There were other provisions including the ability of explorers to “stack” some of these credits so that the state has wound paying as much a 60 percent, or more, of the costs of exploration wells. All of this got complicated and expensive to the state budget. One of the governor’s goals in SB21 was to simplify the tax credits and reduce their cost to the treasury. Under ACES the tax credit system would have cost the treasury $1 billion in foregone revenues (tax credits applied by producers) and state funds paid out to explorers and developers in Fiscal Year 2014, the current state financial year. The cost had been rising. In FY2013 the credits cost the state treasury about $800 million. One important amendment to ACES made in 2007, however, was a sharp change in the “progressivity” formula, a part of the tax that ratchets up the tax rate as oil prices climb. As it was enacted in 2006, the previous PPT, or Petroleum Production Tax, had a progressivity formula, but the index rate was relatively modest. In 2007 it was changed to be more much more aggressive so that, as oil prices climbed over $100 per barrel in 2009 and 2010, the marginal rate of the state tax climbed sharply—to more than 80 percent at some points. This was of great benefit to the state–it brought billions of dollars of new revenues to the treasury–but it crippled new investment by industry.

Investment Stagnated ConocoPhillips, for example, has shown that its taxes paid in Alaska have climbed sharply as oil prices have increased while its net profits on 82

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Theresultwasthatindustryinvestment stagnated in Alaska and boomed in North Dakota and Texas, Alaska’s competitors forinvestment. production remained essentially flat, mainly because of the progressivity formula. The Alaska oil producers were thus losing out on the gain from the oil price increase. This wasn’t the case in other oil producing states like Texas and North Dakota that have more traditional, and modest, tax regimes. The result was that industry investment stagnated in Alaska and boomed in North Dakota and Texas, Alaska’s competitors for investment. The result has been increases in oil production in those states and continued decline in production in Alaska. The Legislature hoped to change that in SB21. The legislation did away with the progressivity formula but also increased the base tax rate from 25 percent of net profits to 35 percent. The overall 20 percent investment tax credit was eliminated but the Legislature left intact other types of investment incentives, such as those for exploration. In one of the most difficult and hardfought sections of SB21, an attempt was made to provide incentives for “new oil” in existing fields, through an allowance for tax-free oil from new geologic formations within the fields that are developed. The challenge in this was to provide a workable mechanism for defining and measuring “new oil” in existing fields that could be given reduced taxes while taxing the underlying base production, the “old” oil, at the previous tax rate. After struggling with this, the Legislature opted to limit the tax reduction to oil from newly-defined reservoirs, or Participating Areas, within existing field units because the procedures for defining those have been worked out by the state Division of Oil and Gas. 

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Mike Bradner is publisher of the Alaska Legislative Digest and is a former state legislator and Speaker of the House.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Why Alaska Needs to Reduce State Spending (and how to do it) ByBradfordG.Keithley The opinions expressed herein are those of the author.


ased on state Office of Management and Budget data, over the last decade annual state government general fund spending—operating and capital combined—has nearly tripled, from roughly $2.3 billion in FY 2004 to a now-projected $7.1 billion for FY 2014. Over the same period, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has only increased by 27 percent. That means increases in state spending over the period have outstripped the CPI by roughly eight times. The escalation has been substantial even when measured only over the last five years, since Governor Parnell took office. Alaska state general fund spending over that period alone has increased by approximately 40 percent, from roughly $5.1 billion in FY 2009, the last budget prepared under Governor Palin, to $7.1 billion for FY 2014. During the same period the CPI has only increased 6 percent. As I have discussed in this column before, earlier this year the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) had this to say when looking at these trends: “Right now, the state is on a path it can’t sustain. Growing spending and falling revenues are creating a widening fiscal gap … Reasonable assumptions about potential new revenue sources suggest we do not have enough cash in reserves to avoid a severe fiscal crunch soon after 2023, and with that fiscal crisis will come an economic crash.” Importantly, that analysis was based on projections which assumed the continuation of ACES (Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share), the former oil tax law that almost all now agree took too much of the North Slope revenue stream and subsequently has been supplanted.


Alaska is not facing a revenue problem, it is facing a serious—and potentially soon—catastrophic spending problem of its own creation. In short, Alaska is careening toward a crisis, not attributable to “federal overreach” or any other Outside force, but entirely created by the state’s own inability to control spending.

What Is Going On? When confronted by these facts readers may ask: “Why has spending risen so quickly and so much?” The answer is simply that government has spent more—and then more—through both the operating and capital budgets. In FY 2004 the operating budget was $2.23 billion. For FY 2009, the operating budget was $3.38 billion. For FY 2014, the current fiscal year, the state operating budget provides for $5.3 billion in spending. In short, in ten years the operating budget has increased by over 135 percent; in the last five years alone it has increased by in excess of 50 percent. Some attribute the substantial growth in the operating budget over that period to increases in formula driven programs, those that are on a type of automatic pilot and whose spending levels are set by formulas established either in federal or state law. Those type of programs certainly have contributed. Combining formula driven funding for education with other formula funding, that category of spending has grown from $1.1 billion in FY 2004, to $1.6 billion in FY 2009, to $2.7 billion for FY 2014. But on a percentage basis that category has not grown any faster than the remainder of the operating budget. What has grown faster, and promises to continue growing at an accelerated

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

rate going forward, is the required state contribution to the state’s two pension systems, PERS (Public Employment Retirement System) and TRS (Teacher Retirement System). From not even being listed as a line item in FY 2004, the required contribution grew to $104 million in FY 2009, and subsequently has grown to $633 million for FY 2014, accounting for approximately a quarter of the growth of the operating budget over the same period. Recent studies estimate that category of spending alone will rise in the next three years to, and then continue for several years at over, $1 billion per year. The capital budget, while easier to control, apparently also is easier to let get out of hand. In FY 2004, the capital budget was $84.6 million. In FY 2009, the capital budget was $675.3 million. In FY 2013, the recently completed fiscal year, capital spending rose to a staggering $2.1 billion, a level which is nearly twenty-five times the level of spending just ten years ago. Including so-called “fund capitalizations” (a new category), the capital budget for FY 2014 is $1.83 billion, slightly less than the record level of FY 2013, but still higher by orders of magnitude than the levels from five and ten years before and a substantial contributor to the building crisis described in the ISER study.

What Needs To Be Done to Avoid the Coming Fiscal Storm What can be done to avoid the coming fiscal storm? The ISER analysis is clear: “The answer is to save more and restrict the rate of spending growth. All revenues above the sustainable spending level of $5.5 billion … [sh]ould be channeled into savings.”

But how can state spending be reduced to the “sustainable” level of $5.5 billion? The ISER analysis does not reach that issue, but working through past state budgets and fiscal policy demonstrates that it’s not rocket science. In fact, I think it can be done in three steps.

Step 1: Return Spending to FY 2011 Enacted Levels The last time the Governor and Legislature enacted a budget within sustainable levels was in 2010, for FY 2011. The first step in returning current spending to sustainable levels is to return to that budget level—one which the state found sufficient just three short years ago. The FY 2011 enacted budget authorized $5.48 billion in state spending, a level within the $5.5 billion “sustainable” level outlined in the ISER report. The operating budget for that year was $4.84 billion; the capital budget was $643 million. While this coming year’s operating budget is $450 million higher than the FY 2011 level, that difference amounts only to roughly 8.5 percent of the current operating budget. While they will require prioritization, cuts in that range—especially since they will return the budget to levels that worked only three years ago—are certainly achievable. One challenge in that effort, of course, will be accommodating the necessary growth in the PERS and TRS contributions within that ceiling. The PERS and TRS contribution in FY 2011 was $357 million. As noted previously, the required contribution included in the FY 2014 budget is $634 million, and is forecast to continue rising over the next two decades. There is ample opportunity for offsetting cuts in the capital budget, however. The FY 2011 capital budget was $643 million. While that is significantly lower than the capital budgets the last two years, it is nonetheless higher than the historic average over the last ten years. Coming off successive years of record capital budgets, the state easily can afford to take a breather and reduce capital spending to levels more in line with the historic average in order to offset any required

additions over FY 2011 levels to the operating budget.

Step 2: Set Aside Future Alaskan’s Share of State Revenues Off the Top In the August issue of Alaska Business Monthly, in my column titled “Is Th is Generation of Alaskans Failing the Next?” I explained that the revenue stream received by state government today actually comes in two parts. A portion of it is for the account of, and can be spent by, the current generation of Alaskans. Because it is a monetization of a depleting resource, however, a portion of the current revenue stream also is for the account of future generations. This generation has an obligation to hold the portion of current revenues attributable to future generations in trust. Put in simple terms, that means this generation has an obligation to save it, and not spend it on ourselves. As I also explain in that column, however, in my view this generation is violating that obligation, by spending today from the amounts properly attributable to our children, grandchildren, and those that will follow them. As a consequence, a second step in avoiding the coming fiscal storm is to recognize what we are doing and start setting aside, before calculating the amount of revenues current state government has to spend, the portion attributable to future generations. In other words, as most of us do in our own private lives, we should save the portion of the state’s earnings that is attributable to future generations, before spending the remainder on ourselves. Applying the approach I suggested in the earlier column to the Department of Revenue’s recent forecast of anticipated revenue levels for FY 2014 would result in the state setting aside roughly an additional $900 million during the current fiscal year for future generations and would reduce the level of revenues available for this generation to approximately $5.8 billion. One of the problems the Governor and legislators sometimes face is the public perception that state government has a lot of money to spend. More accurately stating the level of revenues that government has available to spend

on the current generation makes a sustainable budget target of $5.5 billion far more explainable.

Step 3: Eliminate Earmarks Readers are likely to recall the efforts earlier this decade at the federal level to eliminate Congressional earmarks. As the Wall Street Journal put it at the time in editorializing against the practice, “It’s true that earmarks make up only 2 percent to 3 percent of all federal spending, but that spending is what greases the political skids for passing trillion-dollar-plus budget bills. Members get what they want in return for voting ‘aye’ on what the Administration and Congressional leaders want.” While Congress subsequently eliminated the practice, Alaska state government has not. From using state funds to subsidize airplane tickets to the Great Alaska Shootout, to paving parking lots for privately owned sports facilities, to building tennis courts in Anchorage, Alaska state legislators continue to engage in the same earmarking practices as their Congressional counterparts earlier did. And, although on a smaller scale, the practice produces the same end result. By providing individual legislators with the right to earmark state funds for specific projects, the Governor and legislative leaders help grease the skids for gathering the votes necessary to pass billion-dollar-plus budget bills. While Congress still has not turned the corner, it nevertheless has slowed the growth of the federal budget crisis—and forced members increasingly to come to grips with the larger fiscal issues—by eliminating earmarks. Alaska should do the same.  Bradford G. Keithley is the President and a Principal with Keithley Consulting, LLC, an Alaska-based and focused oil, gas and fiscal policy consultancy he founded. Keithley also publishes the blog “Thoughts on Alaska Oil & Gas” at

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Compiled by Mari Gallion

PND Engineers, Inc.

Environment, Land Use, and Natural Resources group. Since 2008, Grovier has been selected as one of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in Alaska by Chambers USA in the area of Environment, Natural Resources, and Regulated Industries.

Kathy Day Public Relations Virtual Malone Baughman



Chavez Roche




PND Engineers, Inc. announces the hire of Lisa Baughman as Environmental Scientist. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a concentration in environmental science from Cameron University. Corey Roche, EIT, Matthew Wasson, EIT, and Ryan Zhang, EIT, were hired as a staff engineers. Roche is a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Wasson holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine. Zhang recently completed a Master of Science in Civil Engineering at UAA and will focus on geotechnical work.

Raber Bentti Tara Sanders was hired as an Accounting Technician. Sanders is a graduate of the University of Alaska Southeast with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Ellen Hamel, PE, SE, and Chad Malone, PE, were hired as senior engineers. Hamel holds a Master of Science in Structural Engineering from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tufts University. Malone is a graduate of Montana State University and brings twelve years of experience in civil and structural design on a wide range of projects. Michael Beauvais, EIT, completed his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from UAA. Kara Raber was hired as accounts payable and payroll technician. Raber has an associate degree in accounting from UAA and more than three years of accounting and payroll experience. David Bentti, PE, earned a Professional Engineer registration in Alaska and was promoted to senior engineer. Bentti holds a Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering from the University of Utah.

Stoel Rives LLP

Stoel Rives LLP announces that Tina Grovier has joined its Anchorage office as a partner in the


Kathy Day Public Relations Virtual has announced the addition of three new team members—Annie Chavez, Stacey Vetter, and Judy Patrick. Chavez is owner of Annie Chavez Events & Services, offering event, entertainment, and mar- Patrick keting coordination for corporate conferences, in-house promotions, and other celebrations. Chavez has more than fifteen years of special event coordination experience. Vetter, CAS, is a Certified Advertising Specialist who provides promotional products, corporate apparel, and marketing services. Vetter’s talents lie in finding unique and practical promotional products for each company or special event. Patrick has more than twenty years of experience providing professional photography, primarily to the energy industry.

Dawley & Associates

Dawley & Associates announces the hire of Amy Miller, a local communications expert, in their Anchorage office. Miller’s fifteen-year communica-

OH MY! 86

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

RIGHT MOVES tions career has included public relations, writing, editing, social-media marketing, and strategy in various positions around the state.

Compiled by Mari Gallion Alaska Fairbanks. Sharratt will also have his PhD in Occupational Safety from Eastern Kentucky University in May 2014.

ASRC Federal

Northrim Bank

ASRC Federal has named Susan Balaguer as vice president, human resources. Balaguer has a bachelor’s degree in applied management from Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana.

CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation

Balaguer Giamona


Gunnar Knapp has been appointed director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), after acting as interim director since January. He is a long-time professor of economics at ISER, widely respected for his studies of Alaska’s commercial fisheries and other aspects of the state’s economy. Knapp has been on the ISER faculty since earning his PhD from Yale University in 1981. ISER has broadened its research capacity in economics and public policy by adding three new faculty members. Diwakar Vadapalli is an assistant professor of public policy at ISER. His PhD in social welfare is from Case Western University. Mouhcine Guettabi is an assistant professor of economics at ISER, with a PhD in economics from Oklahoma State University. Matt Reimer holds a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Davis. He is an assistant professor of economics at ISER, with interests in environmental and resource economics, focusing on fisheries policy.


NORTECH, Inc. announces Ryan Sharratt as its new Industrial Hygienist and Safety Consultant. Sharratt holds degrees in environmental sciences from the University of Washington, an MBA from Colorado Technical University, and a bachelor of Business Management from the University of

Glacier Services Inc.

Troy A. Johnson, PE has been named Vice President of Business Development at Glacier Services, Inc. Johnson received his MBA from Marylhurst University in Oregon, and his BS in Electronic Engineering from DeVry University.


Northrim Bank announces the promotion of Jessie Giamona to Assistant Vice President, Training and Development Manager. She holds a BA in Business Administration with a major in Human Resources Management. Bryann Hanks has been Roesler promoted to Consumer and Small Business Lender at the Small Business Center. She has been with the bank as a Loan Administrative Assistant since August 2012. Heidi Roesler has been promoted to Vice President, Human Resources Talent Manager. Roesler holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Public Administration. She also has the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the HR Certification Institute and is working on her Certified Compensation Professional Certificate.

North Wind Services, LLC

North Wind also announces two new employees: Liz Birkos and Kari Holder. Birkos is a professional geologist supporting North Wind projects throughout the state of Alaska. Holder is a project manager with more than eighteen years of experience in the industry.

Gideon Garcia has joined CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation (CATC) as Chief Operating Officer. Having completed his MBA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, he brings substantial experience managing departments with five hundred seasonal employees and a proven leadership ability in operations to his leadership role at CATC. Roberta Caenepeel has joined CIRI Alaska Tourism as Sales Manager. Caenepeel has been selling CATC products for the past eleven years via Royal Celebrity Tours and more recently, Visit Anchorage.

Schneider Structural Engineers

Schneider Structural Engineers is pleased to announce the promotion of Nick Choromanski to the position of Associate. Choromanski has been with the company since 2007. Choromanski


Ginger George-Smith was hired as spokesperson and Director of Resource Development and Marketing at NeighborWorks Anchorage. She has more than thirty years of experience in fundraising and George-Smith resource development in Anchorage with a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University. 

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


FINANCIAL SERVICES Photo courtesy of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

House Money Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation investments grow more and more diverse


his summer saw an exciting development for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC). On August 1, a California-based company, American Homes 4 Rent, opened for trading on the New York Stock Exchange following a lucrative initial public offering. The listing crowned the company’s rapid growth, with APFC coming along for the ride as an early investor. American Homes 4 Rent now ranks as APFC’s top stock holding, larger even than its positions in Microsoft, Pfizer, Exxon Mobil, and other corporate giants. Not so many years ago, betting on a relatively obscure venture such as American Homes 4 Rent would not have been a consideration for APFC. Through most of its history, the state’s oil wealth savings account had managed its assets conservatively, plowing money into straight-forward bond, stock, and real estate investments. In recent years, however, this approach has changed dramatically, with APFC leadership venturing increasingly into more creative investments. Now, an IPO is just one of many sorts of sophisticated deals for APFC. The watchword for APFC managers is diversification. They are continually looking to spread APFC’s assets across a wide range of investments so that if any one bet loses big, the others hopefully won’t. The goal is nice, steady growth, without too much boom or bust. It’s hard to argue with the APFC’s formula thus far. In February, the fund value closed above $45 billion for the first time. For FY 2013, the fund returned nearly 11 percent.

Rainforest Finance APFC, based in rain-sodden Juneau, is four times zones and seemingly a world apart from Wall Street. A six-member board of trustees,

ByWesleyLoy pointed by the governor, sets fund policy. APFC’s executive director, Michael Burns, is former president of KeyBank of Alaska. The Prudhoe Bay discovery in the 1960s inspired creation of a fund to save some of the state’s extraordinary oil wealth. In 1976, Alaska voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment establishing the Alaska Permanent Fund. It’s not unique. Many so-called sovereign wealth funds exist around in the world, some holding considerably more assets than Alaska’s fund. Examples of other sovereign wealth funds include Norway’s petroleum fund, Alberta’s Heritage Fund, and Wyoming’s Permanent Mineral Trust. Part of the Permanent Fund’s investment earnings are used to pay qualified Alaska residents a dividend each year. Last year’s dividend was $878. While the dividends are popular, the rationale behind the Permanent Fund is bigger. The expectation is that Alaska’s oil will run out someday, and savings could be vital for sustaining the state. The important thing, APFC board chairman Bill Moran said in February, is turning “a nonrenewable natural resource into a renewable financial resource.” And so, decisions on how to manage the fund are a heavy responsibility. The board’s overriding investment objective is to protect the principal while maximizing total return. Its primary tool to limit risk and enhance returns is diversification. APFC’s long-term investment goal is to achieve a 5 percent real rate of return annually. “We’re not in the home run business,” says Burns. “We’re fairly risk-averse.”

Loosening the Reins That’s not to say, however, that APFC isn’t interested in big scores, so long as the bets are prudent.

Over the past decade, the APFC’s investment menu has expanded tremendously. To some degree, this reflects the fund’s growing maturity and the investment diversification of other sovereign wealth funds. Also, the Alaska Legislature gradually has given managers a freer hand in how to invest the fund. In 1977, when the Permanent Fund received its first deposit of oil revenue, the money was invested entirely in bonds, a conservative approach. In 1983, following changes to the “statutory investment list,” the APFC made its first investment in the stock market, and later that year, in real estate. In 1990, the APFC began to invest in foreign stock and bond markets. In 1999, the Legislature gave managers the flexibility to invest up to 5 percent of the fund’s value in “alternative investments.” And in 2005, in a landmark action, the Legislature removed the allowed investment list from state law. Today, the APFC is involved with a wide array of investments such as hedge funds, private equity, and mezzanine debt. APFC even invests in infrastructure, such as airports and power plants. To help maintain focus, the board of trustees each year sets a target allocation for Permanent Fund investments. Under the latest allocation, stocks comprise the largest slice of the investment pie at 36 percent, with smaller slices committed to bonds, real estate, private equity, and other types of investments. The drive to diversify Permanent Fund investments is likely to continue. For the most part, APFC hires outside firms to manage huge chunks of money. Often, these firms are among the top names in the money management business. In July, for example, the trustees committed large sums to Blackstone

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Photo courtesy of Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation

The London City Airport in England is an example of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation’s investment in infrastructure, and real estate such as the Parc Huron apartment building in Chicago shown on page 88.

and The Carlyle Group for investment in “special opportunities,” such as hedge fund general partnerships and global natural resource strategies.

Rent or Own? Buying a bunch of foreclosed houses probably wasn’t the kind of investment originally envisioned for the Permanent Fund. But that was the chance that presented itself in 2012, when the trustees approved allocations totaling $600 million to American Homes 4 Rent to purchase foreclosures. It was a “special opportunity” invest90

ment arising out of the nation’s terrible housing crash. The idea behind American Homes 4 Rent was to grab thousands of homes across the Lower 48, renovate them, and then rent them out. Originally, the thought was that it would be a fleeting investment, with the company existing only temporarily. But the venture has evolved rapidly, and APFC has gotten in deeper. B. Wayne Hughes, the chairman of American Homes 4 Rent, is a billionaire with a penchant for thoroughbred race horses and conservative politics. Hughes made his fortune building up Public Storage, a mini-warehouse

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

chain also listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Other top executives with American Homes 4 Rent came out of Public Storage, and that kind of experience is great for the young company, says Burns. American Homes 4 Rent is what’s known as a REIT, or real estate investment trust. When APFC made its initial investment, the company owned about 1,000 single-family homes. As of July 31, the number of properties stood at 19,825. The homes are in metro areas across the country, such as Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and Indianapolis.

Top 10 Alaska Permanent Fund stock holdings

Permanent Fund target allocation, 1977

Microsoft $164,196,711 Samsung $128,905,030 Google $128,389,639 Apple $126,918,291 Pfizer $109,302,667 Exxon Mobil $108,404,641 Johnson & Johnson $104,722,154 Chevron $101,168,038 Visa $100,504,642 Roche Holding $95,200,893

Permanent Fund target allocation, 1995 Real estate 10% International stocks 10%

US bonds 40% US stocks 35%

Foreign bonds 5%

Permanent Fund target allocation, 2013 Other 16%

Infrastructure 4% Absolute return 6% Private equity 6%

Real estate 12%

Stocks 36% Bonds and cash 20%

Data from Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation

According to a company prospectus, the country’s housing market is undergoing a fundamental change. “Many people, who in the past might have become homeowners, are instead

becoming long-term renters of singlefamily homes,” the prospectus says. American Homes 4 Rent says its houses are “located in neighborhoods of cities that we believe remain desir-

able places to live, despite significantly impacted home prices.” The company says it targets houses with certain key characteristics: built after 1990, three or more bedrooms, worth $70,000 to $400,000, and in good school districts. Ultimately, the management aims to build American Homes 4 Rent into “a nationally recognized brand that is well-known for quality, value, and tenant satisfaction.” Company shares were priced at $16 for the initial public offering. Unlike with some IPOs, the share price for American Homes 4 Rent didn’t immediately skyrocket. But it didn’t tank, either. It closed August 30 at $15.88. With nearly 20 percent of the stock, the Permanent Fund’s stake was worth more than $700 million on that date. So, will this “special opportunity” investment turn out to be something special for the Permanent Fund in the long run? Who knows? What’s almost certain, however, is that APFC probably will work more deals like this in the future, with an eye toward profit and even greater diversification. 

Wesley Loy is a journalist living in Anchorage.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Source: Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation

By market value as of June 30, 2013

Bonds 100%

Alaska Business Monthly’s 2013 Top 49ers: Blockbusters of Business ExecutiveSummary ByTashaAnderson



oll out the red carpet and set out your best business attire; this year’s Blockbusters of Business, Alaska Business Monthly’s Top 49ers, are ready for the stage. These companies are the producers, directors, actors, costumers, and set designers in Alaska’s economy, keeping it alive, fresh, and—key for any blockbuster—making money. The Top 49ers this year have produced a total gross revenue of $16.07 billion in 2012, a mere $84 million behind 2011’s record figures. Employment figures have gone up, as these businesses employ 71,272 people worldwide and have 25,792 Alaska employees, an increase of 9.9 and 9.7 percent, respectively, from the previous year, demonstrating both Alaska’s reach into a worldwide economy and a dedication to keeping the Alaska community on a firm foundation. Taking the spotlight is our number one, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which has been in that position for nineteen straight years. Its gross revenue for 2012 was $2.62 billion, accounting for almost one sixth of the Top 49ers total. They did so with 10,782 worldwide employees, 15 percent of the list total. Of those, 4,525 are Alaskan employees. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is joined by twenty-two other Native Regional and Village corporations from around the state. These ANCSA corporations safeguard Alaska Native interests not only by promoting

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

healthy economies and stimulating rural and often isolated communities, but by preserving, celebrating, and sharing Alaska Native Culture through nonprofits, scholarship programs, and cultural centers and celebrations. They participate in every economic sector in Alaska, either directly or through dividends paid to shareholders, and span the gamut of business and industry, from construction to health care to financial services. In 2012, their gross combined revenue was $11.8 billion. They comprise 73 percent of Top 49er gross revenues, 45 percent of the 49 companies, and 66 percent of Alaska jobs reported here, demonstrating their dedication to Alaska and its peoples. The next highest contributor to the Alaska 2012 economy was the Transportation industry, bringing in $1.3 billion in gross revenue and every other thing under the sun in terms of actual movement. Our five Top 49ers transportation companies’ 2,898 employees make sure Alaskans have access to anything that can be packed on a pallet and probably most things that can’t. Coming in next at $736 million are the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate companies. The three companies that qualify for the list this year bring in only approximately 7 percent less than the five qualifying companies of 2012. This sector employs 2,466 worldwide, with 2,060 of those employees in Alaska.

Blockbusters of Business

revenue for the lone mining company also increased, this year by $4 million, with a total of $112 million. The jobs it provides have jumped, with the number of in-state employees, 195, now totaling more than the previous worldwide number, 149; the new total number of employees is 230. The telecommunications industry’s one representative brought in $96 million, a $4 million decline from the previous year. It also saw a significant drop in jobs, down to 287 from 387, but all of those jobs are still located in Alaska. The engineering category last had an appearance in 2010, reporting 2009 gross revenue of $54 million. This year, the company is back with $59 million. In 2010 it reported employing 400 worldwide, with 200 positions in Alaska. In three years both numbers have dropped, now 360 and 149, respectively. Special congratulations go to our brand-new Top 49er’s competitor, Builder’s Choice. It ranks number 45 this year, and is the only representative of a new industry category, manufacturing. Builder’s Choice came in with 2012 gross revenue of $58 million, an increase of $19 million from 2011 reported revenue. It keeps 255 people working, 185 in Alaska. It’s a stunning lineup of Alaska success stories, our very own selection of celebrity. To all of our Top 49ers, congratulations and we know the  show will go on.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly

Alaska Business Monthly’s 2013 Top 49

Industrial services have jumped this year from revenue of $70 million in 2011 to $515 million; especially impressive considering that the number of qualifying companies only changed from four in 2012 to five in 2013. Overall the number of jobs provided by this industry increased this year— 1,505 compared to 1,286 in 2012. Utilities follow, employing 660 statewide, and grossing $464 million, 2.9 percent of the Top 49ers total. The construction industry is represented by three Alaskan-owned companies and represents 2.49 percent of the total gross revenue with $397 million. Retail and wholesale trade increased from last year, reporting $283 million in revenue, increasing by $33 million. Three companies represent this industry as they did last year. Employee numbers dropped slightly from 607 total last year to 594 this year, 546 of which are Alaska jobs. The 2013 Top 49ers have five categories containing only one company each: travel, mining, telecommunications, engineering, and manufacturing, with the last two categories being new from last year’s list. Engineering has come and gone in our Top 49ers round-up, but manufacturing is making its debut. The highest of the five is travel, pulling in $187 million, a slight increase from 2011’s $182 million, and employing a total of 157 employees, 86 of which are in Alaska. Gross


■ Alaska Native Corporations—17,105 ■ Transportation—2,898 ■ Finance, Insurance, Real Estate—2,060 ■ Industrial Services—1,169 ■ Utilities—660 ■ Construction—452 ■ Retail & Wholesale Trade—546 ■ Travel & Tourism—86 ■ Mining—195 ■ Telecommunications—287 ■ Engineering—149 ■ Manufacturing—185

■ Alaska Native Corporations—73.67%, $11,840,000,000 ■ Transportation—8.23%, $1,323,000,000 ■ Finance, Insurance, Real Estate—4.59%, $737,000,000 ■ Industrial Services—3.21%, $516,000,000 ■ Utilities—2.89%, $464,000,000 ■ Construction—2.47%, $397,000,000 ■ Retail & Wholesale Trade—1.76%, $283,000,000 ■ Travel & Tourism—1.16%, $187,000,000 ■ Mining—0.7%, $112,000,000 ■ Telecommunications—0.6%, $96,000,000 ■ Engineering—0.37%, $59,000,000 ■ Manufacturing—0.36%, $58,000,000

2012 Gross Revenue $16,072,000,000 Total

2012 Alaska Jobs 25,792 Total Employees Reported

■ Alaska Native Corporations—15,683 ■ Transportation—2,850 ■ Finance, Insurance, Real Estate—2,651 ■ Industrial Services—1,241 ■ Utilities—862 ■ Construction—701 ■ Retail & Wholesale Trade—535 ■ Travel & Tourism—95 ■ Mining—149 ■ Telecommunications—371 ■ Engineering—0 ■ Manufacturing—0

■ Alaska Native Corporations—73.6%, $11,891,000,000 ■ Transportation—7.77%, $1,256,000,000 ■ Finance, Insurance, Real Estate—4.9%, $792,000,000 ■ Industrial Services—2.64%, $427,000,000 ■ Utilities—4.44%, $717,000,000 ■ Construction—2.68%, $433,000,000 ■ Retail & Wholesale Trade—1.55%, $250,000,000 ■ Travel & Tourism—1.13%, $182,000,000 ■ Mining—0.67%, $108,000,000 ■ Telecommunications—0.62%, $100,000,000 ■ Engineering—0% ■ Manufacturing—0%

2011 Gross Revenue $16,156,000,000 Total

2011 Alaska Jobs 25,138 Total Employees Reported

Alaska’s Top 49

STRENGTHENING ALASKA THROUGH OUR VALUES At ASRC, we believe strong values make a good company great. Our congratulations to all of Alaska’s great companies!


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

ers Listings

2013 Top 49ers Arctic Slope Regional Corporation

1 PO Box 129, Barrow, AK 99723 Phone: 907-852-8633 Fax: 907-852-5733


Top Executive: Rex A. Rock Sr., President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Energy support services; petroleum refining and marketing; engineering; construction; government services; resource development; commercial lending; tourism; communications; various partnerships; joint ventures; and more.

Worldwide Employees: 10,782 Alaska Employees: 4,525 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 1 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $2,628,929,000 2011 $2,549,993,000 2010 $2,331,681,000 2009 $1,945,058,000 2008 $2,297,341,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 3.10%

Subsidiaries: ASRC Energy Services Inc.; ASRC Federal Holding Company, LLC; ASRC Construction Holding Company; SKW/Eskimos, Inc.; Tundra Tours, Inc.; Petro Star, Inc.; Alaska Growth Capital

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

In the Ahtna Athabascan language,

Netiye’ means “Our


As the holding company of Ahtna, Incorporated, an Alaska Native Regional Corporation with more than 1,700 shareholders, Ahtna Netiye’, Inc. is deeply committed to ensuring the prosperity of the Ahtna people by safely providing the highest quality goods and services to our customers in a manner that reflects our corporate values and maintains our unique cultural identity.

Our Values Unite Us; Our Customers Sustain Us; Our Companies are Prosperous.

Netiye’, Inc. NEW LOCATION 110 W 38th Street, Suite 100B | Anchorage, AK 99503 PH: (907) 868-8250 | FAX: (907) 868-8285 Learn more about Ahtna at


ers Listings


Bristol Bay Native Corporation Top Executive: Jason Metrokin, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Diversified holding company; construction; government services; oilfield and industrial services; petroleum distribution; and tourism. Recent Noteworthy Events: Received AMA Alaska “Corporate Marketer of the Year” Prism Award; named one of the Top 50 Best STEM Workplaces by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s Winds of Change magazine.

Worldwide Employees: 3,688 Alaska Employees: 818 Year Established: 1971 49er Rank in 2012: 2 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $1,961,780,000 2011 $1,965,507,000 2010 $1,667,200,000 2009 $1,391,571,000 2008 $1,294,854,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -0.19%

Subsidiaries: Badger Technical Services; Bristol Bay Corporate Services; Bristol Construction Services; Bristol Design Build Services; Bristol Engineering Services Corporation; Bristol Environmental Remediation Services; Bristol Fuel 111 W. 16th Ave., Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99501 Systems; Bristol General Contractors; Bristol Env. Remediation Services LLC; Bristol Munitions Services; Business Resource Solutions; CCI Group; CCI, Inc.; CCI Solutions; Eagle Applied Sciences; Glacier Technical Solutions; Glacier Phone: 907-278-3602 • Fax: 907-276-3924 Technologies; MedPro Technologies; KAM Resources Group; PetroCard, Inc.; SES Construction and Fuel Services; Environmental Services; SpecPro, Inc.; SpecPro Technical Services; STS Systems Integration; TekPro Services; Corporation • Vista International Operations; Vista Technical Services; Aerostar SES LLC; Bristol Earth Sciences, LLC; CCI Energy and Construction Services, LLC; Eagle Medical Services, LLC; Kakivik Asset Management, LLC; Bristol Resources; SES Design/Build; Bristol Bay Resource Solutions; Mission Lodge; CCI Industrial Services, LLC; SES Installation Support, LLC


NANA Regional Corporation Inc. Top Executive: Marie N. Greene, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Resource development; land management; engineering and construction; information technology and telecommunications; facilities management and logistics; real estate and hotel development.

Worldwide Employees: 11,576 Alaska Employees: 5,300 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 3 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $1,800,000,000 2011 $1,500,000,000 2010 $1,600,000,000 2009 $1,260,000,000 2008 $1,175,500,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 20.00%

Recent Noteworthy Events: NANA Regional Corporation and NovaGold Resources have partnered on mineral exploration and development opportunities at the Arctic Deposit and Bornite. NANA is the landowner at Bornite. Subsidiaries: NANA Development Corporation PO Box 49, Kotzebue, AK 99503 Phone: 907-442-3301 • Fax: 907- 442-4161 •

40th year of empowering young people to own their economic success

Celebrate Junior Achievement’s Business Hall of Fame Laureates Dena’ina Center - January 30, 2014 5:30 p.m. reception, dinner/ceremony 6:30 p.m.

Honorees Walter J. Hickel Jr. – Hickel Investment Company/Hotel Captain Cook Martin Pihl – Alaska Timber Insurance Exchange The Doyle Family – Weaver Brothers The Helmerick Family – Colville Brooks Range Supply

Chris von Imhof – Alyeska Resort

Call Flora Teo at (907) 344-0101 to reserve a table at this prestigious event or go to for more information 98

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Sponsorship opportunities for the gala induction ceremony on Jan. 30 at the Dena’ina Center. Platinum Sponsorship – $4,000 Gold Sponsorship – $3,000 Silver Sponsorship – $2,500 Table – $1,500

Only pay for the speed you need... Dynamic Routing! SM

At Lynden, we understand that plans change but deadlines don’t. That’s why we proudly offer our exclusive Dynamic Routing system. Designed to work around your unique requirements, Dynamic Routing allows you to choose the mode of transportation — air, sea or land — to control the speed of your deliveries so they arrive just as they are needed. With Lynden you only pay for the speed you need! 1-888-596-3361

ers Listings


Chenega Corporation Top Executive: Charles W. Totemoff, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Professional services contracting for federal government, including information technology, security services, logistics, training, intel & military ops, telecommunications, environmental services, health care solutions and light mfg. Commercial services include tourism and electrical contracting.

Worldwide Employees: 5,100 Alaska Employees: 520 Year Established: 1974 49er Rank in 2012: 4 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $1,100,000,000 2011 $1,100,000,000 2010 $1,100,000,000 2009 $1,077,000,000 2008 $894,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: Same

Recent Noteworthy Events: Invested nearly $5 million in economic, social, cultural and educational benefits and programs for Shareholders, their spouses and descendants in FY 2012.

3000 C St., Suite 301, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-277-5706 • Fax: 907-277-5700 •


Lynden Inc. Top Executive: Jim Jansen, Chairman Classification: Transportation Principal Activities: Lynden capabilities include truckload, less-than-truckload, scheduled and chartered barges, air freighters, domestic and international forwarding, remote site construction, bulk commodities hauling, hovercraft and multi-modal logistics.

Worldwide Employees: 2,390 Alaska Employees: 740 Year Established: 1954 49er Rank in 2012: 5 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $885,000,000 2011 $850,000,000 2010 $720,000,000 2009 $680,000,000 2008 $780,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 4.12%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Conduct business online with Lynden’s EZ Commerce Center. Customers can request pickups, generate documents, trace shipments, view delivery receipts, download activity reports and receive PDF invoices. 6641 S. Airpark Pl., Anchorage, AK 99502 Phone: 907-245-1544 Fax: 907-245-1744 •


Subsidiaries: Alaska Marine Lines; Alaska West Express; Bering Marine; Lynden Air Cargo; Lynden International; Lynden Logistics; Knik Construction Co. Inc.; Lynden Transport Inc.

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Moments made possible by blood donors. Stephanie needed 32 units of blood during the birth of her daughter Carolyn. Support the new building project to make memories like this possible for years to come.

You can make the difference, Alaska is counting on you. Donate to the new building fund Text BUILD to 27722 to donate today • •

Ensure that the blood supply is available in times of disaster Keep patients closer to home during treatment

ers Listings


Chugach Alaska Corporation Top Executive: Gabriel Kompkoff, CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Wide-ranging facility services for federal and commercial clients, including base operations support; construction; facility management; and information technology management.

Worldwide Employees: 4,822 Alaska Employees: 586 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 6 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $709,000,000 2011 $766,000,000 2010 $936,975,000 2009 $1,105,265,000 2008 $951,945,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -7.44%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Annual Nuuciq Spirit Camp held in July on Hinchinbrook Island. Chugach educators and Elders assembled to teach children about the culture, history and traditional subsistence skills of their ancestors. 3800 Centerpoint Dr., #700, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-563-8866 • Fax: 907-563-8402


Subsidiaries: Chugach Alaska Services, Inc.; Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc.; Chugach Government Services, Inc.; Chugach Industries, Inc.; Chugach Information Technology, Inc.; Chugach McKinley, Inc.; Chugach Management Services, Inc.; Chugach Support Services, Inc.; Chugach World Services, Inc.; Defense Base Services, Inc.; Falcon International, LLC; Wolf Creek Federal Services, Inc.; Chugach Education Services, Inc.; Heide & Cook, LLC; Chugach Systems Integration, LLC

Afognak Native Corp./Alutiiq Top Executive: Richard Hobbs, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Government contracting- Construction, logistics support services, security/law enforcement, operations/maintenance services, youth training services, IT/technical support services, oilfield services and leasing.

Worldwide Employees: 4,914 Alaska Employees: 179 Year Established: 1977 49er Rank in 2012: 7 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $534,610,000 2011 $711,080,000 2010 $783,000,000 2009 $766,000,000 2008 Undisclosed Difference from 2011 Revenue: -24.82%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Subsidiary Community Power Corporation placed its first commercial bio-energy units in the field. Doubled man-camp leasing facilities, expanding oil and gas sector operations. Began construction of a new 11,000 square foot Corporate Headquarters building in City of Kodiak. Subsidiaries: Community Power Corporation; Afognak Leasing 215 Mission Rd., Suite 212, Kodiak, AK 99503 Phone: 907-762-9457 • Fax: 907-486-2514 •

st First Things Fir

First things first. At Fort Knox, our priorities are simple. Our people. Our community. Our environment. We invest in our people, so they are trained to do the best job possible. We support our community with charitable donations, volunteer hours and local purchases. We adhere to the toughest standards to protect water and air quality. These are our priorities. Because at Fort Knox, it’s about putting first things first.

Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc. A Kinross company


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

are simple. r top priorities At Fort Knox, ou r environment. ble. r community. Ou e best job possi Our people. Ou trained to do th are they urs our people, so

volunteer ho

“I have lived most of my life in Igiugig, but now it’s time for college. I’ll be back someday. I have a lot of people counting on me to do my best, and I will.” — April Hostetter, College student and BBNC shareholder intern

Building Alaska’s Future

ers Listings


Calista Corporation Top Executive: Andrew Guy, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Defense contracting; full IT-telecom technical services; remote/camp services; environmental remediation-consulting; construction; advertising/marketing; heavy equipment; drilling services; rock quarry material; tug-barge.

Worldwide Employees: 1,648 Alaska Employees: 272 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 10 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $404,231,000 2011 $300,498,000 2010 $230,574,000 2009 $203,023,390 2008 $224,090,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 34.52%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Acquired Brice Incorporated and Yukon Equipment, Inc.; Alaska Newspapers recipient of ten Alaska Press Club awards and more.

301 Calista Ct., Suite A, Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-279-5516 • Fax: 907-272-5060 •

9 1 Doyon Pl., Suite 300, Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-459-2000 Fax: 907-459-2060 •

Subsidiaries: Ookichista Drilling Services, Inc; Yulista Aviation, Inc.; Yulista Management Services, Inc.; Y-Tech Services, Inc.; Chiulista Services, Inc.; Brice Incorporated; Tunista, Inc.; Tunista Pacific Rim LLC; Tunista Construction, LLC; Tunista Services, LLC; Yukon Equipment, Inc.; Futaris (Fomerly Alaska Telecom, Inc.); Solstice Advertising; Sequestered Solutions; Brice Construction; Brice Marine; Brice Equipment; Brice Environmental; Calista Heritage Foundation; Calista Real Estate

Doyon, Limited Top Executive: Aaron Schutt, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Oilfield services; drilling and pipeline infrastructure construction; government services; security; utility management; natural resource development; facility and food services; remote site support; engineering; construction.

Worldwide Employees: 2,498 Alaska Employees: 1,331 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 8 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $338,276,000 2011 $468,400,000 2010 $458,600,000 2009 $416,400,000 2008 $295,560,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -38.47%

Subsidiaries: Doyon Transitional, Inc.; Doyon Oil Field Services, Inc.; Doyon Government Contracting, Inc.; Doyon Natural Resources Development Corporation

GEAR UP YOUR BUSINESS Rely on the strength of Alaska’s largest credit union to keep your business moving. Find out what Alaska USA can do for your business.

563-4567 | (800) 525-9094 |

Federally insured by NCUA 104

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

ers Listings

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union


Top Executive: William Eckhardt, President Classification: Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Principal Activities: Financial services for consumers and businesses, including: savings, checking and loans; deposits; investment and trust; mortgage and real estate; title and escrow; and insurance, personal and business.

Worldwide Employees: 1,761 Alaska Employees: 1,357 Year Established: 1948 49er Rank in 2012: 9 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $338,000,000 2011 $311,000,000 2010 $302,000,000 2009 $312,000,000 2008 $311,600,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 8.68%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Donated to more than 200 community/service organizations statewide. Helps raise money for the Alaska USA Foundation, providing funds for services for children, veterans, active duty military/families. PO Box 196613, Anchorage, AK 99519 Phone: 907-563-4567 Fax: 907-929-6593

Subsidiaries: Alaska USA Mortgage Co.; Alaska USA Insurance Brokers LLC; Alaska USA Title Agency

Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (UIC)

11 PO Box 890, Barrow, AK 99723 Phone: 907-852-4460 • Fax: 907-852-4459 •


Top Executive: Anthony Edwardsen, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Architecture, engineering, surveying, construction, regulatory consulting, marine operations, information technology, maintenance and manufacturing, logistics, arctic science support, car rental, and auto repair. Recent Noteworthy Events: Net income increased 28% and revenue 12%; $7.2M in shareholder dividends paid in under four years; 340 jobs provided to shareholders, descendants and shareholder spouses with a value of over $9.1M in wages and benefits; UIC Foundation distributed $60K in educational scholarships.

Worldwide Employees: 2,115 Alaska Employees: 475 Year Established: 1973 49er Rank in 2012: 12 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $312,380,000 2011 $278,890,000 2010 $270,612,000 2009 $292,317,000 2008 $334,300,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 12.01%

Subsidiaries: Bowhead Manufacturing Company; Bowhead Support Group; Bowhead Transport Company; C-Port Marine Services; SIKU Construction; UIC Construction; UIC Developments; UIC Foundation Inc.; UIC Real Estate Management; UIC Science; Bowhead Information Technology Service; Bowhead Systems Management; Bowhead Science & Technology; Bowhead Logistics Solutions; Bowhead Innovative Products & Solutions; Bowhead Professional Solutions; UMIAQ; UIC Iglu Services; Kautaq Construction Services; Ukpik; Bowhead Manufacturing Technologies; Tavsi Marine; Bowhead Communication Services; Bowhead Total Enterprise Solutions; Bowhead Business & Technology Solutions; Bowhead Technical and Professional Services; UIC Business Enterprises; UIC Arctic Response Services; Rockford Corporation; UIC First Nations Construction Services

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Some call it harsh We call it home ADVANCING ARCTIC DEVELOPMENT FOR GENERATIONS UIC is committed to joining with industry and communities to produce inspired solutions that advance environmentally responsible development.


Alaska’s Top 49ers • 2013 Top 49ers Listings



Top Executive: Chris McNeil, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Sealaska’s businesses are divided into three tiers: natural resources, construction & services. Through our wholly and majority-owned subsidiaries, Sealaska operates in a range of industries and offers a variety of products.

Worldwide Employees: 2,033 Alaska Employees: 108 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 14 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $311,620,000 2011 $259,487,000 2010 $223,823,000 2009 $196,017,000 2008 $125,774,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 20.09%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Celebration 2010; Sealaska Environmental Services subsidiary of the year; MBS Top 500 Diversity Owned Businesses; Security Alliance 2010 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year; Subsidiaries: Sealaska Timber Corporation; Synergy Systems; Alaska Coastal Aggregates; Sealaska Environmental One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 400, Juneau, AK 99801 Services; Managed Business Solutions; Sealaska Constructors; Security Alliance; Haa Aani, LLC Phone: 907-586-1512 • Fax: 907-463-3897 •

Chugach Electric Association Inc.


Top Executive: Bradley Evans, CEO Classification: Utility Principal Activities: Through superior service, safely provide reliable and competitively priced energy. Recent Noteworthy Events: Annual membership meeting and election. Grand Opening Southcentral Power Project.

Worldwide Employees: 332 Alaska Employees: 332 Year Established: 1948 49er Rank in 2012: 11 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $266,971,468 2011 $283,618,369 2010 $258,300,000 2009 $290,200,000 2008 $289,500,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -5.87%

5601 Electron Dr., Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-7494 • Fax: 907-562-0027

Our people are our business.

At Chugach Alaska Corporation, we believe our traditional values will guide our future success. For our shareholders and for our communities.


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Power to move. Carlile has a knack for moving big things safely across Alaska and North America. We have the expertise and equipment to help you achieve your project goals – even if they include harnessing the power of the wind. Carlile helped move massive wind turbines for wind farm projects in Alaska. Can your trucking company do that? Carlile can. l 1.800.478.1853 ROAD - RAIL - SEA - AIR

ers Listings

The Wilson Agency LLC


Top Executive: Lon Wilson, President Classification: Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Principal Activities: We are strategic employee benefit consultants, offering advice on group health, life, disability, AD&D, key man insurance, ancillary or fringe benefits, retirement options and more. We take the time to understand your goals and then apply innovative solutions to help you achieve them.

Worldwide Employees: 21 Alaska Employees: 19 Year Established: 1964 49er Rank in 2012: 15 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $254,273,068 2011 $244,694,207 2010 $205,440,336 2009 $205,826,042 2008 $159,900,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 3.91%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Recipient of Golden Eagle & Soaring Eagle Awards by the National Association of Health Underwriters; ABM Top 49er for the past 8 years; United Benefit Advisors Firm of the Year; AK Society of Human Resource Management Employer of the year; Anchorage Chamber Gold Pan Finalist. 3000 A St., Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-277-1616 • Fax: 907-274-7011

Cook Inlet Region Inc.

15 PO Box 93330, Anchorage, AK 99509 Phone: 907-274-8638 Fax: 907-263-5183 •

Top Executive: Sophie Minich, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Traditional and alternative energy and resource dev.; oilfield and construction services; environmental services; real estate investment and mgmt; tourism and hospitality; telecomm; aerospace defense; investments. Recent Noteworthy Events: CIRI successfully commissioned the Fire Island Wind project in 2012. CIRI continues to invest in a diverse portfolio of high-quality assets that reflect market trends, balance risk and return, and favor long-term sustainable growth. Subsidiaries: Alaska Interstate Construction LLC; ANC Research & Development LLC (ANC R&D); CIRI Alaska Tourism Corp. (CATC); CIRI Land Development Co. (CLDC); North Wind Group; Fire Island Wind LLC; Stone Horn Ridge Investors LLC; Cruz Energy Services LLC; Cruz Marine LLC; Weldin Construction LLC; PTP Management, Inc.; Silver Mountain Construction LLC

Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc.


Worldwide Employees: 1,747 Alaska Employees: 1,189 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 19 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 4 Gross Revenue 2012 $237,849,000 2011 $200,800,000 2010 $188,300,000 2009 $79,893,000 2008 $11,119,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 18.45%

Top Executive: Josh Pepperd, President Classification: Construction Principal Activities: Current Projects- Military Housing Privatization JBER, UAF Engineering Facility, Mat-Su Athletic Complex, Providence Tower M, Kodiak Long Term Care Center, Penland Parkway, Resolution Pointe Subdivision, Camp Denali Readiness Center, and Providence Transitional Care Center.

Worldwide Employees: 150 Alaska Employees: 150 Year Established: 1976 49er Rank in 2012: 32 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 17 Gross Revenue 2012 $218,000,000 2011 $119,000,000 2010 $120,300,000 2009 $151,500,000 2008 $178,200,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 83.19%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Ranked 266 of the Top 400 Contractors List by Engineering News Record. Team Davis also raised $100,691 for the 2013 American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. 740 Bonanza Ave., Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-2336 • Fax: 907-561-3620

Subsidiaries: Mass Excavation, Inc.

Bering Straits Native Corporation


Top Executive: Gail R. Schubert, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Government contracts construction and renovation; property management & consulting; IT; base operations support; logistics; airfield and aircraft services; administrative services; electrical construction; engineering; project management.

Worldwide Employees: 1,095 Alaska Employees: 551 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 17 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 17 Gross Revenue 2012 $213,000,000 2011 $206,000,000 2010 $190,336,771 2009 $162,300,000 2008 $113,335,070 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 3.40%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Ratification of the Salmon Lake Land Ownership and Consolidation Agreement. BSNC’s purchase of the Rock Creek Mine assets. BSNC continues to work with Federal and State agencies to monitor developments in the Arctic as they affect the region’s communities’ economic and environmental health. 4600 Debarr Rd., Suite 200, Anchorage, AK 99508 Phone: 907-563-3788 • Fax: 907-563-2742 •


Subsidiaries: Inuit Services Inc.; Bering Straits Aerospace Services LLC; Bering Straits Logistics Services LLC; Eagle Electric Inc.; Bering Straits Information Technology LLC; Bering Straits Technical Services LLC; Bering Straits Aki LLC; Eagle Eye Electric LLC; Ayak LLC; Global Support Services LLC; Global Management Services LLC; Iyabak Construction LLC; Global Asset Technologies LLC; Global Management Services LLC; Global Precision Systems LLC; Bering Straits Development Co.; Global Technical Services LLC; Golden Glacier, Inc.; 4600 Debarr LLC

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Specializing in construction, logistics and operations, security, environmental, and oilfield support services. Recent Noteworthy Events: Expansion of science research capabilities supporting offshore and onshore exploration. Investments in Wainwright-based oilfield support infrastructure: roads, pads, man camp, office facilities, modern fleet of heavy equipment, maintenance shops.

3201 C St., Suite 700, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-562-8728 Fax: 907-562-8751 •


Subsidiaries: Olgoonik Oilfield Services; Olgoonik Specialty Contractors; Olgoonik Machinery and Equipment; Kuk Construction; Olgoonik Logistics; O.E.S.; Olgoonik Management Services; Olgoonik Technical Services; Olgoonik Global Security; Olgoonik Diversified Services; Olgoonik Aerospace Services; Olgoonik Development; Olgoonik Solutions

Ahtna, Inc. Top Executive: Michelle Anderson, President Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Construction and remediation; facilities management and support services; food service contractors; forestry and gravel sales; government contracting; janitorial, healthcare and medical records services; oil and gas pipeline services.

Worldwide Employees: 1,705 Alaska Employees: 276 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 20 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $190,000,000 2011 $200,000,000 2010 $243,000,000 2009 $231,000,000 2008 $196,141,378 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -5.00%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Establishment of a permanent fund that will be used to generate dividends for future obligations. New office location in Anchorage which houses parent and holding companies as well as all Alaskabased subsidiaries. PO Box 649, Glennallen, AK 99588 Phone: 907-822-3476 • Fax: 907-822-3495

Subsidiaries: Ahtna Engineering Services LLC; Ahtna Development Corp.; Ahtna Facility Services, Inc.; Ahtna Enterprises Corp.; Ahtna Contractors LLC; Koht’aene Enterprises Co. LLC; Ahtna Support & Training Services LLC; Ahtna Technical Services, Inc.; Ahtna Government Services Corp.; Ahtna Construction & Primary Product; Ahtna Design Build, Inc.; Ahtna Professional Services, Inc.; Ahtna Environmental, Inc.; Ahtna Technologies, Inc.; Ahtna Logistics, Inc.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• 2013 Top 49


Top Executive: Steven Segevan, President

Alaska’s Top 49

Olgoonik Corporation

Worldwide Employees: 800 Alaska Employees: 180 Year Established: 1973 49er Rank in 2012: 22 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 4 Gross Revenue 2012 $198,600,000 2011 $178,400,000 2010 $133,000,000 2009 $135,000,000 2008 $82,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 11.32%

ers Listings


USTravel Top Executive: Mark Eliason, President & CEO Classification: Travel Principal Activities: Full-service travel management company for corporate, groups, government, oilfield, fisheries, mining, forestry, and leisure customers. Providing personalized service with the balance of technology to customize and assist you throughout your travel experience.

Worldwide Employees: 157 Alaska Employees: 86 Year Established: 1978 49er Rank in 2012: 21 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $187,000,000 2011 $181,900,000 2010 $174,300,000 2009 $166,000,000 2008 $192,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 2.80%

Recent Noteworthy Events: USTravel launched a new Logistics Division in order to support the unique needs of the resource industries, as well as, opening TravelUS, a full service TMC in Australia. 999 E. Tudor Rd., Suite 200, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-561-2434 • Fax: 907-786-0180 •

Subsidiaries: Air Fullfilment Services, 100 percent, Des Moines, IA; Visions, 100 percent, AK; Explore Tours, 100 percent, AK; Alaska Exposure, 100 percent, AK; TravelUS, 100 percent, QLD Australia

Tyonek Native Corporation


Top Executive: Bart Garber, CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Defense, space and petroleum industry equipment manufacturing; 8(a) government service contractor; aviation maintenance; construction; oilfield support and drilling services; private land & resource dev.; hospitality services; barge landing and port services; commercial glass & door contractor & supplier.

Worldwide Employees: 972 Alaska Employees: 90 Year Established: 1973 49er Rank in 2012: Not Ranked in 2012 Change from Last Year’s Rank: New Gross Revenue 2012 $178,000,000 2011 $193,200,000 2010 Undisclosed 2009 $171,486,000 2008 $135,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -7.87%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Concluded selection and conveyance of company’s entitlement of 204,000 acres in the Cook Inlet basin.

1689 C St., Suite 219, Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-272-0707 Fax: 907-274-7125 •


Subsidiaries: Tyonek Services Group, Inc.; Tyonek Manufacturing Group, Inc.; Tyonek Construction Group, Inc.; Tyonek Alaska Group, Inc.

Goldbelt, Incorporated Top Executive: Robert Loiselle, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Tourism, government contracting, facility management, IT consulting, construction and vehicle leasing.

Worldwide Employees: 884 Alaska Employees: 234 Year Established: 1974 49er Rank in 2012: 29 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 7 Gross Revenue 2012 $156,565,827 2011 $135,188,063 2010 $139,476,350 2009 $107,748,370 2008 $106,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 15.81%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Goldbelt, Incorporated continues to grow its government contracting operations and explore new business opportunities. 3075 Vintage Blvd., Suite 200, Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-790-4990 • Fax: 907-790-4999 •


Subsidiaries: Goldbelt Wolf, LLC; Goldbelt Glacier Health Services, LLC; Nisga’a Data Systems, LLC; LifeSource Biomedical, LLC; Goldbelt Eagle, LLC; Goldbelt Falcon, LLC; Goldbelt Hawk, LLC; Peregrine Technical Solutions, LLC; Facility Support Services, LLC; Goldbelt Security, LLC; Godlbelt Raven, LLC; CP Leasing, LLC; Goldbelt Orca, LLC; Goldbelt Cedar, LLC; Goldbelt Professional Services, LLC; Goldbelt Hotel; Mount Roberts Tramway; Goldbelt Transportation; CP Marine; Goldbelt Speciality Services, LLC

Carlile Transportation Systems Top Executive: James Armstrong, President Classification: Transportation Principal Activities: Truck load and less than truck load, heavy haul, hazmat and full logistics services.

Worldwide Employees: 650 Alaska Employees: 500 Year Established: 1980 49er Rank in 2012: 24 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $156,000,000 2011 $147,000,000 2010 $137,100,000 2009 $131,000,000 2008 $123,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 6.12%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Recently purchased and Carlile is a part of the TOTE Logistics, Inc family under Saltchuk companies. 1800 E. First Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-7797 Fax: 907-278-7301 •


Subsidiaries: Carlile Logistics

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Recent Noteworthy Events: Expanded Dash 8 fleet to six, adding two more in late 2012. Largest air carrier based wholly in Alaska. 4700 Old Int’l Airport Rd., Anchorage, AK 99502 Subsidiaries: Era Aviation, Inc.; Hageland Aviation Services, Inc.; Frontier Flying Service Phone: 907-266-8394 Fax: 907-266-8391 •


Udelhoven Oilfield System Service Top Executive: Jim Udelhoven, CEO Classification: Industrial Services Principal Activities: Mechanical and electrical inspection, functional check-out, quality assurance/quality control, plumbing, welding, modular fabrication, industrial and commercial construction.

Worldwide Employees: 935 Alaska Employees: 604 Year Established: 1970 49er Rank in 2012: 18 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 7 Gross Revenue 2012 $148,165,163 2011 $201,631,889 2010 $133,582,856 2009 $132,131,000 2008 $124,417,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -26.52%

Subsidiaries: Udelhoven Inc., Houston; and Udelhoven International Inc., Houston. 184 E. 53rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-344-1577 • Fax: 907-344-5817 •


Our Strength: Leadership Sealaska Plays an important role in driving Alaska’s economy Sealaska’s subsidiary, Haa Aaní, LLC, established a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides opportunities to shareholder entrepreneurs and Southeast business owners. Shareholder descendant Kristi Skaflestad of Hoonah, Alaska, was able to grow her business, Chipper Fish, through the CDFI program. Kristi now has goals to expand her business into new Alaska markets. Visit to learn more about her story.

MORE ABOUT OUR VALUES: | Twitter @SEALASKA | Visit us on Facebook | YouTube @SEALASKAKwAAn

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• 2013 Top 49

Classification: Transportation Principal Activities: Scheduled passenger services, charter, cargo and air services to nearly 100 communities in Alaska.

Alaska’s Top 49


Era Alaska Top Executive: Bob Hajdukovich, CEO

Worldwide Employees: 960 Alaska Employees: 960 Year Established: 1948 49er Rank in 2012: 28 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 4 Gross Revenue 2012 $150,000,000 2011 $136,000,000 2010 $120,000,000 2009 Undisclosed 2008 Undisclosed Difference from 2011 Revenue: 10.29%

ers Listings


Construction Machinery Industrial Top Executive: Ken Gerondale, President & CEO Classification: Industrial Services Principal Activities: Distributor of construction, mining and logging in Alaska. Representative for Volvo, Hitachi, Atlas Copco, Doosan, Metso, and Link-Belt.

Worldwide Employees: 108 Alaska Employees: 108 Year Established: 1985 49er Rank in 2012: 37 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 11 Gross Revenue 2012 $145,000,000 2011 $91,630,000 2010 $90,000,000 2009 $87,000,000 2008 $124,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 58.25%

Recent Noteworthy Events: The highest market share for construction and mining equipment in North America for Volvo and Hitachi. 5400 Homer Dr., Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-3822 Fax: 907-563-1381


First National Bank Alaska Top Executive: Betsy Lawer, President & Vice Chair Classification: Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Principal Activities: Services include: receiving and lending of money, trust banking, escrow and contract collection, BankCard services and safe deposit box facilities.

Worldwide Employees: 684 Alaska Employees: 684 Year Established: 1922 49er Rank in 2012: 25 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $144,300,000 2011 $143,375,000 2010 $150,934,000 2009 $156,210,000 2008 $170,670,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 0.65%

Recent Noteworthy Events: For the second year in a row, Forbes recognized First National as one of the nation’s Most Trustworthy Companies. The American Bankers Association recognized First National as one of only seven banks in the nation for its efforts in reaching out to the underserved. PO Box 100720, Anchorage, AK 99510 Phone: 907-777-4362 • Fax: 907-777-3406


The Tatitlek Corporation Top Executive: Roy Totemoff, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Military training support, mobile training teams, foreign culture and language training; embedded linguist, weapon training; logistics services; simulation systems O&M, program analyst, construction; facilities and equipment maintenance; installation support services, IT.

Worldwide Employees: 1,543 Alaska Employees: 93 Year Established: 1973 49er Rank in 2012: 27 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $138,738,982 2011 $137,189,354 2010 $110,700,000 2009 $107,500,000 2008 $90,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 1.13%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Tatitlek Corporation’s wholly owned subsidiaries continued to deliver key critical services to the US Government’s important priorities and mission needs. 561 E. 36th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-278-4000 Fax: 907-278-4050 •


Subsidiaries: Tatitlek Contractors, Inc.; Tatitlek Construction Services, Inc.; Tatitlek Management, Inc.; Tatitlek Support Services, Inc.; Tatitlek Technologies, Inc.; Tatitlek Training Services, Inc.; GeoNorth, LLC; Tatitlek Logistics Corporation; Tatitlek Response Services, Inc.

Three Bears Alaska Inc. Top Executive: David Weisz, President & CEO Classification: Retail & Wholesale Trade Principal Activities: Retail grocery, general merchandise, sporting goods, pharmacy, and fuel.

Worldwide Employees: 383 Alaska Employees: 335 Year Established: 1980 49er Rank in 2012: 31 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $130,268,017 2011 $121,093,287 2010 $109,060,780 2009 $111,247,617 2008 $105,772,095 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 7.58%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Now operating seven stores in Alaska featuring groceries, general merchandise, sporting goods, pharmacy items, and fuel. 445 N. Pittman Rd., Suite B, Wasilla, AK 99623 Phone: 907-357-4311 • Fax: 907-357-4312


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Subsidiaries: Angeles Composite Technologies, Inc; Angayak Construction Enterprises, Inc.; Clarus Technologies, LLC; Digitized Schematic Solutions, LLC; Frontier Systems Integrator, LLC; Koniag Development Corporation; Koniag Services, Inc.; Professional Computing Resources, Inc.; XMCO, Inc.; Dowland-Bach Corporation; PacArctic Logistics, LLC; Koniag Information Security Services, LLC; Granite Cove Quarry, LLC; 2320 Post Road, LLC; Koniag Technology Solutions, Inc.; Nunat Holdings, LLC; Anderson Construction Company, LLC; Near Island Building, LLC; Karluk Wilderness Adventures, Inc. dba Kodiak Brown Bear Center and dba Karluk River Cabins

Usibelli Coal Mine Inc.


Top Executive: Joseph Usibelli, Chairman Classification: Mining Principal Activities: Coal mining and coal marketing. Wholesale power and retail district heating, investments, real estate and vineyards.

Worldwide Employees: 230 Alaska Employees: 195 Year Established: 1942 49er Rank in 2012: 33 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $112,000,000 2011 $107,878,996 2010 $96,753,015 2009 $91,458,640 2008 $73,120,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 3.82%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Exportation of coal to Chile, Korea and Japan.

Subsidiaries: Aurora Energy; Usibelli Investments; Usibelli Vineyards PO Box 1000, Healy, AK 99743 Phone: 907-452-2625 • Fax: 907-451-6543 •




October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• 2013 Top 49

194 Alimaq Dr., Kodiak, AK 99615 Phone: 907-486-2530 Fax: 907-486-3325 •

Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Koniag’s principal lines of business include commercial real estate investments; ANCSA natural resource management; and investments in various operating companies.

Alaska’s Top 49


Koniag Inc. Top Executive: Tom Panamaroff, Interim President

Worldwide Employees: 647 Alaska Employees: 84 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 30 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $126,859,000 2011 $128,228,000 2010 $149,550,000 2009 $115,569,000 2008 $101,266,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -1.07%

ers Listings


Colville Inc. Top Executive: Eric Helzer, President & CEO Classification: Industrial Services Principal Activities: Oil and gas industry and aviation support services, fuel industry supply and solid waste utility and logistics.

Worldwide Employees: 165 Alaska Employees: 160 Year Established: 1981 49er Rank in 2012: 39 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 7 Gross Revenue 2012 $110,000,000 2011 $81,000,000 2010 $78,000,000 2009 $75,900,000 2008 $64,400,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 35.80%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Development of an Aviation Fuel Distribution Center on the North Slope. Retaining and renewing current market share, successfully made clients competitive in a changing marketplace. Pouch 340012, Prudhoe Bay, AK 99734 Phone: 907-659-3198 Fax: 907-659-3190 •


Subsidiaries: Colville Transport LLC; Brooks Range Supply Inc.

Matanuska Electric Association Inc. Top Executive: Joe Griffith, General Manager Classification: Utility Principal Activities: Covering more than 4,000 miles of power lines, MEA’s service area extends north past Talkeetna, over to the mighty Matanuska Glacier, and south to Eagle River. MEA was founded in 1941 by 201 colonist families, and celebrates its 72nd year of service in 2013 with 58,000 points of service.

Worldwide Employees: 166 Alaska Employees: 166 Year Established: 1941 49er Rank in 2012: 34 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 1 Gross Revenue 2012 $106,482,000 2011 $105,000,000 2010 $94,000,000 2009 $110,000,000 2008 $96,800,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 1.41%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Construction of the 171 mW Eklutna Generation Station power plant is underway. Signed major fuel supply agreement with Hilcorp to provide natural gas through March of 2018. Operation RoundUp, a program to assist those in need in our communities, gave grants of $121,000 in 2012. 163 E. Industrial Way, Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-745-3231 Fax: 907-761-9368 •

34 4000 Old Seward Hwy., Suite 300, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-561-4300 • Fax: 907-563-4328 •


Aleut Corporation Top Executive: David Gillespie, CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Commercial and residential real estate; government contracting; fuel and port services; gravel operations; water utilities; oil well testing instrumentation and testing; water testing; mechanical contracting; oil and fuel storage.

Worldwide Employees: 518 Alaska Employees: 157 Year Established: 1972 49er Rank in 2012: 26 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 8 Gross Revenue 2012 $98,098,953 2011 $148,419,945 2010 $159,416,000 2009 $146,058,000 2008 $116,051,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -33.90%

Subsidiaries: Aleut Enterprises LLC, Anchorage,Alaska; Aleut Management Services, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Aleut Real Estate LLC, Anchorage, Alaska; Alaska Instrument LLC, Anchorage, Alaska; C&H Testing LLC Bakersfield, California; Patrick Mechanical; Analytica Group

MTA Inc. Top Executive: Greg Berberich, CEO Classification: Utility Principal Activities: Alaskan owned co-op delivering advanced communications products including wireless, highdefinition digital television with video-on-demand, high-speed Internet, local and long-distance, online directory, IT business support, directory and television advertising and local community content on TV.

Worldwide Employees: 287 Alaska Employees: 287 Year Established: 1953 49er Rank in 2012: 35 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $96,000,000 2011 $100,000,000 2010 $106,000,000 2009 $109,000,000 2008 Undisclosed Difference from 2011 Revenue: -4.00%

Recent Noteworthy Events: MTA is proud to celebrate 60 years of service to Southcentral Alaska. MTA is the only company in Alaska to offer Internet Rolling Gigs and we’re proud to support over 140 non-profit groups. MTA just launched TechRemote, a business product that offers remote computer hardware and software monitoring. 1740 S. Chugach St., Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-745-3211 • Fax: 907-761-2481


Subsidiaries: MTA Communications

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Classification: Utility Principal Activities: Electric utility provider for most of the western Kenai Peninsula, from Sterling to Kachemak Bay. The company also operates and maintains the state-owned Bradley Lake hydroelectric project. Recent Noteworthy Events: Independent Light generation plan is underway and will result in two generation plants on line by 2014. The primary generation facility will be the Nikiski Combined Cycle Conversion Project. There will also be a generation facility in Soldotna that will have a 48 megawatt capacity.

3977 Lake St., Homer, AK 99603 Phone: 907-235-8551 • Fax: 907-235-3313


Subsidiaries: Alaska Energy and Elecric Cooperative, Inc.; Kenai Hydro, LLC

Neeser Construction Inc. Top Executive: Jerry Neeser, President Classification: Construction Principal Activities: NCI specializes in integrated collaborative project delivery through both design/build and CM@ Risk contracting. NCI’s reputation for meeting budgets and schedules while providing first rate quality is respected by clients, design professionals, and the statewide subcontracting community.

Worldwide Employees: 207 Alaska Employees: 202 Year Established: 1974 49er Rank in 2012: 23 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 14 Gross Revenue 2012 $90,000,000 2011 $160,000,000 2010 $184,000,000 2009 $110,400,000 2008 $105,200,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -43.75%

Recent Noteworthy Events: NCI has once again been recognized nationally for its design-build work. NCI’s Goose Creek project was DBIA Best Correctional Facility project in the U.S., the AGC Best Design Build Project of 2013, and named by ENR as the Best Public Facility Project of 2012. 2501 Blueberry Rd., Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-276-1058 • Fax: 907-276-8533

Building Our Future Together to Serve Oil and Gas Support Services with Tyonek Construction. Oil & Gas Component and Equipment manufacturing with Tyonek Manufacturing Group, Inc.

1689 C Street, Suite 219, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 272-0707 —

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• 2013 Top 49

Top Executive: Bradley Janorschke, General Manager

Alaska’s Top 49


Homer Electric Association Inc.

Worldwide Employees: 162 Alaska Employees: 162 Year Established: 1945 49er Rank in 2012: 38 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 2 Gross Revenue 2012 $91,000,000 2011 $84,000,000 2010 $72,000,000 2009 $87,283,352 2008 $77,452,764 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 8.33%

ers Listings


Watterson Construction Co. Top Executive: Bill Watterson, President Classification: Construction Principal Activities: General building contractor. Projects include 2 helicopter hangars at Ft. Wainwright; Spec Olympics AK Training Center; St Elizabeth Ann Seaton Renovation/Expansion; UAA MAC Housing upgrades; Ruby Clinic; UAF Fine Arts Building Vapor Barrier upgrade; Fred Meyer Midtown Renovation; Kodiak High School

Worldwide Employees: 101 Alaska Employees: 100 Year Established: 1981 49er Rank in 2012: 43 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Up 5 Gross Revenue 2012 $89,000,000 2011 $63,000,000 2010 $75,000,000 2009 $90,000,000 2008 $78,000,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 41.27%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Pyramid Award - ANTHC Healthy Communities Building.

6500 Interstate Cir., Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-7441 • Fax: 907-563-7222


The Eyak Corporation Top Executive: Rod Worl, CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Investment management, energy, banking, communications, healthcare, and temporary staffing.

Worldwide Employees: 265 Alaska Employees: 80 Year Established: 1973 49er Rank in 2012: 13 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 26 Gross Revenue 2012 $88,800,000 2011 $264,900,000 2010 $436,300,000 2009 $422,900,000 2008 $281,700,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -66.48%

Recent Noteworthy Events: We continue to focus on competitive business.

360 W. Benson Blvd., Suite 210, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-334-6971 • Fax: 907-334-6973 •


Subsidiaries: Eyak Development Corporation; Eyak Services, LLC; Eyak Resources, LLC; Cordova Central, LLC; NorthTide Group, LLC; Orca International Management, LLC; Eyak Technology, LLC; The aEonian Group, LLC

PenAir Top Executive: Danny Seybert, CEO Classification: Transportation Principal Activities: Regional airline serving ten communities in southwestern Alaska, the Aleutians and Pribilofs as well as four cities out of Boston to Northern Maine and New York.

Worldwide Employees: 475 Alaska Employees: 423 Year Established: 1955 49er Rank in 2012: 40 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $81,300,000 2011 $72,100,000 2010 $72,300,000 2009 $70,100,000 2008 $70,100,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 12.76%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Began scheduled air service on the East Coast in 2012.

6100 Boeing Ave., Anchorage, AK 99502 Phone: 907-771-2500 Fax: 907-334-5763 •

Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Center


Top Executive: Rodney Udd, President & CEO Classification: Retail & Wholesale Trade Principal Activities: Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge new and used vehicle sales and service. Your Home town dealer for 47 years.

Worldwide Employees: 96 Alaska Employees: 96 Year Established: 1963 49er Rank in 2012: 41 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $78,422,000 2011 $64,546,162 2010 $52,300,000 2009 $50,000,000 2008 $51,610,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 21.50%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Obtained Jeep Franchise.

2601 E. Fifth Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-1331 • Fax: 907-264-2202


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Classification: Retail & Wholesale Trade Principal Activities: New and used auto sales, parts, service and body shop.

Recent Noteworthy Events: Awarded Power Stroke Diesel Volume & Growth Top 50 in recognition of achieving national Top 50 dealership status in Power Stroke Diesel parts volume and growth. 1625 Seekins Ford Dr., Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-459-4000 Fax: 907-459-4057 •


DOWL HKM Top Executive: Stewart Osgood, President Classification: Engineering Principal Activities: Civil, structural and geotechnical engineering. Planning, landscape architecture, environmental, and construction administration.

Worldwide Employees: 360 Alaska Employees: 149 Year Established: 1962 49er Rank in 2012: Not Ranked in 2012 Change from Last Year’s Rank: New Gross Revenue 2012 $59,000,000 2011 $51,000,000 2010 $50,000,000 2009 $54,000,000 2008 $44,632,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 15.69%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Opened an office in Fairbanks this spring.

4041 B St., Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-562-2000 • Fax: 907-563-3953 •

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• 2013 Top 49

Top Executive: Ralph Seekins, President

Alaska’s Top 49


Seekins Ford Lincoln Inc.

Worldwide Employees: 115 Alaska Employees: 115 Year Established: 1977 49er Rank in 2012: 42 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $74,556,932 2011 $63,993,582 2010 $65,520,021 2009 $54,418,442 2008 $60,400,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 16.51%

ers Listings


Alaska Industrial Hardware Inc. Top Executive: Mike Kangas, President & General Manager Classification: Industrial Services Principal Activities: Retail sale and industrial sale of tools, industrial supplies, hardware, fasteners, construction supplies, small equipment, pumps, generators and pressure washers.

Worldwide Employees: 197 Alaska Employees: 197 Year Established: 1959 49er Rank in 2012: 44 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Same Gross Revenue 2012 $58,602,000 2011 $52,500,000 2010 $50,430,000 2009 $50,957,000 2008 $53,200,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 11.62%

Recent Noteworthy Events: AIH opened a 53,000 sq. ft. new store in Anchorage in 2012.

2192 Viking Dr., Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-7201 Fax: 907-258-3054 •


Subsidiaries: General Hardware Distributors

Builders Choice Inc. Top Executive: Mark Larson, President Classification: Manufacturer Principal Activities: Modular structures, trusses, and building materials.

Worldwide Employees: 255 Alaska Employees: 185 Year Established: 1996 49er Rank in 2012: Not Ranked in 2012 Change from Last Year’s Rank: New Gross Revenue 2012 $58,000,000 2011 $39,000,000 2010 Undisclosed 2009 Undisclosed 2008 Undisclosed Difference from 2011 Revenue: 48.72%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Manufacture of Exxon’s Point Thomson permanent camp facility.

351 E. 104th Ave., #150, Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-522-3214 • Fax: 907-522-3216


Subsidiaries: Builders Choice LLC

The Kuskokwim Corporation Top Executive: Maver Carey, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Aerospace, land management, real estate property management, civil engineering/construction, initial outfitting/transition management, information technology.

Worldwide Employees: 144 Alaska Employees: 15 Year Established: 1977 49er Rank in 2012: 36 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 10 Gross Revenue 2012 $57,000,000 2011 $95,000,000 2010 $149,000,000 2009 $86,700,000 2008 $30,700,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: -40.00%

Recent Noteworthy Events: TKC has established a Governance Committee & an Economic Development Committee that will carefully review our investment strategies along with prioritizing TKC’s opportunities & resources. TKC started with 1100 original shareholders & is now at more than 3346 with the addition of class B stock. 4300 B St. #207, Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-243-2944 Fax: 907-243-2984


Subsidiaries: Kuskokwim Properties, LLC; TKC Development, Inc.; Tumeq, LLC; Suulutaaq, Inc.; Kuskokwim Community Growth Co., LLC

Airport Equipment Rentals Top Executive: Jerry Sadler, Owner & President Classification: Industrial Services Principal Activities: Heavy-equipment rental/sales company providing sales, services, and rentals for the construction, mining, logging and oil and gas industries.

Worldwide Employees: 100 Alaska Employees: 100 Year Established: 1985 49er Rank in 2012: Not Ranked in 2012 Change from Last Year’s Rank: New Gross Revenue 2012 $54,000,000 2011 $49,000,000 2010 Undisclosed 2009 $53,452,000 2008 $57,670,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 10.20%

Recent Noteworthy Events: Leased nine more acres and will gravel this summer in Deadhorse. Expanding to provide infrastructure for servicing North Slope projects. 1285 Van Horn Rd., Fairbanks, AK 99707 Phone: 907-456-2000 Fax: 907-457-7609 •


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013


Bethel Native Corporation Top Executive: Anastasia Hoffman, President & CEO Classification: Alaska Native Corporation Principal Activities: Real estate development, property management, environmental remediation, construction and demolition services, uniform and accessories distribution, management and warehouse services.

Worldwide Employees: 50 Alaska Employees: 42 Year Established: 1973 49er Rank in 2012: Not Ranked in 2012 Change from Last Year’s Rank: New Gross Revenue 2012 $53,400,000 2011 $37,250,000 2010 $96,745,260 2009 $36,109,417 2008 $12,920,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 43.36%


Subsidiaries: Bethel Solutions Inc; Bethel Services Inc; Bethel Federal Services LLC; Bethel Environmental Solutions LLC; Bethel Contracting LLC

Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd. Top Executive: Robert Everts, CEO & Owner Classification: Transportation Principal Activities: Schedule and charter air freight services using DC-9, DC-6 & C-46 aircraft. Passenger and freight service from Fairbanks to interior Alaska destinations using PC12 and Caravans.

Worldwide Employees: 279 Alaska Employees: 275 Year Established: 1978 49er Rank in 2012: 45 Change from Last Year’s Rank: Down 4 Gross Revenue 2012 $50,785,000 2011 $50,500,000 2010 $46,800,000 2009 $40,500,000 2008 $43,100,000 Difference from 2011 Revenue: 0.56%

Recent Noteworthy Events: In 2012, Tatonduk purchased the world’s first MD-82 Freighter to augment its growth in aviation jet services. 5525 Airport Industrial Rd., Fairbanks, AK 99709 Subsidiaries: Everts Air Alaska; Everts Air Cargo Phone: 907-450-2300 Fax: 907-450-2320 •


THANK YOU TO ANOTHER ANCHORAGE MEETING CHAMPION! Professor of biological sciences Deborah Boege-Tobin knows the importance of Alaska’s animal migration. She also knows that getting meetings to flock to Anchorage can have great benefits for the local economy. Boege-Tobin helped convince the Animal Behavior Society to hold its 2015 meeting in Anchorage, bringing the city valuable convention business.

USFWS LOA-837414


Deborah Boege-Tobin


THE MEETING: Animal Behavior Society Annual Meeting June 14-20, 2015 | 800 delegates Estimated Economic Impact: $948,000 October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Alaska’s Top 49

PO Box 719, Bethel, AK 99559 Phone: 907-543-2124 • Fax: 907-543-2897 •

• 2013 Top 49

Recent Noteworthy Events: Consistently profitable since 1987. Paid out $4 million in shareholders dividends.

Alaska Native Corporations Company 2013 Alaska Name Rank Jobs Arctic Slope Regional Corporation 1 4,525 Bristol Bay Native Corporation 2 818 NANA Regional Corporation Inc. 3 5,300 Chenega Corporation 4 520 Chugach Alaska Corporation 6 586 Afognak Native Corp./Alutiiq 7 179 Calista Corporation 8 272 Ukpeag路 vik In~upiat Corporation (UIC) 11 475 Sealaska 12 108 Cook Inlet Region Inc. 15 1,189 Bering Straits Native Corporation 17 551 Olgoonik Corporation 18 180 Ahtna, Inc. 19 276 Tyonek Native Corporation 21 90 Doyon, Limited 9 1,331 Goldbelt, Incorporated 22 234 The Tatitlek Corporation 28 93 Koniag Inc. 30 84 Aleut Corporation 34 157 The Eyak Corporation 39 80 The Kuskokwim Corporation 46 15 Bethel Native Corporation 48 42 Alaska Native Corporation Total 17,105

Construction Total Jobs 10,782 3,688 11,576 5,100 4,822 4,914 1,648 2,115 2,033 1,747 1,095 800 1,705 972 2,498 884 1,543 647 518 265 144 50 59,546

2012 Gross Revenue $2,628,929,000 $1,961,780,000 $1,800,000,000 $1,100,000,000 $709,000,000 $534,610,000 $404,231,000 $312,380,000 $311,620,000 $237,849,000 $213,000,000 $198,600,000 $190,000,000 $178,000,000 $338,276,000 $156,565,827 $138,738,982 $126,859,000 $98,098,953 $88,800,000 $57,000,000 $53,400,000 $11,839,749,960

Company Name Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc. Neeser Construction Inc. Watterson Construction Co. Construction Total

2013 Rank 15 37 38

Alaska Jobs 150 202 100 452

Total Jobs 150 207 101 458

2012 Gross Revenue $218,000,000 $90,000,000 $89,000,000 $397,000,000

2013 Alaska Rank Jobs 43 149 149

Total Jobs 360 360

2012 Gross Revenue $59,000,000 $59,000,000

Total Jobs 1,761 21 684 2,466

2012 Gross Revenue $338,000,000 $254,273,068 $144,300,000 $736,573,068

Total Jobs 255 255

2012 Gross Revenue $58,000,000 $58,000,000

Engineering Company Name DOWL HKM Engineering Total

Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Company 2013 Alaska Name Rank Jobs Alaska USA Federal Credit Union 9 1,357 The Wilson Agency LLC 13 19 First National Bank Alaska 27 684 Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Total 2,060

Manufacturing Company Name Builders Choice Inc. Manufacturing Total

2013 Alaska Rank Jobs 45 185 185

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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Alaska Jobs 604 108 160 197 100 1,169

Total Jobs 935 108 165 197 100 1,505

2012 Gross Revenue $148,165,163 $145,000,000 $110,000,000 $58,602,000 $54,000,000 $515,767,163

2013 Alaska Rank Jobs 31 195 195

Total Jobs 230 230

2012 Gross Revenue $112,000,000 $112,000,000

2013 Alaska Rank Jobs 35 287 287

Total Jobs 287 287

2012 Gross Revenue $96,000,000 $96,000,000

2013 Alaska Rank Jobs 19 86 86

Total Jobs 157 157

2012 Gross Revenue $187,000,000 $187,000,000

Mining Company Name Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. Mining Total

Telecommunications Company Name MTA Inc. Telecommunications Total

Travel & Tourism Company Name USTravel Travel Total

Company Name Three Bears Alaska Inc. Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Center Seekins Ford Lincoln Inc. Retail & Wholesale Trade Total

2013 Rank 29 41 42

Alaska Jobs 335 96 115 546

Total Jobs 383 96 115 594

2012 Gross Revenue $130,268,017 $78,422,000 $74,556,932 $283,246,949

2013 Rank 5 23 24 40 49

Alaska Jobs 740 500 960 423 275 2,898

Total Jobs 2,390 650 960 475 279 4,754

2012 Gross Revenue $885,000,000 $156,000,000 $150,000,000 $81,300,000 $50,785,000 $1,323,085,000

2013 Rank 12 33 36

Alaska Jobs 332 166 162 660

Total Jobs 332 166 162 660

2012 Gross Revenue $266,971,468 $106,482,000 $91,000,000 $464,453,468

Transportation Company Name Lynden Inc. Carlile Transportation Systems Era Alaska PenAir Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd. Transportation Total

by Industry Classification

Retail & Wholesale Trade 2013 Rank 25 26 32 44 47

Utility Company Name Chugach Electric Association Inc. Matanuska Electric Association Inc. Homer Electric Association Inc. Utility Total Total Employees & Gross Revenues Reported

25,792 71,272 $15,901,852,608

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• 49

Company Name Udelhoven Oilfield System Service Construction Machinery Industrial Colville Inc. Alaska Industrial Hardware Inc. Airport Equipment Rentals Industrial Services Total

Alaska’s Top 49

Industrial Services

Company Afognak Native Corp./Alutiiq Ahtna, Inc. Airport Equipment Rentals Alaska Industrial Hardware Inc. Alaska USA Federal Credit Union Aleut Corporation Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Center Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Bering Straits Native Corporation Bethel Native Corporation Bristol Bay Native Corporation Builders Choice Inc Calista Corporation Carlile Transportation Systems Chenega Corporation Chugach Alaska Corporation Chugach Electric Association Inc. Colville Inc. Construction Machinery Industrial Cook Inlet Region Inc. Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc. DOWL HKM Doyon, Limited Era Alaska First National Bank Alaska



Top 2011 Remodelers 2012

2013 2012 Rank Revenue 7 18 47 44 10 34 41 1 17 48 2 45 8 23 4 6 13 32 26 15 16 43 9 24 27

$535 $190 $54 $59 $338 $98 $78 $2629 $213 $53 $1962 $58 $404 $156 $1100 $709 $267 $110 $145 $238 $218 $59 $338 $150 $144

2012 2011 Rank Revenue 7 20 44 9 26 41 1 17 2 10 24 4 6 11 39 37 19 32 8 28 25

$711 $200 $49 $53 $311 $148 $65 $2550 $206 $37 $1966 $39 $300 $147 $1100 $766 $284 $81 $92 $201 $119 $51 $468 $136 $143

2011 2010 Rank Revenue 6 13 49 10 22 48 1 18 36 3 14 27 4 5 12 39 38 19 31 8 30 23

$783 $243 $50 $302 $159 $52 $2332 $190 $97 $1667 $231 $137 $1100 $937 $258 $78 $90 $188 $120 $50 $459 $120 $151

2010 2009 Rank Revenue 6 14 11 24 1 21 2 16 28 5 4 12 44 40 43 23 49 10 30 22

$766 $231 $53 $51 $312 $146 $50 $1945 $162 $36 $1392 $203 $131 $1077 $1105 $290 $76 $87 $80 $152 $54 $416 $117 $156

2009 2008 Rank Revenue 7 16 45 47 9 30 48 1 31 2 14 29 5 4 11 41 25 22 18 10 26 19

$730 $196 $58 $53 $312 $116 $52 $2297 $113 $13 $1295 $224 $123 $894 $952 $290 $64 $124 $11 $178 $45 $296 $101 $171

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(907) 276-4373 • Toll Free (800) 770-4373


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

$157 $91 $127 $885 $106 $96 $1800 $90 $199 $81 $312 $75 $51 $89 $57 $139 $254 $130 $178 $148 $312 $112 $187 $89 $16,072

29 38 30 5 34 35 3 23 22 40 14 42 45 13 36 27 15 31 18 12 33 21 43

$135 $84 $128 $850 $105 $100 $1500 $160 $178 $72 $259 $64 $51 $265 $95 $137 $245 $121 $193 $202 $279 $108 $182 $63 $16,156

2011 2010 Rank Revenue 26 44 24 7 37 34 2 20 29 41 15 43 9 25 32 17 33 258 11 35 21 40

$139 $72 $150 $720 $94 $106 $1600 $184 $133 $72 $224 $66 $47 $436 $149 $111 $205 $109 $134 $271 $97 $174 $75 $15,243

2010 2009 Rank Revenue 35 39 31 7 34 37 3 33 26 45 17 8 41 36 15 32 19 27 9 38 20 42

$108 $87 $116 $680 $110 $109 $1260 $110 $135 $70 $196 $54 $41 $423 $87 $108 $206 $111 $171 $132 $292 $91 $166 $90 $14,546

2009 2008 Rank Revenue 33 35 6 34 3 32 37 40 24 42 12 36 20 21 27 8 39 17 38

$106 $77 $101 $780 $97 $103 $1176 $105 $82 $70 $126 $60 $43 $282 $31 $90 $160 $106 $135 $124 $334 $73 $192 $78 $13,984

Note: Not all Top 49ers displayed for previous years

DESIGN for the

Arctic community

Fairbanks | 907.452.1241 Anchorage | 907.276.1241

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


5 Year Rank & Revenue

22 36 30 5 33 35 3 37 18 40 12 42 49 39 46 28 14 29 21 25 11 31 20 38

2012 2011 Rank Revenue

• 49

Goldbelt, Incorporated Homer Electric Association Inc. Koniag Inc. Lynden Inc. Matanuska Electric Association Inc. MTA Inc. NANA Regional Corporation Inc. Neeser Construction Inc. Olgoonik Corporation PenAir Sealaska Seekins Ford Lincoln Inc. Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd. The Eyak Corporation The Kuskokwim Corporation The Tatitlek Corporation The Wilson Agency LLC Three Bears Alaska Inc. Tyonek Native Corporation Udelhoven Oilfield System Service Ukpeag· vik Inupiat Ukpeagvik In~ Corporation (UIC) Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. USTravel Watterson Construction Co. Total Top 49er Gross Annual Revenue in $Millions

2013 2012 Rank Revenue

Alaska’s Top 49


Builder’s Choice, Inc. Taking manufacturing to a new level

Photo courtesy of BCI Alaska

By Margaret Sharpe

Eni Spy Island camp on the North Slope was manufactured by Builder’s Choice, Inc.


ewcomer to the Top 49er list is modular design and manufacturing company Builders Choice Inc., (BCI). Established in 1996, the company started out as a wood truss manufacturing operation. In 2001, Mark and Sandi Larson bought out their partner and became co-owners. As president and CFO, respectively, the couple took it from a five to tenworker operation to a company of more than three hundred employees. “The reason that we got into this in the first place was it was something we could do together,” says Mark Larson. “We have a unique marriage, and we actually like doing things together and like being a part of projects, seeing things come together.” The pair complement each other, with Mark as the “big picture” front man and Sandi in the background making sure that all the decimal points line up, bringing structure to Mark’s vision. “Sandi is the smart one,” he says, “putting numbers together and understanding the complexities, how to


Initially, that expansion did not bear fruit. “We stumbled a little,” Larson says. “We thought that being from a residential backSuccessful Formula ground, it made sense to The husband and wife formula build modular for residential has indeed been functioning homes.” After a year, they rewell for BCI, with the Larson Mark Larson alized that residential wasn’t team guiding the company on the best value for using modto new enterprises. “When Sandi and ular. “So we opened up a bit into the oil I came onboard, our primary focus as industry for a project for BP. And that is owners was to expand the business, what really shot us through the ceiling; reach outside of the business, and go that’s where we found our niche.” after the general market,” says Larson. A lot of the BCI modular units are used “We were looking for other ways that we in the oil and gas industry. Coming off could bring prebuilt components to the of the success of the BP job, they focused marketplace in a way that made sense on building for bigger projects that were and made money for the end custom- more residential/commercial minded. er, had an added value of some kind.” “Our mission is to conceptualize the finThey started providing trusses and en- ished project, build it here, where we have gineered lumber packages (wall panels control over how it is put together, conand prebuilt pieces) to residential con- trol over the quality, and then ship it out tractors. “That was our principal busi- in components to be put back together so ness,” he says, “and that expanded into that it all lines up and makes it a commodular construction in 2005.” pleted project at the site,” Larson says.

account for things and how to create systems that make the rest of the team around here function really well.”

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

• Featured 49 Alaska’s Top 49

Photo courtesy of BCI Alaska

Putting it all together. Builder’s Choice, Inc. manufactured workforce housing for Eni’s Spy Island camp. Here, a crane lifts one of the modules into place.

Once they figured out the modular formula of how to apply it in the Alaska marketplace, success came quickly. “If you follow the spreadsheets and look at our gross sales and everything else, it made an exponential jump after 2005,” Larson says. Today BCI manufactures modules year-round in their indoor fifty thousand-square-foot facility. The prefabricated modules are applied to commercial space, workforce housing, hotels, schools, offices, and so on—all for the arctic and sub-arctic environment.

Expanding Alaska Technology The modular business has even expanded into other states. BCI’s Alaska clients with work in the Bakken oilfield were not getting the same quality structures that were in place for their North Slope projects. “They were hauling products up from Texas and Louisiana that were freezing up and not performing in the same way they were used to for similar work up here,” Larson says. BCI now has a modular plant in Vermillion, South Dakota. “The whole reason we are there is that we took Alaska technology—arctic structures, how to build for arctic conditions—and brought that down there to promote building in North Dakota.”

What made BCI a Top 49er? Larson believes it stems from the company’s pro-Alaska stance. They promote Alaska hire, Alaska vendors, and local products. They are an all-Alaskan company. “We’ve made a significant impact. When I look over my shoulder, I think ‘Wow, how does this happen?’ We’ve always seen growth in the company, and we’ve always been blessed with being able to increase over the years and keep the company going and moving forward.” Larson realizes the importance of his company in the context of its historical timeline. “We were just a small company and a few people, and then you turn and see that there are 325 or more paychecks that roll out of here every couple of weeks and the impact that you have. I think we’ve become something that is significant.” Significant to be sure. “The leader in modular design and manufacturing” is what the BCI website homepage states. “I am bold enough to claim that. I think we’ve proven that,” Larson says. “We may have been in the right place at the right time to create the portfolio of projects that we’ve done in the past, but what makes us good at what we do is our philosophy.” The company uses

a lessons-learned approach, encouraging discussion about what went wrong and how to fi x it. “We use that in our management team and in how we look at projects. It’s also part of the culture of those that work for us here.” That focus on quality, constantly honing their product, is clearly a factor in their success with modular fabrication. “We learned the hard way,” Larson says. “We looked at how others were doing it in the Lower 48, and then applied what we learned through the school of hard knocks—through practice and implementation.”

Working the Fun Zone Larson points out that the opportunity for quality control is greatly increased when you are producing the same product over and over again in a controlled environment. The repetitive QC process of the same type of dorm unit, for example, will logically lead to a certain level of expected expertise. “Well we’ve learned a lot, and that’s what keeps people on our door step. We’ve got a lot of experience. Bring us in early, and we can keep everybody out of trouble and give them what they want, as long as we listen to their vision.”

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Above: A panorama of the Builder’s Choice Inc. factory. Left: A worker connecting wiring in a Builder’s Choice module. Photos courtesy of BCI Alaska

Alaska’s Full Service Remote Camp & Catering Company Since 1982

Services We Provide:

1701 East 84th Avenue Anchorage, AK 99507 Contact Kurt Winkler (907) 349-3342 128

• Remote Camps • Procurement • Management Services • Catering Services • Facilities Management • Emergency Response • Remote Facility Planning

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Quality is well and good, but what about the bottom line? “Price is important. None of us want to pay more for anything,” Larson says. “If we can save money, we’re always looking for those opportunities. But one thing is that you don’t have the weather to deal with.” Weather delays often lead to additional costs. The obvious advantage for BCI is their temperature-controlled facility. “I’ve built on-site and in the factory all my life, and so I know that I can control the quality of what I build here [at the BCI facility] way further than what I could in the field.” As president of the company, it isn’t all work and no play. But that is purely because Larson’s work is also his fun zone. “I like to build stuff,” he says with sincere excitation. He goes on to explain how each project the company takes on presents a challenge, which feeds his motivation. “When you’re building remotely, it’s all about hitting deadlines and hitting budgets and still meeting the expectations of others for comfort and quality. So our most fun projects to me are the ones where we’ve been given a challenge.” An ideal client would be

• Featured 49 Alaska’s Top 49

Photo courtesy of BCI Alaska

A tug hauls a barge of Builder’s Choice Inc. manufactured modules.

one presenting the most complicated, loosely defined scenario—a business double-dog dare. “Tell me your problem and we will create a solution for that. That becomes huge motivation; I jump out of bed for that kind of stuff.” The less ideal, less fun—but still welcome— projects are those with precise specifications. “We can do that too,” he says, still with gusto but also a perceptible shrug, “but I have more fun rising to the challenge and trying to find solutions.” Remember those trusses? Well, BCI still continues that service, which merges well with their module fabrication. A small but meaningful bonus is their ability to reuse and reincorporate factory waste product from the modular side of the business. “We can use a lot of that outfall for truss webbing and truss cores for other things,” says Larson. Even more hand in glove, BCI recently opened lumber yards in Anchorage, Wasilla, and Soldotna. All three locations will be full service, offering lumber, trusses, hardware, doors, and windows. Larson sums it up by attributing the success of BCI to two things: the people who work for him and the people he works for. The employees of his company believe what he believes; they make sure that the customer gets everything that they pay for. “They love the reputation that we have and they want to continue to foster that. The fact that we care about what we do—that culture in the people that work around and with me, in the business—really has made us a leader in what we do.” 











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Margaret Sharpe writes from Palmer.


October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Seekins Ford Lincoln, Inc. Creating a culture of family, community, and employee satisfaction

Photos by Julie Stricker

By Julie Stricker


The Seekins Ford Lincoln dealership in Fairbanks. Seekins holds the Ford dealership that’s been in Fairbanks since 1910. 130

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

f you want an idea of what makes a company tick, take a peek inside the boss’s office. At Seekins Ford Lincoln in Fairbanks, Ralph Seekins’s sunny, expansive office is filled with awards and accolades. He sits behind an oversize desk in front of multiple computer screens, with piles of paperwork and invoices scattered over the gleaming surface. Bookcases and Alaska artifacts adorn the walls and statues of horses prance on the windowsills. A couple of comfortable overstuffed chairs flank a fireplace topped by a giant flat-screen TV. A battered fur hat, which Seekins wore when he ran the Yukon Quest

• Featured 49 Alaska’s Top 49

national Sled Dog Race in 1989, is displayed nearby. One item seems oddly out of place— a large Mickey Mouse telephone cheerily sitting atop an elegant jade coffee table—but it speaks volumes about Seekins and the success of his company. The phone is for his grandkids—he has fifteen. “They love to come in and get popcorn and see Gramps,” Seekins says. “I have to have something for them to do.” He said he will sometimes see a television turned to a cartoon channel and note that children have been to visit. “At least I hope it was the kids,” and not his employees, he says laughing. At the annual Christmas party, which often includes an evening of ice skating at the Carlson Center, dinner, and a small gift for the younger kids, Seekins says he looks around at his employees and their families and goes home thinking about the company’s responsibility to them. It boils down to: “Are we doing all the right things, are we making sure Mom and Dad have a job?” He credits a strong management team and hard-working employees for the dealership’s success. Many of his employees have been at the dealership for more than twenty-five years, including three generations of one family, he says. “It’s a business, but yet I think if you look around, it’s a very family-oriented business. It’s good for them to know where their parents work.” Seekins, sixty-eitght, was born in Duluth, Minnesotta, and grew up in Wyoming and Montana. Early jobs included carpentry, welding, custom metal work, and driving a school bus. He and his wife, Connie, have four children. His son Aaron also works at the dealership, which has deep roots in Fairbanks. Jim Barrack owned the Ford dealership in 1910, which he ran out of Samson Hardware. In the 1940s, Barrack sold the dealership to Dan Lahman and it was moved to Second Avenue in downtown Fairbanks. Over the next decades, the dealership changed hands and moved several times before Jim Thompson bought it in 1969, and named it Jim Thompson Ford Sales. Seekins and his family moved to Fairbanks in 1974, and Seekins began working as sales manager for Thomp-

Photo by Julie Stricker

Ralph Seekins stands next to a Ford F-150 truck in the Seekins Ford Lincoln showroom in Fairbanks in August. The F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the United States for the past thirty-seven years, says Seekins, who bought the dealership in 1977.

son. In 1977, he and a partner bought the dealership from Thompson, renaming it Seekins Ford-Lincoln, Inc. Seekins later became sole owner. The business was moved to its present location in 1982 and has grown and expanded over the decades. It includes the showroom; a parts, service, and body shop; and the Quick Lane for routine maintenance. The dealership serves Interior Alaska—a market area larger than Texas— and frequently delivers customers’ vehicles by barge or plane. In 2012, Seekins Ford Lincoln generated $75 million in revenue. It employs about 120 people and is a flagship business in Interior Alaska. General Manager Margaret Russell has been at Seekins Ford since 1978, but notes that she’s only the fifth in seniority there. “We pride ourselves on our familystyle culture,” she says. “The auto industry can be very demanding in terms of hours and commitments. We also have a strong commitment to our fami-

lies and to the community. We try to keep some balance.” For instance, despite a trend for dealerships to remain open seven days a week, Seekins Ford is closed on Sundays. Ralph Seekins has long been active in the community and a member of numerous national, statewide, and local boards. He served as a state senator in the Alaska Legislature from 2003 until 2007, was on the Governor’s North Slope Natural Gas Economic Advisory Committee, and served as trustee and chairman of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. He also has won many local awards as well as pulling in some big honors nationally. In 2005, the dealership was named the Time Magazine Quality Dealer. “That’s like winning the Super Bowl for a dealership,” Seekins says. The award is given to one dealership out of twenty thousand nationwide that not only has a proven record of success but also provides distinguished community service. In 2006, Seekins was awarded the Distinguished Service Citation by

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Ralph Seekins displays the Model T Ford in the company’s showroom in Fairbanks. The car runs and Seekins will sometimes take it to local hotels in the summer and give rides to visitors. “They often talk about the Model T their dad or granddad had,” he says. Photo by Julie Stricker



Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

the Automotive Hall of Fame. He also served as chairman of the National Ford Dealer Council in 2002. Locally, the dealership’s banner community effort is United Way. Over the past ten years, the dealership and employees have contributed more than $750,000 to the United Way, Russell says. “That’s one of the things that we’re particularly proud of,” Russell says. “And that’s not something that just the dealership does, it’s something all of the employees come in and do.” To a larger degree, that speaks to the culture of the dealership, she says. “We’re proud of our employees and what they do to give back to the community.” Much of the dealerships’ support is behind the scenes and comes in the form of encouraging employees who want to coach youth sports teams or volunteering for an organization by working with their schedules to allow them the time to do so. “When we can balance that with the requirements of the job, we think that’s a win-win for the company,” Russell says. “I think that’s a lot of what we do in the community,” Seekins says. “We don’t always attach our names to it.”

race. Champion musher Joe Runyan helped put together a team and Seekins worked hard to learn about mushing and how to survive in the brutal winter conditions the Yukon Quest race is known for. He had worked with horses for decades and noted the similarities in handling dogs and horses, although mushing “is very much a team sport and you have to be the leader.” His goal was simply to finish, although he said bets were made that he wouldn’t get past the first checkpoint.

After fourteen days, fourteen hours, forty-seven minutes of rough trails, 70 mph winds, and temperatures that fell to 40 below zero, Seekins finished the race in twenty-third place. He noted that a more experienced musher would have placed much higher because his dog team was so talented. “The team was much better than I was,” he says ruefully.  Julie Stricker is a writer living near Fairbanks.

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Alaska’s Top 49ers • Featured 49er

Russell adds, “Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy of getting our bang for the buck in terms of getting our name in the lights” for community service. For instance, when Cab Calloway came to Interior Alaska as part of the fledgeling Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the dealership quietly provided a Lincoln for the celebrated jazz singer to travel around in. As the arts festival grew, Seekins worked with the other Fairbanks dealerships to provide vehicles and help for the festival, which now brings hundreds of people and artists to Fairbanks every summer. “We were proud to be one of the organizations to help get that program off the ground,” Seekins says. “This is our community and so we try to make it a better place to live because we all live here and we see the value in it,” Seekins says. He is a founder of the Young Life Fairbanks Club, a national non-denominational faith-based outreach for high school kids. He and his wife open their home to one-hundred-plus kids every Monday night for “club,” building relationships with the teens and watching the ministry change and strengthen their lives. Seekins also raises American Quarter Horses with his wife and daughters. They work closely with special needs and handicapped people to provide physical therapy and improve motor skills as well as build self-confidence and emotional wellbeing through equestrian activities. In 2003, one of their students, Isaac Bush, won a gold medal in Equestrian Trail at the World Special Olympics in Dublin, Ireland. It starts with the employees. The management team has worked together for years—in some cases, decades. “We try to get employees we want to stay here,” Seekins says. “I know the people that work here, I know who you can depend on. “I don’t have to worry,” he says. “If I’m away from the dealership I don’t have to worry about how it’s run.” That trust has allowed Seekins to pursue other interests, such as running the 1989 Yukon Quest. Seekins says he wanted to run the Quest, instead of the better-known Iditarod, because it was local, and because it was a tougher

Jim Watterson, left, and Bill Watterson in front of Watterson Construction’s GSAB Hangar project at Fort Wainwright. Photo courtesy of Watterson Construction


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013


ome Alaskans are born here; others follow their parents north at a young age; and some take a lifetime to migrate to the Last Frontier. But what many Alaskans have in common is a love for Alaska’s beauty and a respect for its challenges. It’s not surprising then, that Alaska owned companies achieve new heights of success year after year, including Watterson Construction, which is once again one of Alaska Business Monthly’s Top 49ers.

The Men Who Lead Bill Watterson, president, grew up on the family dairy in Centralia, Washington. He turned his sights up north and decided to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks, “before it was UAF, when it was just University of Alaska,” he says. He decided to attend for the basketball as well as and the engineering program, but while he was there he ended up meeting his wife. They both say that if they had it to do over again, they wouldn’t change a thing. “It was the best thing for both of us,” he says, “not just because we met there, but because, in my major courses, I had maybe ten students in my classes… [And] there were good job opportunities after that.” Bill and his wife lived and worked down south for a while before returning to Alaska in 1972 founding Watterson Construction 1981. Jim Watterson, executive vice president, didn’t start the company with his brother Bill, but was involved quickly thereafter in 1989. He worked for a large, national contractor for sixteen years, moving around the country with his wife. They settled in Beaverton, Oregon, with their three children for about fifteen years, where he started to work with Bill. “I tell people I’m the first telecommuter because I started working out of my house with a phone that had an AB switch for a fax line,” Jim says. Jim is now also residing in Alaska. “I had been working with Bill all the time, and when he wanted to start slowing down some, I told my wife, ‘I guess we’re moving to Alaska.’” The Watterson family was made for construction. “Our older brother is in

By Tasha Anderson Washington, and he’s been a lifetime construction superintendent and finally retired a couple years ago,” Bill says. “No one, I don’t think, enjoys the construction industry more than we do.” “Every time we start a new job it’s a challenge,” he says. For example, on a current project, a second hangar at Fort Wainwright, Watterson has a three and a half week delay on the structural steel delivery, requiring that tasks which had been scheduled for this fall be reevaluated. “But those challenges we’re able to meet and address,” Bill says. “Those are the type of challenges that we thrive on.” Part of their success, both men say, is doing what they love. “It has to be,” Jim says. “I told my kids, you have to do something you love to do. And my wife says I’ll never retire because I’d be too bored,” he laughs.

What Makes Success While loving their work is certainly a key part of Watterson’s success, Bill and Jim agree on the number one factor that that leads to Watterson’s placement on the Top 49ers every year: employees. “It’s all about employees. The key thing for us with employees is low turnover. You achieve low turnover by treating them right and paying them well. So that is the number one biggest reason that we’ve been successful,” Bill explains. Part of treating employees well is good leadership, which Jim says is “honesty and integrity. That’s what it takes, and then you get good people that are honest and have integrity to work with you instead of for you.” Bill believes that good leadership is leading by example. Watterson employs 95 percent Alaskan residents, and “we prefer to work with Alaska subcontractors,” Bill says. Jim adds, “We think that Alaskans have a better understanding of our challenges up here, and we have several graduates of the University of Alaska working for us, including two recent graduates.” Safety Culture Another way that Watterson Construction communicates the importance of

employees is through promoting a high standard safety culture. The company has gone more than six years without an OSHA lost-time accident. A major contribution to their safety culture is the use of material handling platforms. The platforms have several benefits, though the largest are allowing materials to be safely moved into a jobsite and waste materials to be safely moved out. In addition, “we’re able to handle materials with fork lifts that we have on the job rather than having to rent a crane,” Bill says, which saves time and money. “It’s big enough that we can put a half a bunk, or half a normal shipping unit, of sheetrock up there.” Watterson Construction separates jobsite waste materials, and the material handling platforms allow that to happen so that the different materials come off the site already sorted. Another large part of Watterson Construction’s safety culture is the safety incentives for employees. If employees work safely and don’t have accidents, they accrue paid time off. “It’s not inexpensive, but it’s cheap compared to an accident,” Jim says. “We let all our employees know that they are all responsible for safety, and if they see something, they’re to fix it— if they can’t fix it immediately get a hold of somebody who can.” In addition, on every job, employees are given a safety and jobsite orientation, and Watterson Construction superintendents and foremen all participate in a thirty-hour OSHA safety class.

Innovative Techniques The company is also successful due to innovation outside of safety concerns. Much of Watterson Construction’s innovative techniques have been developed through years of dealing with Alaska’s challenges. “One of the things that we do, more than a lot of our competitors, is we self-perform more work,” Jim says. There are many benefits of self-performing, such as firsthand experience in Alaska conditions. “The building season is unique, it has a very short window, and so we look at what it takes to get it done,” Jim says.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• Featured 49

Building Alaska

Alaska’s Top 49

Watterson Construction

Watterson Construction workers placing a concrete slab as part of the American Fast Freight Cross Dock expansion in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Watterson Construction

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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

One solution to the short season is to work through the winter season. But in Fairbanks, where temperatures regularly dip far below zero, working outside in the winter “is almost impossible,” as Bill says. Watterson Construction found a solution. “Typically when people enclose buildings, they enclose it with reinforced polyethylene; we did that and then we hung some concrete blankets, which are insulated, on the outside, and it made a world of difference. Jim was up there— he took a picture and it was just exactly a one hundred degree temperature differential. It was forty-six degrees below outside and fifty-four degrees inside our building,” Bill says. Instead of a crew needing to warm up equipment at the jobsite when they arrive in the morning, productive work can begin at 7 a.m.

Looking Forward Watterson Construction used to be 100 percent owned by Bill and his wife, Helga. She retired, and over the last ten years, and continuing into the future, the company is transitioning into being employee owned. Bill now has seven partners. “It’s gone very well. We haven’t lost any of the

a big addition and a lot of renovation of the existing building,” Jim adds. Bill and Jim both work to make Watterson Construction run well. Bill says, “People used to say to me, ‘You work really hard.’ Well, I’d say, ‘I never worked a day in my life as hard as my parents worked every day of their life.’” It must run in the family.  Tasha Anderson is the Editorial Assistant for Alaska Business Monthly.

Watterson is Busy Watterson Construction’s current slate of projects ranges from Fairbanks to Kodiak. There’s a hangar at Fort Wainwright and a “small, $2 million job,” as Bill calls it, renovating the Fine Arts Building for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In Anchorage, they’re working on remodeling the Northern Lights Fred Meyer, having completed the

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly

• Featured 49

mond remodel earlier this year; the Special Olympics Training Center on Commercial Drive that is going to be more than double its current size and has a gym, indoor running track, and locker rooms; and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School renovation and addition is almost complete. “We have a CCO on it— Conditional Certificate of Occupancy— it’s not quite done.” They’re working on the Kodiak High School renovation, an approximately $80 million project. “It’s reportedly the largest contract ever on the island of Kodiak,” Bill says. “There’s

Alaska’s Top 49

people that bought in, and bought her shares, yet,” Bill says. And it’s not likely that any will be lost; of the seven partners, only two have been with the company less than twenty years. The “newcomer,” has been with Watterson Construction for six. One “cannot be a shareholder without being an employee,” Bill says. Watterson Construction plans for the future through its very architecture by constructing sustainable, LEED certified projects. In fact, Watterson Construction built the first project that was LEED certified in Alaska for the US Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District, the FTW 340 Barracks at Fort Wainwright. It is a current requirement for federal projects to meet LEED Silver requirements. “We had the first two certified projects for the Corps in the state of Alaska,” Jim says, and not only did those meet Silver requirements, but actually certified Gold. To date, “we have completed the certification process for seven projects including two certified as Gold and five certified as Silver by the United States Green Building Council,” Jim says. The most prominent project is probably the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Healthy Communities Building. The list of projects that meet LEED standards includes other projects for the US Army Corps of EngineersAlaska District, the Anchorage School District, and the Alaska Railroad. A few of these projects may not be certified: “Several of the owners, including the government on some of these projects, choose to track the requirements, or design to the requirements, and then not get certified,” Jim says. “Filing the paperwork and paying for the people to do all of this stuff is not inexpensive.” Project owners may or may not have sustainable construction in mind, but Watterson Construction makes sure that any project owner is aware of the option.


Calista Corporation’s Positive Impacts Focusing on energy, voting, and operations

Photo courtesy of Calista Corporation/John McDonald

By Julie Stricker

Calista Corporation shareholders listen to an operations update at the Calista Shareholder Gathering held March 2013 in Bethel.


hen corporations boost their revenue over a period of a couple of years, they frequently reinvest in the company and reward shareholders by increasing dividends. In the case of Calista Corporation, which more than doubled its revenue from 2009 to 2012, the impacts are being felt directly on the entire economy of Southwest Alaska, where the majority of its shareholders live. In 2012, Calista tallied $404 million in revenue, a corporate record. For Calista President and CEO Andrew Guy, that success translates into


Calista is the second largest opportunities for the corporation’s more than twelve of the thirteen Alaska Native thousand shareholders in the regional corporations estabform of jobs, scholarships, lished under the 1971 Alaska dividends, internships, and Native Claims Settlement Act. It encompasses more than 6.5 business opportunities for village corporations. million acres and fift y-six vil“These direct benefits crelages in southwest Alaska, an ate a positive ripple effect for Andrew Guy area with strong traditional families in the region and Yup’ik, Cup’ik, and Athabasadd to Alaska’s economic health,” Guy can cultures. The majority of residents wrote in an email. “It can mean a steady still speak their traditional languages income for a family so they can afford and practice a subsistence lifestyle. fuel and food as a result of long-term Guy grew up in Napaskiak, a village employment.” about six miles downriver from Beth-

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Lower Energy Costs High energy costs for heat, power, and transportation affect almost every aspect of life in the region, Guy says, citing a report from KYUK-FM last winter that noted some families were spending $800 per month on heating costs. “That is not acceptable,” he says. High fuel prices drive up the costs for businesses trying to pay for heat and electricity. They must charge more for their goods and services. It also costs more to ship goods from Anchorage, driving up the costs for families. High transportation costs also account for more than 40 percent of the expense of rural building projects. “With practically no roads or rail between or to any community in our region, which is about the size of Oregon or New York, it’s no wonder families are hard-pressed and small businesses are not able to thrive,” Guy says.

Alaska’s Top 49

• Featured 49

el, the regional hub. Yup’ik is his first language and he still has strong family ties to Napaskiak and nearby villages, returning for fish camp and to celebrate Russian Orthodox Christmas. Guy’s early education was yuuyaraq, or the Yup’ik code of life, which encompasses the mental, physical, and spiritual spheres of a person. He was in elementary school in 1971 when President Richard M. Nixon signed ANCSA into law, which profoundly shaped Guy’s life and career. Helped in part by a scholarship from Calista, Guy earned a business degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a law degree at the University of Colorado School of Law. He started working at Calista as an intern in 1984 and spent decades in various roles in the corporation before becoming president and CEO in 2010. He knows firsthand the difficulties of living in the region, which is one of the most economically challenged in the country. ANCSA’s role is twofold: the corporations have a mandate to create successful business operations as well as improve the social and economic well being of its shareholders. Guy is keenly aware of the need for both. Guy says Calista needs to focus on three key areas to benefit the region: lower energy costs, voting advocacy, and continued operational success.

Photo courtesy of Calista Corporation/ John McDonald

Lucy Kuhns, left, and Bala Andrew admire the plaque honoring their father, Joe Lomack.

Alaska’s Power Cost Equalization program helps lower the cost of energy in rural areas, but more needs to be done, he says. Calista is advocating for a basic intertie system that could provide a stable electrical grid for villages that are now independently powered by sometimes outdated diesel generator systems. That would prevent problems caused by breakdowns, which last winter left two villages in the cold and dark. Another potential solution is the Chikuminuk Hydropower Project, which has been studied since the 1970s. It is

located on a drainage in which salmon are not present and no subsistence or guiding activities would be affected by its development, Guy says. It could provide power to more than a dozen communities in the Bristol Bay and Calista regions and reduce diesel use by 5 million gallons annually in the Calista region alone, while eliminating more than fift y-five thousand tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. “Combine this with smaller, community-specific energy efforts, including wind, and the results will be positively life-changing,” Guy says.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Voting Advocacy Another issue that concerns Guy is providing equality and fairness in the voting process to Yup’ik communities, as well as other rural Alaska regions. He wants state officials to provide ballots written in Yup’ik in a form residents can understand. He also wants early voting to be available in rural areas as it is in urban centers. Absentee voting is available, but mail service in the region can be unreliable because of poor weather and limited flight capacity, Guy says.

Despite current drawbacks, he encourages residents to register to vote and then vote in elections. “We need to ensure our voices are heard in the Legislature and that comes through voting,” he says. “It is a right for all citizens to vote, and there should be no impediments in exercising that right.”

Operational Success In business operations, attention to detail is a key to success. “Whether finalizing a contract, analyzing fiscal operations, or looking at



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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

what the state and national economic future holds, you must analyze many variables,” he says. “And those variables can change daily, significantly altering one projected outcome from another.” Having a strong executive team is also crucial, and Guy is already looking toward the future and who will replace him as president and CEO. He wants his executive team to be doing the same. Calista has set up mentoring programs for future managers and has significantly boosted its internship program. In 2012, Calista put $140,000 toward its internship program and another $460,000 in scholarships were awarded. Since its inception, the corporation has paid out more than $3.2 million in scholarships. “As part of succession planning, we need to look outside the corporation and continue to support our students through scholarships and internships,” he says. “Seeing our interns in action, I have great hope for the future of our region and Alaska Native peoples throughout the state.”

Diversified Future The company these future managers will inherit is likely to be a broader, more diversified one. The bulk of Calista’s revenue comes from government services, including a strong presence in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, but the corporation is actively working to reduce its dependence on that program while strengthening its competitiveness within federal contracting. “Economically, we are feeling the effects of sequestration and reactive legislation on the federal 8(a) program,” Guy says. “The future looks even more challenging, and we must be prepared for that.” Guy touts Calista’s Huntsville, Alabama-based subsidiaries, which are focused on defense contracts, as an example. They provide a tremendous value to the government and the employees, 30 percent of whom are veterans, “dedicated heart and soul to these efforts.” Calista recently has acquired several businesses outside of federal contracting in fields such as construction and environmental services, satellite communications, and cloud services in an effort to broaden its economic footing.

additional responsibilities Like most corporations, shareholders are a priority, but for Calista and the other Alaska Native Corporations, the priority goes far beyond the bottom line. Calista has paid out more than $17.4 million in shareholder dividends and distributions, but its responsibilities also include social and cultural support for shareholders. “[Alaska Native Corporations] are already strong drivers and contributors to the economic health of the state,” Guy says. The corporations have direct and indirect impacts in every community in Alaska, even before their socio-economic obligations are considered. “There are no other corporations in the nation that have a dual obligation of positive business operations and social support,” he says. “Calista is proud of these roles and we will continue to work hard to fulfill these duties.” 

Julie Stricker is a writer living near Fairbanks.

• Featured 49

Calista Corporation President/CEO Andrew Guy holds a plaque honoring the late chief Joe Lomack at the Calista Shareholder Gathering held March 2013 in Bethel. Photo courtesy Calista Corporation/ John McDonald

Alaska’s Top 49

Another area on which Calista is focusing training and educational opportunities is mining, specifically the world-class Donlin Gold prospect in its region. Exploration over the past fifteen years has uncovered a resource of more than 33 million ounces of gold. The subsurface is owned by Calista, and the surface by The Kuskokwim Corporation, a consortium of ten villages. If developed—the project is in the permitting phase—it would have an enormous regional impact, with effects being felt statewide. “Employment is one key benefit, from initial construction to ongoing operations,” Guy says. “There is the potential for stable, good-paying lifelong employment for hundreds, if not thousands, in the Calista region.” Although any mine is still years off, Calista’s human resources department has been working with Donlin Gold on a workforce development program, Guy says. They are mapping out the jobs and skills required and the courses of training and education needed. Shareholder hire has been emphasized even during the exploration phase.

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Matanuska Electric Association Growing an enduring electric cooperative By Margaret Sharpe


he grease that makes our economy run.” That is the phrase General Manager Joe Griffith uses to describe the service that Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) provides. With an economy operating in an environment that is mostly cold and oftentimes dark, that description is apt. MEA has kept the pace with the fastest growing region in Alaska, keeping the technology and the energy product secure, safe, and reliable. MEA is Alaska’s oldest and second largest electric cooperative, with forty142

seven thousand members and fift yeight thousand points of service that span north past Talkeetna, over to the Matanuska Glacier, and south to Eagle River. Griffith came on board in 2009— bringing his broad understanding of the electric power industry and a long history of dealing with energy issues in the Railbelt—and made some serious headway. “In four short years, we have become a respectable, large corporate entity in the state, and I’m very proud of the accomplishment,” he says. He quickly adds, “I didn’t do it myself, I

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

just gave people the ability to do it, let them run—and they did.” When asked to describe his influence on MEA, Griffith tells stories of accomplishment, but they all begin with “we” did this or that. He credits the employees with the success of the company and describes them as “a workforce that is tickled to be here and enjoys their work.” He sometimes has to “run them off ” in the evening hours to get them to go home. Kevin Brown, communications manager for MEA, agrees with Griffith’s

• Featured 49 Above: Joe Griffith Left: Board members of MEA at the Eklutna Generation Station.

sessment, saying that “at about 6 p.m., Joe is routinely walking through the building and telling employees to go home.” Brown also cites commitment to quality service as a source of success. “MEA is entirely built on customer service, and it shows in everything we do. It’s just central to our identity, no matter what department you work in.”

Planning for Growth “We have taken MEA from a… relatively small distribution utility to a vertically integrated generation transmission distribution utility that is state of the art in most and many areas,” Griffith says. Growth areas include “information technology and engineering, and the build-out of our transmission system. And our fleet of vehicles has been upgraded from many piles of junk just a few years ago to a pretty

able fleet today.” All of these improvements have contributed to the company’s success. Alaska’s future economy is certainly up for debate, but Griffith and MEA have planned for growth. “Given that our economy survives—and I do lose sleep about that at night—I think MEA will probably be financially the mostly healthy utility in the Railbelt,” he says. The much anticipated Eklutna Generation Station will come on line January 1, 2015. In preparation for that, MEA is building out its transmission system to be able to provide power to every corner of its service territory. The company is also building the appropriate support structures and hiring and training personnel to do the work. “I think we have a very bright future ahead of us,” Griffith says. “My prime goal is to have highly reliable and sustainable, afford-

able energy—something that the people and the economy can rely on.” There are five other utility companies in the Railbelt. “They range from pretty small to Chugach [Electric Association], that’s the biggest,” Griffith says. “We look a lot like Chugach except we are slightly smaller. In fact, we are about the same size now that Chugach was when I first went to work there in 1989.” MEA transitioned from a buying distribution utility only to a fully vertically integrated generator, transmitter, and distributor of electrical energy. “We do it all, cradle to grave,” he says. “We are in the fuel management business, which we have never been in before.” Are they prepared to be in the fuel management business? “Yes we are,” Griffith says with confidence. “I did that for a while when I was with Chugach, so I have some experience in dealing with it, and I know the players in the industry because I’ve worked with them for twenty years.” Speaking of Chugach, MEA’s contract with them ends December 31, 2014, Griffith says, and “by then, we will be fully self-sufficient. That doesn’t mean we are through with them, because we are all interconnected, from Homer to Fairbanks.” MEA will be selling their energy product up and down the Railbelt instantaneously, meaning the ener-

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Alaska’s Top 49

Photos courtesy of MEA

Expecting Change Progress does not come without growing pains, and MEA customers will experience some rate changes (up and down) over the next three to five years until rates stabilize. “We’ve operated the way we are today for thirty years,” Griffith says, “and all of a sudden here, in a twoyear period, we are changing everything. So there will be certain degree of turbulence caused by doing that.” On the feel-good side, Griffith brought the Round Up Program to MEA, where the utility “rounds up” billing statements to the next whole dollar and uses the extra change for local charities. “It is usually just a few cents per month, and it gets added to a fund where we can make charitable contributions to worthy causes and individuals,” Brown says. “Our slogan is: It’s small change that changes lives.” According to Brown, the program returned $121,000 to the MEA member

Photo courtesy of MEA

gy product will be delivered the instant it is generated, requiring “a massive amount of coordination and control” throughout the system.

MEA General Manager Joe Griffith signing the Hilcorp fuel purchase contract.

community in 2012. “The average person is contributing less than or equal to a cup of coffee a year in the overall bill increase,” he says. “The most that a

person can give during the course of a year, unless they choose to give more, is $11.88 per year.” The Round Up program supports the local community, such as youth arts, service animals for children who need assistance, children with catastrophic medical problems, and so on. “One of our flagship programs is the ‘Build-APlane’ program. Joe Griffith has been a big part of the program from the beginning, and he actually got it started by donating a plane to the cause,” Brown says. Children are taught to build airplanes in an after-school program, providing a great opportunity to learn a valuable trade and reinforce science and math skills. Many benefits come from this after-school activity for kids, including the value of hard work, the discipline to stick with a project, and the victory of accomplishment. “A lot of the kids that go through the program end up being pilots,” Brown says.

railbelt roadblock Do we have enough “grease” to keep the economy going? Griffith believes one roadblock can be removed with help from the government. “The government [needs] to recognize that the utilities are at the limits of their abilities to fund anything additional,” he says. “We have a very weak transmission system that 144

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Alaska’s Top 49

• Featured 49

must be fixed if we are ever to become highly efficient in the way we deliver power and to bring on big power supplies like Watana [hydroelectric dam project].” Currently, transmission needs are ignored, and Griffith points out that “our transmission needs… are no different than the roads we drive on, the airports that they support, the ports, everything else. Transmission systems are just the roads that the energy flows over.” The cold fact is that utilities have not made much headway in getting help from the government on improving the system. “The last big transmission project we did was 1984,” he says. “What does that tell you?” “You don’t have an economy if you don’t have roads and you don’t have electricity. It’s as simple as that,” Brown says. “It seems that state and federal investment tends more toward transportation infrastructure rather than utility infrastructure. But one of the first things that you hear from large industry when they consider coming to Alaska is: ‘Can you get us the power we need when we need it?’ We’re considering projects, actively moving forward on projects, like the Susitna-Watana Dam, and we don’t have the transmission infrastructure in place to get that power to market. In the past few years, the utilities collectively on the Railbelt have spent nearly a billion dollars on generation, but we need to spend another billion dollars.” MEA’s product and service are more than the grease that makes our economy run; in truth they are the power that keeps us alive. The recent fuel purchase agreement with Hilcorp meets the fuel needs for Eklutna Generation Station through March 2018. “Securing this contract represents the ability to keep the lights on at the lowest cost for our members, which is our goal in everything we do,” Griffith says. “I want to have an economy for the future, for my kids and grandkids to live and work in up here. I don’t want to see us go under because we didn’t do the right things in the energy business. And I’ve been striving for nearly twenty-five years now trying to make that happen.”  Margaret Sharpe writes from Palmer.

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


Carlile Transportation Systems Securing the load for future generations

Photo courtesy of Carlile

By Susan Sommer

Two oversize loads hauled by Carlile Transportation Systems. A bridge across the Yukon River is in the background.


elling his family-owned Alaska business of thirty-three years to a large, out-of-state company doesn’t worry former CEO of Carlile Transportation Systems Harry McDonald in the least. In fact, he and his team are excited about the potential growth. And McDonald is ready, at some point, to retire. He’d like to see the company he and his brother, John Carlile McDonald, started from scratch in 1980 continue its successful trajectory. Seattle-based Saltchuk, Carlile’s new parent company as of May, is a family of diversified companies with holdings in 146

transportation and petroleum distribution. Adding one of Alaska’s largest trucking companies to its holdings seemed to Saltchuk leaders like a perfect fit. McDonald says the new arrangement is “good for the company and good for the state.” Carlile Director of Marketing Peggy Spittler describes the transition as a natural evolution. McDonald was comfortable selling Carlile to a familiar family-owned company that already owns other Alaska businesses and understands the state’s complex transportation needs. Leaders from both companies, as well as other industry

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

partners, have been on a first-name basis with each other for decades. Besides Carlile, Saltchuk’s Alaska businesses include Northern Air Cargo, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Delta Western, Inc., and Inlet Petroleum Company. Some recent projects Carlile has done include hauling steel and other materials to the new University of Alaska Anchorage Sports Arena jobsite and hauling massive wind turbines to the Eva Creek Wind Project near Healy. Safety comes first at Carlile, and while a typical day runs smoothly, an occasional

• Featured 49 Alaska’s Top 49 Photo courtesy of Carlile

wrench—er, grizzly bear—is thrown into the mix. In July at the company’s Prudhoe Bay Terminal, a bear decided to have breakfast on the house. Before employees could encourage it to leave of its own accord, it devoured nine dozen donuts that were part of a stack of palletized mail outside waiting to be loaded onto a plane.

Change Means Growth Growth is nothing new to Carlile. It has grown steadily, from gross revenue of $122 million in 2007 to gross revenue of $150 million in 2012. Carlile again gained Top 49er status this year. Since Carlile is no longer an Alaska-owned company, this is its last year in the running for Top 49er consideration. And now, for the first time ever, McDonald is someone else’s employee. His new title is Managing Director Alaska, and his focus is on strategic planning and intercompany cooperation to make Carlile an even stronger presence in the transportation industry. Once he’s satisfied with the transition, he plans to spend time doing one of his favorite things—flying his Cessna 180 to remote locations around Alaska.

Of the approximately fifteen fuel tanker trucks a day hauling liquefied natural gas from the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks, about half of those belong to Carlile. Spittler says Saltchuk leaders hope to double the size of Carlile in the next four years. “Trucking is a good indication of the economy,” says Spittler. If things are moving that means people are buying and the economy is healthy. Currently Carlile owns a fleet of more than 1,500 vehicles, including refrigerated and standard trailers, lowboys, and tankers. It offers expedited services for some shipments between Alaska and the rest of North America. In its new configuration as a part of TOTE Logistics, which manages all logistics activities for TOTE, Inc., Carlile’s growth opportunities for multi-modal shipments are even stronger than it was as a stand-alone company. Since they’ve already been working side by side for years, employees of both entities should see smooth sailing ahead in this partnership. For example, TOTE Logistics can take advantage of Carlile’s six terminals in Alaska—Anchorage,

Photo courtesy of Carlile

Safety comes first at Carlile.

Harry McDonald

Fairbanks, Kenai, Kodiak, Prudhoe Bay and Seward—as well as four in the Lower 48 and Canada—Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Blaine, Minnesotta; and Edmonton, Alerta. Saltchuk’s partnerships will open new doors for Carlile, whose 700 employees join Saltchuk’s for a total of about 6,300. Saltchuk owns more than

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


twenty companies that operate as independent businesses whose clients are in all fift y states and Puerto Rico.

Photo courtesy of Carlile

Brothers John McDonald, left, and Harry McDonald co-founded Carlile in 1980.



Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

safety First, then Fun Carlile’s strong safety culture was of particular interest to Saltchuk leaders when they were considering adding the company to their holdings. Carlile’s truck drivers not only must meet basic requirements such as having a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, possessing good vision and hearing, and be able to pass drug tests, but they must also be on board with the overall safety culture adopted by all staff in every department. Spittler says their new owners at Saltchuk emphasize their commitment to safety as well. They want every employee home safe every night. An annual driver safety awards banquet is held at Carlile to honor employees and induct some into the “Million Mile Club.” Each inductee has logged more than one million safe driving miles without an incident. Carlile also recognizes employees from the yards, warehouses, and shops for perfect safety performance. McDonald is often quoted as saying, “Our goal is to be the best, safest transportation company in Alaska and throughout North America.” Carlile truck drivers placed high in several categories in this year’s 14th Annual Alaska Truck Driving Championship, hosted by the Alaska Trucking Association. One driver, Brad Hinkes, competed at the National Truck Driving Championships in Salt Lake City in August. The event is considered the “Super Bowl of Safety.” Just after the official announcement of the sale for an undisclosed amount on May 31, Saltchuk leaders and Carlile employees held a town hall-style meeting. Video from that day posted on CarlileMedia’s You Tube channel shows Mark Tabbutt, chairman of the Saltchuk Board of Directors, talking about their shared safety culture: “We have the same values in our family business as you all here have. And those values, number one, is work safety. Your work safety numbers are very strong. Your numbers are actually better than our numbers, and so we want to learn from you and try and improve

the rest of Saltchuk through the safety programs that you all have.” Though Carlile takes its culture of safety seriously, its culture of fun also prevails. As part of an internal Carlile’s Got Talent competition, employees created a handful of entertaining videos on safety and service. One employee in Kodiak wrote a safety song that he performs live with acoustic guitar at company banquets. A trio from the Anchorage billing office dances and sings to the tune of Donna Summer’s “I Will Survive,” with original lyrics about being on time, offering the lowest cost, and being accurate. The Tacoma operations team produced “Secure Every Load,” rapping in their bright orange vests and blue hard hats. Carlile drivers and Alaska’s harsh winter driving conditions have also been the focus of the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers series for four seasons. The show has since moved back to Canada, where it originated.

Opportunity ahead At that town hall meeting back in June, Saltchuk President Tim Engle assured employees that the key word for them in the transition is “opportunity.” He told them, “The sky’s really the limit on what you can do. And we know what Carlile can do.” Tabbutt says in

an interview shown in the video that Saltchuk expects to invest heavily into Carlile in the next several years and will “continue to build on the strong foundation” that the company’s leaders have created. McDonald also weighs in: “We’re very happy. We think this is a great match, and we think the company will be here for generations to come.”  Susan Sommer writes from Eagle River.

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Carlile University and Community Participation Another interesting aspect of Carlile, and testament to its community outreach as well as dedication to teamwork, is Carlile University. One-hour classes are taught at lunch time at the Anchorage headquarters and streamed as webinars. They are designed with customers in mind to help them better understand Carlile’s services and processes. Food is served; this is one place where you can get a free lunch! Classes in 2013 include Industry Equipment and Loading, Share the Road, and Routing Freight: Inbound and Outbound. For example, the Share the Road class covers city versus highway versus Haul Road driving etiquette, weight distribution, and instruction on avoiding obstacles in the road. Carlile employees are active in community events. They band together in teams for the Alaska Run for Women,

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


• Featured 49

—Tim Engle Saltchuk President Carlile Transportation Systems

Color Run, Relay for Life, Alaska Heart Run, city-wide spring clean-up day, and visiting Alaska Aces hockey games for some fun on the ice. They also host customer appreciation barbecues.

Alaska’s Top 49

“The sky’s really the limit on what you can do. And we know what Carlile can do.”

alasKa tHIs MOntH By Tasha Anderson


Photo courtesy of Turkey Red

turkey red

One of Turkey Red’s sandwiches, the brined pork loin is seasoned with sage and rosemary.


urkey Red Owner and Founder Alex Papasavas “moved to Palmer in 1997 and just saw all the beautiful produce that is grown here. In 2006 I decided to open a small restaurant, and in 2008 Turkey Red finally opened.” She decided to name the restaurant Turkey Red after the first hard winter wheat that was successfully grown in the United States in 1874, considered the “grandfather” of all other hybrid winter wheat varieties grown in the United States. Papasavas says, “The name and story fit in well with the history here in Palmer of the Colonists. They both were pioneers. They both broke new ground.” And Papasavas shows the same entrepreneurial spirit, splitting her time at the restaurant between managing and cooking. “I am fortunate to have a reliable creative team in the kitchen to back me up and toss the onions before they burn,” she says. She is busy in large part because of Turkey Red’s emphasis on quality foods made locally, a practice exemplified by the list of menu items made in-house: “We make our own salad dressings, stocks, sauces, and mozzarella. We use local ingredients when available. Our breads, pastries, and pizza are baked in a stone hearth oven.” Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a café with several vegetarian and vegan options, Turkey Red is also a bakery, offering breads by the loaf in a rotating weekly schedule that includes a Focaccia of the Day, which differs every day of the week except Sunday, when the cafe/bakery is closed. Turkey Red is located at 550 South Alaska Street, Suite 100, in Palmer, and its operating hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013


alasKa tHIs MOntH By Tasha Anderson


the Cookie Jar restaurant

Photos courtesy of the Cookie Jar Restaurant

Above: The Burcell family. Right: The cookie that started it all.


he Cookie Jar restaurant came to be because of a love for cookies. Gloria Burcell, who owns the Fairbanks bakery/restaurant, says, “I loved chocolate chip cookies, so I perfected them for myself and loved ones,” which is how she first came to bake. Inspired by the story of Mrs. Fields and with the support of her family, she decided to turn a passion for cookies into a bakery. And once that bakery was opened, “we listened to our customers and did what they said as best we could,” which is why the Cookie Jar is now also a restaurant. The Cookie Jar Restaurant, located at 1006 Cadillac Court, serves breakfast all day, adds menu items such as salads, homemade soups, sandwiches on homemade bread, and burgers for lunch, and offers additional choices such as steak, seafood, and a larger variety of pasta dishes and sauces for dinner. For those that may not have time to sit down for a meal, the Cookie Jar offers packed lunches that can be delivered or picked up. “Most often our boxed lunches include a sandwich, apple, chips, drink, and cookie. We also include a napkin, utensils, a chocolate, and a piece of gum,” Burcell says. “We ask that customers order at least forty-eight hours in advance, but have been known to do last minute orders.” Lunches can be customized to include a variety of sandwiches and accommodate dietary restrictions. For Burcell, the restaurant started with family, and that’s still its center. What he finds most fulfilling is “being around my family and watching them interact with people—listening to customers and watching peoples’ lives develop and families grow.”

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alasKa tHIs MOntH By Tasha Anderson


BizBee One of the original founders, Barbara Brown is now the “Word Nerd” and delivers words to the spellers. Photo courtesy of ALP






Whittier Kodiak





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he Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) and businesses that serve Alaska come together every year to support literacy through BizBee, a spelling bee competition. ALP was founded in 1974 and in its early days “people were trained in a church basement to teach one on one,” says ALP’s Director of Programs Lori Pickett. “Now we provide primarily classroom instruction to people learning English as an additional language.” The first BizBee, conceived by former ALP Board member Barbara Brown, was a collaboration between the Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Women’s Club that provided funds for ALP. “Companies and organizations pay money to spell in teams against each other but follow pretty much the same rules the kids have to follow,” Pickett says. Organizations sign up as sponsors, and three individuals that must be from the organization compete as a group. “It’s a lot of fun. People dress in costume,” Picket says. In the past teams have shown up in green sparkly hats, dressed as Charlie’s Angels, and in Viking attire. Each team can have a table of supporters and cheerleaders, “So the whole group supporting AkLA-A [Alaska Library Association-Anchorage] would do a cheer that ended with ‘shhh.’” As fun as the competition is, it is also an adult-level spelling bee. “The words are ridiculously hard,” Pickett laughs, “I can spell five words that I hear all evening.” The evening also includes drawing a winner of the grand raffle prize—two round trip tickets provided by Alaska Airlines. Teams that sign up to compete sell raffle tickets, and the team that sells the most wins the “TeamSaver!,” which allows that team to stay in the competition after misspelling a word. This year BizBee is October 25 starting at 6 p.m. at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013


alasKa tHIs MOntH By Tasha Anderson


trick or treat town

Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club-Alaska

Top: Indoor entrance to Trick or Treat Town. Top right: Outdoor entrance. Bottom right: A trick-or-treater at the 2012 Trick or Treat Town.


Photo by Melinda Schwab

Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club-Alaska

alloween in Alaska can be tricky trying to fit costumes over snowsuits and rationalizing why a mermaid is wearing boots— luckily Anchorage has a long-standing, indoor trick-or-treating solution: Trick or Treat Town. “Trick or Treat Town is a safe, educational, [and] family-friendly… It takes place in a warm, well-lit indoor setting where entire families can dress up in costumes without worrying about cold, dark, dangerous weather conditions or traffic,” says Jennifer Brown, director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Boys & Girls Club-Alaska, which is the beneficiary of funds raised by the event. Held at the Alaska Communications Garage (600 Telephone Avenue), this year’s event includes “three carnival games, crazy hair, face painting, pumpkin decorating, coloring station, and free books from the Anchorage Teacher’s Union… as well as The Horn Doctor’s musical instrument ‘Petting Zoo,’ and local young entertainers [performing] on the main stage during the entire event,” Brown says. Don’t worry about going hungry—in addition to copious amounts of candy there will be fruit, popcorn, barbeque, and other food vendors. Every year Trick or Treat Town “provides hundreds of volunteer opportunities for young people,” Brown says. “Research has shown that youth who volunteer are more likely to feel connected to their communities, do better in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior, which is something that matches Boys & Girls Club’s mission beautifully.” Tickets are seven dollars in advance, ten dollars at the door. See website for session details.

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alasKa tHIs MOntH By Tasha Anderson


Rick Goodfellow, owner and tour guide, at various Anchorage downtown locations.


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like your hat,” is a compliment often directed toward Rick Goodfellow, owner and tour guide of Ghost Tours of Anchorage, at least once during a tour. During the summer months Goodfellow offers tours of Anchorage, treating guests with history centered upon murder, death, and ghosts. But for October, he’s shifting his focus, and location, to Seward. Unlike his Anchorage tours, which take place every night at 7:30 p.m. during the summer season, the Seward tour is more comprehensive, as it includes a bus ride and overnight stay. Goodfellow says, “History is rich in Seward—Seward is an amazing place. We do a historic walking tour of Seward, and then as the sun goes down, we get back to the Van Gilder [Hotel], have a drink or two, enjoy dinner, and then we just have a social evening and spend the night as we see fit.” Part of that social night will include conversation reminiscent of the Anchorage tour, as the Van Gilder is notoriously haunted. Goodfellow describes himself as a history buff: He’s enthusiastic about the many aspects in history that shape a town, from architecture, political landscapes, and wealthy families to crime and entertainment. The tour takes place over two weekends in October: It leaves from Anchorage on Saturday, October 5, returning Sunday, October 6; and leaves Saturday, October 12, returning Sunday, October 13. Groups can be as large as twenty, but space is limited. The tour is $300, which includes the bus and hotel stay but does not cover meals.


Photos courtesy of Ghost Tours of Anchorage

anchorage/seward Ghost tours

Events Calendar Compiled by Tasha Anderson Anchorage 5

Great Alaska Beer Train

The Alaska Railroad is the designated driver while guests enjoy an assortment of local microbrews provided by the Glacier Brewhouse and take in the scenery of Turnagain Arm. Participants must be twenty-one or older. Anchorage Train Depot, train departs 4 p.m.


Secure Your ID Day & Financial Fitness Fair

Start National Protect Your Identity Week with free document shredding, cell phone recycling, and financial education workshops at Better Business Bureau’s Secure Your ID Day. BBB is partnering with local community organizations—including United Way of Anchorage and Cook Inlet Lending Center—to stage Secure Your ID Day in conjunction with the second annual Financial Fitness Fair. Salvation Army Community Center, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


UAA College & Career Fair

Over 130 colleges, universities, and technical institutions will be present to provide information on post-secondary admissions. Workshops will be available on Sunday featuring topics such as financial aid, scholarships, and college admissions. Egan Civic and Convention Center, workshops on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; fair is Monday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Alaska Fitness Expo

AlaskaFit Productions presents this event which includes powerlifting and Olympic lifting competitions, as well as Crystal Cup bodybuilding, Strongman, and CrossFit championships. Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center, doors open at 10 a.m.


Haunted Halloween Fun Night

There’s free parking and admission to this night of carnival games, trick-ortreating, and haunted houses. Booths are run by volunteers of various UAA clubs and organizations. Activity tickets are twenty-five cents, and the event is for children age two through twelve. UAA Student Union and Wells Fargo Sports Arena, Saturday afternoon.

Fairbanks 3-31

Fairbanks Asylum

This haunted house is themed Nightmares of the Damned: “Dr Allistar returns, this time he has recreated each of his patient’s worst nightmares into a reality they can’t escape.” It’s open Thursday through Saturday throughout October, with several highlight events: Friday, October 4 is a VIP opening celebration where attendees can go through the house as many times as they’d like and then enjoy food, drinks, and a live band at the party tent; “The Darkness” takes place Thursday, October 10, 17, and 24 and gives groups of six an opportunity to travel through the haunted house in complete darkness except for a single glow stick; Thursday, October 31 is the Safe Trick-or-Treat, which is geared for a younger audience, but is still scary—much of the Asylum’s gore is removed, but actors are still in full costume and character. At press time, location was TBD; all events are at various times.


International Friendship Day

This event celebrates cultural diversity through music and dance performances as well as ethnic food booths and promotes cultural awareness, appreciation, respect, and unity. Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts, Pioneer Park, various times. Find Fairbanks International Friendship day on


Go Winter! Expo

This event focuses on winter: how to get through it safely and sanely while having some fun. This year will include the Interior Alaska Gun show, as well as indoor and outdoor activities, food, and information about winterization, home care, and travel ideas. Carlson Center, Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Verdi and the Bard

This is a representation of two great masters, Guiseppe Verdi—an Italian Romanic composer—and Shakespeare, united in a powerful, dramatic evening. It is a concert of staged scenes from Verdi’s interpretations of Shakespeare. In Italian with English subtitles. Davis Concert Hall, UAF, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.


Creepy Critters

This program offers children an opportunity to learn about feared and often

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly



Compiled by Tasha Anderson

misunderstood creatures through educational activities, expert consultation, games, and crafts. Creamer’s Field Farmhouse Visitor Center, Noon to 4 p.m.

Homer 29


Pumpkin Carving Contest

Sponsored by Bay Realty, in this event participants bring carved pumpkins. All the pumpkins are lit, and prizes are assigned for several children’s and an adult category, which cash for first, second, and third place winners. Hot cider and other beverages will be served, and there will also be door prizes and trick-or-treat bags for the children. Bay Realty office, judging starts at 5:30 p.m.

Juneau 25-27 & 31

Halloween Fun at the Mall

The Halloween celebrations at the mall include an Annual Haunted House by the Thunder Mountain High school, Halloween Photos by the Thunder Mountain Music Department, and the Helping Hands Annual Halloween Carnival, as well as a trick or treating and a costume contest on Halloween. Nugget Mall, Friday October 15, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; October 26, Noon to 4 p.m.; Sunday, October 27, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and Thursday, October 31, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Kodiak 18-20

Palmer Water Towers on Parade

This is the annual action of the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce. This year the auction will feature paintings, drawings, sculptures, or photos of the Palmer Water Tower; they will be displayed in participating Palmer businesses from September 9 to October 12. This event includes silent and shout-out auc-

Holiday Bazaar

Get an early start on holiday shopping, browsing vendors with hand-crafted gifts and snacking on treats to keep your energy up. Raven Hall, Alaska State Fairgrounds; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Halloween Hallow

The carnival atmosphere prevails with over thirty-five games and activities for children up to fourteen years of age. Everyone is encouraged to wear their costumes. This fundraising event benefits the Mat-Su Special Santa, the Valley’s largest Christmas gift giving program for families’ in need. Raven Hall, Alaska State Fairgrounds, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Petersburg 1-31

Octoberfest Celebration

Petersburg celebrates Octoberfest throughout the month. Activities include the Humpy 500 go-cart race, the Devil’s Thumb chili feed and brewfest, Octoberfest Artshare, and the Rain Country Quilters quilt show. Various locations and times.



This production is full of the characters and comedic antics familiar to fans of the popular television series: the surgeons campaign to get a young Korean student to the United States for medical school. Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.


tions as well as games and a 50/50 raffle. Palmer Senior Center, 6 p.m. 9 p.m.


Alaska Day

This annual festival commemorates the purchase transfer of Russian claim of Alaska to the United States in 1867 as well as celebrates the diversity of cultures and historical perspectives Alaskan residents. The 2013 theme is “The Alaska Marine Highway System and its 50 Years.” Activities include an essay writing contest, interpretive programs at museums and parks, special exhibits and displays, receptions, historic sites and buildings tours, food service events, Native and other dancing, a community bar dance, and a road race.



This festival includes community and cultural activities such as science symposium lectures, interactive student sessions, marine wildlife cruises with scientist, a marine themed artisan market, music, local foods, a banquet, art, and a fun run and walk. Various locations and times.

Talkeetna 20

Learn to Make Flatbreads

Instructed by Anita Golton, this class will teach participants how to make fresh whole wheat pita and rustic ciabatta breads. It will also instruct on special dough and oven techniques for handling flatbreads including an introduction to baking with fire and how to simulate brick oven conditions at home. Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Valdez 1

Malama Ko Aloha Keola Beamer

Slack key master Keola Beamer, premier Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai, virtuoso jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer, and hula master Moanalani Beamer celebrate aloha with beautiful songs from a mix of traditions as the performers share cultures and inspiration. Valdez Civic Center, 7 p.m.


Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

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N o. 907.865.9141 • 907.479.0010 Anchorage • Fairbanks • Girdwood • �e Valley

Based on net number of stores added, 2008-2012 2,4 Nation’s Restaurant News, June 24, 2013 3 “Highest Rated Chain – “Value for the Money” based on a nationwide survey of quick service restaurant consumers conducted by Sandelman & Associates, 2007-2012 ©2013 LCE, Inc. 40863 1

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October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


November in Alaska Business Monthly


■ Industry Overview ■ Current Coal Projects ■ Producing Mines ■ Exploration Projects ■ Rare Earth Metals ■ Gravel Mining ■ Precious Metal Refiners ■ Mining Directory


■ Leadership ■ Jobs and the Economy


■ Statewide Projects Review ■ Private Infrastructure



■ ANC Outside Operations ■ Arctic Updates ■ Disaster Preparedness ■ Investment Services ■ Staying Healthy ■ Oil & Gas Development ■ Hardware Upgrades ■ Transporting Resources ■ View from the Top

■ From the Editor ■ Inside Alaska Business ■ Right Moves ■ Agenda ■ Insurance Essentials ■ Alaska This Month ■ Alaska Trends

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Transportation Tank & Trailer SERVICE CENTER • Sales • Service • Parts Before

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Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013



• National Board “R” Stamp & DOT Inspections & Certifications • Leak Repairs, Rebarrels & Tank Change Outs • Bottom Loading, Vapor Recovery Conversions, Pumping Systems • Large Parts Inventory Service – Contact Wayne Walker Parts – Contact Wayne Olsen West-Mark Service Center 3050 Van Horn ~ Fairbanks, AK

907-451-8265 (TANK) 800-692-5844

alasKa trEnds

By Michael Malone

Private sector Employment

Alaska Trends, an outline of significant statewide statistics, is provided by the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development.

Alaska Increases at Higher Rate than US

Alaska Private Sector Employment 2002-2012 260,000 240,000 220,000















U.S. Private Sector Employment 2002-2012 115,000,000 110,000,000















he level of private sector employment nationwide is gaining but still trails its highest level reached in 2007. Alaska’s private sector employment reached a new record high in 2012 according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), a cooperative program involving the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor and the State Employment Security Agencies. QCEW produces a comprehensive tabulation of employment and wage information for workers covered by state unemployment insurance laws and federal workers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program. Employment data under QCEW represent the number of covered workers who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period including the twelfth of the month. Excluded are members of the armed forces, the self-employed, proprietors, domestic workers, unpaid family workers, and railroad workers covered by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance System. The chart illustrates private sector employment from 2002 through 2012 as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The peak level of private sector employment nationwide occurred in 2007 at 114 million. In 2010, private sector employment nationwide fell to 106.2 million, and it grew to 110.6 million in 2012, 3.4 million below the high reached in 2007.


As shown in the chart, Alaska’s private sector employment experienced steady growth except for a small decline in 2009. In 2012, Alaska’s private sector employment reached 248,500, an increase of 17.2 percent between 20022012 versus 2.7 percent private sector employment growth nationwide during the same period. 

SOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

ALASKA TRENDS HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU THIS MONTH COURTESY OF AMERICAN MARINE/PENCO AMERICAN MARINE • Marine Construction/Dredging • Subsea Cable Installation & Maintenance • Commercial Diving • Platform & Pipeline Construction, Installation, Repair & Decommissioning • Underwater Certified Welding • Marine Salvage • NDT Services • ROV Services • Vessel Support Services PENCO • Environmental Response/Containment • Site Support Technicians/Maintenance • Waste Management/Environmental Monitoring • Tank Cleaning/Inspection • Petroleum Facility Maintenance & Repair • Logistics Support • 24-Hour Response

ANCHORAGE OFFICE 6000 A Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99518

(907) 562-5420

Alaska I California I Hawaii DEADHORSE OFFICE Pouch 340079, Prudhoe Bay, AK 99734 (907) 659-9010 October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly




By Michael Malone



Latest Report Period

Previous Report Period (revised)

Year Over Year Change

Year Ago Period

GENERAL Personal Income -- Alaska US $ 1st Q13 34,420 34,667 33,342 Personal Income -- United States US $ 1st Q13 13,589,477 13,760,443 13,137,224 Consumer Prices -- Anchorage 1982-1984 = 100 1st H13 210.85 206.62 205.22 Consumer Prices -- United States 1982-1984 = 100 1st H13 232.37 230.34 228.85 Bankruptcies Alaska Total Number Filed June 34 57 59 Anchorage Total Number Filed June 16 47 43 Fairbanks Total Number Filed June 5 7 5 EMPLOYMENT Alaska Thousands June 332.80 331.10 334.40 Anchorage & Mat-Su Thousands June 186.60 179.40 184.20 Fairbanks Thousands June 41.00 40.70 40.90 Southeast Thousands June 41.05 38.95 41.10 Gulf Coast Thousands June 35.70 32.45 35.30 Sectorial Distribution -- Alaska Total Nonfarm Thousands June 352.4 333.7 353.7 Goods Producing Thousands June 53.4 44.0 53.9 Services Providing Thousands June 299.0 289.7 299.8 Mining and Logging Thousands June 18.3 17.8 17.5 Mining Thousands June 17.7 17.3 17.2 Oil & Gas Thousands June 14.5 14.3 13.8 Construction Thousands June 19.9 17.1 18.8 Manufacturing Thousands June 15.2 9.1 17.6 Seafood Processing Thousands June 11.0 5.0 13.6 Trade/Transportation/Utilities Thousands June 68.8 66.1 67.8 Wholesale Trade Thousands June 6.1 5.9 6.5 Retail Trade Thousands June 38.0 36.9 37.4 Food & Beverage Stores Thousands June 6.3 6.1 6.5 General Merchandise Stores Thousands June 10.3 10.1 10.0 Trans/Warehouse/Utilities Thousands June 24.7 23.3 24.0 Air Transportation Thousands June 6.4 5.9 6.3 Information Thousands June 6.2 6.1 6.3 Telecommunications Thousands June 4.1 4.0 4.2 Financial Activities Thousands June 13.9 13.4 13.7 Professional & Business Svcs Thousands June 29.3 28.7 30.0 Educational & Health Services Thousands June 47.6 47.4 46.5 Health Care Thousands June 34.1 33.8 33.1 Leisure & Hospitality Thousands June 38.7 33.3 39.5 Accommodation Thousands June 10.6 7.7 10.7 Food Svcs & Drinking Places Thousands June 22.5 20.9 22.7 Other Services Thousands June 11.8 11.6 11.8 Government Thousands June 82.7 83.1 84.2 Federal Government Thousands June 15.4 15.2 17.0 State Government Thousands June 25.2 25.7 25.3 State Education Thousands June 6.4 7.5 6.4 Local Government Thousands June 42.1 42.2 41.9 Local Education Thousands June 22.3 23.4 22.9 Tribal Government Thousands June 3.6 3.4 4.0 Labor Force Alaska Thousands June 371.95 363.92 373.81 Anchorage & Mat-Su Thousands June 199.99 197.62 200.64 Fairbanks Thousands June 46.68 46.96 46.66 Southeast Thousands June 41.70 40.59 42.44 Gulf Coast Thousands June 42.18 39.97 42.93 Unemployment Rate Alaska Percent June 6.6 5.9 7.3 Anchorage & Mat-Su Percent June 5.8 5.1 6.6 Fairbanks Percent June 5.9 5.1 6.6 160

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

3.23% 3.44% 2.74% 1.54% -42.37% -62.79% 0.00%

-0.48% 1.30% 0.24% -0.12% 1.13% -0.37% -0.93% -0.27% 4.57% 2.91% 5.07% 5.85% -13.64% -19.12% 1.47% -6.15% 1.60% -3.08% 3.00% 2.92% 1.59% -1.59% -2.38% 1.46% -2.33% 2.37% 3.02% -2.03% -0.93% -0.88% 0.00% -1.78% -9.41% -0.40% 0.00% 0.48% -2.62% -10.00% -0.50% -0.32% 0.03% -1.75% -1.73% -9.59% -12.12% -10.61%



Southeast Gulf Coast United States

By Michael Malone



Latest Report Period

Previous Report Period (revised)

Percent Percent Percent

June June June

5.8 6.9 7.6

5.2 6.4 7.6

Year Ago Period

6.5 7.7 8.2

PETROLEUM/MINING Crude Oil Production -- Alaska Millions of Barrels June 14.57 15.98 16.93 Natural Gas Field Production -- Alaska Billions of Cubic Ft. June 5.87 6.96 8.99 ANS West Cost Average Spot Price $ per Barrel June 104.01 104.42 98.06 Hughes Rig Count Alaska Active Rigs June 7 8 7 United States Active Rigs June 1761 1755 1972 Gold Prices $ Per Troy Oz. June 1342.7 1,416.14 1,595.63 Silver Prices $ Per Troy Oz. June 21.11 23.01 28.05 Zinc Prices Per Pound June 0.920 0.913 0.93 REAL ESTATE Anchorage Building Permit Valuations Total Millions of $ June 20.35 38.00 17.33 Residential Millions of $ June 58.89 23.46 17.17 Commercial Millions of $ June 79.24 14.53 34.50 Deeds of Trust Recorded Anchorage--Recording District Total Deeds June 1142* 1275 1197* *GeoNorth Fairbanks--Recording District Total Deeds June 303 337 389

Year Over Year Change

-10.77% -10.39% -7.32%

-13.94% -34.71% 6.07% 0.00% -10.70% -15.85% -24.74% -1.13%

17.43% 242.98% 129.68% -5.18% -22.11%

VISITOR INDUSTRY Total Air Passenger Traffic -- Anchorage Total Air Passenger Traffic -- Fairbanks

Thousands Thousands

June June

574.69 95.38

210.11 85.07

544.28 101.27

5.59% -5.82%

ALASKA PERMANENT FUND Equity Assets Net Income Net Income -- Year to Date Marketable Debt Securities Real Estate Investments Preferred and Common Stock

Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $

June June June June June June June

44,853.40 46,435.40 134.7 -832 -212.2 191.9 -690.2

46,269.60 47,102.90 214.7 -232.8 -232.8 -26.1 -98.4

40,333.10 41,708.30 1,568.0 -99.9 256.2 221.80 -1658.9

11.21% 11.33% -91.41% 732.83% -182.83% -13.48% -58.39%

BANKING (excludes interstate branches) Total Bank Assets -- Alaska Millions of $ 2ndQ13 2,186.18 2,163.28 2,100.47 Cash & Balances Due Millions of $ 2ndQ13 47.55 45.15 55.74 Securities Millions of $ 2ndQ13 133.58 135.91 163.91 Net Loans and Leases Millions of $ 2ndQ13 1,185.98 1,201.04 1,153.64 Other Real Estate Owned Millions of $ 2ndQ13 6.38 7.31 8.21 Total Liabilities Millions of $ 2ndQ13 1,907.74 1,894.70 1,832.07 Total Bank Deposits -- Alaska Millions of $ 2ndQ13 1,852.29 1,837.36 1,787.23 Noninterest-bearing deposits Millions of $ 2ndQ13 588.36 567.54 527.08 Interest- bearing deposits Millions of $ 2ndQ13 1,263.92 1,269.82 1,260.16

4.08% -14.69% -18.50% 2.80% -22.29% 4.13% 3.64% 11.63% 0.30%

FOREIGN TRADE Value of the Dollar In Japanese Yen Yen June 97.35 100.86 79.20 In Canadian Dollars Canadian $ June 1.03 1.02 1.03 In British Pounds Pounds June 0.65 0.65 0.64 In European Monetary Unit Euro June 0.76 0.77 0.80 In Chinese Yuan Yuan June 6.17 6.19 6.31

22.92% 0.40% 0.44% -4.75% -2.19%

October 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


AdVertisers indeX AES Alaska Executive Search......................................37 Ahtna Inc. ..................................................................................97 Alaska Air Cargo - Alaska Airlines.........................145 Alaska Air Transit...............................................................151 Alaska Boat Brokers ......................................................150 Alaska Chamber .............................................................100 Alaska Industrial Hardware ..................................... 144 Alaska Miners Assoc. ........................................................45 Alaska Rubber .......................................................................74 Alaska Traffic Co. ................................................................. 71 Alaska USA Federal Credit Union ........................104 Aleut Corp. ............................................................................ 136 Alyeska Resort.......................................................................35 American Fast Freight .....................................................49 American Marine / PENCO ....................................... 159 Anchorage Chrysler Dodge .........................................41 Anchorage Opera ............................................................. 156 Arctic Controls ......................................................................75 Arctic Office Products (Machines).......................122 Arctic Slope Regional Corp. ASRC..........................94 Associated General Contractors.............................. 31 Avis ........................................................................151, 152, 153 BDO................................................................................................13 Bering Straits Native Corp..........................................115 Bethel Native Corp........................................................... 20 Bezek Durst Seiser ...........................................................141 Blood Bank of Alaska .....................................................101 Bristol Bay Native Corp. ............................................. 103 Business Insurance Associates Inc.........................64 Calista Corp. / Solstice Advertising ....................129


Capture the Fun Alaska LLC.......................................157 Carlile Transportation Systems .............................109 Chris Arend Photography...........................................162 Chugach Alaska Corp. ..................................................108 CIRI .............................................................................................148 Ciri Alaska Tourism.............................................................16 Clarion Suites Downtown / Quality Suites Near Convention Center ...................................150 Construction Machinery Industrial LLC ............... 2 Cornerstone General Contractors .......................119 Craig Taylor Equipment...............................................140 Cruz Construction Inc......................................................81 Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc. ................... 96 Delta Leasing LLC ................................................................33 Delta Western .......................................................................56 Design Alaska ......................................................................125 Dimond Center Hotel .....................................................155 Donlin Gold ........................................................................... 132 Dowland-Bach Corp..........................................................75 Doyon Limited........................................................................95 Engineered Fire & Safety ...............................................78 ERA ALASKA..........................................................................21 ERA Helicopters ...................................................................83 First National Bank Alaska...............................................5 GCI ..................................................................................... 83, 163 Global Services Inc. ........................................................128 Granite Construction ......................................................64 Great Originals Inc. .........................................................149 Green Star Inc. .....................................................................157 Hawk Consultants LLC ....................................................78

Alaska Business Monthly | October 2013

Homer Electric Assoc. ...................................................125 Horizon Lines..........................................................................39 Hotel Captain Cook............................................................ 17 IMPLUS Footware LLC ....................................................25 Island Air Express ..............................................................153 Judy Patrick Photography ............................................82 Junior Achievement..........................................................98 Kinross Ft. Knox................................................................102 Little Caesar Enterprises Inc. ...................................157 Lynden Inc. .............................................................................99 MagTec Alaska LLC .............................................................79 Matanuska Electric Association, Inc. (MEA) ....56 MTA Communications .....................................................59 NANA Regional Corp....................................................105 NCB ............................................................................................. 20 New York Life ..........................................................................11 Northern Air Cargo..................................................86, 87 Northland Services ............................................................43 Northrim Bank...................................................................... 29 Olgoonik Development Corp......................................77 Oxford Assaying & Refining Inc. ............................ 156 Pacific Alaska Freightways ...........................................69 Pacific Pile & Marine.............................................8, 9, 10 Pacific Rim Media/ Smart Phone Creative ........45 Paramount Supply ............................................................157 Parker, Smith & Feek ......................................................... 51 Pen Air ......................................................................................137 People Mover - Share-a-Ride MOA.....................154 Personnel Plus ....................................................................154 Polar Supply Co.....................................................................32

Procomm Alaska..................................................................82 Resource Development Council ...............................79 Roger Hickel Contracting Inc.................................... 111 Rotary District 5010 ......................................................152 RSA Engineering Inc. ......................................................149 Ryan Air ..................................................................................106 Sam’s Club ....................................................................................3 Scan Office .............................................................................40 Sealaska Corp. .....................................................................113 Shred Alaska............................................................................47 Span Alaska Consolidators ...........................................19 Stellar Designs Inc. ..........................................................158 STG, Inc.......................................................................................55 Superior Group, The ........................................................133 tekR Inc.......................................................................................72 The Tatitlek Corp. ................................................................ 71 Trailboss Solutions...........................................................124 Trailercraft Inc. Freightliner of Alaska .................48 True North FCU ..................................................................157 Tyonek Native Corp. ........................................................117 Udelhoven Oilfield Systems Service ...................123 Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corp.............................................. 107 Unit Company ........................................................................69 Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. ....................................................133 Visit Anchorage ..................................................................121 Washington Crane & Hoist ...........................................27 Waste Management .........................................................53 Watterson Construction Co. .......................................63 Wells Fargo ..........................................................................164 West-Mark Service Center........................................158

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Alaska Business Monthly - October 2013  

Phil Cheasebro, director of the Midnight Sons Acapella Cho-rus, the Alaska chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, appears on our October...