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D E PA R T M E N T S From the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Inside Alaska Business . . . . . . . . 8 Right Moves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Events Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Market Squares . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Alaska Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Ad Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

ABOUT THE COVER Canada, Alaska’s third largest trading partner, supports about 8,500 direct and indirect jobs in Alaska. Minerals was the top export category in 2008, making up 57 percent of the total, followed by seafood and petroleum products. Trade flows in both directions and is relatively balanced. For more information, read “The AlaskaCanada Connection,” which begins on page 11. Illustration by Phil Pell. Cover design by Candy Johnson.



HEALTHY WORKPLACES Keeping Healthy Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Promoting health and wellness at work. By Jody Ellis-Knapp.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE The Alaska-Canada Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Big business: Canada Alaska’s third largest exporter. By Greg Wolf.

VIEW FROM THE TOP Larry Weihs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 ESS Support Services. By Peg Stomierowski.

FRANCHISES Time to Buy a Franchise? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Research first, as industry expands quickly. By Heidi Bohi.

HR MATTERS Hostile Workplace Relationships . . . . . . . . . . 30 Legislature needs employer input to change laws. By Andy Brown.

FRANCHISES SIDEBAR Questions to Consider. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Buyer beware. By Heidi Bohi.




32 ALASKA THIS MONTH Winter Wonderland Welcomes World . . . . . . . 32 All eyes on Fairbanks for ice sculpture competition. By Nancy Pounds. REGIONAL REVIEW Western Alaska. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Diverse weather, wildlife and culture. By Tracy Barbour.


FISHERIES Ocean Ranching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Shepherds, not cowboys. By Will Swagel. OIL & GAS North Slope Slow Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Majors pull back on Alaska investments, exploration. By Vanessa Orr. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

(continued on page 6)




44 PolyEarth Construction International . . . . . . 44 Alaska firm helps rebuild Iraq, train Iraqis. By Heidi Bohi. 2010 Construction Spending Forecast . . . . . 46 Oil is flat, construction is flat, that’s still good news for Alaska. By Debbie Cutler.


76 ENVIRONMENT Asbestos Abatement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 No shortage of work for consultants. By Rachel Kenshalo.


MINING Big Dozer, Little Dozer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 Alaska miners rely on heavy equipment. By Dianne O’Connell.

Note: In July, ABM will publish Part 2 of the 2010 Construction Directory, including Specialty Contractors and Construction Services & Supplies.

Building Maint. (HVAC & Mech.) . . . . . . . . . . . 50 General Contractors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Heavy Equipment Dealers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63





84 MARKETING Marketing During Economic Downturn . . . . . . .84 Spend advertising dollars strategically. By Heidi Bohi. MARKETING SIDEBAR Keep Advertising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Don’t lose mindshare. By Heidi Bohi.


Railbelt Electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Obstacles to one-utility approach. By Peg Stomierowski. Wireless, Cellular, Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Instant, constant telecommunications. By Peg Stomierowski. 2010 Utilities Directory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010






Volume 26, Number 3 Published by Alaska Business Publishing Co. Anchorage, Alaska

I Don’t Want to Hear

Vern C. McCorkle, Publisher 1991~2009

‘Woe is Me’

EDITORIAL STAFF Managing Editor Associate Editor Art Director Art Production Photo Consultant Photo Consultant Photo Consultant

Debbie Cutler Susan Harrington Candy Johnson Linda Shogren Chris Arend Judy Patrick Bill Zervantian

BUSINESS STAFF General Manager National Sales Mgr. Account Mgr. Account Mgr. Traffic Coordinator Accountant

Jim Martin Charles Bell John Page Anne Campbell Elaine Collins Mary Schreckenghost

501 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 100 Anchorage, Alaska 99503 (907) 276-4373 Outside Anchorage: 1-800-770-4373 Fax: (907) 279-2900 Editorial e-mail: Advertising e-mail:

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., P.O. Box 241288, Anchorage, Alaska 99524; Telephone: (907) 276-4373; Fax: (907) 279-2900, ©2010, Alaska Business Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Subscription Rates: $39.95 a year. Single issues $3.95 each; $4.95 for October. Back issues $5 each. Send subscription orders and address changes to the Circulation Department, Alaska Business Monthly, P.O. Box 241288, Anchorage, AK 99524. Please supply both old and new addresses and allow six weeks for change. Manuscripts: Send query letter or manuscripts 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 Monthly is prohibited. Address requests for specific permission to the Editor, Alaska Business Monthly. Online: Alaska Business Monthly is available online from Data Courier and online from Thomson Gale. Microfilm: Alaska Business Monthly is available on microfilm from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48106.


am losing one of my best friends, at least the day-to-day relationship we share, because this person is moving. I was saddened by the news, and shared my feelings with another close friend, who had little sympathy. At the time of the call, she was reading about the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the state of the people there. A senior care center collapsed in the quake, and the elderly occupants were left without food and water. Some were in diapers, which had not been changed since the quake many days earlier, and rats were chewing and biting them. They were left to die and knew it. “It doesn’t matter your friend is leaving,” she said. “What matters right now is Haiti. Americans have nothing to complain about. It’s the state of these people that break my heart.” I thought about it and realized, of course, she is right. And the same holds true to Alaskans. We worry about the economy, about the affect on our businesses, about unemployment, and a slight reduction in value in the housing market, and we cry “woe is me.” What about the rest of the U.S? What about the unemployed in the Lower 48? Did you know the average unemployed person there takes two years to find a job, according to one national economist? What about the housing crash? What about the loss of industry? The loss of health insurance? The loss of morale and hope? What about those who are taking retirement out prematurely, losing their homes, losing everything? We have it good. It’s time to take our eyes off our minor problems and turn to the world, which is much worse off than we are. It is time to see what we have and appreciate it, not what we don’t have. Alaska is doing well. I just read an article this morning in the Anchorage Daily News that says high oil prices mean more funding for the Legislature to spend on “hometown projects.” New projects are on the horizon. Jobs are expected to be added in 2010, at least in some industries. And our economy, which is by far better off than most states, is expected to begin recovery later this year. Again, look at what we have and celebrate. I need this lesson, too. Thank you dear friend for opening my eyes and bringing this to my attention. Think about it. It’s not “woe is me.” We are blessed greatly. – Debbie Cutler Managing Editor • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Golder Adds Duane Miller Arctic-Specialty Firm


older Associates Inc. acquired Duane Miller and Associates, a geotechnical engineering firm based in Anchorage. Golder is an engineering and environmental services firm with offices worldwide, including an Anchorage office. Golder officials expect the addition of Duane Miller and Associates to boost the firm’s strength in Arctic engineering. Duane Miller and Associates has one of the largest large cold regions geotechnical labs in the state. It also has developed specialized geotechnical field exploration methods and equipment to deal with the extreme Arctic conditions. “DMA is a perfect fit with our Alaskan operations, which provide similar services to the mining, oil and gas industries, as well as infrastructure development for State, municipal and Bush community clients,” said Bob Anderson, Golder Western regional vice president. “DMA enhances our capabilities.” Duane Miller now serves as a program leader for Golder. The acquisition added 18 professionals to Golder’s Alaska office.




Kaladi Brothers Supports Workshop Teaches Youth Programs Outdoor Winter Skills


aladi Brothers Coffee donated more than $10,742 through its Kaladi Kids program to three youthcentered nonprofit groups. Kaladi Kids is an employee group focused on improving the lives of Alaska children. The Anchorage-based coffee company continued its tradition of donating all revenue from New Year’s Day sales to the fundraiser. Kaladi Brothers donated $6,314 to Alaska Pride, $1,085 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and $841 to the Soldotna Community Playground. This year’s donations increased 50 percent from donations in 2009. “Every year, we are humbled by the willingness of Alaskans to give back. It is an honor to do business in a giving community,” said Brad Bigelow, owner of Kaladi Brothers Coffee. Kaladi Brothers’ employees choose groups to support with the donations. Alaska Pride is a youth program in Anchorage led by Ma’o Tosi. Proceeds from the Kaladi Brothers Wasilla branch were donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in the name of Cassie Lacrosse, who worked at the Wasilla branch for three years. Employees in Soldotna chose to donate their New Year’s Day proceeds to build a Soldotna community playground. Kaladi Brothers operates 12 locations statewide with another location in Seattle.


he Alaska Department of Fish and Game will host a Becoming an Outdoors Woman winter workshop March 12 to March 14 at Victory Bible Camp north of Palmer. The workshop is designed to introduce women to hunting, fishing and other related outdoors activities. More than 40 hands-on sessions are scheduled, including firearms safety, bear safety, skeet shooting, ice fishing, flytying, dog mushing, snowmachining, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter survival. The fee is $275, which includes meals and lodging as well as instruction, program materials and use of demonstration equipment. More information about the program is available at www.sf.adfg.state. Region3/ Programs/ BOW/ BOWhome.cfm. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



NMS Earns Statewide Honor

The Growth Company Moves to New Location


Photo courtesy of Seldovia Village Tribe

he Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education honored NANA Management Services for its commitment and leadership in employing Alaskans with disabilities. NMS and three other organizations were recognized late last year at the Alaska Business Roundtable, Employing Qualified Alaskans with Disabilities. NMS “understands the value of having a diverse work force, which includes persons with disabilities,” said Patrick Reinhart, business and industry liaison for the council. NMS provides management and food, facilities and camp services, plus lodging, security and work force services. NMS is the sixth largest private employer in Alaska, company officials said.



he Growth Company, an Alaskabased management/HR consulting and training business owned by Lynne Curry, moved from its Fireweed and A Street location to the downtown area. Effective Feb. 1, it is now located at 711 H Street. The company offers HR on-call, management consulting, employee and management training, strategic planning and teambuilding. For more information, call 276-4769.

Seldovia Ferry to Debut in May


Dividend Donations Program Returns


Kachemak Voyager port profile.



he Seldovia Village Tribe expects to begin operating a new, highspeed passenger ferry in May between Homer and Seldovia. The ferry will run between mid-May through Labor Day and offer two round-trip sailings daily. The tour will offer views of Gull Island rookery and Eldridge Passage, where sea otters, whales and other marine life can be spotted. “Seldovia is small enough to be

covered on foot, so travelers can leave their cars in Homer, hop aboard the ferry for the 15-mile crossing and have a half day to explore, beachcomb or visit the museum and a Russian Orthodox Church dating back to 1891,” said Sarah Richardson of the Seldovia Village Tribe. Cost is $59 for adults and $29 for children. For reservations, visit seldovia or call 877-703-3779.

laskans filing for their 2010 Permanent Fund Dividend online also can donate money to several nonprofit organizations through the Pick. Click. Give. program. The filing deadline is March 31. Last year, more than 5,100 Alaskans gave about $550,000 to more than 330 organizations through the Pick. Click. Give. campaign. Organizations received between $25 and $28,000 in donations. This year more than 360 organizations have qualified for the 2010 Permanent Fund donation program. The complete list is available at Dividend applications are available at www.pfd. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010





Credit Union 1 Card


redit Union 1 has started a new personalized Visa credit and debit card program called Create-a-Card. The new program allows members to design their cards with a personal photo via the credit union’s Web site. Credit Union 1 says it is the first credit union in Alaska to offer this customcard program to its members. “We expect Create-a-Card to be a fun and valuable outlet for members to personalize their finances with Credit Union 1,” stated Leslie Ellis, president and chief executive. “In our efforts to continually improve and expand our member services, the Create-aCard program is a big step – and we’re proud to be the first credit union in Alaska to offer it.”


Fideltone Opens Anchorage Facility


idelitone Logistics of Chicago, a supply-chain management company, opened a distribution center in Anchorage. The facility is located at 4000 W. 50th Ave., Building A, Suite WHSE-3. The facility will serve as a parts and supplies distribution center for a major manufacturer. “By adding a new distribution center in Anchorage, Fidelitone has expanded its capabilities to serve the unique challenges of the far Northwest,” said Josh Johnson, Fidelitone Logistics president.


Carlile Recognizes Drivers


arlile Transportation recently recognized drivers for outstanding safety performance at its third annual driver safety awards banquets in Anchorage, Fairbanks and also in Tacoma. These newest members of the “million mile club” include: Dru Watson, John Slater, Jack Jessee, Troy Tennant, Randy Eyth, Leif Kjostad, Chuck Williams and Pete O’Neal. Each driver has logged more than 1 million safe driving miles without an incident. They join 26 other members of Carlile’s drivers with more than 1 million safe miles. These drivers represent more than 100,000,000 of safe driving miles from Alaska to Texas. In Fairbanks, driver John Taylor was recognized for 3 million safe driving miles. In addition to the drivers, 83 employees from the yards, warehouses and shops were also recognized for 12 months of perfect safety performance.

“Our goal is to be the best, safest transportation company in Alaska and throughout North America,” said Harry McDonald, Carlile’s CEO. “Safe highways start with safe drivers and we need to communicate our support for their performance and make sure the driving public knows that we have a team of safe drivers on the roads.” Founded in 1980 by brothers John and Harry McDonald, Carlile has grown from two tractors to one of Alaska’s largest trucking companies. Carlile Transportation Systems is based in Anchorage and employs more than 650 people, including 110 in Tacoma. Carlile services customers with terminals in Anchorage; Fairbanks; Kenai; Kodiak; Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse; Seward; Blaine, Minn.; Tacoma, Wash.; Houston, Texas; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and also warehouse facilities ❑ in Anchorage and Fife, Wash. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


This investment and business activity support an estimated 8,500 direct and indirect jobs across the state, according to a newly updated study by the McDowell Group that details Canada’s impact on Alaska’s economy. Payroll associated with these jobs was approximately $430 million, according to the report.

The Alaska-Canada Connection Big business: Canada Alaska’s third largest exporter. BY GREG WOLF


here is a 1,500-mile-plus land border that connects Alaska and its next-door neighbor, Canada. As one of Alaska’s most important international partners, there are significant shared interests, including a wide variety of commercial and cultural ties that drive this long-standing, multifaceted relationship. There is extensive cross-border trade and, in recent years, Alaskans and Canadians have teamed up to pursue a number of business ventures and to jointly promote tourism. Canada’s role in Alaska’s economy is substantial and takes place on a number of levels. Canada is a major trading partner of Alaska, and Canadian firms have made significant investments in the state. Canadians themselves travel to the state in large numbers and several Canadian port cities play a key role in Alaska’s cruise ship tourism. This investment and business activity support an estimated 8,500 direct and indirect jobs across the state, according to a newly updated study by the McDowell Group that details

Canada’s impact on Alaska’s economy. Payroll associated with these jobs was approximately $430 million, according to the report.

TOP THREE For the past several decades, Canada has typically been Alaska’s third largest export market. In 2008, they maintained that ranking, with only Japan and China being larger customers. Exports from Alaska to Canada totaled $370 million in 2008, representing just more than 10 percent of the state’s total overseas commodity exports. Minerals were the top export category, making up 57 percent of the total, followed by seafood (23 percent), and petroleum products (9 percent). The trade flows in both directions and is relatively balanced: in 2008, according to Government of Canada statistics, Canadian firms shipped goods worth $441 million to Alaska. The two largest categories were refined fuel products, followed by mining and oil/ gas field equipment.

Greg Wolf Executive Director World Trade Center Alaska

MINING RULES Canadian companies are not just customers of Alaskan resource export; they are, in many cases, investors in the very projects that produce the exports, whether they are destined for Canada or for other markets around the world. Alaska’s mining industry, in particular, has attracted considerable • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


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Canadian participation, both in terms of exploration and mine development. According to the McDowell report, in 2008, there were 38 Canadian companies involved with exploration or mine development in the state. The same report indicates that since 1981, Canadian mining firms have invested and spent some $3.9 billion on mine development and exploration. Traditionally, Canadian firms have been the most prolific explorers for minerals and metals in the state, and 2008 was no exception. According to the 2008 Alaska Mineral Industry Report, a staggering 90 percent of the $347 million spent on exploration during that year was derived from Canadian sources. Canadian firms engaged in exploration included Nova Gold Resources, Northern Dynasty Minerals, Fire River Gold, and Millrock Resources. Teck Resources Ltd., a Canadian firm, operates Red Dog Mine, one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest producers of zinc concentrates, located about 90 miles from Kotzebue in Northwest Alaska. To date, the company has invested more than $700 million in facilities at the mine. The company employs some 550 workers and more than half of these are shareholders of NANA Regional Corp., an Alaska Native corporation that is the landholder where the mine is located. According to the McDowell report, between 1982 and 2008, Teck Resources paid $412 million in royalties to NANA. A world-class copper and gold mining prospect, the Pebble Project in Southwestern Alaska, has significant Canadian involvement. The project is being pursued by a joint-venture partnership of Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty Minerals and London-based Anglo American. To date, the partners have invested more than $420 million on exploration and other project-related costs. Another mining project with enormous potential is Donlin Creek, located 280 miles west of Anchorage on Calista Native Corp. lands. Estimates confirm a combined measured, indicated, and inferred resource of more than 29 million ounces of gold. It is considered one of the few mining projects in the world that has the potential for producing more than 1 million ounces on an annual basis. Donlin Creek LLC, a 50-50 percent joint-venture between

Nova Gold Resources Alaska and Barrick Gold U.S. Inc., both Canadian owned firms, is advancing the project.

THEN THEREâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GAS! In Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s energy sector, TransCanada, a leading Canadian resource company, made headline news in August 2008 when the Alaska State Legislature approved the company as the licensee under the Alaska Gas Line Inducement Act (AGIA) to develop a pipeline project to move Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s estimated 36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from the North Slope to markets in the United States. In June 2009, it was announced that ExxonMobil was joining with TransCanada to work together on an Alaska gas pipeline. A formal â&#x20AC;&#x153;open seasonâ&#x20AC;? for shippers to indicate their intentions for using the pipeline is expected to commence at the end of April 2010.

SEAFOOD, TOO Canada is a player in Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seafood industry, both as a processor and as an export destination. Alaska General Foods, owned by the Jim Pattison Group, Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s third largest privately owned company, has seafood-processing operations in Alaska. The Vancouver-based company produces canned salmon and salmon roe products from its plants in Ketchikan, Naknek and Egegik. During the peak season, the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employment is estimated at approximately 600 workers. As an export destination, seafood shipments from Alaska totaled $85 million in 2008, a combination of both processed and unprocessed product.

RETAIL ON THE RISE Canadian retailers are expanding their presence in Alaska. Liquor Stores Income Fund, a publicly traded Canadian income trust, purchased one of Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest and best-known liquor store chains in late 2008. Nineteen Brown Jug liquor outlets were purchased by the trust. Another Canadian firm, Northwest Company International, operates more than 30 retail outlets in rural Alaska operating as the Alaska Commercial Co. With more than 900 employees, the company is one of the largest employers in rural Alaska.

TOURISM HOLDS Alaska is a popular tourist destination for Canadian travelers. More than â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010



LifeMed Alaska, LLC LifeMed Alaska, Providing Medevac Service 24 Hours a Day, 365 Days a Year patient care and aviation safety. “We’re proud to be accredited,” Stromberg said. “It’s a formal documentation of this company’s commitment to safely providing high-quality care and aviation services.”

Exponential Growth

LifeMed Alaska maintains a fleet of helicopters, turboprops and Learjets to respond quickly to medevac emergencies.


hough established just three years years ago, LifeMed Alaska, LLC is a well-accomplished air medical evacuation company with deep roots in the state. LifeMed Alaska is the result of the November 2008 merger of two longstanding air medical services: Lifeguard Alaska and AeroMed International. LifeGuard Alaska, which was owned and operated by Providence Health and Services Alaska (PHSA), provided helicopter and fixed-wing emergency services throughout the state for 22 years. AeroMed International – owned and operated by Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) – had served Alaska with fixed-wing emergency services for 11 years. Operating independently as a standalone corporation, LifeMed Alaska is funded 50 percent by PHSA and 50 percent by YKHC. With more than 30 years of combined medical transport experience, LifeMed Alaska delivers critical care for people of all ages who are experiencing significant illness or injury. The company transports patients via ambulances, helicopters and airplanes between hospitals and directly from the scene of an accident or injury to tertiary care centers through Alaska, as well as to the Pacific Northwest and

international locations. “We provide services for emergency and scheduled transport for nearly 3,000 patients each year, including numerous neonatal and obstetrical specialty transports,” said CEO Gary J. Stromberg.

Experienced Professionals LifeMed Alaska has more than 100 staff members working to provide the most comprehensive medevac services in the state. Patient care is delivered by highly experienced and trained registered nurses and paramedics – who have constant online guidance from a physician. The nurses are required to have at least five years of emergency room or intensive care unit experience, while the paramedics must have three to five years of active emergency response experience. They are highly trained and experienced in all adult and pediatric critical care processes. “Our experience is unmatched in the marketplace,” Stromberg said. LifeMed Alaska is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS). The accreditation – held by less than 50 percent of medevac programs nationally and internationally – formally recognizes the company’s commitment to quality P A I D


Since its inception, LifeMed Alaska has achieved significant growth. In addition to maintaining service hubs in Anchorage and Fairbanks, the company has expanded into rural areas such as Bethel, Soldotna and the Mat-Su Valley. LifeMed Alaska also has added different types of aircraft to better suit specific care processes and distance/speed requirements. It employs an advanced fleet of Learjets, turboprops and helicopters to bring emergency care to patients as expeditiously as possible. “The faster we get people to the hospital, the better their outcomes are,” Stromberg said. While timeliness is vital, so is safety. LifeMed Alaska has a proven commitment to stringent safety processes and dedication to staff training and education. These elements are essential to meeting the company’s overriding objectives. “LifeMed Alaska seeks to safely provide the highest quality medical transport in a timely manner and with superior customer service to current and expanding markets,” Stromberg said.

For more information contact: LifeMed Alaska, LLC Gary J. Stromberg, CEO 4700 Business Park Blvd., Suite E-25 Anchorage, AK 99503 Tel: (907) 230-7732 Fax: (907) 563-6636 Web site:

100,000 Canadians visit the state each year. As with most other travelers to Alaska, these visits occur predominantly during the summer months. Spending by these visitors is estimated to exceed $91 million. In addition, Alaska and Canada have partnered to cooperatively promote tourism. A successful example is the joint effort to promote tourism along the Alaska-Canada Highway. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;North to Alaskaâ&#x20AC;? partnership program includes direct mail packages, printed brochures, a Web site, and e-mail marketing and research activities. Along with Alaska, the Yukon, Alberta and British Columbia provinces, provide funding for the program. Canada plays a key role in the Alaska cruise ship market. Virtually all of the 1 million-plus cruise passengers who make their way to Alaska either begin or end their journey with a stop in Vancouver, Victoria or Prince Rupert. Due to a U.S. law that prohibits foreignflagged vessels from traveling directly between two U.S. ports, ships leaving Seattle, for example, must first stop at a â&#x20AC;&#x153;foreignâ&#x20AC;? port, in this case Victoria or Prince Rupert, before stopping next

at an Alaska port of call. More than half of cruise ship passengers sailing to Alaska use Vancouver as their point of embarkation.

CULTURAL TIES The relationship between Alaska and Canada is defined not only by strong commercial ties but also by the many and varied cultural linkages that provide depth to the overall relationship. In the field of education, as an example, the University of Alaska Anchorage offers programs and scholarships for students seeking to study about Canada, or to actually study abroad at a campus in Canada. The Elizabeth Tower Endowment for Canadian Studies provides funding to raise the visibility of the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Canadian courses and makes possible scholarships for students seeking to study in Canada. Last fall, the university offered four classes as part of their â&#x20AC;&#x153;Canada trackâ&#x20AC;? in International Studies. Through the National Student Exchange Program, Alaska students can study at a variety of universities across Canada. Some students utilize the program to do a French language immersion course. As with many

aspects of the Alaska-Canada relationship, education is another area where activity flows in both directors. Last fall, several dozen students of Canadian nationality were enrolled at the University of Alaska Anchorage. There are, of course, many other areas of cultural exchange, including sports and music. In addition, as strong and important allies, there is considerable coordination between American and Canadian military forces that include a prominent role for Alaska. Looking forward, prospects are solid for continued growth of this sizeable, mutually beneficial, partnership. Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s past and future are closely linked. Soon, a pipeline that enables the state to commercialize its vast natural gas resources may also connect Alaska and Canada, leading to an exciting new â?&#x2018; chapter of shared prosperity. About the Author: Greg Wolf is executive director of World Trade Center Alaska and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Commerce.






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YYYCNCUMCEJCODGTEQO 14 â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010


Photos by Ciara Zervantian

Time to Buy a Franchise? Research first, as industry expands quickly. BY HEIDI BOHI


or 20 years, everyone knew Ted, the local handyman, was the goto guy. If something was making a funny sound, he’d figure out why. If it was a job too small for the big guys, he was the one to call. Ted was clean cut and dependable, and always brought candy for the children. Although he loved the freedom of being his own boss and setting hours, as he tried to imagine life another 20 years down the road, he often worried if he would have a future or just a paycheck. Although he was good at his trade, he wasn’t a businessman and when he had tried to do marketing or expand,

it had been a waste of time and money. Then, one day, instead of Ted’s truck, shiny new Mr. Handyman vans started being spotted in front of people’s homes. There were Mr. Handyman ads on the radio and in the newspapers. There were customer service satisfaction guarantees advertised and refrigerator magnets that said “On time. Done right.” When someone from Mr. Handyman came to fix something, he always took his shoes off and put special paper covers on his feet. The next day, Mr. Handyman sent a thank you card with a coupon for the next visit. Mr. Handyman, a home repair

franchise, is the fastest-growing company of its type in the country and the largest worldwide. Business owners like Ted continue to make a living as independent contractors, though more and more, the independent operators of the world like him cannot ignore the benefits of aligning with a franchise company to be able to take advantage of the proven business model, which – depending on the franchise – may include benefits such as advertising, training, networking, technical support, and other business support services that many one-man operations cannot afford, or simply do not have the expertise in. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


GROWING INDUSTRY But home repair services are just one small segment of the franchising industry. Americans will spend about $835 billion this year in the country’s 855,000 franchise establishments, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Look around and you will see businesses that you probably did not even know are part of the world’s largest economic driver. Besides the obvious fast food chains – which gave rise to the franchising industry as Americans became increasingly mobile in the mid1900s – today there are 1,500 different franchise business companies, known as franchisers, in the United States alone, employing more than 18 million people. According to the International Franchise Association (IFA), the industry’s largest trade group, almost 4 percent of all small businesses are franchises and the industry accounts for 40 percent of all retail sales in the country. The Singer Sewing Machine Co. was the first franchise to come online in 1851 when Albert Singer used the franchising concept to distribute his machines over a widespread geographic area. His fran-


chise documents became the basis for today’s version of franchise agreements. By the turn of the century, there were many other forms of franchising, too, including monopolized franchises for several utilities and streetcar companies. As oil refineries and auto manufacturers found they could sell their products over a larger geographical area, they also began to franchise. The logical extension as Americans became more mobile was the establishment of restaurant chains: Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1930, Dunkin Donuts in 1950, and McDonald’s, which is still the world’s largest fast food franchise, in 1955. In the case of someone like Ted, the business model and the package of standardized practices and procedures that have been proven are the single most beneficial feature of the business investment. After all, the failure rate for a franchised business is lower than the overall business failure rate, and the franchiser offers and trains for a system that has been field-tested. In addition to being able to use a brand that is established nationally and often worldwide, at the very least the

package includes information technology and systems training and support, marketing materials and a step-by-step strategy, employee and operations manuals, grand-opening procedures, and a network of support from both fellow franchisees and the franchiser who sells the business unit.

BRANDING Mario Altiery, president of Upside Group, a national franchise consulting and marketing firm, works with franchisers to help them sell to prospective franchisees and to refine their brand. Although owning a franchise can eventually be a key to financial freedom, whether the business is full-time or supplements another income, most franchises lose money at first, he says. Like any business there are start-up expenses, utilities, rent, franchising fees, employees and taxes. The non-refundable initial franchise fee, anywhere from several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars, may also be required, along with purchasing inventory and equipment. The way to recoup these expenses and make money is by growing • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

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one franchise first, then investing profits from the first store into another. He recommends that franchise buyers go in with all eyes open, and ideally with the help of a professional consulting firm that also offers legal counsel. Most franchisers become too eager to try and provide information to potential buyers about earnings possibilities with the hopes of expediting the sale. When in fact, much is unfounded or loosely open to interpretation, such as an earnings claim – any information a prospective franchisee receives that supposedly allows them to attempt to predict a range or level of potential sales, costs, income or profits.

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Franchising exploded in the 1950s, growing from less than 100 companies that had employed franchising in their market operations to more than 900 companies that involved 200,000 franchise outlets in 1960. With this frenzy came fraudulent franchise sales, and franchisees started to complain. As investor losses mounted, lawmakers enacted consumer-protection statutes to regulate the offer and sale of franchises and contribute to a more responsible industry. The Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) requires that the document be presented to potential franchisees when the purchase of a franchise is discussed or 10 days before the franchiser receives the first payment from the franchisee. As franchising took off in the 1960s and 1970s, so did underhanded dealings. Several companies were under-funded and poorly managed, going bankrupt and leaving many franchisees in a lurch, and other fraudulent companies literally took people’s money for nothing. This led to the formation of IFA, which is the industry’s largest trade association and contributes to regulatory oversight. The IFA continuously works in conjunction with Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to improve the industry’s relations with franchisees. In 1978, the FTC created the “Uniform Offering Circular,” requiring franchise companies to provide detailed information to potential franchisees. Today, the updated version is referred to as the “Franchise Disclosure Document” and continues to be the backbone of what is now a highly regulated industry. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Questions to Consider Buyer beware. Photo by Ciara Zervantian

BY HEIDI BOHI limiting the ways you can operate the franchise. While these standards help promote uniformity, they also can stifle your creativity and ability to cater to local markets. You will also have ongoing contact – as well as support and direction – from the franchiser and staff for many years, so it is important to make sure you work well together. Are other franchisees happy? A list of all of the franchise owners will be available to you. Contact several of them to discuss their experiences with the franchise. Has the franchiser followed through on commitments? Did the franchisees receive adequate training? Would they buy the franchise again? Is the business profitable? What advice would they give you? Will you enjoy the work? Too many people buy a franchise simply because they think it will make them a lot of money. Make sure you buy into a franchise sector where you will enjoy the work for the next 10 years to 15 years. There are many online franchise portals listing the types of franchises available. Is the franchise successful? Besides getting to know the business background of the principal directors of the company, have an accountant review the financial analysis of the franchise. Is it a solid company? How long has it been in business? A start-up may present the chance to get in on the ground floor, but it might also mean the franchiser does not have the experience to develop the system.


ubway Sandwiches, Burger King, McDonald’s, H&R Block, Liberty Tax Service, Jiffy Lube, Kentucky Fried Chicken, The Body Shop – and the list goes on. It used to be popular franchises such as these showed up only in Anchorage. As new ones continue to pop up around the state’s largest population base – often a requirement for purchasing a franchise – they are also starting to appear in smaller communities. Every time you drive by one of these packed parking lots, you say to yourself, “I should look into buying a franchise.” A new franchise business opens every eight minutes of every business day with the average initial investment – excluding real estate – being $250,000. This is not to say that’s it’s easy to buy a franchise, or that it’s for everyone. If you’re seriously thinking about it, you need to decide if it’s a business model that personally works or you. If you’re creative and independent, you may find the rules that come with franchise life stifling. If you have no experience running your own business, would like to mitigate the risks of a start-up, and don’t mind following the rules, franchising might be for you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you consider the world of franchising.

Is limited independence for me? When you buy a franchise, you’re not only buying the right to use the franchiser’s name, you’re buying and agreeing to its business plan, too. Most franchisers impose price, appearance and design standards,

What about non-compete agreements? If you decide that instead of continuing with your franchise you want to operate an independent business, due to non-compete clauses built into almost every franchise agreement, franchisees are not allowed to become independent business owners in a similar business after terminating the franchise agreement. When purchasing a franchise, you may be limiting your business opportunities for years after the expiration of your contract. Can you afford the franchise? According to the International Franchising Association (IFA), one of the leading causes of business failure is under capitalization. The franchiser will give you a realistic idea of start-up costs, though they may vary due to leasehold improvements needs and other expenses. Plan on having enough capital to open your franchise and be able to run it until it’s profitable, which could take a year or more. Do you know the law? Franchisers are required to prepare a document called the Franchise Offering Circular. This provides pertinent information about the franchise, includes the franchise agreement you will sign, and is the agreement that will govern your relationship with the franchiser for the term of the contract. The FOC should be studied very carefully and discussed with your lawyer. ❑ • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


BOOMING SENIORS As the oldest of the 77 million baby boomers roll into their 60s, this influx will continue to pad the senior population, increasing to one in five U.S. residents by 2030, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. Considering the youngest edge of this demographic is already in their mid-40s, this is a segment that promises to have one of the longest life cycles. As is the case with their influence on many sectors of the economy, baby boomers are expected to be a driving force behind the franchise industry. Millions of them are retiring every year, with medical advances allowing them to live longer, more productive lives. The industry is capitalizing on this trend, with franchise concepts being launched to allow these retirees to enjoy themselves longer. CruiseOne, the No. 1 distributor of cruises in the world, Club 50 Fitness Centers, Golf Etc. and AmRamp, which sells and rents in home, modular ramp systems, are a few of the types of franchises that are part of the next trend in franchises. Se-


nior care and services, both medical and non-medical, include brands such as Comfort Keepers, HomeInstead, HomeHelpers, Brightstar Healthcare and Interim HealthCare.

GEN X, Y AND Z At the other end of the age spectrum, franchises serving kids through education and enrichment programs are also turning out to be fairly recessionproof as parents continue to put their children’s needs ahead of their own. Supplemental education franchises for children continue to appear across the country, including the Tutoring Club and Tutor Doctor. Anything green is in, with companies like the Solar Universe and Pro Energy Consultants helping consumers become more energy efficient in their homes and offices, and the industry is expected to continue to create new opportunities for would-be franchise owners who want to want to get in on the increasing demand for green technology. Fast food franchises continue to be the leader in the industry with

McDonald’s still holding the No. 1 position. Overall, the food sector continues to be popular with old concepts being retooled and new concepts being launched all the time, Altiery says. TCBY, once the most popular frozen yogurt franchise, is now part of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, which also owns the Mrs. Field Famous Cookies franchise. Since TCBY pioneered this sector, SpoonMe, Yogen Fruz, Red Mango, Pinkberry and Tasti D-Lite also have been popular nationwide. Mexican food franchises, such as Qdoba Mexican Grill, are expected to continue their popularity and Panchero’s Mexican Grill is being watched by industry leaders as the next one to make its mark. Although the availability of small business loans for start-up franchises continues to be challenging in light of the economy, Altiery says, it is expected to improve by the second half of the year. To help new franchisees get past this hurdle, some franchisers are coming up with creative solutions, such as waiving the first few months of royalty payments or discounting the ❑ franchise fee. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Smith & “ Parker, Feek understands the complexity of our company and excels, in coordination with our employee benefits team, at providing outstanding service to our employees.

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Photo courtesy of Southcentral Foundation

Keeping Healthy Resolutions Promoting health and wellness at work. Southcentral Foundation employees participate in the companysponsored Fun Run.


ne of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to exercise and lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most broken resolutions. It’s easy to let yourself slide on keeping up with fitness goals, especially in Alaska, where we have to deal with inclement weather and darkness for several months out of the year. But for some lucky workers, there are companies out there who understand just how difficult it can be to stay healthy, and they are being proactive when it comes to the well-being of their employees. With health insurance prices a top concern for companies and employees everywhere, creating an atmosphere where people are motivated to work out and eat right can make a difference in companies’ insurance programs and policies, while also helping employee morale and attitudes. There are several companies around Anchorage that have programs in place to promote health and wellness in the workplace.

BP EXPLORATION (ALASKA) INC. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. is wellknown for providing workout facilities for its employees. Completed and opened in 1986, the gym at the BP building in Anchorage provides two rooms with cardiovascular training equipment, including treadmills, spin bikes and elliptical machines. There are six large flat-screen televisions, as



well as a circuit training room, a free weight room and a stretching room. Fitness classes are offered for a modest fee and include yoga, massage, Zumba, cardio circuits, FitHop and core classes. The facility is open seven days a week from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate all work schedules. According to Angi Smith, BP medical manager, the facility is much appreciated by BP employees. “Our employees, including spouses, are very happy to have such a comprehensive facility available at no cost, on-site, easy to use and professionally managed. We get a lot of compliments on the quality and convenience, and employees like that the fitness instructors come to the building so they do not have to drive anywhere.” Other programs offered by BP that address fitness and health for employees include annual health fairs where employees can get blood work done, annual flu shots, brown bag lunches on topics such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), vitamin D deficiency and allergy issues. BP also hosts Blood Bank of Alaska blood drives, annual mammograms with the mobile mammography van coming to the BP building, Bike to Work day and “Walkin’ and Wheelin’ Wednesdays” are held all summer, with weekly prizes. “One way we support employee fitness efforts is to allow a flexible enough schedule so our employees can venture

downstairs to the gym to get a workout in at any point throughout their day, as well as on the weekend,” Smith says. “BP Exploration Alaska’s leadership team understands the value of maintaining healthy bodies, both physically and mentally.”

CHUGACH ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION Chugach Electric Association is another Anchorage company that has made employee health a major consideration in the workplace. They have offered programs relating to health and wellness for more than a decade, with the last year and half bringing about many enhancements and changes in the programs. “We have recently enhanced our health programs with activities, an online health-tracking service employees can use, and an incentive program offering a small monetary reward for good results on health screenings,” says Tyler Andrews, Chugach’s VP for human resources. “One of our insurance companies provides financial discounts for employee involvement in the programs, which is a great incentive.” Chugach’s programs include an education component with a monthly newsletter, presentations by health experts and general information provided relating to topics such as diabetes, men’s health and nutrition. Chugach also started working with a • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



company this year that brings organic produce in from the Mat-Su Valley. Employees can order organic food through the company with delivery directly to the work site. Other programs include a 10,000-steps-a-day program, where all participating employees receive pedometers, and a stop-smoking program. In order to receive the insurance discount (applicable to management only as it is a separate insurance program), Chugach has to meet a target of 80 percent to 85 percent employee participation. According to Andrews, they have so far regularly exceeded that target. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are still learning about what works,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Variety is important. If you get participation in one program for a few months, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great, but you need to continue to implement new and different things, too.â&#x20AC;? Andrews said Chugachâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s programs are a benefit to employees in other ways as well as health. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It creates engagement with work-related activities, which in turn helps them feel better about where they work and what they are doing. Over time, we get general information on the work group as a whole via the tracking program, and we can see changes in the overall health of the work force. We hope to see positive changes as our various programs continue, with the long-term payoff of fewer insurance claims and lower premiums.â&#x20AC;? Employee feedback so far has mainly been in the form of participation, with high employee involvement seeming to speak for itself. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We leave a lot of choice up to the employee as far as how they want to be involved,â&#x20AC;? Andrews says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People are doing these things because they want to.â&#x20AC;?

SOUTHCENTRAL FOUNDATION Southcentral Foundation started its employee health program in 2006, in conjunction with the opening of its Health Education and Wellness Center in Anchorage, which offers a professional workout facility, exercise classes and consultation services through Southcentralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s team of exercise specialists and health educators. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As a health care organization, Southcentral Foundation has seen the importance of addressing health concerns


of our employees and establishing an Employee Wellness program as part of that effort,â&#x20AC;? says Thom Leonard, manager of public relations. In addition to free use of the workout facilities and group classes, Southcentral employees are invited to attend lunch-time Wellness Way events, which feature topics such as nutrition, cancer in the community, parenting, stress, the quit tobacco program and outdoor activities. All employees are informed about the employee wellness program during their initial orientation and are given a tour of the facilities. Employees are kept abreast of events and services via Southcentralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s online newsletter and flyers. For employees interested in weight loss as well as general health and fitness, the company offers a program called Lose to Win. This is an ongoing program offered through Southcentralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health Education Department. Employees and their families are all eligible to participate. Lose to Win focuses on healthy eating, exercise, goal-setting, stress management and support. It is free and there is a weekly weigh-in before each class. Instructors consist of Southcentralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s staff of registered dieticians, exercise specialists and behavioral health consultants. According to Leonard, latest statistics from the Lose to Win program show 63 percent of participants in the program losing weight and/or inches. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Employees are definitely appreciative of the employee wellness programs and the Wellness Center,â&#x20AC;? says Leonard. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Any program that gives employees these kinds of benefits will always boost morale.â&#x20AC;?

BOTTOM LINE Insurance savings, morale boosting and creating a workplace an employee wants to be a part of are all great perks when it comes to companies creating health and wellness programs. But the real benefits are to the employees themselves, as they get assistance in improving their overall health and fitness while boosting self-esteem. New Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s is a great time for resolutions, and employees of Anchorage businesses who provide workplace programs just might find those resolutions a bit easier to keep. â?&#x2018; â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010

From powering snow machines to heating homes, Crowley Supervisor Mel Paukan knows that fuel keeps his community running. The longtime employee also knows that good customer relationships keep our company strong. Quality products and customer service – they’ve gone hand-in-hand at Crowley for over 50 years. And we plan to keep it that way. Call Crowley’s St. Mary’s office at 907.438.2593 or at 1.800.977.9771.




Mike Gordon was appointed general manager of Denali Alaskan Insurance. Gordon has more than 20 years of insurance industry experience. He previously worked as Wells Fargo Insurance Services, where he specialized in small commercial business insurance accounts. Denali Alaskan Insurance is a subsidiary of Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union.


Andrew Ebona of Juneau was re-elected president of the board of directors for Rural Alaska Community Action Program Inc. for the fourth consecutive year. He also served as board president in 1983 and 2004. Ebona is the former executive director for Tlingit-Haida Tribes. He also has served Sealaska Corp. and state government with the staff for three governors. He is executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. Other board officers were elected: Mike Williams, Akiak, vice president; and Olga Malutin, Kodiak, secretary/treasurer.


Jennifer Skoog of Sitka earned Certified Diabetes Educator credential from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. Skoog is a patient services dietitian at the SouthSkoog East Alaska Regional Health Consortium Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka. Skoog, a registered dietitian, also has experience as a diabetes nutrition specialist at the International Diabetes Center in Minneapolis.

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Jeff Cook was appointed to the Rasmuson Foundation board of directors. Cook is director of external affairs and administration for Flint Hills Resources Alaska. The board is comprised of 12 directors, seven of whom are members of the Rasmuson family. Also, six Alaska nonprofit leaders were selected for the 2010 Rasmuson Sabbatical Program. They are: Margaret Coleman, Homer, executive director of South Peninsula Haven House; Sven Haakanson Jr., Kodiak, executive director of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository; Monte Hawver, Kodiak, director, Brother Francis Shelter Kodiak; Angela Liston, Anchorage, executive director, Anchorage Faith and Action-Congregations Together; Jaclyn Sallee, Anchorage, president and chief executive, Koahnic Broadcast Corp.; and Michelle Waneka, Homer, executive director, Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic. The next deadline to apply for a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical is Oct. 1. Details about the Sabbatical Program are available online at or by calling 907-297-2700.



Gov. Sean Parnell established the Alaska Military Force Advocacy and Structure Team. The group will provide recommendations for a statewide plan to retain current military force and infrastructure. They will focus on Alaska’s active duty, reserve, National Guard and Coast Guard members. AMFAST’s short-term plan is due in March, and its more comprehensive long-term plan is due by July 1. The chairman is Brig. Gen. Thomas Katkus, commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Other members include retired Gen. Joe Ralston, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Jim Dodson, president and chief executive, Fairbanks Economic Development Corp.; Mark

COMPILED BY NANCY POUNDS Hamilton, president, University of Alaska; former Alaska Commerce Commissioner Loren Lounsbury; and Patrick Gamble, president, Alaska Railroad Corp.

OLES, MORRISON, RINKER & BAKER Jessy Vasquez joined Oles, Morrison, Rinker & Baker as an associate in the firm’s Anchorage office. Vasquez is a member of t h e f i r m ’s c o n struction litigation Vasquez a n d e m p l oy m e n t law practice groups. Vasquez graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 2009. Prior to attending law school, Vasquez was a professional in the aerospace industry.


Cathie Straub joined Alaska Permanent Capital Management to lead the fir m’s new private wealth division for individual i nve s t o r s. S t ra u b is a certified public accountant and a Straub cer tified financial planner. Straub has 18 years of experience as a financial advisor and partner with Financial Resources Inc.


Chad Lewis was hired as operations manager for GCI Industrial Telecom, a division of General Communications Inc. He is based in

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Anchorage. GCI Industrial Telecom employs more than 50 telecommunications engineers, project managers and technicians in Alaska and Texas.


Bob Shake was appointed senior vice president of Northrim Benefits Group, a Northrim Bank affiliate. He previously served as senior vice president, corporate loan sales manager for Northrim Bank. He has worked 19 years at Northrim Bank, including work as a charter employee at its founding in 1990.



Rebeca HoldimanMiller was chosen as a shareholder in the law firm of Holmes Weddle & Barcott. Holdiman-Miller works in the Anchorage office and handles workers’ compensation issues and civil litigations.


Haley Nelson of Juneau and Anum Qadir of Anchorage were chosen as delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program. The event is set for March 6-13 in Washington, D.C. They join 102 other delegates for the student leadership conference. They will receive a



$5,000 undergraduate scholarship from the Hearst Foundation with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Nelson is student body president at Juneau-Douglas High School. Qadir is student body president at South Anchorage High School.


Belinda Sunderland was promoted to assistant vice president of KeyBank in Alaska. She is manager of the Unalaska branch. Sunderland joined KeyBank in 2001 and was Alaska branch manager of the year in 2007.

CREDIT UNION 1 James Wileman joined Credit Union 1 as manager of its new Mountain View branch, due to open this summer. Wileman has served as chief executive of Alps Federal Credit Union in Sitka. The credit Wileman union is billing the new branch as the first financial institution to open in Mountain View in 20 years. The branch includes plans for a police substation, community Internet access, a community conference room, financial education classes and a protected bus stop for easy access to the branch.



Dawn Kimberlin was hired as director of marketing for the NMS lodging division. NMS is owned by NANA Development Corp. and Sodexho. Kimberlin handles marketing for the division’s properties, -- five Marriott brand hotels in Anchorage and Fairbanks, plus properties in Denali, Kotzebue and Barrow. She has more than 10 years of marketing and communication support in the tourism and hospitality industries. The company also hired Mel Porter to serve as director of sales, camp services division. Porter has more than 35 years of experience in sales in the food service, staffing and remote-site support industries.


Te r r y G u c k e s , accepted the position of Strategy and Planning Officer for Chu gach Alaska Corp. Guckes comes to Chugach with 20 years experience in financial Guckes services, strategic planning and corporate development for Fortune 500 companies. Under the guidance of the CEO, his role will support the development of the vision, mission and long term objectives of CAC’s strategic plan. His responsibilities will include undertaking specific analysis on new or potential business sectors, business diversification and growth opportunities. ❑

Did someone in your company receive a promotion or award? Please submit information, for possible inclusion in Right Moves, to Information received is published, space available, two months after receiving the press release. Right Moves is compiled by Nancy Pounds of Anchorage and sponsored by Northern Air Cargo. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Larry Weihs BY PEG STOMIEROWSKI Larry Weihs


food service professional and Nebraska Husker at heart, Larry Weihs arrived in Alaska in 1986 to be executive chef at Chardonnay’s restaurant in the Matanuska Valley. In 1991, he began his career with ESS Support Services, a division of the Compass Group, specializing in food-service and related facility-support services for clients in remote sites, defense and offshore locations around the world. During 19 years with ESS in Alaska, Weihs has worked in many capacities, from remote site cook to director of business development to district manager to VP of operations. He and his wife, Sandy, live in Wasilla with son Connor. They enjoy hunting, fishing, boating and gardening.

ABM: How’s the view from the top at ESS … how do you see your role? Weihs: As driver of the bus, I make sure we have the right people aboard, each in the right seat. As service providers, we have key roles. I try to not complicate things and try to emphasize great people, service and results achieved by being organized, with well planned and defined programs and guidelines. So to be uncomplicated, you must first be complicated. Every member of our statewide team has an integral role in superior service. ABM: How much business volume is done a year supporting workers remotely? Weihs: Our business has peaks and valleys, depending on the volume of work and support services needed around Alaska and the western United States. Generally we average $35 million to


$40 million annually in remote-site support business.

ABM: What forces drive your food business? Weihs: Internally, safety, efficiency and innovation. Externally, the same forces that drive the economy, the price of oil and metals and the return on investment and capital.

and mentally demanding. A clear understanding of the requirements, through job descriptions and orientation, is essential beforehand. Physical requirements also are emphasized in advance. A third concern is having the appropriate attitude for safety, customer service and teamwork. During a behavioral interview, we ask a series of standardized questions designed to get applicants to talk about how they have handled or responded to certain situations in the past, including their feelings and observations. We use this to assess proficiencies, and training is provided on safety, customer service and teamwork. Maintaining a safe environment is a huge concern. Pre-employment drug screening and physicals help. There are policy and procedure orientations and safety training, including zero tolerance for unsafe acts. Everyone working safely boosts morale and performance.

ABM: Name top four concerns when hiring for remote employment. Weihs: First, remote-site work means being away from home, families, friends and routine life. Balancing work and personal life is even more challenging for such employees. We offer ways to help them keep in touch from work sites and occupy their time, including phones and TVs in their rooms, computer access and wireless Internet, and media, exercise or game rooms. Another concern involves work/ rotational scheduling. Remote facilities often require working long hours for weeks, which is physically

ABM: Please share two key challenges in airport service. Weihs: As with any retail restaurant operation, profitability is a key concern. Trying to find a satisfying menu selection that will appeal to the broad range of summer tourists, the traveling public and the occasional Juneauite is a challenge. Juneau is served by a single major airline with a fluctuating flight schedule, depending on seasons. Frequent weather delays, flight cancellations and long down periods between flights stretch the restaurant staffing schedules and operating hours. ❑

ABM: Describe your business culture and a cultural lesson from global operation. Weihs: We share passion for quality, are very driven and take pride in superior food and service. We are responsible for each other and for client satisfaction. We find our associates everywhere have a can-do attitude. And while this is wonderful, we need to make sure everyone manages “can do” behaviors safely. The common denominator globally among associates is love for their children and families. This dictates working smartly and safely. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Hostile Workplace Relationships Legislature needs employer input to change laws. BY ANDY BROWN


my and Adam (not their real names) both worked on the line at Acme Co. (not its real name) and got to know each other, started dating and became romantically involved. After a few months, Amy broke it off even though Adam wanted to stay together. He would spend time at work trying to get back together and it became not only a distraction for Amy, but also it became bothersome. She complained to her supervisors and they conducted a full investigation. They told Adam he would have to keep his distance from Amy when at work because his actions could be construed as harassment. Adam agreed, but began calling Amy at home and consistently running into her on the weekends and after hours. He was able to find out where she was going on the weekends because they shared friends at work. Amy complained the work environment was becoming uncomfortable for her because Adam worked so close on the line and was still pestering her when off work. The company again called Adam in and told him they were going to change his work schedule. They explained even though his actions were not during work, they were creating tension and a hostile work environment in the office. The executive staff also made it clear his conduct was not only unprofessional, but also illegal and if any further incidents occurred, Adam would be fired. Adam changed shifts and genuinely got the message. He apologized to his supervisors and said it would not happen again. He wanted to apologize to Amy, but she, understandably, was not taking his phone calls and he no longer saw her at work due to the shift change. He bought her a tasteful card and wrote an apology inside. He also bought a small bouquet of flowers and came to work early. He did not want to risk a confrontation, so he found her car in the company parking lot, placed the card and flowers on the driver’s seat and went in to get ready for his shift before Amy came out.


Needless to say, Amy was quite upset and filed a formal complaint against the company for allowing the hostile work environment to persist. The company eventually ended up settling Andy Brown the suit and Adam lost his job. The company did everything right and still got sued. Employees spend a lot of time together and relationships happen. Since relationships happen, break-ups happen and sometimes those break-ups aren’t pretty. Is it fair that companies are sometimes held responsible for the bad behavior of their employees, even when they do everything they can to stop or prevent it? No, it is neither fair nor right.

COURTS NOT FAIR, RIGHT OR JUST Unfortunately U.S. courts are not designed to be fair, right or even just. They are designed to be courts of law. Whenever I say our courts are not designed to be fair, inevitably someone launches into a diatribe about how our legal system is broken and should be completely revamped. I will not say our legal system is without problems, but while our system may be far from perfect, the U.S. legal system is perhaps the best in the world. The reason we have a system based on law is because a system based on what is “right” or “fair” varies too much. What one person considers fair may be completely unfair to another. Indeed, put 20 people in a room and you may come up with 30 opinions; until we all share the same beliefs • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

and opinions, using “fair” as a basis for decision making is inappropriate for making legal decisions. Fortunately, employment and labor law in Alaska is relatively nascent and there is ample opportunity to influence the laws so they more accurately reflect what you consider “fair.” Unfortunately, relatively few voices have been and are being raised during this crucial, developmental time. The result is the Legislature is passing laws affecting your business and the way you operate without your input – 2009 was a banner year for employment law legislation on the national level, and you should be aware of those changes, but you have far more input on what happens at the State level and I encourage you to get involved. The days of having to travel to Juneau to have your voice heard are long gone. Most legislators not only have offices in the area they represent, they all have e-mail. The Internet is a fantastic tool you can use to learn about what is going on in State government and you can track pending legislation. The Web site www.legis. allows you to contact your representative, track legislation and conduct research free of charge. With all the resources available, there is no excuse not to be involved. If you want laws to be what you consider fair, get involved, speak up and be heard. You can do everything right in the business world and still fail, still be sued and still be frustrated. Don’t be upset, though, that the law isn’t fair if you haven’t taken the time to get involved and help shape the legal rules under which you have to ❑ live and operate. About the Author Andy Brown, J.D., MPA is a labor and employment attorney who grew up in Alaska. He left his law practice in the Lower 48 to return to Alaska as a senior consultant with The Growth Co. Brown has more than 16 years of broad-based human resources experience, including legal compliance, compensation, salary surveys and collective bargaining agreements. He also has extensive investigative experience and worked as an investigator for both the U.S. Army and the State of Utah Department of Workforce Services. He currently lives in Eagle River with his wife and four children. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Photos by Karen Clautice

All eyes on Fairbanks for ice sculpture competition.

Pandora’s Box by Vladimir Zhikhartsev (Russia), Vitaly Lednev (Russia), Aaron Costic (USA), and Joshua Kang (South Korea/USA). This sculpture won 1st Place Abstract in the 2009 Multi-Block Classic competition.


he national spotlight focuses on Fairbanks this month during the climax of the World Ice Art Championships, which includes ice-art sculptures and an ice park with slides and mazes. The Learning Channel – now called TLC – dispatched a crew to film a documentary of the competition, including covering some American teams as they prepared their frigid entries. The filmmakers also are set to film the awards ceremony March 6. TLC officials plan to feature volunteers at the event – from forklift drivers to cooks. In February, organizers of the competition, Ice Alaska, hosted the National Ice Carving Championship for the first time. Thirty U.S. finalists were due to compete in the event. The mammoth blocks of ice – from 6 feet to 30 feet tall and weighing up to 40,000 pounds – taken from O’Grady Pond, have earned the nickname Arctic Diamond for purity and sparkle. About 100 blocks are carefully drawn from the frozen pond adjacent to the sculpture site.


ECONOMIC BOOST The events are powerful for the Fairbanks economy, according to Don Callahan, publicity manager for Ice Alaska. Residents also treasure the chilly, imaginative creations. Fairbanks children frequently visit the ice park for art class or field trips. “Ice Alaska and the winter activities it developed with the World Ice Art Championships – and now the National Ice Carving Championships – are a driving force toward making Fairbanks a five-month winter wonderland and a tourist destination,” Callahan said. He listed other important Interior winter activities, including the North American dog sled races, the North Pole Winter Carnival and the Arctic Man Ski and Sno-go classic. The World Ice Art Championships and the three-acre children’s icy playground, which opened Feb. 20, are open daily through March 28. The ice park opened three days earlier than usual to coincide with the national championships. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Building large ice sculptures requires close cooperation between the artists and equipment operators. Here an ice “bubble” is held in place while it freezes in place. Swimming Lessons by Dorjsuren Lkhagvadorj (Mongolia), Tsagaan Munkh-erdene (Mongolia), Mark Davis (USA) and Ed Winslow (USA). This sculpture won 2nd Place Realistic in the 2009 Multi-Block Classic competition.

Ice Alaska officials say the best time to come is March 6 through March 16, in order to see all the completed sculptures in various competitions. Categories for the world championships include singleblock and multi-block sculptures, an amateur division and a high school division.

6 through 12, and children 5 and younger are free. For more ❑ information, visit

HISTORY LESSON The World Ice Art Championships began in 1988, when Fairbanks residents resurrected the tradition of ice sculpture conducted in the 1930s during the Fairbanks Winter Carnival. Ice for sculptures was imported from Seattle that first year. Event organizers later discovered Fairbanks produces some of the best ice in the world for ice carving. The nonprofit group, Ice Alaska, was formed in 1990, Callahan said. “The Fairbanks event, the BP World Ice Art Championships, has grown from a one-week, eight-team competition in 1990 to a month-long attraction involving over 70 teams from all over the world,” he added. More than 100 ice artists compete in the various categories. About 45,000 visitors from Alaska, the Lower 48 and international destinations experience the attraction during its duration. More than 400 volunteers unite to produce the event, and about 100 area businesses and community organizations provide additional support. Callahan treasures the international flavor of the competition. Ice sculptors from all over the world work together to produce “magnificent art,” he said. One of Callahan’s favorite ice sculptures was a threestory-tall solid-ice King Kong grabbing an ice biplane. He called viewing the piece awe-inspiring. Daily ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


M A R CH E V E NT S C A L E NDA R •••••••••

1 to 7


N C H O R A G E •••••••••

2010 Fur Rondezvous

The 75th annual Fur Rondy festival continues with daily events, shows, contests, races, games, carnival, exhibits, food and fun. For more information and a complete schedule, go to

1 to April 25 Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination The traveling exhibit explores the futuristic technologies of the Star Wars universe and compares them with real-life scientific progress, featuring more than 80 film props and related objects, exclusive video footage, and more than a dozen interactive exhibits. Anchorage Museum, daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Go to www.anchoragemuseum. org for more information.


2010 Iditarod Race Start

Seventy-one racers from across Alaska, six other states, Canada, Jamaica, Belgium and Scotland will begin the annual race to Nome when Iditarod 38 gets under way at Fourth Avenue and D Street in downtown Anchorage at 10 a.m. For more information, go to

5 to 14

Alaska Fiber Festival

Enjoy workshops and the wearable art show. Explore works of wild art from around Alaska and Australia. Participate in the Quilt Walk taking place downtown. Held at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. For more information, visit

Great Small Corporate Retreat • • • • •

Just 35 minutes flying time from Anchorage Heli Fishing for 5 species of salmon, plus trout, char, grayling, & pike Just six to eight anglers per week Great meals, rustic but modern lodging Heli fly outs to rarely visited streams and rivers, plus great side trips to glaciers, and majestic mountain tops Phone: 907.440.0614


Tour of Anchorage

A point-to-point amateur ski marathon sanctioned under the American Ski Marathon Series. The cross-country course is for all abilities and follows groomed trails to Kincaid Park. Start times from 8:30 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. For more information, visit


Duct Tape Ball


Empty Bowl Project


Koahnic Alaska Native Art Auction

Every color and design of duct tape has been used for couture, room décor and art in celebration of duct tape and to benefit local charities. The “Duct Tape Divas” will host the event at the Anchorage Marriott Hotel beginning at 5:59 p.m. For more information, visit

A special annual event presented by The Anchorage Clay Arts Guild. Thousands of hand-crafted pottery bowls are created for this fundraising luncheon with live music at the Egan Center, 555 W. Fifth Ave. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This family friendly event always sells out. For more information, visit

The 15th annual event will be held at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center at 5 p.m. All proceeds benefit Koahnic’s programs. For more information, visit

34 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

M A RCH E VE N TS C A L E N D A R 18 to 21

You Can’t Take It With You

One of the most popular and successful plays of modern times that is particularly meaningful during our current climate, by Moss Hart and George K. Kaufman. For more information, phone 907-563-ARTS or visit for reservations. •••••••••





I V E R •••••••••

Outdoors on the Go

Finding nature with your family event at the Eagle River Nature Center. Free program; $5 parking fee. For more information visit •••••••••


A I R B A N K S •••••••••

9 to 13

Mining Conference

The Alaska Miners Association presents the 22nd Biennial Fairbanks Alaska Mining Conference, Arctic International Mining Symposium. The symposium will be held at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center. For more information visit or • • • • • • • • •


U N E A U • • • • • • • • •

19 to 21

Rotary Boat Show

Three-day Rotary Boat and Sports Show at Centennial Hall, scheduled to run 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is a fundraiser for the Glacier Valley Rotary Club. For more information, phone Charlie Williams 907-789-9875 or visit


Kutandara Marimba Experience

• • • • • • • • •


Exuberantly fusing African music traditions with jazz, gospel, classical and Latin in an irresistible combination. One performance only at the Thunder Mountain High School Auditorium. For more information, phone 907-586-2787 or visit


O M E • • • • • • • • •

2010 Iditarod Awards Banquet

The awards banquet for Iditarod 38 begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Nome Recreation Center.

• • • • • • • • •


26 to 28

A S I L L A • • • • • • • • •

Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show

The first Alaska Sportsman’s Show of 2010, featuring more than 140 booths, plus seminars, demonstrations, laser shooting range and more. Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex – Friday, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit • • • • • • • • •



I L L O W • • • • • • • • •

2010 Iditarod Race Re-Start

The official Iditarod 38 Race Re-Start begins at 2 p.m. at the Willow Community Center. For more information go to ❑ • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Shepherds, not cowboys. BY WILL SWAGEL

Photo by Cathy Cline

At Hidden Lake, Trail Lakes Hatchery staff corral adult sockeye salmon using a seine net. Male and female adult sockeye are examined for sexual maturity and separated prior to gamete collection.


he problems Alaska salmon fishermen and processors may face today are nothing compared to the dire state of the industry 30 years ago. Wild salmon stocks up and down the Gulf of Alaska were crashing. The number of fish returning to Prince William Sound was so low the State closed seining completely in 1972 and 1974. In response, orders and resources came forth from both the governor’s mansion and the Legislature to help the commercial fishing industry and to rehabilitate the wild salmon stocks. “The intent was to supplement wild stocks, not to replace them,” said Samuel Rabung, the State’s coordinator of hatchery programs for the Division of Commercial Fisheries. “It wasn’t about saving endangered species – it was just to add fish to the salmon fishing industry.”


Thirty years on, the efforts of Alaskans from the governor on down have logged spectacular success. About 5 billion salmon fry and smolts (one-yearold salmon) are released into the North Pacific from Japan, Russia, Korea and Canada, as well as the U.S. Fully a third of those – about 1.6 billion fish – are incubated and released by Alaska’s 30 or so hatcheries. A 2008 report states 45 million returning hatchery-reared adult salmon provided $110 million – 29 percent of the ex-vessel value (what fishermen receive) – of the statewide common property commercial harvest. Hatchery fish now constitute the bulk of many commercial harvests, such as the chum and pink salmon harvests in Prince William Sound. The hatcheries help support themselves by selling a portion of the

adult fish returning to the hatcheries – another 15 million in 2008, for a total of 60 million adult hatchery salmon returning to Alaska. Five large regional hatchery associations also collect a 2 percent to 3 percent tax on the value of catches by fishermen/members. “Ocean ranching of salmon is considered the largest agricultural industry in Alaska,” Rabung said.

FRED AND THE REGIONALS In 1971, the Legislature authorized creation of the Division of Fisheries Rehabilitation, Enhancement and Development (FRED) within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), charged with operating State hatcheries – Alaska had 20 State-run facilities at its 1983 peak. Hatcheries differ from fish farms in that the hatcheries raise the fish for • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Photo by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association Staff

only a small part of their lives. Chum and pink salmon are released into the ocean as tiny fry. Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon require a full year in fresh water before they return to the sea. Fish farms raise their fish to adulthood and sell them right out of the net pens. Fish farms have been criticized for issues concerning crowding, disease and pollution. In 1974, the Private Nonprofit Hatchery Act allowed private-sector, not-for-profit independent corporations to build and operate salmon hatcheries. Five regional nonprofits were to oversee their respective areas: Southern Southeast Alaska, Northern Southeast, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and the Kodiak area. Over the next 20 years, many of the Staterun hatcheries were turned over to one of the regional nonprofits. Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation (PWSAC) – one of the largest regionals – operates five hatcheries. PWSAC built the Armin K. Koerning Hatchery, 90 miles west of Cordova and the Wally Noerenbery Hatchery, 20 miles east of Whittier. They also operate three former State hatcheries at Cannery Creek east of Whitter, Main Bay in western Prince William Sound, and Gulkana near Paxson. To supply these far-flung facilities, PWSAC maintains a one-acre distribution center in

Anchorage. Materials are trucked to Whittier and transferred to a landing craft for delivery to the hatcheries. Headquartered in Cordova, PWSAC has 44 year-round employees and another 80 seasonal workers. Their annual operating budget is about $7 million. The regional aquaculture associations also participate in habitat restoration projects, usually in conjunction with ADF&G or other agencies. Along with operating Trail Lakes Hatchery and two others, Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) is monitoring the

Susitna River to ascertain the number of northern pike, a non-native species that was introduced into the area and whose population has exploded in the last decade. “Northern pike are moving into systems that have historically salmonbearing systems and they’re having significant impact on some of those,” said Gary Fandrei, CIAA’s executive director. In the Cook Inlet drainage, he says, are a number of lakes and streams that are okay at producing salmon “as long as the pike aren’t there.”

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Seasonal Assistant Cathy Cline poses with a male adult sockeye salmon at Bear Lake in Seward. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Photo by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association Staff

Seasonal Assistant Matt Backs nets adult sockeye salmon for broodstock collection at Bear Lake in Seward.


“In a lot of Eastern European markets like Russia, they like our fish because they’re affordable to them and because they are wild,” said Zach Olson, Gunnuk’s assistant manager. While the return to the hatchery has been less than hoped, chum salmon prices have recently increased from 25 cents to 30 cents per pound to as high as 75 cents per pound.

MARKETING YOUR OWN In the early 1990s, the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) faced devastatingly poor prices on the chum

Photo by Matthew Allen

MOM AND POPS Most aquaculture associations have a colorful story to tell about their early days – often involving off-the-shelf piping and tubs, dressing entirely in rubber and working incredibly long hours at key times of the salmons’ life cycle. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA), based in Sitka, started with 50,000 chinook salmon eggs incubated in large jars and reared them in Sears swimming pools. “It’s gone from there to incubating 62 million chum eggs, 5 million chinook eggs and several hundred thousand coho,” said Lon Garrison, NSRAA’s director of operations. NSRAA operates two hatcheries (a third is being developed) on $5.2 million annual budget. It has 27 permanent employees and another dozen or so seasonal workers. The Gunnuk Creek Hatchery in Kake started as a local high school project and grew to be, at one time, the largest private employer in town. Gunnuk Creek is one of a handful of non-regional hatcheries, which used to be called “Mom and Pops.” These nonprofits do not collect the 2 percent to 3 percent fish tax, and are allowed to take a higher percentage of returning adult salmon. Most of Gunnuk’s production is chum salmon, a fish most Americans reject, but which has strong markets overseas.

salmon that returned to their flagship hatchery at Neet’s Bay, 40 air miles from Ketchikan. Being far from the ocean, the returning chums had darker skin and paler flesh than the market desired. One year, said SSRAA General Manager John Burke, only two processors were interested in the darkskinned, light-fleshed chum and they bid 17 cents per pound. SSRAA’s managers had hoped for 40 cents to 50 cents per pound. While they tried to crunch the numbers to keep operating, one of the processors dropped out. The other processor came forward with a new price – only 9 cents per pound. “The fishermen on the board (of directors) all said, ‘We’d rather throw (the salmon) away,’” recounted Burke. He said SSRAA has been driven to market its own fish and has come out equal or ahead nearly every year to what they would have gotten at the dock. The pale chum is marketed as “fish flakes,” which Burke describes as “Japanese peanut butter.” He said a Tokyo kid’s lunch might be rice balls, flavored with some fish flakes and a colorful garnish, “like we would have a peanut butter sandwich.” Pink salmon, another abundant species, are now being marketed as salmon burgers and other consumer end products. Burke said SSRAA is talking about a program for pinks since prices have risen from as low as 5 cents a pound to 30 cents a pound and up.

Bill Lyden, Neets Bay Hatchery manager • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

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Photo by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association Staff

Trail Lakes Hatchery staff collect adult sockeye eggs at Hidden Lake.






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Alaska’s success is due to the State’s efforts, but also those of pioneering independents like the late Ladd Macauley, a Juneau biology teacher who started a hatchery in his back yard that grew to a return of 20,000 fish into a formerly barren stream. Thirty years and a few hatcheries later, Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) has 27 permanent employees, 30 to 40 seasonal ones and an annual budget of $4.5 million. DIPAC produces fish for the commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen. They educate 100,000 tourists each year about Alaska fisheries at the Macauley Salmon Hatchery. They are improving salmon habitat and stocking lakes in partnership with ADF&G and the Canadian authorities. Way across the Gulf in Kodiak public schools, the life cycle of the salmon is part of the fourth grade curriculum. During the egg take, each class visits the Pillar Creek Hatchery, one of two run by the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association (KRAA). Each class of fourth graders then takes 500 eggs back to their classroom and hatches the eggs in fish tanks, rears them all winter and then releases the fry into local lakes. Those in the Alaska hatchery business say the State’s success is due to management policies that give clear priority to the needs of wild salmon in every single decision and include a wide range of people in planning. But Alaska’s vast unspoiled habitat gets credit, too. “There aren’t many places in the world that can still do what we have the ability to do,” said NSRAA’s Lon Garrison. “We have a healthy, wild fish population and we have intact habitat. We have a system in Alaska that takes care of the wild fish – and the whole (ocean ranching) program is based on ❑ that premise.” • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Alaska firm helps rebuild Iraq, train Iraqis. PCI bringing the largest land crane in Iraq across the border from Kuwait on a convoy of 11 trucks through the Iraqi desert.



Photo by Lee Nunn

hen the principals of PolyEarth Construction International (PCI) decided to launch the company, its primary focus was on leveraging prior relationships with key vendors and professionals in Iraq and the Middle East to participate in the rehabilitation and upgrade of oil and gas infrastructure. Beyond the business opportunities, the four principals (Lee Nunn, senior managing director; Samuel Pelant, managing director; Paul Johnson, director of global logistics; and Jeff Mekinda, director of operations) could not disregard the brotherly bond they had already established with the local Iraqis during prior work efforts after the second Gulf War. After completing several projects working for a large Alaska Native construction management firm, the Iraqis – whom the PCI principals had previously hired and trained – maintained contact with PCI. “They were asking us to find a way to return,” Pelant says. “They told us none of the big U.S. contractors had worked with them the way we had.”

When their former employer pulled out of Iraq and the Middle East, the four men decided to make a move, also bringing other colleagues from Alaska. Leading the break, Pelant said, “Heck with it guys, let’s start a company.” Positioning themselves as global experts with local experience and local resources, in 2007 PCI was one more development that cropped up through the dry, desert sand. In June of that year, the principals formed PCI to be able to continue working together, and in response to requests from their Iraqi associates to return. The decision was also encouraged when one of the Iraqi subcontractors working overseas found a project for building a Navy pier and sea wall facility at the Port of Umm Qasr. After the Americans arrived in Iraq, it was the first construction project funded primarily by Iraqi money through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. As a new company, PCI did not have the required certifications to compete, so it partnered with others and they were the successful bidders.

construction technologies while emphasizing training and utilization of local labor forces.” At the recent 2010 Economic Outlook hosted by the World Trade Center Alaska, it was estimated that Alaska received about $500 million in new money by exporting professional services such as construction management, project management and engineering. Using these projections, Johnson says, PCI is responsible for almost 10 percent of that total amount – and that’s just on one project in the Middle East. At the same time, eight Anchorage companies are also directly benefiting from the success of the PCI business model. PCI vendors in Washington, Texas and Michigan also had unexpected increases in hiring and orders at a critical time in the economy. “We are a small, diverse group of construction professionals and tradesmen who bring over 200 years of combined experience in all areas of a project cycle,” Pelant says.



This became a driver for the creation of PolyEarth Construction International. The name PolyEarth is a conjunction that comes from the words “polyurea,” which is used in blast technology, and “earth” referring to the soil stabilization technologies.

“Our collective experience has been derived from years of successful projects in the harsh, remote and challenging conditions of Alaska and the Middle East,” Pelant says, adding that the company’s mission is to “incorporate today’s innovative project and

Until the 1990s, Iraq’s infrastructure was among the best in the Middle East. Years of conflicts, misdirected resources and the affects of Iraq’s centralized command economy have stifled economic growth and development, curtailing the country’s ability to invest in new infrastructure and


42 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

maintain existing facilities. Conflicts, looting and sabotage also have resulted in damage to buildings, pipelines, communication equipment and transportation links. Billing systems and associated revenues that maintain operations have collapsed. Today, most Iraqis have limited access to essential basic services, including electricity, water, sanitation and refuse collection. Environmental and health risks associated with contaminated water supplies, inappropriate handling of solid waste and disposal of sewage threaten to further burden the already stressed health system. Economic and social activities concentrated in the main urban centers of Iraq have also led to a proliferation of under-serviced neighborhoods in major Iraqi cities. The lack of basic infrastructure services, particularly electricity, contributed to the general lack of security in various parts of the country leading officials to look for means to quickly restore basic infrastructure services and to improve living conditions. PCI, when in country, uses bodyguards. Nunn said one told him, “We tell the bad people, ‘Don’t bother PolyEarth. They are here to help us.’”


Photo by Wayne Connor

Before launching PCI, the core team had quickly realized the opportunities

Iraq presented, completing several projects that were critical in developing skills necessary to compete in the international construction industry. Projects included dredging Iraq’s main port for the “Oil for Food” program established by the United Nations in 1995 to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food and medicine; upgrading the electrical system at Iraq’s only deep-water port so the container cranes for offloading grain from ships coming into Iraq would have uninterrupted service; and renovating the Basra International Airport and bringing it up to operational standards, allowing Iraqi Airways to restart service in 2005. “These were hard and dangerous years in Iraq, but we saw the steady progress that the media seemed to always overlook,” Nunn says, looking back on the days leading up to being one of the founders of what is today PCI, a conduit for North American, and specifically Alaska companies to conduct business in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Operating primarily in southern Iraq, the men brought about two dozen Alaskans to Iraq to work in 2006. Locally, they also trained and hired Iraqis, paying them in U.S. dollars, and even hired them as personal security guards. The Alaska contingency provided these

Iraq Hart security team photo with PCI principal Samuel Pelant center front. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Photo bby Dave Ph D Robinson R bi

PCI S Superintendent i t d tL Larry Wil Wilson overseeing i an IIraqii completing l ti hi his vertical ti l ttestt weld for his American Welding Society certification. Wilson is the architect of the PCI program to get Iraqi welders certified to AWS standards.

workers with tools they had never seen before and made keeping those tools their passport to more work. They also showed them new equipment and techniques. Nunn says one Iraqi worker told him, “We like the American way of working. We like the training and we like the way PolyEarth asks us for ideas.” Another said, “Mr. Lee, we will never go back to the old ways.”


Photo by Dave Robinson

“More than once I heard, ‘You don’t need to pay us. We just want to learn

how the Americans do it,’” Nunn says. A year later, the foursome got together one day and decided to form their own company and compete for work in Iraq until they got a project. “We had the skills and we had the support of the Iraqis,” Nunn says, part of which led to them becoming the premier small U.S. construction company in southern Iraq. Today, PCI focuses on identifying the appropriate civil technology applicable to projects in Iraq and the Middle East, as well as lining up the labor force. Another key area of oversight


PCI Principal Samuel Pelant and Construction Manager Leah Bott, working with Brig. Gen. Moufaq and Col. Mowad of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

is on quality control on implemented projects so the client gets what they are asking for. Projects include introducing proprietary technology developed by Alaskabased PND Engineers used to build docks that save clients money by reducing the amount of steel and time put into the project without compromising strength (the Port of Anchorage is an example of infrastructure using this same technology). Since its inception, PCI has focused on using local labor in Iraq, and works closely with local leaders to identify those Iraqis who are interested in working and learning North American carpentry and construction technologies. PCI also has brought in experienced welders to teach Iraqis how to weld according to American Welding Society standards. One of PCI’s proudest accomplishments was introducing a safety program in Iraq that resulted in 447 days with no lost-time days or accidents, another example of how they can teach another culture how to manage projects correctly and safely.

A ‘SHINING STAR’ “We are commended for our work in training Iraqis, and it is one of our shining stars we are most proud of,” Pelant says, adding that their work has also opened doors for other Alaska companies including Peak Civil Technologies. PCI also spends a lot of time in construction management and handling logistics for the Middle East, acting as the liaison between North America and the Middle East to get North American firms introduced to the market while overcoming crosscultural considerations. This is especially true for companies wanting to get work from the oil development taking place. There is a tremendous need for design and infrastructure upgrades and rehabilitation to outdated oilfields. PCI also guides companies in overcoming logistical challenges required for getting into war zones, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. “In Alaska we have many good oil engineering firms that can benefit this region by partnering with them,” Mekinda says. “Iraq will be spending tens of billions of dollars on infrastructure ❑ in the next five to seven years.” • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



2010 Construction Spending Forecast Oil is flat, construction is flat, but that’s still good news for Alaska. BY DEBBIE CUTLER MANAGING EDITOR


ere’s a quick quiz. What industry is the third largest in the state? What industry pays the second highest wages in Alaska? What industry employs about 21,000 workers, has a payroll of more than $1 billion and accounts for 20 percent of Alaska’s economy: about $7 billion? If you said the construction industry, you are correct. Despite projected spending down 5 percent in public construction and down 1 percent in private-sector construction (down 3 percent total), the industry is still vital to Alaska and the people who live here. Total Alaska construction spending for 2010 is forecasted to be, as stated before, $7 billion, with $4.4 billion of that coming from the private sector and $2.6 billion from the public sector (see chart at right). That’s a big wow for Alaska.

SO WHO’S THE BIG SPENDER? Oil and gas will make up the bulk of 2010 construction spending, more than $3 billion, no change over previous years. That’s 43 percent of all construction spending this year. According to Alaska’s Construction Spending 2010 Forecast, from which much of the information in this article is gleaned, “None of the three major producers on the North Slope – BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon – will be exploring.” Spending, the report added, “will be concentrated on bringing Liberty Field into production, developing existing reserves and maintaining infrastructure.” ConocoPhillips also will concentrate on Alpine West and Exxon on Point Thomson. Other companies will have large budgets on the North Slope, mainly ENI,


Pioneer and Shell, the report stated. The report was put together by Scott Goldsmith and Mary Killorin of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage for the Construction Industry Progress Fund and the Associated General Contractors of

Alaska. It is distributed statewide to AGC members, banks, government offices, legislative offices, AGC clients and through ISER and AGC, both online and at their offices, said John MacKinnon, executive director of the AGC. The report has a press run of about 6,500, he added. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

ANY SURPRISES THIS YEAR? According to Scott Goldsmith, the 2010 Forecast did hold a surprise or two, mainly how well Alaska is doing despite the economic downturn in the Lower 48 and a cautious spending environment in Alaska. “Based on my observation of the Alaska economy, I thought (2010 construction) wouldn’t be nearly as strong as it turned out to be,” he said. “But I think there are a couple things accounting for that. “One was the federal stimulus money (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as ARRA) offsetting declines in both state government spending, and capital spending, and also offsetting weakness in commercial and residential sectors. The commercial and residential sectors are the ones that most closely track the overall economy.” Alaska is second in the nation for stimulus money received per capita and projects will last through this year and next. Much of the money, however, goes into government operations, with only a portion for

actual construction of capital projects. “These other sectors, public sectors – federal, state and local – and also basic industries are somewhat more independent of what’s happening right now on the ground of the economy,” Goldsmith added. “So there’s strength in federal spending and also surprising strength in oil and gas. There was a weakness up on the North Slope, but that was offset by special projects that are under way, with the refineries and with the attempt to develop storage capability in Cook Inlet for natural gas.” Though the three majors aren’t doing as much as they have in years past, Goldsmith said, others are spending on exploration on the North Slope and offshore. For example, ENI, an Italian company, is spending a large amount of money on the North Slope, and Shell “keep our fingers crossed,” he said, will be working offshore in the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas. Another big project, BP’s Liberty field, is also offshore and therefore not subject to ACES or a collection of state royalties, said MacKinnon, making it a more attractive project for their industry.

But, overall, the oil industry is expected to see declines in construction in future years, said Goldsmith. He added there were three areas where spending is ongoing: 1. The maintenance of facilities due to aging infrastructure. 2. Squeezing as much as possible out of existing deposits. 3. Going out and looking for new reserves. “I think given the fact that BP has not looked for new reserves in many years and Conoco is not looking this year, and there are really only two small operators drilling exploration this year …. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t slow down a bit. I don’t see, aside from OCS, any major new initiatives or big projects on the horizon.”

ANOTHER NOTE TO ADD Also noteworthy, MacKinnon said, is the flatness of growth in the industry. “We’re sitting at $6.99 billion,” he said. “Last year was essentially $7 billion and some change. This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve been about $7 billion. We’re pretty much flat. What really shows the difference is

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what’s up and what’s down when the totals are the same. “Residential continues its downward slide. I think it was buoyed up this year by the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. weatherization program. It was all residential. It kept homebuilders busy. That was mom and pop homeowner getting the direct benefit of it, and smaller contractors doing the work. It was a $300 million package and I think all has been committed. The bulk of the work was done last year and will be completed this year. “I wasn’t surprised at other commercial being down. You can only build so many big box stores and office buildings and that. We’ve overbuilt a bit and we need to catch up with the vacancy rate. This past year was the first in more than 20 to see a decline. We’re teetering, and commercial and residential construction are the first indicators of this. Residential and private commercial is really suffering in the rest of the country and is finally catching us.”

SO WHO IS GROWING? There are only four categories on the report expected to grow in 2010: “utilities” and “hospitals” in the private sector and “national defense” and “other federal” in the public sector. Utilities will grow by 23 percent, hospitals by 57 percent, national defense by 9 percent and other federal by 20 percent. Most noteworthy is hospital growth, with the trend of hospital construction expanding into 2010 to Nome and Barrow, thanks again to ARRA funding. “Nome has a foundation in and may even be putting up structure this year.” said MacKinnon. “Barrow should start this summer. They are two-year projects due in part to the real short constructions season up there.” Another major project, especially for Southcentral, is the new prison in the Mat-Su Borough. In Anchorage and Fairbanks, fish hatcheries are being developed and are under construction now, with the Anchorage project at $100 million. The missile defense project, also an ARRA project, is experiencing construction activity at Fort Greely. There’s also the Kensington Mine in Southeast Alaska. It’s been close to the point of opening for a number of years,

48 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

stalled due to litigation from environmental organizations, said MacKinnon, and they are pushing hard to get that in operation by third quarter this year with a capital budget of $85 million. After they prevailed in their legal challenge last summer, they quickly awarded some contracts to Alaskan contractors – Alaska Interstate Construction is doing the dirt and civil work and Alcan Electric the electrical needs. Also huge is new housing construction at military bases in Interior Alaska.

FUTURE FOR ALASKA AND THE U.S.? It’s a guessing game what will happen in the future to Alaska’s construction industry. “I don’t see the national economy improving any time soon,” said Goldsmith. “The way things are going. I think that will spill over to Alaska in terms of caution as far as the business community putting money into new investments.” “I think caution is already there,” added MacKinnon. “Nationwide, firms have already pulled back a little bit or taken a wait-and-see attitude. I think that will continue for a long time. There has been a realignment of some of the work on the North Slope – many contractors kept busy in the recent past are experiencing layoffs. “Another thing that is important and a big unknown is what will happen with open seasons in upcoming months with TransCanada and Denali. I think a lot of people are hoping those will be successful and if they are that will have a positive impact, at least on the commercial sector, and if it goes the other way – very detrimental to that sector of the construction industry.”

SUMMARY The Alaska Construction Spending 2010 Forecast gives a detailed outline of what is happening in construction spending for all of Alaska. It is a conservative estimate, according to Goldsmith and MacKinnon, and took much time and effort to complete. For the entire report, stop by a local bank, the AGC office at 8005 Schoon St. in Anchorage, or check it out online at www.agcak. org/2010ConstructionForecast.pdf or ❑ • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010






Top Executive

Air Temp Alaska

5406 Lake Otis Pkwy. Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-349-4503 Fax: 907-344-1230

Dana Bertolini, Pres.

AIS Inc.

Alaska Hearth Products

Alaska Power-VAC LLC

900 E. Agate Ln. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-373-3310 Fax: 907-373-3314

Larry Traeger, Owner

Anita Leader, Member/Mgr.

Altrol Inc.

David A. Bridges, Pres.

Arctic Elevator Co. LLC

12043 W. Skyline Dr. Eagle River, AK 99577 Phone: 907-694-8831 Fax: 907-694-8834

Arctic Refrigeration & AC

720 W. 58th Ave., Ste. J Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-8856 Fax: 907-562-8857

Automated Control Systems



Retail and service of pellet, wood, gas, oil stoves and inserts. Pellet fuel.



Boiler and HVAC cleaning, fire restoration, insulation removal. Woodstove, fireplace and dryer vent cleaning.

Mechanical contractors.

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, sheet metal and refrigeration contractor and service company.

Pat Knowles, Pres.



Replace, repair and install plumbing and heating (forced air and hot water baseboard).

Michele Monteil, Owner



Elevator service, repair, installation and modernization on all major brands, such as Otis, Thyssen, Krupp, Schindler, MCE, US, Montgomery, etc.



Sales, service and installation of commercial refrigeration equipment and HVAC.



Controls, control systems/regulators. Install service controls for commercial, governmental buildings. Install and service air conditioning. Service all HVAC equipment.



Complete mechanical contractor – plumbing/HVAC.



Plumbing and heating supplies. Commercial and residential service. Construction and repair. Bobby Gordon, Pres. Rick Neimann, Owner

Behrends Mechanical Inc.

Dick Behrends, Pres.

PO Box 20347. Juneau, AK 99802 Phone: 907-780-6766 Fax: 907-780-6063

Cameron Plumbing & Heating Inc.

Jim Cameron

212 E. Int’l Airport Rd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-2511 Fax: 907-562-2578

Refractories, mechanical and specialty insulation and firestopping.


Central Plumbing & Heating Inc.



520 W. 58th Ave., Ste. F Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-349-8456 Fax: 907-349-7126

1850 Crest St. Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-789-2896 Fax: 907-789-0495

Service, repair and maintenance of commercial and residential heating and air conditioning systems; airflow, ventilation, controls and trouble-shooting.


1300 Winners Cir. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-344-0700 Fax: 907-344-1937


Alaska Sheet Metal Inc.

Always On Call Mountain Mechanical


568 Whitney Rd. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-279-6009 Fax: 907-279-8342 2295-A Van Horn Rd. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-452-8680 Fax: 907-452-6778


261 E. 56th Ave., Bldg. B Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-4125 Fax: 907-561-4698 8600 Airport Blvd. Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-789-1332 Fax: 907-789-5132

Estab. Jeffery A. Cooper, Pres.

Retail for all types of heating appliances, bath, kitchen fixtures, faucets, and plumbing supplies. Service technicians dispatched for plumbing and heating repairs.


Circle Plumbing & Heating Inc. Ken Embley, Pres. 1971 2317 Raspberry Rd. Anchorage, AK 99502 Phone: 907-243-2171 Fax: 907-248-6135 www.


Commercial and residential plumbing and heating repairs and new construction.

Combustion & Control Inc.



Boiler maintenance, combustion tuning, factory authorized service and boiler repairs.



Commercial and residential heating and air conditioning. Remodels, tenant improvements, rooftop unit replacements, residential retrofits. All HVAC installation work.

6657 Greenwood St.. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-3073 Fax: 907-562-0503

Diamond Heating Inc.

5406 Lake Otis Pkwy. Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-561-3490 Fax: 907-561-6290


Troy Nibert, Branch Mgr. Jerry Ralston, Pres. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010




Company Eayrs Plumbing & Heating

1208 Lake Shore Dr Homer, AK 99603 Phone: 907-235-2333 Fax: 907-235-3866

Encore Mechanical

PO Box 1788 Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-746-2705 Fax: 907-746-2706

Frontier Heating Concepts Inc.

14067 E. Doc Mckinley Ave. Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-746-8031 Fax: 907-746-8032

Husky Electric Supply

300 N. Willow St. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-376-0150 Fax: 907-373-4918

Industrial Service Corp.

2017 S. Cushman St. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-456-7663 Fax: 907-452-2824

International Mechanical Inc.

646 E. Dowling Rd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-3044 Fax: 907-561-7689

Johnson Controls, Inc.

2000 W. Int’l Airport Rd., Ste. B-1 Anchorage, AK 99502 Phone: 907-243-3737 Fax: 907-248-1978

Top Executive




Steve Eayrs, Pres.



Boiler systems, radiant heat, renewable energy components, including solar. HRV systems, complete plumbing needs, residential and commercial, new construction and remodel.



Design, sales, installation and service of hydronic heating systems and plumbing systems. Specializing in NG, LP and fuel oil boilers.



Dealer for Central Boiler outdoor wood furnaces and accessories. More efficient way to heat your home, domestic hot water, shop, pool and other buildings.



Specializing in distributing high quality electrical components, equipment and materials for residential, industrial and commercial clients throughout Alaska. Clint Nelson, Pres. Andrew Good, Pres. Lee Hamora, Pres. Mechanical contractor.

W.C. Simmons, Owner


Kevin Carey, Pres.



Commercial and industrial plumbing and heating.



Metasys Systems, York equipment, HVAC controls, fire and security. Jeffrey S. Wood, Service Branch Mgr. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010






Top Executive

Klebs Mechanical Inc.

1107 E. 72nd Ave. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-365-2500 Fax: 907-365-2590

Larry’s Plumbing & Heating

PO Box 966 Kodiak, AK 99615 Phone: 907-486-6378 Fax: 907-486-4328

Larry’s Quality Heating & Plumbing

2531 Barrett Ave. Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-789-2939 Fax: 907-789-2510

M & J Plumbing & Heating

PO Box 585 Soldotna, AK 99669 Phone: 907-262-2277 Fax: 907-283-6782

Mantech Mechanical Inc.

7401 Arctic Blvd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-349-2567 Fax: 907-349-2621

Moore Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. 1801 E. Dowling Rd. Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-561-1500 Fax: 907-562-0167

Gary Klebs, Pres./CEO




Full-service heating and plumbing contractor, serving commercial construction and residential replacement markets since 1986.

1986 Larry Taylor, Pres.



Plumbing and heating, new construction and service. Put in new boiler and service.

Larry Schultz, Pres.



Heating and plumbing contractors.

Marc Avigo, Pres.



Light commercial and new homes plumbing and service. In-floor heating systems and replacing many older heating systems for the Alaska Energy Rebate program.



Commercial plumbing and mechanical contractor.



Counter sales of HVAC equipment and parts. Installation of new equipment – heating, cooling and fireplaces and accessories. Service of all HVAC equipment. Collin Szymanski, Pres. Vanessa Jones, Pres.

Mountain High Plumbing & Heating Inc. LaDeane Copeland, Pres.

PO Box 71507 Fairbanks, AK 99707 Phone: 907-452-2052 Fax: 907-452-2145



Heating and plumbing contractors. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010





Top Executive

Northern Lights Services

PO Box 58159 Fairbanks, AK 99711 Phone: 907-488-2500 Fax: 907-488-0722

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 367

610 W. 54th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-2810 Fax: 907-562-2587

Preferred Plumbing & Heating

335 Main Street Loop Kenai, AK 99611 Phone: 907-283-7909 Fax: 907-283-7990

R & S Plumbing & Heating

11723 Old Glenn Hwy. Eagle River, AK 99577 Phone: 907-694-6646 Fax: 907-694-0527

Schmolck Mechanical Contractors Inc. PO Box 3084 Sitka, AK 99835 Phone: 907-563-2242 Fax: 907-563-6139

Siemens Building Technologies

5333 Fairbanks St., Ste. B Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-2242 Fax: 907-563-6139

The Superior Group Inc.

8861 Elim St. Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-344-5011 Fax: 907-344-5094

David Worel, Manager






Plumbing, heating, air conditioning, refrigeration and temperature controls contractor and supplier. Randy Whitney, Bus. Mgr.


Plumbers, steamfitters, welders, service technicians, gas utility workers, water and wastewater utility workers, municipal facility maintenance and municipal mechanical inspectors.


Plumbing contractors. Rockwell Smith, Owner Don Burrows, Pres.



Residential plumbing and heating services and repair. New installations and retrofit installations. Retail store.

Gary Smith, VP



Mechanical contracting – HVAC, piping and plumbing.



Building automation, energy management, fire/life safety, security and mechanical systems and services. Leverette G. Hoover, Gen. Mgr. W. Michael Blake, Pres.


A commercial mechanical and electrical contractor, providing design, installation and maintenance of mechanical and electrical systems in buildings for new construction or existing buildings. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010






Top Executive

Advanced Blasting Services LLC

1120 E. Huffman Rd., Ste. 206 Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-243-1811 Fax: 907-569-1811

Alaska Interstate Construction

601 W. Fifth Ave., Ste. 400 Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-562-2792 Fax: 907-562-4179

Alaska Mechanical Inc.

8540 Dimond D Cir. Anchorage, AK 99515-1938 Phone: 907-349-8502 Fax: 907-349-1324

Alaska Quality Builders

PO Box 674 Willow, AK 99688 Phone: 907-495-6200 Fax: 907-495-6200

Alaska Road Boring Co.

9024 Vanguard Dr., Ste. 202 Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-344-6895 Fax: 907-344-4489

Alcan Builders Inc.

PO Box 70752 Fairbanks, AK 99707 Phone: 907-456-1383 Fax: 907-452-4378

American Marine Corp.

6000 A St. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-5420 Fax: 907-562-5426




Julia A. Saunders, Member



Explosive engineering/drilling and blasting to include, pit development, armor stone production, high-scaling, rock bolting, slope stabilization, demolition, obstruction removal, shooting for pile-drive operations, submarine drilling and blasting.

Steve Percy, Pres.



Providing civil construction services throughout Alaska and International markets. Larry Buss, Pres.


General contractors.


Residential, insurance losses, remodels and new construction. Specializes in custom homes. Richard R. Johnson, Pres. Earl Frawner, Pres.



Horizontal/directional drilling, cured in place pipe for sewer, water and storm systems. Pipe TV inspection.



Construct and remodel commercial structures. Jeff Alling, Pres. Thomas Ulrich, VP.

Underwater diving, underwater welding, underwater inspection, marine construction, environmental response and remediation. API inspection, storage tanks and piping, and storage and maintenance.


Arnell ICM Co. Inc.

David Arnell, Pres.



General contractor, floor coverings, carpet, remodel, acoustical ceilings, sound panels, demountable partitions.

Bema Construction

Richard Carr, Pres.



General contractor, disaster restoration (fire, flood, vandalism) and remodeling.



General contractor for commercial building construction projects in Alaska. Designbuild and bio-design projects with private sector events.

PO Box 90123 Anchorage, AK 99509 Phone: 907-562-5385 Fax: 907-562-7962 3900 E. Steven Dr. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-373-1123 Fax: 907-376-2328

Boslough Construction Inc.

731 I St., Ste. 200 Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-4647 Fax: 907-279-6045

Brice Inc.

PO Box 70668 Fairbanks, AK 99707 Phone: 907-452-2512 Fax: 907-452-5012 Gary Boslough, Pres. Sam Robert Brice, Pres.

Heavy civil construction. Specializes in remote site, Arctic construction, roads, building ad-ons, airstrips, material sales, production cleaning and grubbing.

Transportation Tank & Trailer Service Center Before




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

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Top Executive

Bristol Construction Services LLC

Joe Terrell, CEO

111 W. 16th Ave., Third Flr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-563-0013 Fax: 907-563-6713

Bristol Design Build Services LLC

Joe Terrell, CEO

111 W. 16th Ave., Third Flr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-563-0013 Fax: 907-563-6713

Buhler Construction

3733 Coventry Dr. Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-349-3240 Fax: 907-522-4245

Building Hope Construction LLC

PO Box 4006 Soldotna, AK 99669 Phone: 907-260-8041 Fax: 907-260-8042

C.D.F. General Contractors Inc.

PO Box 211586 Anchorage, AK 99508 Phone: 907-337-7600 Fax: 907-272-2209

Chugach Alaska Corp.

3800 Centerpoint Dr., Ste. 601 Anchorage, AK 99503-4161 Phone: 907-563-8866 Fax: 907-563-8402

Colony Builders Inc.

9420 Vanguard Dr., Suite A Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-345-0371 Fax: 907-345-6934





Heavy construction, utilities, site restoration and development civil construction and range development and construction. ANC 8(a).


Design-build construction and facilities construction. Providing design-build construction management and vertical construction services. ANC 8(a). Andy Buhler, Owner/Operator



General contractor/remodelers, all phases of remodel and additions – kitchens and bathrooms – additions, from design, prints, permits (ground up through finish). Mark Hill, CEO

Residential construction for the Central Kenai Peninsula.

2009 Gary Murphy, Pres.




1,154 Barney Uhart, Pres. Bill Taylor, Pres.

Tenant improvements, commercial, residential, renovation and repair of damaged buildings, new construction, commercial, elevator installation and general contracting. Base and facilities operations, construction, environmental, education, information technology, vehicle maintenance, telecommunications, civil engineering, manufacturing, oil and gas support services. Builds new homes and remodels existing homes. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010






Top Executive

Consolidated Enterprises Inc.

633 E. 81st Ave. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-344-4567 Fax: 907-349-6390

Chris Larson, Pres.




General construction and commercial roofing.


Crestone General LLC

James Burke, Managing Member



General contracting, commercial tenant improvement specialists.

Criterion General Inc.

Dave Dereoberts, Pres.



Full-service general contractor, vertical construction, commercial and light industrial, specializing in design-build, design-assist and partnering. Annual gross sales $30 million to $40 million.

200 W. 34th Ave. PMB 1011 Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-274-1222 Fax: 907-274-1227

2820 Commercial Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501-3015 Phone: 907-277-3200 Fax: 907-272-8544

Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc. 740 Bonanza Ave. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-2336 Fax: 907-561-3620

Eklutna Inc. Josh Pepperd, Pres. Curtis McQueen, CEO

16515 Centerfield Dr., Ste. 201 Eagle River, AK 99577 Phone: 907-696-2828 Fax: 907-696-2845

Fjord Contractors

Tom Greenley, Owner

PO Box 1457 Petersburg, AK 99833 Phone: 907-772-3800 Fax: 907-772-3840

Frawner Corp.

PO Box 233863 Anchorage, AK 99523 Phone: 907-561-4044 Fax: 907-346-4797


Commercial construction, design-build.




Commercial and industrial construction, facility design-build, tenant improvements, government contracting and project management. Anchorage’s largest private land owner involved in real estate, commercial and private subdivision development, land leasing, sand and gravel supplier.



Commercial and residential building contractors providing building and logistical services in the heart of Southeast Alaska island area, private and governmental.



General contractor, including building construction/remodel, HVAC systems, sewer/ water/storm systems and horizontal directional drilling. Jay Frawner, Pres. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010





Top Executive

Ghemm Co.

Albert Bell, Pres.

PO Box 70507 Fairbanks, AK 99707 Phone: 907-452-5191 Fax: 907-451-7797

Golden Heart Construction

Craig Robinson, Pres.

PO Box 72728 Fairbanks, AK 99707-2728 Phone: 907-458-9193 Fax: 907-458-9173

Granite Construction Co.

11301 Lang St. Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-344-2593 Fax: 907-344-1562

Granite Construction Co.

5050 E. Dunbar Dr., Suite A1 Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-373-6048 Fax: 907-373-6092



Project management and general contracting services in Fairbanks and Northern Alaska for commercial and industrial construction projects. New and remodel work is performed for private, public and institutional clients.



Commercial and residential remodel and new construction.



Heavy civil construction, roads, bridges, underground utilities and provides construction aggregates and hot/warm mix asphalt.



Grading, paving, utilities, site work and aggregates.

8 Joe Spink, Region Mgr. Matt Ketchum, Area Mgr. J D Wilkerson, Pres.


IHS Construction Inc.

Chuck Morris, Pres.


John McKeever, Pres.


751 S. Reeve Cir. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-373-6048 Fax: 907-373-6092

Innovative Building Solutions Inc.

PO Box 230666 Anchorage, AK 99523 Phone: 907-929-4922 Fax: 907-929-4923



Griffard Steel Co.

2650 Phillips Field Rd. Wasilla, AK 99709 Phone: 907-479-2972 Fax: 907-479-0635


Steel erection and metal fabrication.

Erection of pre-engineered steel buildings.


New home construction and remodel services.

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Top Executive

Jay-Brant General Contractors

460 Grubstake Ave. Homer, AK 99603 Phone: 907-235-8400 Fax: 907-235-8731

JKM General Contractors LLC

1884 E. 3rd Ave., Ste. 201 Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-770-3880 Fax: 907-258-2963

K O Kan Construction

3331 Fifth Wheel St. Fairbanks, AK 99709 Phone: 907-479-2690 Fax: 907-456-3456

K’s Construction Inc.

2301 S. Knik Goose Bay Rd., Ste. 4 Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-357-8453 Fax: 907-373-5471

K-C Corp.

2964 Commercial Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-258-2425 Fax: 907-278-8018

Kiewit Building Group Inc.

1577 C St., Ste. 101 Anchorage, AK 99501-5127 Phone: 907-222-9350 Fax: 907-222-9380

Kiewit Pacific Co.

1577 C St., Ste. 101 Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-222-9350 Fax: 907-222-9380







Public works, military and commercial construction.



Commercial building renovations and improvements. Commercial painting and taping services.



Residential construction and remodeling.



General contractors specializing in installation of ceramic, quarry, porcelain tile, stone, slate and granite.



General contracting (commercial/industrial). Specializing in light gage metal framing, sheetrock, taping, painting and specialty coatings.

Kevin Welker, Sr. VP-Alaska Area Mgr. 1949


Commercial and industrial building projects throughout Alaska. State, federal, local government and health care.

Chuck Jay, Bob Brant Jorge Martinez, Owner/Gen. Mgr. Ken Bishop, Owner Roland Kay, VP Byron Kohfield, Pres. Pat Harrison, Alaska Area Mgr.


Heavy civil construction, including transportation, marine, dams and resource development. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



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Top Executive

KUK Construction LLC

360 W. Benson Blvd., Ste. 302 Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-562-8708 Fax: 907-562-8751

Little Susitna Construction Co.

821 N St., Ste. 207 Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-274-7571 Fax: 907-277-3300

Loken Construction LLC

5425 Cope St., Ste. B Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-868-8880 Fax: 907-563-8881

McGee Industries

6200 Lake Otis Pkwy., Ste. 202 Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-345-1400 Fax: 907-345-1553

Tom Tyler, Gen. Mgr.

Dominic Lee PE, Founder/Pres.

Tyler Loken, Member/Pres.

Tom McGee, Pres.



General, mechanical and electrical contractor. Architects; civil, mechanical and electrical engineers; licensed in 11 states. Construction project management. Importer, exporter and global project consultation. Branch offices in Atlanta and New Orleans.



Providing light commercial and residential framing, general contracting and boom truck services.

Commercial construction.


N. Claiborne Porter Jr. AIA, Pres.

Neeser Construction Inc.


NCP Design/Build Ltd.

2501 Blueberry Rd. Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-276-1058 Fax: 907-276-8533


Provides commercial and industrial pre-construction, construction and construction management services for public and private clients.


John Belarde, Pres.

118 E. International Airport Rd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-562-2283 Fax: 907-563-8366


MMC Construction Inc.

1217 E. 66th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-349-7435 Fax: 907-349-8632


Concrete and asphalt repairs, underground utilities, earthwork and Anchorage Hillside road drainage and lot development.





A full-service architecture, construction, design-build firm. Custom houses, additions, remodeling and commercial projects. Gerald Neeser, Pres.

General contracting firm engaged in large commercial construction with design/ build contracting as its specialty. Examples of design/build and construction types by NCI are: educational, correctional, retail, hospital, high-rise construction and more. â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010





Top Executive

Norcon Inc.

3725 Braddock St. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-451-6739 Fax: 907-456-5425

North Country Builders of Alaska

440 S. Denali St. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-373-7060 Fax: 907-373-7061

North Pacific Erectors

PO Box 240748 Douglas, AK 99824 Phone: 907-364-3288 Fax: 907-364-3464

Northern Dame Construction

PO Box 871131 Wasilla, AK 99867 Phone: 907-376-9607 Fax: 907-373-4704





Alaska-based general contractor specializing in powerline, inside electrical and mechanical construction and maintenance.



Commercial and residential general contractor for new, remodel and all phases of construction.

James Williams, Pres.



General contractor specializing in metal building erection. All aspects of construction from site prep to remodels. Locally owned since 1978.

Doris Coy, Owner



Excavation, site development, subdivision roads, clearing, septics and traffic control services.

Dave Kezer, Sr. Ops & Maint. Mgr. Tom Smith, Pres.

Nugget Construction Inc.

Cliff Terwilliger, Pres.


Osborne Construction Co.

George Osborne Jr., Pres.


8726 Corbin Dr. Anchorage, AK 99507 Phone: 907-344-8365 Fax: 907-522-2786

3701 Braddock St. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-451-0079 Fax: 907-451-1146

Paug-Vik Development Corp.

PO Box 429 Naknek, AK 99633 Phone: 907-258-1345 Fax: 907-222-5423


Heavy civil, environmental and marine construction.

223 Maurice Labrecque, Gen. Mgr.


General contractor with primary focus on commercial, industrial, military, civil, housing and design projects for state and federal agencies in Alaska. Selective work in private market. General contracting and environmental services.








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.SLUU/^` • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010







Top Executive

PCL Construction Services, Inc.

1400 W. Benson Blvd., Ste. 510 Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-243-7252 Fax: 907-272-1905

Pepco Cedar Homes

10224 W. Frontage Rd. Eagle River, AK 99577 Phone: 907-694-4047 Fax: 907-694-9680

Price Gregory International Inc.

301 W. Northern Lights Blvd., Ste. 300 Anchorage, AK 99503-2648 Phone: 907-278-4400 Fax: 907-278-3255

Pruhs Construction

2193 Viking Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-279-1020 Fax: 907-279-1028

R H Development LLC

PO Box 32403 Juneau, AK 99803 Phone: 907-790-4146 Fax: 907-790-4147

Ridge Contracting Inc.

PO Box 240121 Anchorage, AK 99524 Phone: 907-222-7518 Fax: 907-272-2290

Rockford Corp.

6700 Arctic Spur Rd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-344-4551 Fax: 907-344-2130

Roger Hickel Contracting Inc.

11001 Calaska Cir. Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-279-1400 Fax: 907-279-1405

Six-M Custom Homes

2804 W. Northern Lights Blvd. Anchorage, AK 99517 Phone: 907-244-5270 Fax: 907-245-4234

SKW/Eskimos Inc.

PO Box 92479 Anchorage, AK 99509 Phone: 907-339-6700 Fax: 907-339-6745

Southeast Remodel Inc.

2000 Anka St. Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-463-4491 Fax: 907-463-4499

Spinell Homes Inc.

1900 W. Northern Lights., Ste. 200 Anchorage, AK 99517 Phone: 907-344-5678 Fax: 907-344-1976

STG Inc.

11820 S. Gambell St. Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-644-4664 Fax: 907-644-4666

Swalling Construction Co.

PO Box 101039 Anchorage, AK 99510 Phone: 907-272-3461 Fax: 907-274-6002

Tamark Builders

2140 S. High Rd. Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-745-4720 Fax: 907-745-4722

Tundra Rose Construction

PO Box 871089 Wasilla, AK 99687 Phone: 907-373-2046 Fax: 907-373-2056





The PCL family of companies is engaged in almost every area of activity. The companies include general building, mechanical and industrial, highway and heavy construction, equipment resources and corporate services. Special project teams.

Scott Ivany, Construction Mgr. Preston Scott Peppers

Design-build custom homes and remodel.

1975 David L. Matthews, VP/Alaska Mgr.



EPC contractor: pipelines, oil and gas facilities, electric generation facilities, turnkey infrastructure development projects. Mechanical and electrical arena construction expert.



Road, airport, utilities, development, industrial and pipeline contractor.


5 J. Dana Pruhs, Pres. Richard Harris, Owner

Residential and light commercial construction and development. All aspects of construction and development. Certified green professional and member of SEBIA. Drew V. McLaughlin, Pres.

Demolition, environmental cleanup, site work and remote work throughout Alaska.

2000 Steve Schoeni





General contractor – commercial and road work.

Matt Matthews, Builder



General contractor, home builder, residential homes – customized.

John Golick, Pres.

1974 Roger Hickel, Pres.

General contractor, wholly owned by ASRC Construction Holding Company. Provide commercial, industrial, heavy civil, paving, design-build and related support services. Sam Thorp, Pres.



Residential and commercial, new construction and remodels, flood, fire and sheetrock repair. No job too big or small.



Residential and commercial general contractor. Chuck Spinelli, Pres. James St. George


Renewable energy systems, tower construction, power generation and distribution facilities, pile foundations and bulk-fuel systems.


Specializing in pile driving, bridge building, dock construction, concrete restoration, industrial coatings and other heavy, civil construction services. Michael Swalling, Pres. Mark Drake, Owner



Communications contractor, cell site construction. Sheirwin Caldwell, Owner


DBE/WBE/Hub Zone located, commercial, government, residential – 28 years experience. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010





Top Executive

UIC Construction LLC

6700 Arctic Spur Rd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-762-0100 Fax: 907-762-0131

UNIT Company

Jim Cehula, Gen. Mgr.

Michael Fall, Pres.

W M Construction LLC

Mike Thompson, Owner

Watterson Construction Co.

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

Weldin Construction Inc.

561 E. Steel Loop Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-746-3200 Fax: 907-746-3237

West Construction Co. Inc.

6120 A St. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-561-9811 Fax: 907-561-9844





Remote site vertical and civil construction.

Commercial general contractor involved in all types of building construction throughout the public and private market in Alaska.


Home builders, commercial contractors – new home construction, multi-family dwellings, commercial buildings, remodels and additions, public works projects.





General contractor, design-build, conventional bid/build, construction management/ general contractor project experience.



Commercial and military construction throughout the state of Alaska and the Pacific Rim.



Bridges, docks, heavy construction. William Watterson, Pres. Richard Weldin, Pres. Brad West, Pres.


Company Airport Equipment Rentals

5904 Old Airport Rd. Fairbanks, AK 99708 Phone: 907-522-6466 Fax: 907-522-6467

Alaska Construction Equipment Inc. 13135 Old Glenn Hwy., Ste. 210 Eagle River, AK 99577 Phone: 907-373-4410 Fax: 907-373-4407

Alaska Crane Ltd.

Top Executive



Jerry Sadler, Pres.


105 Michael L. Foster, Pres.

James St. George, Pres.

Automatic Welding & Supply

Vern Christianson, Pres.

3038 Rampart Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-272-2457 Fax: 907-277-3919

Brice Equipment LLC

1725 Badger Road North Pole, AK 99705 Phone: 907-488-6422 Fax: 907-488-6423

Cold Spot Rentals Inc.



Cedarapids, Canica, Finlay, Simplicity, Columbia Steel, Western Wire, Berco, Spokane Steel Foundry, Fab Tec, Superior Equipment and Eagle Iron Works.Sale, manufacturer of crushing, screening, conveyor plants.


Equipment Rental: snowblower (loader mounted), loaders, skid steers, articulated trucks, generators (6.6-800 kw), compressors, light plants, logsplitters, excavators, trailers, service trucks and heaters. Matt Brice, Pres. 7

Construction Machinery Industrial LLC Ken Gerondale, Pres./CEO



733 E. Whitney Rd. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-5050 Fax: 907-276-0889

Crane services and heavy lifting.



5400 Homer Dr. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-3822 Fax: 907-563-1381

Alaska’s largest construction equipment rental company with seven locations from Prudhoe Bay to Kenai. Distributor/franchise for many worldwide brands, including John Deere, Genie, National/Alamo and Wacker. Heavy equipment rental, service and sales.


Connie Dubay, Pres./CEO

310 Birch Hill Rd. Fairbanks, AK 99712 Phone: 907-457-3226 Fax: 907-457-4546


11900 S. Gambell St. Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-522-9004 Fax: 907-522-9047

Craig Taylor Equipment Co.


620 E. Whitney Rd. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-349-6666 Fax: 907-522-3464

PO Box 4042 Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-745-6453 Fax: 907-745-6167


Farm and garden rentals, snowblowers, forklifts, telehandlers and trailers.

Ingersoil-Rand, Hitachi, Volvo, Allmand Brothers Inc., Gorman Rupp, Genie, Link Belt, Atlas Copco, Ingersoll Rand and Dodson. Lonnie Parker, Pres.


Factory authorized dealer for: Komatsu construction and mining, Bobcat loaders and excavators, John Deere commercial and lawn tractors, Dynapac compaction rollers, Fecom land clearing attachments and carriers. Providing sales, parts and service. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010






Top Executive

Delta Leasing LLC

Matt Thorpe


Charlie Bussell, CEO



Louis Fessler, Pres./Gen. Mgr.



Ditch Witch of Alaska

Fessler Equipment Services Inc.

2400 Commercial Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-5335 Fax: 907-272-9119

Independent Lift Truck

Wayne Dick, Pres.

Jackovich Industrial & Construction

Melo “Buz” Jackovich, Pres./CEO

1600 Well St. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-456-4414 Fax: 907-452-4846

240 Langnes Ct. Anchorage, AK 99515 Phone: 907-349-2601 Fax: 907-349-3956

Miller Construction Equipment Sales


Parker, Hyd Hose; Hensley, Points; Lubricate plate, grease oil; ALKOTO, steam cleaner; Lincoln, grease equipment; Bethlehom, wire rope; Ztihl, chain saws and P & T, cam loks

Cy Sanders, Owner



Kennametal carbide bits, Espar fuel-fired heaters and Pengo drilling supplies.

Andrew Miller, Gen. Mgr.



Heavy equipment sales, rental and service. State’s only Doosan, Yanmar and Sakai dealer. Loaders, excavators, track trucks, rollers, asphalt compactors. All construction tools and machinery.

Motion Industries

Chris Ransom, Anchorage Branch Mgr. 1946

N C Power Systems

6450 Arctic Blvd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-786-7563 Fax: 907-786-7567

North Star Equipment Services

790 Ocean Dock Rd. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-272-7537 Fax: 907-272-8927

Pro Scaffold Svc. Inc.

470 S. Hallea Ln. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-357-7880 Fax: 907-357-7860

Totem Equipment & Supply Inc.

2536 Commercial Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-276-2858 Fax: 907-258-4623

United Rentals

9760 Old Seward Hwy. Anchorage, AK 99515-2137 Phone: 907-349-4425 Fax: 907-349-9683

United Rentals

450 E. Railroad Av. Wasilla, AK 99654 Phone: 907-376-5321 Fax: 907-376-2434

Yukon Equipment Inc.

2020 E. Third Ave. Anchorage, AK 99501-2994 Phone: 907-277-1541 Fax: 907-276-6795


Equipment sales, service and parts. Light and medium equipment, compressor, lawn anc garden, chain and chop saw, sold and serviced.


2207 N. Jordan Ave. Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-789-4255 Fax: 907-789-5150

6450 Arctic Blvd. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-786-7500 Fax: 907-786-7580

Construction equipment and vehicles, remote camps, facilities, trucks, vans, construction, mining equipment, oil and gas equipment and modular offices.

CAT and Mitsubishi forklifts, Geni telehandlers, sales, services and parts all makes and models.


Keystone Industrial Supply

N C Machinery Co./N C The CAT Rental Store


1200 E. 70th Avenue Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907- 344-3383 Fax: 907- 344-8366

5401 Fairbanks St., Ste. 2 Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-5565 Fax: 907-563-5536

AK Empls.


4040 B St., Ste. 200 Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-771-1300 Fax: 907-771-1380 1800 W. 47th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99517 Phone: 907-248-0010 Fax: 907-248-1831


A leading distributor of industrial maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) replacement parts distributor of bearings, power transmission, electrical, industrial automation, hydraulic, industrial hose, hydraulic, pneumatic components, and process pumps. John J. Harnish, Chairman/CEO

Caterpillar machine sales, parts, service and rental. Caterpillar engines for marine, power generation, truck petroleum and industrial applications. Sales and rental of Caterpillar and other preferred brands of rental equipment and construction supplies.

1926 Doug Blumer, Area Sales Mgr.


Caterpillar engine distributor: sales, rentals, parts and service.


Specializing in heavy-lift crane operations. Added to the fleet a smaller, more mobile cranes. The ABI mobile ram machine is earning the reputation of being faster and more productive than traditional pile driving machines. Jeff Bentz, Pres. Dennis Bash, Pres.



Sales and rental of scaffold goods, as well as erect and dismantle scaffold labor. Other services include crane service, all-terrain aerial lifts and hydrolic mast climbers.



Totem heaters, Frost Fighter heaters, Sure Flame heaters, Terex, Mustang, Sky Jack, Clemco, Wacker, MultiQuip, Honda, Alkota, Genie, Wyco, Landa, Weber, Crown ground thawers and design fabrication services.



Full-service equipment sales and rental facility. General contractor to homeowner. Reach forklift and aerial specialist.



Heavy equipment rental, service and repair.



Dealer for Case construction and agriculture equipment, Oshkosh trucks/snow blowers, M-B runway brooms, Trail King equipment trailers, Trackless utility vehicles, Elgin street sweepers, Vactor vacuum trucks and many other manufacturers for governmental, construction and industrial markets. Branch store in Fairbanks. Allie Huston, Secy./Treasurer Mark Passard, Branch Mgr. Mike Gabel, Branch Mgr. Morry Hollowell, Pres./CEO • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


North Slope Slow Down

Majors pull back on Alaska investments, exploration. BY VANESSA ORR Photo courtesy of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.

Waiting to unload: In late July 2009, one of the two Crowley Maritime barges carrying Liberty rig components docked at Endicott satellite drilling island, the Liberty operations base.


2010 CAUTION While still committed to projects on the North Slope, two major oil companies, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. and ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc., are cutting back in the new year. BP will be reducing capital spending by approximately 15 percent; from $1 billion in 2009 to approximately $850 million in 2010. Roughly onethird of this investment is earmarked for infrastructure renewal, one-third for drilling and one-third for growth. “Our first priority is to invest in the infrastructure to enable a sustainable long-term future,” explained John Mingé, president, BP Exploration Alaska, at a recent Resource Development Council for Alaska Inc. meeting. “We will then invest in developing the light oil base which generates the cash, and then invest for growth– projects like Liberty, Point Thomson

Photo courtesy of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.


or many years, the North Slope of Alaska has provided oil, gas, jobs and opportunities for Alaskans. Yet with each year that passes, the ability to get “easy oil” decreases, requiring companies to make more of an investment in exploration and drilling, as well as make major investments in new technologies to harvest the oil that remains. According to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA), the long-term outlook for oil on the North Slope is one of gradual decline. The state expects average daily production in fiscal year 2009 to drop to 689,000 barrels per day and 665,000 barrels per day in fiscal year 2010. The good news, however, is that new gas field development, smaller field-size oil development, and the development of technologies to extract heavy oil may help to extend the North Slope’s future.

John Minge, president of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Photo courtesy of ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc.

and Denali-The Alaska Gas Pipeline.” According to Mingé, over the last five years, oil and gas industry costs have increased at a rate of four times the price of oil, while North Slope oil production has declined about 29 percent. “The light oil business has suffered over the last few years due to declining production and rising costs; costs have risen through significant inflation and increased government taxes,” he explained. “Our cash break-even point is much higher today than it was five years ago,” Mingé continued. “Policy decisions around taxes made over the past few years have slowed the pace and scale of some of our North Slope developments; we put projects on the shelf that didn’t make sense in this environment.” One project that is moving forward is Liberty, the first full federal offshore development in Alaska. In 2010, the first of up to six Liberty ultra-extended reach wells will be completed, reaching six to eight miles from its surface location to the new 100 million barrel field. To complete this engineering marvel, which will be the longest reach well ever drilled, the company had to create a new rig, which was delivered to Endicott satellite drilling island this past summer. The new rig weighs 8,500 tons, has eight 2,640-horsepower engines that generate 16 megawatts of power, and its top drive is rated at 105,000 foot pounds of torque. By adding to an already existing facility, BP was able to reduce its environmental footprint, and to create efficiencies

Helene Harding, vice president of North Slope Operations and Development, ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


by tying production from Liberty to its Endicott production facility. The first oil production from Liberty is expected in 2011, with a peak of approximately 40,000 barrels a day. Capital investment in the project is expected to equal more than $1 billion. Approximately 40 Alaska companies worked on Liberty’s construction. ConocoPhillips, one of the most aggressive explorers on the North Slope, is also proceeding with caution in 2010. “At this time last year, oil prices had fallen dramatically and our industry was under significant pressure,” explained Helene Harding, vice president, North Slope operations and development. “As a company, and particularly in times of capital constraints, ConocoPhillips engages in strong cost management and close scrutiny of investments. As we look to 2010, we continue to carefully consider each investment decision. In 2010, we will continue to focus on operating well, controlling costs and assessing the overall business climate in this uncertain price environment. “As we look to continue improving oil recovery, we recognize that the Kuparuk field, approaching 30 years of age, is a mature asset,” she added. “This situation requires increased spending on maintenance, and increased maintenance costs may impact the timing and funding of drilling and well work. Our exploration drilling activity will be significantly down compared to recent years, but we will continue to concentrate on finding ways to accelerate production from our base fields.” According to Harding, because a Record of Decision on the Alpine West CD5 404 permit has not been issued, the company will not be able to meet the project’s planned construction schedule and will have to postpone the CD5 project for at least a year. “This permit delay will postpone the earliest estimate for oil production from this satellite from 2012 to at least 2013,” said Harding. “Unnecessary delays in permitting result in delays in investments, delays in creation of North Slope construction jobs, and delays in commencement of production and associated revenues.” In the Chukchi Sea, ConocoPhillips plans to continue with environmental studies in hopes of drilling in 2012 –

68 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Photo courtesy Pioneer Natural Resources

The Oooguruk drill site, summer 2009, located five miles offshore from Harrison Bay in the Beaufort Sea.

more than four years after investing more than $500 million in the recordbreaking $2.6 billion 2008 OCS sale, to acquire federal oil and gas leases in this frontier area. “We will not be drilling any exploration wells this season, either onshore or offshore,” said Harding. “In 2010, we will focus on our core assets. Our history shows that satellites and infill drilling can add significant production, but the fiscal policy of the state and market conditions need to support those investments.”

OOOGURUK PRODUCING Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pioneer Natural Resources, is proceeding on the development of oil wells in Oooguruk on the North Slope. As the first independent to operate a producing field on the North Slope, the company has had continued success since it first saw oil production in June 2008. According to the company’s Web site, production is expected to peak during 2011 at 15,000 to 20,000 gross barrels of oil per day from about 40 development wells; half are producing wells and half are injection wells. “In 2009, our second year of drilling, we focused on two production areas: the Kuparuk reservoir and the Nuiqsut formation,” explained Ken Sheffield, president, Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska. “We drove five horizontal wells: three producers and two water inducers.” The company fracture stimulated the three producing wells, a common practice in the Lower 48. “It’s not necessarily a new thing on the North Slope; many wells in Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk are fracture stimulated,” said Sheffield. “What’s a little different is that we are combining horizontal drilling and fracturing in the same well.

Since 1948, the Era Alaska family has offered exceptional service to Alaskans. With flights to more than 100 communities, there’s an Era route to take you almost anywhere in Alaska.

For more information, visit us online at or call 800-866-8394 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


NIKAITCHUQ In 2009, Eni U.S. Operating Co., a subsidiary of Italian oil company Eni, delayed development work at the Nikaitchuq unit, which they had begun developing in January 2008. According to the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas, the company now plans to start producing oil from an offshore unit in December 2010. A missed sealift date and low oil prices contributed to the delay in production, but the company now

Photo by Business Wire

“By drilling injection and producing wells in two reservoirs, we pushed our production curve up,” added Sheffield. Production from Pioneer’s total fields in 2009 equaled approximately 2.6 million barrels gross or 7,000 barrels a day. In 2010, the company plans to continue working in these same reservoirs. “We’re in drilling mode; we’ll be drilling all year long on the island,” said Sheffield. “This year, our team will be working hard to increase production and working to improve operational efficiencies.” Point Thomson, pictured in January. ExxonMobil Production Co. successfully drilled and cased PTU-15 in early February, the first development well for the Point Thomson project on Alaska’s North Slope.

expects to complete its production modules in Louisiana and ship them to Alaska in 2010. Once the modules have been installed, drilling work will begin, and will consist of roughly 80 wells at Oliktok Point and an offshore site. The sites will be connected with an underwater pipeline. Nikaitchuq is estimated to contain

approximately 180 million barrels of oil, and production is expected to peak at about 26,000 barrels per day.

POINT THOMSON In April 2009, ExxonMobil Production Co. completed drilling and casing the surface section on the second well at Point Thomson. A natural gas


70 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

and condensate field located east of Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope, Point Thomson holds an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of gas, or about 25 percent of the North Slope’s proven gas resource, and approximately 200 million barrels of condensate. “We are making real progress at Point Thomson, and are on schedule to start production in 2014,” said Exxon Alaska Production Manager Dale Pittman, in a company press release. As of December 2009, project owners had invested more than $300 million in Point Thomson, 80 percent of which was spent in Alaska. This past summer, the company drilled its second well to a surfacesection depth of 4,875 feet, which is as deep as is permitted during the ice-free season. In December, they resumed drilling, and both wells, PTU-15 and PTU-16, are expected to reach total depth by the end of 2010. The company also succeeded in delivering more than 30,000 tons of fuel, equipment and supplies in 120 barge runs over the summer. Over the past year, ExxonMobil

staff and Alaska contractors worked to prepare the rig and pad for drilling, which included a $35 million upgrade of a Nabors 27E drilling rig. When completed, the Point Thomson project will include a gas-cycling plant designed to produce hydrocarbon liquids and reinject natural gas back into the reservoir and a pipeline tie-in to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and other ancillary facilities and infrastructure. The project is expected to process 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in order to produce approximately 10,000 barrels per day of liquid condensate TAPS, with capacity for up to 10,000 additional barrels of oil per day. After processing, the natural gas will be recycled into the reservoir, making Point Thomson the highest-pressure gas cycling operation in the world.

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE In addition to light oil and gas, there is the possibility for the development of heavy oil on the North Slope, given the right technology. According to the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas, heavy oil production accounted

for about 6.5 percent of North Slope production in 2009; an increase from 5 percent in 2005. “There are 20 billion barrels of heavy oil in place, but we need to deliver a technology solution to extract the thick oil in commercial quantities from the wellbore, because the economics suffer if flow rates are too low per wellbore,” said Mingé. In 2008, BP began a five-year technology project with a successful heavy oil pilot well. To date, four wells have been drilled and one recently began long-term production. The remaining three wells will be brought on as the heavy oil technology project progresses. “It’s an exciting project and we have a strong belief we will find a technological solution,” said Mingé. “However, our current estimates indicate that even with technological success, heavy oil is not economic under the current tax structure at today’s oil prices.” While drilling for gas and oil has always been a time- and labor-intensive process, it seems that in 2010, those working on the North Slope may be facing more challenges than usual. ❑

stay mobile Peak’s All Terrain Vehicles can carry loads of up to 50 tons witho without hout an an impact on the environment, and they are recognized as “Summer Approved” for tundra travel by the State of Alaska’s Division of Natural Resources. Our fleet of ATV’s are an investment toward protecting the environment and supporting the petroleum industry in its effort to explore and develop Alaska’s Arctic Regions. We are mobile when you are ready to explore. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Photo courtesy of the Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Aerial view of Nome.

Diverse weather, wildlife and culture. BY TRACY BARBOUR


estern Alaska is an immense area that extends from Bristol Bay to the Seward

Peninsula. The region’s climate is largely determined by the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, which makes

Nome at a Glance Population: Approximately 3,500 Location: About 540 air miles northwest of Anchorage Main Industries: Government, tourism, fishing and mining Government Structure: Council-manager form of government Tax Base: 6 percent hotel/motel tax, 5 percent sales tax, and a property tax Hospital: Norton Sound Health Corp. Schools: Nome’s school district has about 700 students in pre-K through grade 12. In addition, University of Alaska Fairbanks has a campus in Nome Airport: Nome Airport Port: Port of Nome


for a diverse landscape and climate. The region features a subarctic oceanic climate in the southwest and a continental subarctic climate farther north. Temperatures are relatively moderate, with considerable variance in precipitation. The northern side of the Seward Peninsula is like a desert, receiving fewer than 10 inches of precipitation annually. Some locations between Dillingham and Bethel average around 100 inches of precipitation. Farther north, in Nome, the climate is drier and colder. With its relatively temperate climate, Western Alaska is home to a wide variety of vegetation, including spruce, cedar, Salmonberry, Douglas aster and broadleaf fireweed. It also supports a large population of birds, mammals and larger game animals, such as bear, moose, musk ox and reindeer. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

ECONOMIC SECTORS Various economic drivers support Western Alaska. From the northern to the southern parts of the region, major sectors are fishing, government, education, health care, retail and tourism. Subsistence is also a critical component for many Western Alaska residents. The relative remoteness of Western Alaska’s communities has a significant impact on the cost of living. Higher-cost communities like Nome, Dillingham and Bethel rely on air transportation for food, fuel and other essentials for much of the year. In Nome – located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast of Norton Sound – the cost of living is 39 percent more than in Anchorage, according to the Alaska Department of Labor. That doesn’t take into account the impact of subsistence. “People in Nome may not buy as much food in grocery stores as people in Anchorage,” said Alaska Department of Labor Economist Alyssa Shanks. Transportation, as a broader category, is also much more costly in Nome than in Anchorage. Transportation fuel in Nome is 49 percent more expensive than in Anchorage. Utilities are 161 percent higher in Nome than in Anchorage, mainly due to the high price of heating fuel. Higher fuel costs, poor commercial fishing and other factors have been particularly devastating to some communities in Western Alaska. Harsh economic conditions at Emmonak and several other villages – located in the Wade Hampton Census Area – prompted requests for financial

Alaska Department of Labor Economist Alyssa Shanks. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Photo courtesy of Siobhan Bradley

Swanberg Dredge used to mine gold in the 1940s and 1950s. The dredge is located approximately one mile east of downtown Nome.

assistance from the federal government. The Wade Hampton Census Area, with about 7,000 residents, depends on other places for many of its services. With retail, trade and public education being the biggest sectors, the area’s unemployment rate is typically higher than elsewhere in the state. The unemployment rate for November, for example, was 20.4 percent. “Wade Hampton regularly gets the designation of the place with the highest unemployment rate for Alaska,” Shanks said. Nome is a critical hub for Wade Hampton and other communities in the surrounding area. As a result, the city’s employment industry is dominated by service and retail jobs. Health care, government, public education and mining jobs also play an important role in supporting the area’s economy. Unemployment in Nome has traditionally been higher than in other parts of the state. In November, for instance, the unemployment rate was 11.5 percent for the Nome Census Area. “They’re running about 2 percent higher than they have in the past couple of years,” Shanks said. “However, I don’t find that surprising, given the current state of the economy in Alaska and the nation.”

DIVERSE ECONOMY Nome is the supply, service and transportation center of the Bering Straits


region, which is about the size of West Virginia. Consequently, the city has a diverse economy marked by steady progression, according to Mayor Denise Michels. “Nome was incorporated in 1901 and has survived through many economic booms and busts,” Michels said. “The community is businesssavvy, and we continue to adjust with these times. At this time, Nome’s economy is stable.” Last year, Nome’s tourism sector was negatively impacted by the global economy, but the construction industry had a positive impact on the city. One important undertaking is the construction of a new Public Safety Building scheduled to be completed the summer of 2010. The $8.1 million project will house municipal police, volunteer fire and ambulance departments, as well as an emergency operations center and a training center. Another important construction project under way is the new Norton Sound Health Corp. hospital, which received full funding of $152 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package through the Indian Health Service. The project will create 70 new jobs initially and more than 200 jobs during construction. In addition, the Nome Joint Utility System is scheduled to begin a utilidor replacement project

this summer to enhance water and sewer service. The Port of Nome also has experienced a huge increase in activity. Since 1990, the port’s vessel traffic resulted in 34 dockings; in 2009 there were 234, according to Michels. This includes fuel, bulk cargo, gravel and equipment barges, cruise ships, government ships, and research and exploration vessels. Nome is also a destination for miscellaneous pleasure craft, including foreign registered vessels. In 2008, three vessels completed the Northwest Passage; in 2009, four completed the trip, Michels said. Last year, Nome also served as a port of call for The World, a luxury cruise ship boasting five-star accommodations. The boost in Nome’s port activity is due, in part, to a number of improvements. The Nome Navigation Improvement Project solved significant navigation problems through wave protection by constructing a breakwater, sediment management, improving harbor access by commercial fishing boats, and improving cargo handling, thereby decreasing transportation costs and expanding services. “The city invested its own funds along with partnerships with Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., which improved the inner harbor for our commercial fishing fleet by adding an additional floating dock,” Michels said. In addition, Nome also saw an increase in small offshore gold-dredging operations. “Several small gold mines continue to provide some employment,” she said. Michels said Nome is working to create strong partnerships to diversify and strengthen the economy, including collaborating with the private sector. “We understand we must be healthy so that economic, community and work force development and education opportunities occur,” she said.

DISTINCTIVE PLACE There’s no place like Nome. While these words reflect the city’s tagline, they represent more than a marketing slogan. Nome is a unique place with rivers, abundant wildlife, beautiful wilderness and hundreds of miles of roads. The city’s strategic positioning offers plenty of opportunities for summer and winter recreation. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

“We are located on the Norton Sound with access to miles and miles of beaches, so you can enjoy a picnic, boating, swimming and fishing,” Michels said. “In the winter, you can hop on your snow machine and ride for miles, ski along our winter trails or go crabbing on the ice.” Nome is the oldest continuous incorporated city in Alaska. It’s also the gateway to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Nome has one of the richest and oldest Eskimo cultures documented in Alaska. The area is culturally diverse, featuring three main Eskimo cultural/linguistic groups – Inupiaq, Yupik and St. Lawrence Island Yupik. Because of its rich culture, Nome is known for having world-class Alaska Native arts and crafts. The city is also famous for its rich history as a gold rush town. The discovery of gold at Anvil Creek in 1898 drew thousands of fortune seekers to the area, including the notorious gunslinger Wyatt Earp. Today, prospectors still engage in gold panning and dredging along its beaches. Nome is also renowned for its role in the world-famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It is the final destination of the annual race, which takes place in March. During that month, a number of activities are staged around the event, including a snowmachine race, basketball tournament and dart tournament. “We see anywhere from 800 to 2,000 visitors, depending on the year,” Michels said. “This is a huge boost for our economy during the winter season.” Each year, more than 5,000 people are estimated to visit Nome. Since 2002, annual walk-in traffic for the local visitors center has averaged 5,204, said Mike Cavin, tourism director of the Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau. Last year, about 2,000 fewer people stopped by the visitor’s center than in 2008. Many of the people visiting Nome tend to be higher-income earners, Cavin said. Also, more of the city’s visitors are arriving in small yachts and sailing vessels after navigating the Northwest Passage. The Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum is another popular stop for visitors wanting to experience the

history of Nome. The museum features exhibits, artifacts and photographs depicting the gold rush era, Wyatt Earp, Eskimos and dog sled racing. Nature-oriented travelers often flock to Nome to see its abundance of birds and other wildlife. Visitors can indulge in world-class bird watching May through August, with an opportunity to see rare species. They can follow any of three roads out of town to spot enormous musk ox, herds of reindeer and brown bear. But Nome is more than just a place

for wildlife viewing, sightseeing and gold panning; it’s also an ideal site for conventions, according to Cavin. “Though we’re a small town, we still have hotels, B&Bs and meeting spots,” he said. “We have a lot of rooms throughout the year.” When visiting Nome, Cavin advises people to dress for winter in the summer. “We’re on the Bering Sea; remember the weather can vary,” he said. “Dress comfortably. That way, you can get out and enjoy a lot of what Nome ❑ has to offer.” • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



No shortage of work for consultants. Photos courtesy of ChemTrack

Granite Mountain Radio Relay Station near Nome, site of a summer 2009 ChemTrack asbestos abatement project.



hese days, the mere mention of asbestos usually elicits fears about exposure-related diseases, including cancer. But up until about 40 years ago, it was a highly soughtafter commodity in the construction industry. Hailed for its strength and resistance to fire and corrosion, it was found in all sorts of building materials, such as insulation, roof shingles, piping and textured paint. In the mid-1970s, the dangers of asbestos exposure became widely publicized and the U.S. government began heavily regulating it. “If something is made of steel, glass or wood you can be assured it doesn’t contain asbestos,” says Bob French, P.E. with EHS-Alaska Inc. “Otherwise, it might, and there is no way to tell without having the material tested by a certified laboratory.” French and EHS-Alaska specialize in asbestos consulting. They provide asbestos and hazardous materials surveys (which are often required for


commercial building renovations), abatement and remediation designs and environmental consulting. “There is lots of misinformation out there,” French said. He cautions that asbestos is much more prevalent than most people think, and that contrary to popular belief, the use of asbestos has not been banned, and asbestoscontaining materials can still be legally purchased. Although its presence is fairly common – it can be found in almost every single building out there, according to French – consumers and homeowners still need to be mindful of its potential dangers. “Most buildings built before about 2000 have some asbestos present. For buildings built after 1980, the asbestos is mostly in materials that are less hazardous, as they are unlikely to become airborne,” French said. “Renovations may require asbestos abatement though, to prevent asbestos particles from being released into the air.”

HEALTH CONCERNS Because health concerns such as lung cancer and mesothelioma only occur when one is exposed to airborne asbestos, if an asbestos-containing material is in good condition, it is often best to leave it alone, some say. The EPA advises that generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers into the air, and if homeowners suspect asbestos is present in their home, they should check the material for wear, but otherwise avoid it. It is especially important to keep from rubbing or handling the material, and preventing it from exposure to vibration or air flow. Unless homeowners are completely sure their home is asbestos-free, they should consult a professional before undertaking any home renovations. French says he has heard of cases where homeowners went to replace old vinyl flooring, unaware that the backing on the flooring contained asbestos. “They • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

would rip up the floors and end up contaminating their entire homes,” he says. For that reason, French recommends calling a consultant if consumers have any concerns whatsoever. French says although asbestos used for industrial purposes can be hazardous to one’s health, it is a naturally occurring mineral, and there is some in the Anchorage area. He cited instances where traces of asbestos had been found in older, concealed dusts, only in forms that had rarely been used for commercial purposes in the U.S. “Asbestos is often formed along fault lines in older, metamorphic rock,” French said.

DIFFERENT TYPES Aaron Winterfeld, Hazardous Material Staff Professional with NORTECH Environmental Engineering, Health & Safety, says that there are actually six different kinds of asbestos, but only one kind is used approximately 95 percent of the time in commercial products, with the remaining 5 percent comprising two other forms. The remaining three forms of asbestos are commonly found as a contaminate, or in rock veins,

and are called “in-situ” asbestos. “There are no regulations specifically concerning in-situ asbestos because it is not a manufactured product,” Winterfeld said. “However, OSHA’s worker exposure levels for asbestos would still apply.” Although naturally-occurring asbestos is not specifically regulated, it doesn’t mean that it is harmless to people who might be exposed to it. Winterfeld cited a September 2008 article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene that describes a unique Alaska case of worker exposure to asbestos. The article, “Evaluation of Public and Worker Exposure Due to Naturally Occurring Asbestos in Gravel Discovered During a Road Construction Project,” examines a case from a road construction project on the Dalton Highway in 2000.

IN-SITU EXPOSURE Great Northwest Inc. was hired to resurface approximately 20 miles of gravel road along the Dalton Highway. They extracted gravel from a local site to perform the resurfacing and to build a project staging area and temporary

housing site, which was home to worker RVs, office trailers, a bath house and a water trailer. After the work was well under way and about 30 truckloads of gravel had been removed from the site, workers noticed a fibrous material among the gravel. The material was suspected to be asbestos and work was immediately terminated at the site. A consulting firm was hired to assess the problem, develop a work plan and determine the extent to which workers were exposed. Samples were taken in the gravel pad itself and inside workers’ vehicles, in the form of settled dust. Results indicated the presence of asbestos, and workers’ living quarters and project equipment had to be completely decontaminated. Nearly 600 breathing zone air samples were taken as well, although almost all samples indicated asbestos levels below OSHA’s permissible exposure limit. However, one sample, taken from the cab of a grader, indicated exposure levels at more than double the permissible limit. Although it appears that in most cases workers did not suffer heavy or prolonged exposure, it may be hard to




ENGINEERING, HEALTH & SAFETY CONSULTANTS EHS Congratulates their very own Robert French for Representing Alaska at the World Asbestos Conference in Taormina, Italy • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


rule out asbestos-related health problems in the future. According to the National Cancer Institute, health risks increase with heavier exposures, but asbestos-related diseases have been found in people who had only brief exposures. Also, it can take anywhere from 10 years to 40 years for symptoms of an asbestos-related disease to appear, so it can be difficult to pinpoint when the exposure occurred.

INDUSTRIAL EXPOSURE Another high-profile case of worker exposure to asbestos occurred in 2006 in the Prudhoe Bay oil field. After corrosion-related pipeline leaks were discovered that same year, more than 300 workers were sent to the field to inspect miles of pipeline constructed in the ’70s. In order to test the pipes for leaks, workers had to strip off outer layers of insulation and sealant, which contained asbestos. Workers were instructed to grind away the sealant in order to expose the bare steel, and in doing so, they likely released asbestos particles into the air. As soon as the asbestos was


discovered, BP immediately halted the work and trained and equipped subsequent workers with the necessary personal protective equipment. They also held meetings and established a hotline for anyone with questions about the exposure, and brought in a pulmonary specialist to speak with workers. Despite these measures, the company was still fined several thousand dollars by the State of Alaska for failing to find and assess the quantity of asbestos in the sealant material before work began. The fines imposed on BP are a reflection of how seriously state and federal agencies take potential asbestos exposure. Aaron Winterfeld, of NORTECH Environmental Engineering, points out that asbestos is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development has adopted, with a few modifications, the federal regulations for asbestos removal

activities, and the federal government has delegated authority to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Alaska Department of Occupation Safety and Health to oversee federal requirements.

INTERESTING COMPLICATIONS It is no wonder then, why even the most seemingly mundane projects involving asbestos can quickly become complicated. Add to that the typical logistical challenges faced by most Alaska contractors, and projects have the potential to get very interesting. For instance, ChemTrack, an Anchorage environmental engineering and construction company, was hired last summer to perform an asbestos abatement project at the Granite Mountain Radio Relay Station located above the Arctic Circle about two hours inland of Nome. The relay station was built in the ’50s by the U.S. Air Force to monitor Russian communications during the Cold War. At its peak, the site was home to approximately 20 to 30 personnel. By the ’70s, most of the equipment was obsolete, though it was still • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

staffed up until the â&#x20AC;&#x2122;90s. The site consists of a few dilapidated buildings, some satellite dishes and a massive water tank, in which ChemTrack established offices and storage space for the duration of the project. According to Brad Bigelow, project manager for ChemTrack, in recent years the site was used mostly by hunters and people passing through the area, coming to or from Nome or Elim. The conditions of the site surprised workers when they arrived. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Twenty years of drifting snow broke windows and doors, and allowed wildlife access to the buildings,â&#x20AC;? Bigelow said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Caribou got inside, where they were trapped and eventually died. Other animals ate parts of the carcasses. As a result of all the wildlife activity inside the building, we had to remove approximately 500 pounds of rotten caribou fur and bones before we could even begin the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;real work.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? ChemTrack personnel referred to the rotting animal remains as â&#x20AC;&#x153;caribou stew,â&#x20AC;? and although one worker lost his lunch inside his respirator while removing a caribou spine from the

Super sacks S k off asbestos b t containing t i i materials t i l removed d ffrom th the G Granite it M Mountain t i Relay Station near Nome, awaiting shipment for disposal off site.

site, the company had no lost time and no injuries for the whole project. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Despite the increased project scope, we managed to finish the job on time and with high satisfaction ratings from our client,â&#x20AC;? Bigelow said. Most asbestos consultants and abatement professionals probably wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

encounter â&#x20AC;&#x153;caribou stewâ&#x20AC;? on their next job. But it is a highly technical industry, one that demands professionalism and attention to detail. And because homes, businesses, schools and military installations will always require periodic renovations, asbestos consultants will â?&#x2018; have no shortage of work.

UAA SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING Growing Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pipeline of engineers (SBEVBUFTPGUIF6""4DIPPMPG&OHJOFFSJOHBSFQSFQBSFEUPUBLFPO"MBTLBT FOHJOFFSJOHDIBMMFOHFT GSPNEFTJHOJOHQSPKFDUTXJUIQFSNBGSPTUBOETVC[FSP UFNQFSBUVSFTJONJOE UPPQFSBUJOHBOENBJOUBJOJOHQVNQTUBUJPOTBMPOHUIF USBOT"MBTLBPJMQJQFMJOF5IF4DIPPMPG&OHJOFFSJOHTDVSSJDVMVNFNQIBTJ[FT"SDUJD FOHJOFFSJOH NBLJOHJUTHSBEVBUFTXFMMTVJUFEUPFOUFS"MBTLBTXPSLGPSDF â&#x20AC;&#x153;The technical challenges we face in Alaska are second-to-none.We work in a unique environment and are held to different standards because of that. Alyeska operates at the highest degree of professionalism, reliability and integrity, and we depend on skilled engineers that can meet those standards. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s our first priority to hire Alaskans, and we turn to the UAA School of Engineering for technically strong, self-motivated engineers.â&#x20AC;? r,FWJO)PTUMFS President & CEO, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company

6""4DIPPMPG&OHJOFFSJOHr Engineering Alaskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Future Today rXXXFOHSVBBBMBTLBFEVr

6""*4"/&&0""&.1-0:&3"/%&%6$"5*0/"-*/45*565*0/ â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010



Alaska miners rely on heavy equipment.

Photo courtesy of Usibelli Coal Mine

Usibelli Coal Mine outside of Healy is currently the only company mining coal in Alaska.



hether it be coal mining or gold mining, underground mining or surface mining, the equipment is about the same. There’ll be shovels and loaders, trucks and crushers. The difference is the size, explains Bob Gerondale, Alaska operations manager for Construction Machinery Industrial (CMI). The company was born in August 1985 to provide specialized equipment in varying sizes for the mining industry and other construction industries.

MINE SAVVY CMI “Despite the similarities between underground and surface mining, in many ways, they’re two different worlds,” Gerondale says. The miners use a different language, for instance, surface miners refer to “loaders,” while underground miners call them “muckers.” Surface miners need to move more dirt. There’s usually less than a half


ounce of gold per ton. They use 36-yard shovels and 200-ton trucks to get at it. Underground equipment is, by necessity, smaller. Everything must fit through a 14-foot-wide, or smaller, tunnel. It’s a tougher environment with different maintenance issues. But the underground miner doesn’t have to move quite as much dirt as his topside counterpart. There can be between six ounces and seven ounces of gold per ton in an underground mine. Gerondale flashes a photo on a digital screen above his desk. “It’s an underground truck,” he explains. “These are built to hit things. They work underground and continually bump the ribs, or sides, of the tunnel.” It is zinc and lead they’re after up at the Red Dog Mine, near Kotzebue. The surface mining operation uses a bit smaller equipment than some because they don’t need to move as many tons a day to fulfill their yearly need. And because of location, the ore moves out

during a three-month period when their port is free of ice. Gerondale knows these things. He sells the equipment and provides the product support for a long list of mining operations in the state including the Kensington underground gold mine in Juneau; the Green’s Creek silver, gold and zinc mine on Admiralty Island in Southeast; the Fairbanks Gold Mine; the Pogo Gold Mine; the Red Dog and the Usibelli Coal Mine, as well as others. In remote areas, the equipment is flown in with C-130 Hercules cargo planes. Some pieces are built in Japan, some in Garland, Texas, and some of the underground equipment comes from Sweden. The equipment can be expensive. “A big shovel can cost $8 million, a truck can run $600,000,” Gerondale says. “And the cost of maintenance is high. The mining industry aims for a 95 percent availability of equipment. When the machine doesn’t work and • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Photo courtesy of Construction Machinery Industrial

It’s been a few years since placer miner Judd Edgerton took up the stereotypi-

cal pick, shovel and gold pan. He’s a mechanic of the Old School, true, but is also one of the new breed of technicians. His story may help explain how a mine works. Piecing together parts for his homemade wash plant was one of the first tasks Edgerton undertook when he began mining operations 15 miles north of Chicken 20 years ago. His mine is in Alaska’s Forty Mile mining district. “Most placer miners design and build their own equipment,” Edgerton said. “Dozens of us, probably more now, have done it for years. (175 in 2007 in Alaska). We use scrap metal from previous mining operations. That’s not junk. It’s our spare parts.” The wash plant is key to the recirculation system and settling ponds, which protect nearby Napoleon Creek from any runoff. Edgerton and his wife Gail explained the process. The excavator loads the pay dirt into the top chute of the wash plant and the material is washed by the spray bars. This washing separates the gravel from the dirt with the large rocks running off a shaker screen on one end of the plant and the small material and gold dropping through the screen to the sluice box below. Gold is 19 times heavier than water, so the gold settles in the riffles of the sluice box and is recovered when the miner pulls the carpets for a “clean up.”


you can’t move dirt that day, it’s called a ‘lost opportunity.’ We don’t just sell the equipment. We work to avoid lost opportunity. We assign a product support person to each mine whose 100 percent focus is supporting that mine on-site, working out problems as they develop, providing the right inventory of parts, scheduling maintenance. Our support people are the best. Many of them began their carriers working at the mines or as technicians at other heavy equipment companies. They have tons of experience working in this industry. They’re also good listeners with ‘degrees’ in problemsolving and taking care of people.” CMI supports the industry in other creative ways. The company sponsors students enrolled in the University of Alaska Anchorage engineering program and contributes to the Delta Mine Training Center, established to provide miner training and to encourage local hire for mineral industry jobs in Alaska. “Alaska is a tough place to find potential employees with experience in mining and with up-to-date skills,” Gerondale says. “The equipment is run by computers now, so the technician, who used to be called a mechanic, must be computer savvy and able to read complicated schematics.”


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Haul truck used in underground mining in Southeast Alaska. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


safety goggles and sits down to the controls of his $30,000 jewelry welder.

Photo courtesy of Double J Mine


Aerial view of some placer mining equipment and a settling pond at the Double J Mine north of Chicken.

“A company from Houston called me and wanted to buy the plans for my wash plant,” Edgerton said. “I had to tell them the plans were all in my head. I didn’t have anything to sell them.” In addition to his wash plant, Edgerton’s equipment inventory over the years has increased by two Caterpillar dozers and three excavators – a Koehring, an Insley and a Caterpillar – all recycled equipment from other mining operations in Alaska and the Yukon. “In a placer mine, gold is free in the gravel,” Edgerton said. “In my case, the gold is in a layer just above bedrock. Each mine is different, but I have to move a lot of gravel to get to the gold.” The raw gold is taken to a smelter where it is melted down and turned to pure gold. “Then you hold it until the price is right,” he said. “You are not taxed on it until you sell it.” Mining done, the tailing piles, along with topsoil, are landscaped to meet federal reclamation laws. Mother Nature directs the reclamation, sending up willow shoots first, which attract the moose.


Other vegetation and wildlife follow. The Edgertons bought their federal mining claims in what is now designated a Wild and Scenic Area. They are grandfathered in, but have a number of regulations to meet. “If we miss the paperwork, the mine reverts to the park,” he says. “If we stop mining, we have to move our cabin and entire operation,” Gail Edgerton says. The Edgertons and their two sons spent five years year-round at the mine. Gail used to carry her gold inventory into Palmer and Wasilla, even Anchorage, and sell the gold door-to-door to various jewelry shops, but when the spot price dropped to $300, they knew they would have to explore other marketing approaches. That was the birth eight years ago of the Double J Mining and Jewelry in Wasilla, where Edgerton casts and makes jewelry from his own gold. Where did he get his equipment? “I built the buffer,” he says. “Like I’ve built other equipment, only smaller.” He didn’t build everything, though. Jewelers, like miners, need some pretty specialized stuff. Edgerton puts on his

Then there is coal. Alaska has an abundance of coal, and all of it currently being mined comes from the Usibelli Coal Mine outside Healy. Emil Usibelli founded the surface-mining operation in 1943. His son Joe is currently chairman of the board of directors and grandson Joe Jr. is president. Emil Usibelli began his surfacemining with a small TD-40 dozer and a converted GMC logging truck. The dozer was used to push the exposed coal into the truck bed, and off the truck and driver went. In 1948, Emil incorporated the Usibelli Coal Mine under the laws of the Territory of Alaska. During the 1950s, Usibelli gradually increased its share of the military’s growing coal demand and in 1954, it began its first commercial sales to utilities in the Fairbanks area. Construction of the Golden Valley Electric Association mine-mouth, coal-burning power plant was completed in 1967. Coal mining is easy; it’s getting to it that’s the hard part. Explosive blasting, truck and shovel, bulldozer and dragline are all used to loosen both the overburden and the coal. Usibelli’s old dozer and logging truck have been replaced with a massive collection of “yellow iron” to take the coal from there. Usibelli, like Edgerton, has a favorite piece of equipment – the dragline. The Bucyrus-Erie 1300W walking dragline was named by local school children when it began operations at Poker Flats Mine. It is affectionately called “Ace-inthe-Hole.” The dragline is the largest piece of equipment at the mine and the largest land mobile machine in Alaska. Its sole purpose is to remove overburden, the sandstone and clay or “dirt” that lies on top of the coal seams. Purchased in 1977, it was brought to Alaska on 26 railroad cars and 40 trucks. Once on site in Healy it took 11 months to reassemble and construct. The dragline consists of a 225-foot mast and a 325-foot boom. The total weight of the dragline is more than 4 million pounds – 2,100 tons of iron and steel. The buckets used on the dragline will hold 33 cubic yards to 42 cubic yards of material and can scoop material • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Photo courtesy of Double J Mine

Placer miner Judd Edgerton using a $30,000 specialized jewelry welder in his Wasilla shop to make gold jewelry from gold he mines at the Double J near Chicken.

150 feet below the base and deposit it 150 feet above the base. With a 90-degree swing of the boom it takes about one minute to complete one cycle. The Ace-in-the-Hole has operated for 30 years and is still doing its job, says Bill Brophy, Usibelli vice president for customer relations. Approximately 1.8 million tons of coal were excavated in 2009 and delivered to six Interior Alaska electric power generator plants, including three military sites: Eielson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Station and the U.S. Army’s Fort Wainwright. Usibelli also exports approximately 40 percent of its coal annually to Chile, South Korea and other international destinations. The Alaska Railroad heading north to Fairbanks and south to the Seward coal terminal, makes this all possible. Usibelli, like placer miner Edgerton, is concerned with reclamation, now called restoration. Company efforts began in 1970, seven years before it was required by government oversight. Since then, 5,500 acres have been reclaimed, with 250,000 seedlings transplanted and 12,000 pounds of seeds hydro-planted each year. Success, like in the Forty Mile area, is measured in terms of re-emerging plant and animal life. Today, wolf, bear, moose, caribou and migratory waterfowl are seen on the coal mine’s re-vegetated areas where heavy equip❑ ment once roamed. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Spend advertising dollars strategically.

Photos courtesy of The Alaska Club


Photos courtesy of University of Alaska Anchorage

The Alaska Club increased its marketing budget and upgraded several clubs to promote health and well being. The Nerland Agency-produced advertisements are refreshed monthly, and The Alaska Club strategically places ads relative to buying trends.

UAA recently partnered with the Nerland Agency to produce a series of television ads featuring community leaders Mayor Dan Sullivan, Gloria O’Neill, Kevin Hostler and Carol Comeau.


arketing spends more money than any other department, so they have the most room to cut the budget. Who hasn’t heard this before? At the first sign of decreasing revenues and economic turbulence, a common knee-jerk reaction by small and large businesses is to slash the marketing budget, whether it’s an off-with-thehead approach, or just a slow, miserable picking away until there’s nothing left


of the budget – or the brand. It’s the easiest expense to justify cutting: if the truth be known, most business leaders find marketing a mystery to begin with, so in times of economic hardship they are hard-pressed to spend money on anything that doesn’t guarantee immediate success. The current downturn is no exception: in a survey of marketing professionals last year, 60 percent of large companies reported cutting marketing

budgets, along with 29 percent of medium-sized companies and 13 percent of small companies reporting the same. At the same time, 66 percent of American Marketing Association (AMA) members say that stopping or reducing spending on key marketing programs is the biggest mistake marketers can make in an economic downturn. Focusing on short-term tactics and sticking to the status quo are additional missteps. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

Photo courtesy of Karen King


Karen King President Nerland Agency

DON’T PANIC Although the temptation is to panic, now is not the time to cut marketing budgets, AMA warns. This type of thinking is akin to not buying gasoline because the price is too high – and continuing to drive anyway. Eventually, high price or not, the car is going to run out of gas and leave the driver stranded. Instead, businesses should increase the value for each dollar they spend and should actually consider increasing the across-the-board budget to take advantage of the chance to get branding and marketing messages out in front of the competition. Businesses should also realign marketing strategies to match changing objectives and focus on longer-term brand strategies. Developing or retaining a perception of popularity and trust is one of the most effective contributions marketing efforts make to a brand, says Karen King, president of the Nerland Agency. When the advertising goes away, so does that perception, along with position in the marketplace and customer confidence. When companies reduce their marketing efforts, King says, more savvy business leaders will jump on the opportunities left behind, and the brand loses momentum built by previous marketing efforts. Whether customers are buying now, or delaying a purchase for later, the brand needs to maintain top-of-mind-awareness for when the time is right.

When times get tough, the tough get going in marketing, providing visual evidence of corporate strength, a company’s leadership role in the sector, expertise in the market, and the supportive strength offered for products and services. Marketing reflects on the health of a company, and cutting here shows the most and helps the least. And, in the absence of information, consumers – and the competition – fill in the void. “You never would have imagined it, but a year from now you will be on the comeback trail trying to get your mojo back because you have not sustained your brand with consumers,” King says. Instead of eliminating funding for marketing, survival is a matter of marketing smarter and taking advantage of opportunities left behind by others. Nonessential personal expenses are the first to be eliminated if consumers sense their income may be threatened. Knowing this, The Alaska Club knew it had to hold strong with its advertising placement during the downturn and wisely, King says of her client, ramped up its approach by budget while also refining its branding efforts by investing in market research with customers and prospects. “We felt strongly that we needed to let people know we were still here offering individuals a product and service important to their health and well being. So we actually put more money into the marketing budget because we recognized it was going to be a harder year for Alaskans,” says Debbie Cedeno, Alaska Club vice president of marketing and sales.

NEW APPROACH Efforts included customizing existing television spots every month with a refreshed promotional message and developing concepts that used still footage and video, allowing the chain of athletic clubs to build up its photo bank at the same time and maximize production resources. This also enabled them to produce more spots for less money, keeping the campaign fresh for a longer period of time. At the same time, The Alaska Club also invested resources into upgrading several of the clubs so customers saw even greater value

in their membership, Cedeno adds. Strategically, The Alaska Club also reviewed and modified its media placement so that targeted ad placements reflected buying trends through the use of different print and electronic advertising outlets. This allowed the company to spend the same amount of money on placement, while at the same time increasing market penetration. The results continue to positively reflect the modified approach for remaining profitable through the economic slump and will keep the company on track for the upcoming year, too. Not only are the club’s membership and enrollment numbers holding steady, Cedeno says, but also this approach keeps the marketing efforts extremely focused.

UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT As more people consider pursuing different jobs and career tracks resulting from the economic downturn, while at the same time the State is forced to scrutinize every penny of its budget, the University of Alaska Anchorage needed to get the word out about the opportunities it offers and how its critical role in the state’s development is more important than ever. Current students also are making the decision to stay in school longer, because there is no reason not to given the current unemployment rates. In addition to targeting perspective students with recruitment messages, it also crafts television and print ads that remind elected officials about the importance of investing State money in the university, says Megan Olson, vice chancellor of University Advancement. Most people don’t realize the University of Alaska (UA) is a critical economic driver for the state: 80 percent of graduates remain in Alaska. At UAA alone, last year 75 percent of its graduates were in high-demand fields, such as health, business, teacher education, engineering, natural resources and information technology. Although UAA advertises regardless of economic realities – and this one is no exception – Olson says the modest marketing budget is used to consistently get its marketing messages in the public, resulting in an increase to enrollment as people register for both development certificates and additional • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


degrees. Pulling back is never an option and maintaining a market presence is even more critical at times like these. This year, a series of five television ads were produced for UAA featuring community leaders who attended school there, including Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau, former Alaska Senator Arliss Sturgulewski, Alyeska Pipeline CEO Kevin Hostler, and Cook Inlet Tribal Council President and CEO Gloria O’Neill. At UAA and systemwide, the resulting numbers are significant. Collectively, the university saw a 4.4 percent increase, which translates to 1,200 students spread out among the main campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks

and Juneau, along with its community campuses. In the 2008-09 academic year, UAA conferred 1,555 degrees and certificates in high-demand fields.

THE MIDAS TOUCH Midas Alaska is another example of how maintaining marketing efforts and looking out for special opportunities can help to hold business steady, says President Jeff Lentfer. In addition to modifying some of its media, including taking advantage of print advertising deals that had not been available before, the muffler company tweaked its strategy so that promotional offers are more compelling. In the past, the company had typically offered a buyone-get-one-free option. When Lentfer

saw that the incentive was not enough to drive cars into the shop, rather than retreating, he decided instead to change the message and reminded consumers that Midas provides more value with its services, and that in a tough economy it’s more important than ever to invest in maintenance to extend the life of the vehicle. While the company is also increasing marketing expenditures, he says more importantly it is experimenting with its marketing mix and spending differently by also investing in search engine optimization (SEO) and direct mail, and making the decision to pull out of yellow pages advertising, which was turning out to be old-school and expensive. ❑

Keep Advertising Don’t lose mindshare. BY HEIDI BOHI


magine a world where marketing is self supporting, pays back multifold what it costs to execute and reaches every potential buyer in every appropriate sector every time. In tough economic times especially, this is often the standard a company’s executives expect the marketing budget to live up to. Even with all the planets aligned, it’s an impossibility. But if you’re thinking of cutting the marketing budget now, then ramping up when the economy get better, it may be the worst thing you can do, says Karen King, president of the Nerland Agency. First, your company, product and brand will languish in customers’ minds. Not advertising also weakens your position internally: once you give up your piece of the budget, chances are you’ll never get it back, and even internally your customers and brand will be seen as less of a priority. In the meantime, other competitors may choose to increase their advertising and successfully take away mindshare and, ultimately, market share. When times get better, the competition’s newly increased product awareness and momentum may boost their success further and faster than those who have pulled back. Here are several other considerations King recommends taking into account when evaluating your marketing strategy during an economic downturn.

emphasizing price only works for those with an ongoing low-price strategy. Instead, conduct research to understand your competitor’s positioning and your target audiences’ perception of the economic environment, and refine your messages, focusing on product or service benefits. Then, adapt your message to reflect the times, using a light touch, humor (carefully), and put a positive spin on your message. 3. Refining target audiences is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the impact of an economic downturn. Focus your marketing strategies on customer segments that will produce the greatest ROI (keeping in mind that some customers are more expensive to serve than to lose). Once audiences are segmented, one size may not fit all. Get the right message to the right people using smarter hybrid campaigns that mesh traditional and digital media to better reach your customers. 4. Negotiate, not only for added value, but also on initial cost. When demand for advertising services goes down, often, so does the cost.

5. Recessions can cause relationship changes so take this opportunity to enhance customer relations as people and businesses 1. Take advantage of less competition for share of mind. As renegotiate contracts, shift purchase patterns and otherwise alter your competition reduces advertising expenses in an attempt to “normal” behaviors. increase its bottom line, you have the opportunity to gain brand position, category leadership and, market share – both now and 6. Develop and use measurement tools. It’s not always easy to as the economy recovers. measure, but scrutinizing expenses in tough times demands more 2. Shape the message, don’t slash the price. Only 3 percent of aggressiveness than ever. Don’t let tactical day-to-day activities marketers say it is important to adjust pricing strategy to help sustain distract you from the accountability that comes with monitoring and ❑ and grow business during an economic downturn. The reality is that modifying for optimum success.

86 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

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A Green Star Certified Alaskan Business Reducing Energy Waste & Increasing Employee Comfort by implementing a zone-controlled office system. Staff are grouped according to their work temperature preference and zones are controlled with separate thermostats. â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010



Photo courtesy of Chugach Electric Association


Railbelt Electricity Obstacles to one-utility approach. Chugach’s Cooper Lake Power Plant, on the Kenai Peninsula, has two hydro turbines for a combined power rating of 19.2 megawatts.

©2010 Chris Arend

These utility lines between the Beluga Power Plant and Point MacKenzie for the Alaska Railbelt represent the main transmission system for transferring power from the plant to Anchorage.



mid uncertain economic times, a task force envisioning a better energy future for Alaskans aims to take an umbrella step forward in the next few years, reducing system fragmentation and proposing ways to consolidate infrastructure to use the state’s resources more efficiently. Change agents Jim Strandberg and Karsten Rodvik, while saying these plans propose to put the State’s money where its mouth is, nonetheless agree that getting managers of various certificated utilities, all with their own stakeholders, on board with the endeavor is very challenging. While there are about 100 certificated electric utilities in Alaska, says Phil Steyer, Chugach Electric Association spokesman, Chugach is the largest and has been in business since 1948. One of six service providers in the Railbelt region from Homer to Fairbanks, it


provides power through retail, wholesale and economy energy sales. As electric utilities go, “we are not strongly connected” in Alaska, observes Steyers. Besides the Railbelt, which harbors three-quarters of the state’s population, other major service regions are the Southeast and rural Alaska. The availability and fluctuating price of natural gas remain major drivers of Railbelt utility costs, along with the cost of new generation and transmission projects.

ENERGY PLANNING When asked about the current energy planning initiative, Bradley Evans, Chugach CEO, poses what to him is a primary question: “How do we finance moving away from fossil fuels?” “It will probably take a combination of utility financing, State financing, State grants and in some cases, financing from independent power

producers,” he suggests. Alaska has great potential for alternative energy projects, including wind, geothermal, municipal waste, and both small and large hydro, he says, and “adding more renewable energy projects to our generation mix will remove the volatility of fluctuating fossil-fuel prices.” Task force supporters hope to introduce revised legislation early this year for formation of a generation and transmission company to better serve the state’s utilities needs. Utility managers collaboratively were working on “maturing” the plans after then Gov. Sarah Palin in spring 2009 supported a request to pull already proposed legislation so the collaborative efforts of utility boards could continue to push these efforts forward by the start of the new legislative session. Her administration earlier had introduced plans (S182, H143) for • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

formation of a public corporation with responsibility for meeting the power generation and transmission needs of the six Railbelt utilities, including the Anchorage/Mat-Su region, Fairbanks, Seward and Homer.

ENERGY FUTURE At issue is which energy future the Railbelt should pursue. Two guiding documents produced by the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), in collaboration with Railbelt utilities and other stakeholders, have been available for review on Web site, which features resources being used in this effort: The Railbelt Electrical Grid Authority (REGA) study attempts to define the best business ownership of gas and electric facilities and transmission assets. The Railbelt Integrated Resource Plan (RIRP) is the plan for capital investment in generation and transmission and in fuel portfolios to be built, owned and operated by the Greater Railbelt Energy and Transmission Corp. (GRETC), involving utility and State planners. According to the RIRP draft plan presented to utility managers on Dec. 10, 2009, natural gas is in short supply in the Cook Inlet and must be supplemented by other energy sources over the next 50 years, so some form of State aid will be needed to meet future financing needs. The plan postulates that longer-term Railbelt electrical energy needs could be met with hydroelectric plants at either the higher reaches of the Susitna River or possibly Lake Chakachamna in the Southcentral region. Plans for an integrated system were outlined by Black & Veatch, the State’s project contractor, in an 80-page briefing at the Captain Cook Hotel. Basically, they provided for formation of a not-for-profit entity – in this case, Strandberg and Rodvik said, more of a custom-designed corporation with broad responsibility for keeping the lights on and dealing in billions of dollars in utility projects, notably including borrowing money and accepting State appropriations. After that meeting, Evans, noting efforts for more than 10 years to reach common understanding, cast

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the plan as “a viable foundation for discussion of generation and transmission utility organization, major renewable project development and State financial assistance in the upcoming legislative session.” “The whole goal of this,” says Rodvik, AEA’s external affairs manager, “is ultimately for the benefit of ratepayers. It’s the energy system for the future.”

CAPITAL OBSTACLES In addition to funding, leadership of the endeavor is a huge consideration. And with utilities in Alaska reportedly facing significant capital shortfalls in an uncertain economy, money is a major issue. An earlier look at the business case for GRETC by Strandberg concluded the estimated borrowing ability of Railbelt utilities to be less than $1 billion. Strandberg, RIRP manager and AEA’s program manager for the GRETC thrust, estimated RIRP’s cumulative capital needs over the next 50 years at $8 billion to $12 billion. He said while he feels the plan has a bright future, its capital needs represent one of the greatest obstacles to implementation. Geographic challenges, including weather conditions and long distances, also mean borrowing would likely well exceed levels needed in the Lower 48. Compared to areas in other states on the national grid, planners said, the Railbelt is served by a fragile, nonrobust, islanded system with some unique problems. If one of the system’s major generators is lost, for instance, managers know they must move quickly to keep power on. Far-flung communities require long transmission lines, and most of Alaska is off any grid. To address the capital shortfall, RIRP supporters say, would require highly effective public-private partnerships of State and utility entities cooperating in pursuit of common interests. Given the prolonged recession ushering in the year 2010, the projected needs are a lot to get the State’s planning scopes around. “It would be good policy for the State to invest money in energy infrastructure,” says Evans. “These projects create jobs and money turnover in Alaska.”


PROVIDING POWER Currently, utilities providing retail service in Anchorage, including Chugach, Anchorage Municipal Light & Power and the Matanuska Electric Association, have defined service areas. Chugach, the largest vertically integrated electricity provider in the state, is a generation, transmission and distribution system that generates power for its retail customers and sells wholesale to other utilities, thus supplying residents of Homer, Mat-Su and Seward. Under the Golden Valley Electric Association, Steyer explained, Fairbanks also buys millions of dollars worth of economy energy (sales without long-term obligations) each year from Chugach. Another vertically integrated utility, city-owned Anchorage ML&P generates power for its own customers as well as for sales to Fairbanks. While Golden Valley has sufficient generating capacity to meet needs in Fairbanks, Steyer says, it chooses to buy power because the Fairbanks utility doesn’t have the natural gas, and gas-generated power is less expensive than what can be generated with liquid fuels. Of the kilowatt-hours sold by Chugach annually, about 90 percent of power is from natural gas, 10 percent from three hydroelectric projects (Eklutna, jointly owned with ML&P and Matanuska Electric Association, one at Cooper Lake on the Kenai Peninsula and a third through the Stateowned Bradley Lake project near Homer, which supplies power to all six Railbelt utilities). Illustrating the impact that the price of natural gas can have on electric bills, the average Chugach residential customer in Anchorage last December using 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity paid $101.01, Steyer says, while in the first quarter of this year, that same bill was $93.25. The decrease was primarily due to lower natural gas prices. Providing reliable power at low cost is a key issue. Managers want to be able to make it where it is the most economical and efficiently move it to where it’s needed. Within the Railbelt, three bubbles of supply and demand are the state’s Interior, the Anchorage/Mat-Su region and the Kenai Peninsula. Supply and

demand are about equally matched in the Interior, while supply exceeds demand in the other two regions, Steyer says. Since single lines connect the Anchorage/Mat-Su region with the Interior and with the Kenai, the the ability to transfer power between bubbles is limited.

HIGH PERFORMANCE Despite scheduled maintenance, outages do occur throughout the grid, Steyer says, often, owing to such natural conditions as storms, and occasionally to earthquakes, avalanches or volcanoes. Weather represents the greatest single delivery challenge in a state where a relatively small population is spread out along a long swatch of territory, he says, and where transit lines run through sometimes hostile terrain. Avalanches have caused as much damage as anything over the last 20 years, while flooding has also been a factor to contend with, especially along the Susitna River. While no utility can guarantee 100 percent performance, Chugach’s record of 99.97 (power on) is very, very good, Steyer says. It means that out of the 8,760 hours in 2008, on average power was out only 2.57 hours per customer, he says. Chugach is nearing the end of volume-based, long-term natural gas contracts with four suppliers, Steyer says, and the company is in a cycle of building plans for the Southcentral Power Project, a new power plant to replace aging generation facilities. Groundbreaking is planned in 2010-2012, with commissioning foreseen in 2013. Preliminary work on the combined-cycle plant, including generation and siting studies, operating agreements, engineering, permitting, and procurement, has been under way for years at the building site next to Chugach headquarters. The new plant will have three gas turbines and a steam unit that runs off the exhaust of the gas units. It will be more efficient and reduce emissions, Steyer said, using only threefourths of the old amount of fuel to produce a kilowatt-hour of power. Meanwhile, he said, the firm is continuing to evaluate on an economic basis such renewable energy sources as wind, water and geothermal. ❑ • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Wireless, Cellular, Internet Instant, constant telecommunications. BY PEG STOMIEROWSKI

Map courtesy of GCI

GCI network, current and planned through 2012.


eeping up with technology perhaps in no field is more challenging than in the roughand-tumble world of telecommunications; factor in those uniquely Alaska cost and access challenges, and it’s never boring to be up front and center to rousing price and service action in this competitive arena. As wireless cellular and longdistance prices continue to come down, telecom sources said, growing

trends include greater wireless mobility, consumer volume, use of smart phones, diversity of handsets and affection for data transmission. Text messaging, once the language of the young, has proliferated no surprise to pop-culture buffs or students of our changing tongue.

WIRELESS MOBILITY In Alaska, the telecom field hasn’t been plagued with the same recessionary

cutbacks seen in the Lower 48, GCI’s David Morris observed. Since such larger providers as Sprint and Verizon don’t have facilities here, many carriers locally buy Internet or cellular capacity from fiber-optic cable or satellite service providers. Statistics from managers testify to the breadth of change in the industry: 87 percent wireless penetration of the U.S. population, with 2 0 percent of households now • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


wireless only; 2.2 trillion annual minutes of wireless use; 1 trillion annual text messages; 242,000 cell sites; and 291,000 emergency calls every day. Among many providers in Alaska, ACS, AT&T and GCI lay claim to local prowess in wireless cellular, Internet and other services. Others, like Matanuska Telephone Association in the Mat-Su and Eagle River valleys, also are working to build up services and customers. Morris, when he came to the telecom field 16 years ago with a background in public relations, recalls being challenged at first to keep up. To illustrate, he noted that while 80 percent of telephone traffic today involves data the other 20 percent being voice in 1994, it was just the opposite. Like others, ACS spokeswoman Heather Cavanaugh noted the dramatic shift toward greater wireless mobility. “We expect the trend toward mobility to accelerate as more and more applications for wireless phones become available,” she said. “We are continuing to expand our device selection to include more data-rich devices, and understand that trends will continue to move toward higher data usage and away from voice minutes.” As Lianne Pelletier, president and CEO of ACS has reflected, in demanding greater mobility, consumers are moving beyond landlines and fixed Internet connections, wanting “to keep connected to the Internet or their corporate network at all times, whether in the car, at the office, on an oil rig or aboard a fishing boat.” Global business needs further call communication to be conducted simultaneously across multiple time zones. AT&T managers are proud of the global agility of their services, boasting they can offer voice roaming in more than 215 countries, access to e-mail, the Web and other data applications in more than 185 countries, and access to mobile broadband 3G networks in more than 100. They further stress that their network enables simultaneous voice/data services from mobile devices. This means a consumer can be talking to his family on his smart phone while checking his e-mail or looking up an address. Mike Maxwell, vice president and general


manager for the Pacific Northwest, said AT&T is the only carrier nationwide that can say that.

KEEPING UP Telecom mangers in the Alaska market strive to keep up not only with technology, continued Morris, but also with financial, political and regulatory pressures. “It’s compelling,” he said. Between the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and the RCA (Regulatory Commission of Alaska), these tend to “get all intertwined.” Historically, telecom growth in the state was unshackled also by passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. More even than the development of Internet access, in Alaska this change fueled a paradigm shift, Morris said. Where before there were about 23 virtual service monopolies, in today’s climate, the name of the game is innovate or die. Greg Chapados, a GCI senior VP, came to the firm in 2006. In the 1980s, he was a legislative counsel and then chief of staff for former Sen. Ted Stevens. He remembers when GCI was an upstart coming to Stevens’ office as a constituent. Indeed, Chapados himself thought he’d be an energy and natural resources lawyer, but quickly became involved in the telecom swirl. When Stevens joined the Senate in 1968, Chapados says, Alaska was in the bottom tier of telecom states, with household phone service penetration levels roughly on a par with those in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest places in the Lower 48. In some areas of the Bush, villages had only a single phone. So it’s especially gratifying today to see greater service accessibility in rural Alaska. In the future, federal stimulus funds are expected to address bandwidth and other service concerns. For one, the Denali Commission has received funds for mapping Internet services areas. New services generally will feature 4G technology (referring to the fourth generation, as opposed to 3G, with the difference being primarily a matter of speed) and Alaska’s first Androidpowered devices, using Google technology. Unlike iPhone or Blackberry technology, Cavanaugh explained, Android software is free, customizable

and widely available for use. Handsets will be diverse. Indeed, technology is changing socioeconomic dynamics worldwide, and Alaska is not alone in this.

ALASKA COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS (ACS) ACS, established in 1999, claims to have the largest statewide – and with its roaming partner in the Lower 48 – largest nationwide 3G network. Managers say Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau were the third, fourth and fifth cities in the country to receive 3G service. The company reported having 456,988 customers as of the first half of 2009. From 2003 to 2009, ACS has seen a 66 percent increase in wireless and a 25 percent decrease in wireline subscribers. Revenue reportedly was $389.6 million in 2008, up from $385.8 million in 2007; from 2004 to 2008, the firm claims 20 percent revenue growth and 24 percent growth in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). Managers reported having about 950 ASC employees, all but 20 in Alaska. In January 2009, ACS in Anchorage laid off about 20 employees. In the last two years, managers said, the firm invested $10 million or more a year in its wireless network. It claims upload speeds from 250K to 400K. ACS in January launched the HTC Hero, an Android device that offers seven customizable screens, access to thousands of applications and touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom and trackball navigation. ACS in past years acquired fiber between Anchorage and Fairbanks, along the Alaska Railroad, and developed a separate fiber route between the two cities along the Richardson Highway. It also maintains two diverse undersea fiber-optic submarine cables between Alaska and the Lower 48. The Alaska- Oregon Network (AKORN) avoids Turnagain Arm (where the remaining three cables that provide connectivity to the Lower 48 run) and travels from Anchorage to Nikiski to Homer and on to Florence, Ore. To complement AKORN, ACS acquired the Northstar cable, which also offers connectivity to Juneau. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010

ACS’ diverse fiber optic routes allow it to serve large industries and organizations.

AMERICAN TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH (AT&T) Last year AT&T in Alaska launched its 3G wireless network in Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla, and this January the company announced availability of its 3G mobile broadband network in Fairbanks and Juneau. Over three years, AT&T reportedly has invested more than $140 million in Alaska to expand and improve its wireless network. Managers declined to reveal revenue, subscriber or employment figures for AT&T’s Alaska operation, and claimed deactivation figures were among the lowest in the local market. The firm, which has 19 stores and 44 authorized retailers statewide, opened three new stores in 2009, noted Patrick Fraser, director of sales for Alaska: Cottonwood Creek in Wasilla, and the Fifth Avenue Mall and Tikahtna Commons in Anchroage. The Dimond Mall store, which opened in 2007, was recognized in December as the top retail store nationally, Maxwell noted. Lightweight netbooks are among the newer laptop devices displayed for sale, and the company plans to launch five new devices from Dell, HTC and Motorola based on the Android platform. Stores also serve as drop-off sites for Cell Phones for Soldiers, a charity that recycles mobile phones so it can help provide military families with free phone cards.

bundle basis, with 60 percent of consumers agreeing to buy at least three services (high-speed Internet, cable modem and videos, wireline long-distance and wireless). Chapados said G C I invested $300 million in its networks in 2008, when purchase of satellite facilities had boosted capital spending, and $100 million in 2009. By 2011, GCI expects to roll out cell phone service to 185 villages, Morris said, and within a couple of years, residents should be able to

make phone calls, send text messages and check their e-mail from areas lacking in services today. GCI President Ron Duncan already predicted 2010 “will see continued construction of fiber-optic and microwave systems in communities that were once only satellite-served,” a trend driven by pressure for highspeed services. Within 10 years, he said, “many rural areas could have full broadband terrestrial infrastructure connecting their communities to the ❑ rest of the world.”

GENERAL COMMUNICATIONS INC. GCI, with 1,600 employees, in the first half of 2009 had 113,000 or more wireless subscribers, about 142,000 local access lines, 152,000 video or Internet basic cable subscribers, and 105,000 customers receiving a diversity of high-speed Internet services, managers reported. Revenue for 2009 was estimated at just under $600 million, with E B ITDA under $200 million up from $575 million and $171 million, respectively, in 2008, and revenue of $520 million in 2007. Like other companies, GCI sells many of its services on a discounted • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


Utilities Company

Alaska Communications Systems 600 Telephone Ave. Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 800-808-8083

Top Executive

Liane Pelletier, Pres./CEO

AK Empls.



Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. 5601 Tonsgard Court Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 907-780-2222 Fax: 907-463-3304

Tim McLeod, Pres./CEO

Alaska Power & Telephone Co. PO Box 459 Skagway, AK 99840 Phone: 907-983-2202 Fax: 907-983-2903

Dave Vogel, Gen. Mgr.


Provides broadband and other wireline and wireless solutions to enterprise and mass market customers.


Serves more than 14,500 customers more than 293 million kilowatt-hours of electrical energy each year. Largest investor-owned, or privately owned and financed electrical utility in Alaska, and the sixth largest utility in the state.


Electric, telephone, Internet-DSL, WiFi and satellite television.


AVEC provides power to 53 rural villages.

Alaska Village Electric Cooperative Inc. 4831 Eagle St. Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-565-5343 Fax: 907-562-4086

Meera Kohler, CEO/Pres.

Chugach Electric Association Inc. 5601 Electron Dr. Anchorage, AK 99518 Phone: 907-563-7494 Fax: 907-562-0027

Brad Evans, CEO 1948


Electric utility.




Copper Valley Electric Association PO Box 45 Glennallen, AK 99588 Phone: 907-822-3211 Fax: 907-822-5586

Robert A. Wilkinson, CEO

Cordova Telephone Cooperative PO Box 459 Cordova, AK 99574 Phone: 907-424-2345 Fax: 907-424-2344

Paul Kelly, Gen. Mgr.

Enstar Natural Gas Co. PO Box 190288 Anchorage, AK 99519-0288 Phone: 907-277-5551 Fax: 907-334-7737

Colleen Starring, Pres. Local exchange carrier, ISP provider and DSL service.

1978 1961


Natural gas distribution.

Fairbanks Natural Gas 3408 International Way Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: 907-452-7111 Fax: 907-457-8111

Dan Britton, Pres.

GCI 2550 Denali St., Ste. 1000 Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: 907-868-5454 Fax: 907-868-5676

Ron Duncan, Pres./CEO


Natural gas utility.


Provides voice, video and data communication services to residential, commercial and government customers.

Golden Valley Electric Association PO Box 71249 Fairbanks, AK 99707-1249 Phone: 907-452-1151 Fax: 907-458-6368

Brian Newton, Pres./CEO

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

Brad Janorschke, Gen. Mgr.

Kodiak Electric Association PO Box 787 Kodiak, AK 99615 Phone: 907-486-7700 Fax: 907-486-7717

Darron Scott, Pres./CEO



Generates and distributes electricity to nearly 100,000 Interior residents. First utility in the state to offer a renewable energy program.



Purchases, generates, transmits and distributes electric power to more than 20,000 member-owners.



Supplier of electricity.




Matanuska Electric Association Inc. PO Box 2929 Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 907-745-3231 Fax: 907-761-9368

Joe Griffith, Gen. Mgr.

Matanuska Telephone Association Inc. 480 Commercial Dr. Palmer, AK 99645 Phone: 800-478-3211

Greg Berberich, CEO

Municipal Light & Power 1200 East 1st Ave. Anchorage, AK 99501 Phone: 907-279-7671 Fax: 907-263-5828

Jim Posey, Gen. Mgr.


Estab. 1953

Provides high-tech communications services for Eagle River and the Mat-Su regions of Alaska.


Generates, transmits and distributes electric power. â&#x20AC;˘ Alaska Business Monthly â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010






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

Alaska: Still better than the average. T

Per Capita Personal Income, Percent of U.S.

Percentage of Income

he U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates average personal income for each state. Personal income is calcu150 lated as the sum of one’s wages and salary, plus income from interest and rental prop140 erty, less contributions for government social insurance. All estimates of state 130 personal income are in current dollars 120 (not adjusted for inflation). The data can be compared in different 110 ways. Frequently, the income levels may be shown in whole dollars and compared 100 to another state, or the U.S. average. The chart shows personal wages as a percent90 age of personal income in the United States, with the national average as the baseline. It allows the data to clearly illustrate the highest and lowest levels of personal income across the United States. Since 1984, Alaska has typically been well above the national average in personal income. Although it

Year United States


continued along a decreasing trend until 2000, it was 4 percent above the national average in 2007. ❑

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis






GENERAL Personal Income – Alaska Personal Income – United States Consumer Prices – Anchorage Consumer Prices – United States Bankruptcies Alaska Total Anchorage Total Fairbanks Total EMPLOYMENT Alaska Anchorage & Mat-Su Fairbanks Southeast Gulf Coast Sectoral Distribution – Alaska Total Nonfarm Wage & Salary Goods-Producing Service-Providing Natural Resources & Mining Logging Mining Oil & Gas Extraction Construction Manufacturing Wood Products Manufacturing Seafood Processing Trade/Transportation/Utilities Wholesale Trade Retail Trade Food & Beverage Stores General Merchandise Stores Trans/Warehouse/Utilities Air Transportation Truck Transportation Information Telecommunications Financial Activities Professional & Business Svcs Educational & Health Services Health Care Leisure & Hospitality Accommodation Food Svcs & Drinking Places Other Services Government Federal Government State Government State Education Local Government Local Education Tribal Government Labor Force Alaska Anchorage & Mat-Su Fairbanks Southeast Gulf Coast



R E N D S Previous Report Period (revised)

Year Ago Period

Year Over Year Change


Latest Report Period

US $ US $ 1982-1984 = 100 1982-1984 = 100

3rd Q09 3rd Q09 2nd H09 2nd H09

29,943 12,077,636 193.456 215.935

29,943 12,077,636 190.032 213.139

29,844 12,131,245 191.335 216.177

0.33% -0.44% 1.11% -0.11%

Number Filed Number Filed Number Filed

November November November

85 41 13

110 59 19

57 34 17

49.12% 20.59% -23.53%

Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands

November November November November November

325.88 147.12 41.41 34.49 30.00

326.98 183.89 42.17 34.88 33.00

332.01 186.39 43.68 36.16 32.75

-55.69% -21.06% -5.20% -4.61% -8.39%

Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands

November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November November

310.5 39.7 270.8 15.2 0.2 15 12.8 15 9.5 0.3 5 61.7 6.2 35.5 6.1 9.8 20 6.1 3.2 6.8 4.2 14.3 24.7 39.5 28.6 27 6.1 17 11.5 85.3 16.2 26.2 8.1 42.9 24.5 3.3

317.1 43.8 273.3 15.3 0.2 15.1 12.8 17.5 11 0.3 6.6 62.3 6.3 35.3 6.2 9.8 20.7 6.2 3.2 6.8 4.3 14.6 25.3 39.4 28.9 27.8 6.1 17.3 11.6 85.5 16.5 26.4 8.1 42.6 24.1 3.7

310.7 40.6 270.1 15.5 0.2 15.1 13 16.2 8.9 0.4 5 62.8 6.2 36 6.2 9.6 20.6 6.4 3.2 6.9 4.4 14.4 24.9 37.2 27.1 28.3 6.2 18.3 11.6 84 16.3 25.7 8 42 24 3.5

-0.06% -2.22% 0.26% -1.94% 0.00% -0.66% -1.54% -7.41% 6.74% -25.00% 0.00% -1.75% 0.00% -1.39% -1.61% 2.08% -2.91% -4.69% 0.00% -1.45% -4.55% -0.69% -0.80% 6.18% 5.54% -4.59% -1.61% -7.10% -0.86% 1.55% -0.61% 1.95% 1.25% 2.14% 2.08% -5.71%

Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands Thousands

November November November November November

355.15 157.53 44.85 37.68 36.60

356.46 198.64 45.52 38.06 36.86

357.38 198.75 46.61 39.12 36.10

-0.62% -20.74% -3.78% -3.68% 1.40%

Units • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010



Unemployment Rate Alaska Anchorage & Mat-Su Fairbanks Southeast Gulf Coast United States PETROLEUM/MINING Crude Oil Production – Alaska Natural Gas Field Production – Alaska ANS West Cost Average Spot Price Hughes Rig Count Alaska United States Gold Prices Silver Prices Zinc Prices REAL ESTATE Anchorage Building Permit Valuations Total Residential Commercial Deeds of Trust Recorded Anchorage–Recording District Fairbanks–Recording District VISITOR INDUSTRY Total Air Passenger Traffic – Anchorage Total Air Passenger Traffic – Fairbanks ALASKA PERMANENT FUND Equity Assets Net Income Net Income – Year to Date Marketable Debt Securities Real Estate Investments Preferred and Common Stock BANKING (excludes interstate branches) Total Bank Assets – Alaska Cash & Balances Due Securities Net Loans and Leases Other Real Estate Owned Total Liabilities Total Bank Deposits – Alaska Noninterest-bearing deposits Interest- bearing deposits FOREIGN TRADE Value of the Dollar In Japanese Yen In Canadian Dollars In British Pounds In European Monetary Unit In Chinese Yuan


PACIFIC PILE & MARINE Previous Report Period (revised)

Year Ago Period

Year Over Year Change



Latest Report Period

Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent

November November November November November November

8.2 7.2 7.7 9.5 12.6 10

7.7 7.4 7.4 8.4 10.5 10.2

7.1 6.2 6.3 7.6 9.3 6.5

15.49% 16.13% 22.22% 25.00% 35.48% 53.85%

Millions of Barrels Billions of Cubic Ft. $ per Barrel

November November November

16.91 12.40 76.524

16.89 11.25 74.28

21.85 12.98 53.94

-22.58% -4.49% 41.87%

Active Rigs Active Rigs $ Per Troy Oz. $ Per Troy Oz. Per Pound

November November November November November

8 1107 1127.00 1782.00 1.10

6 1044 1043.34 1723.61 1.04

11 1935 759.36 986.53 0.58

-27.27% -42.79% 48.42% 80.63% 90.38%

Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $

November November November

11.15 5.36 5.79

21.14 8.86 12.28

5.46 3.03 2.43

104.24% 77.03% 138.19%

Total Deeds Total Deeds

November November

893 312.00

866 343

433 193

106.24% 61.66%

Thousands Thousands

November November

317.39 0.00

346.90 87.51

318.84 62.08

-0.45% -100.00%

Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $

November November November November November November November

34037.1 34171.2 62.1 911.2 78.5 6.9 739.8

33054.8 33246.2 97.4 (316.4) 53.7 (96.2) (374.2)

28021.8 28325.4 (226.5) (1119.8) 86.3 (87.0) (1035.0)

21.47% 20.64% 127.42% 181.37% -9.04% 107.93% 171.48%

Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $ Millions of $

3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09 3rd Q09

1,924.56 42.13 93.50 1,183.18 13.28 1,687.97 1,658.77 429.20 1,229.57

1,924.56 42.13 93.50 1,183.18 13.28 1,687.97 1,658.77 429.20 1,229.57

1,971.92 51.28 72.00 1,202.34 13.48 1,763.04 1,707.21 433.28 1,273.93

-2.40% -17.86% 29.86% -1.59% -1.47% -4.26% -2.84% -0.94% -3.48%

Yen Canadian $ Pounds Euro Yuan

November November November November November

89.24 1.06 0.60 0.67 6.83

90.36 1.05 0.62 0.68 6.83

97.03 1.22 0.65 0.79 6.83

-8.03% -12.99% -7.45% -14.69% -0.03%

Data compiled by University of Alaska Center for Economic Development. • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010


ADVERTISERS INDEX Alaska Aggregate Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Carlile Transportation Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Nenana Heating Services Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Alaska Air Cargo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

Chandler Corp./Puffin Inn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Northern Air Cargo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26-27

Alaska Cover-All LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

Chris Arend Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

OPTI Staffing Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

Alaska Interstate Construction LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

City Electric Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

Oxford Assaying & Refining Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Alaska Mechanical Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Construction Machinery Industrial LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

Pacific Pile & Marine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

Alaska Rubber & Supply. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Craig Taylor Equipment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Parker Smith & Feek. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Alaska Sales & Service Fleet Elite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Crowley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Peak Oilfield Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Cruz Construction Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Polar Supply Co.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Design Alaska. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Rosie’s Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Dimond Center Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

Scan Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

Alaska Traffic Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Dowland-Bach Corp.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Span Alaska Consolidators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

EHS-Alaska Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

State of Alaska, Department of Revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

All Spruced Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

Eklutna Inc.58. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Stellar Design Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

American Marine Corp./PENCO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-10

ERA Alaska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

Sundog Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

Anchorage Opera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

First National Bank Alaska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Talaheim Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Anchorage Sand & Gravel Co. Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Floyd & Sons Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

The Growth Co.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Arctic Office Products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

GCI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

The Superior Group Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

Arctic Transportation Services/Ryan Air. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

Golden Valley Electric Association . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

Tongass Substance Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

ASRC Energy Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

Golder Associates Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

TransNorthern Aviation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

AT&T Mobility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Great Originals Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Avis Rent-A-Car . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Green Star Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

University of Alaska Anchorage/ Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

B2 Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

Hawk Consultants LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

Beacon Occupational Health & Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Jens’ Restaurant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Bear Creek Winery & Lodging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Judy Patrick Photography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Bill Z Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Kiewit Building Group Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

Bowhead Transport Company LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

LifeMed Alaska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Brice Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Lynden Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

Capitol Glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Microcom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93


Valley Saw Mill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Volunteer Protection Program. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Washington Crane & Hoist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Waste Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Wells Fargo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 West-Mark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 White Environmental Consultants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 • Alaska Business Monthly • March 2010










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MARCH 2010  

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