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Afognak Native Corporation

Competing on the international stage


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Naval Special Warfare Cold Weather Training Facility on Spruce Cape. Design and construction of renovation and expansion provided by Alutiiq Diversified Services.

Photo courtesy of Afognak Native Corporation

Afognak Native Corporation is seeing brighter skies with one of its most prominent contracts to date beginning in September, an over $10.5 million security services contract with France-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus in Mobile, Alabama.

Afognak Native Corporation is a village corporation based in the Kodiak Archipelago. Afognak has nearly one thousand shareholders for which the corporation maintains a responsibility to care for their social, cultural, and economic wellbeing in perpetuity. Afognak’s largest wholly owned subsidiary is Alutiiq, LLC, offering services in operations and maintenance, logistics, construction, security, and IT, among others. Additionally, Afognak operates businesses in oilfield services, leasing, and bioenergy.

Afognak’s current President and CEO Greg Hambright began with Alutiiq in 2003 as the program director for a Naval Air contract, a position he received in part due to his history as a navy pilot. He moved up the ranks as a vice president in the subsidiary to senior VP of Technical Services while working in the Huntsville, Alabama office. After a ten-month hiring process, Hambright was chosen amongst his colleagues within the corporation and external candidates with government contracting experience.

As a non-Native, Hambright is prepared to continue learning about Alaska Native culture, especially the Alutiiq and Suqpiaq culture of Kodiak. As a 10-year employee of Alutiiq, LLC, he’s been coming to Alaska over the years. Hambright has moved from Huntsville, Alabama, to Los Angeles; Washington, DC; Maryland; and back to Huntsville throughout his career.

 

Sea Lion Camp, a deluxe one-hundred-bed remote housing facility for WorleyParsons and ExxonMobil employees and contractors in Deadhorse, provided by Alutiiq.

Photo courtesy of Afognak Native Corporation

 

Competitive Mindset

As Hambright changes his home base to Anchorage as the president and CEO, he says part of Afognak’s continued success will depend on a smooth transition from directed source business to the more traditional competitive business model in Afognak’s four core business lines.

“As we develop the company over the years, and try to keep up with the explosive growth of the company on sole source [contracting], we move into competition, and we’re having to take the systems that were built and refine them and refocus those systems for a competitive marketplace for the future,” Hambright says.

Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) both on the regional and village level have dealt with a decline in directed source government contracting and have seen an overall shift into a more competitive model over the last few years, Hambright says. ANCs are beginning to build infrastructure similar to that of large government contractors.

“Major defense contractors have to spend money to go win work, and the people that build the best proposals win the best work. These companies have had decades to refine their bid and proposal procedures and processes and marketing initiatives in order to be successful at winning work in competition,” Hambright says. “As one out of twenty proposals for government work we’re bidding for at the moment, we have to do the job better and more efficiently if we hope to win.”

One advantage Afognak holds in becoming more competitive is Hambright’s background with major government contractors. Hambright was the chief engineer at ManTech Corporation and in executive positions with Teledyne Industries and Intergraph Corporation. He even holds US patents in diffractive optics.

 

Eagle Lodge, Afognak’s newest premier lodging facility in Deadhorse with a fitness center, lounge area, and oversized dining room. Bedrooms include executive style amenities and in suite bathrooms.

Photo courtesy of Afognak Native Corporation

 

Winning Contracts

The most recent contract won by an Afognak Native Corporation subsidiary is slated to begin September 1. The Security Services Division of Alutiiq Pacific, LLC was awarded a $10,522,000 contract with billion-dollar, France-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The Protective Services Division will provide security officers (some trained as Emergency Medical Technicians), remote surveillance, control center, entry/exit control, security administration, and site security operations, among other services. The Afognak subsidiary will provide these services at the Airbus A320 Final Assembly Line in Mobile, Alabama.

The Airbus assembly plant in Mobile is the first in North America, second outside of Europe, and fourth of its kind in the world. Hambright says the contract represents an amazing opportunity for Afognak, and that the Protective Services Division is looking forward to beginning and developing a tangible long-term business relationship with Airbus.

In the construction realm, Alutiiq’s construction division mainly handles government contracts but also covers the oil and gas industry and the commercial real estate market in order to diversify its business portfolio. Alutiiq, LLC, the main wholly owned subsidiary of Afognak Native Corporation, operates on a national and international level, with offices across the United States. Although Alutiiq wins many contracts throughout the United States and overseas, it still designs and constructs projects in its own backyard of Kodiak.

In January, Alutiiq completed the construction of the Afognak headquarters building in Kodiak. The 10,000-square-foot building is on Near Island and is intended mainly for shareholder services. The building has fifteen designated office spaces, a conference room for the nine-member board of directors’ monthly meetings, and a 3,400-square-foot shareholder room.

“[The shareholder room] is the top gathering place for social events—weddings, meetings, and conferences,” says Jake Garner, director of operations for Alutiiq Diversified Services, LLC.

Another testament to Afognak’s dedication to working in its own neighborhood is the major expansion of the Naval Special Warfare Cold Weather Training Facility on Spruce Cape. Alutiiq Diversified Services, LLC, the construction division of Afognak Native Corporation, was awarded a $17.4 million contract in 2012 to renovate the 13,000-square-foot facility and build a 25,000-square-foot expansion. Alutiiq outbid six competitors for the contract, which is expected to be complete by April 2015. Garner says about ninety Navy SEALs can undergo cold-weather training at a time. The facility includes berthing and instructional facilities, maintenance spaces for the center’s small boats, and a rappelling tower.

“The SEALs training center rappelling tower is about eighty feet tall, so it’s very prominent as you go around the cape. It is a pre-engineered metal building made of LEED-certified, insulated metal panels,” Garner says. “The ocean is sixty feet away on the north end. So in the construction process, we’ve had our challenges with weather, site conditions, and the fact that its location is like the size of a postage stamp. It’s a very large building for the area of the infrastructure.”

Additionally, Alutiiq is involved in more projects in Kodiak, including the construction of the Kodiak Island Housing Authority’s Senior Housing Project, a chemical storage building for the Federal Aviation Administration, and replacing the steam piping on the US Coast Guard base, Garner says.

Outside of construction and government contracting, Alutiiq Oilfield Solutions—the company’s oil field services provider—works with oil and gas companies to provide oilfield rig matting, remote housing, and portable offices.

“We’re the only ones that do it all. In a drilling project, two days means a lot. So as soon as you can get that housing unit, the sooner they can start work and the sooner it’s complete,” says Matt Thorpe, senior VP of operations for Alutiiq Oilfield Solutions.

From manufacturing to transportation, setup, leasing, and breakdown, Alutiiq Oilfield Solutions handles every aspect of the remote housing contract for a variety of resource development projects, Thorpe says. Along with being a one stop shop for remote housing, Alutiiq Oilfield Solutions says the quality and livability of the structure goes hand-in-hand with the service.

“If I got Fred the drilling engineer, and there was an opportunity to go to Pennsylvania and drill for the same money, and he knows the facility there is all Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons’d up, and he’s gonna be living in a foxhole in the North Slope, you will never get that guy. So a lot of oil companies have understood that and have raised the standards on the North Slope. And we’re happy to say that we were one of the leaders to do that,” Thorpe says.

 

Brown Bear facility exterior in Deadhorse for Alutiiq clients.

Photos courtesy of Afognak Native Corporation

 

Double-status bedroom at the Brown Bear sixty-bed rapid deployment facility. 

Photos courtesy of Afognak Native Corporation

 

Family Business

Even with the recent business successes and continuous growth, Hambright says there is still much for him to learn about Afognak and the shareholders. Hambright has met and spoken to executives from fellow village and regional ANCs, but he plans to continue his community outreach with Alaska Natives and corporations throughout Alaska and the Kodiak community, and at the same time, set the tone for Afognak’s business direction while learning the shareholders’ priorities.

“I’m a business guy. I’m a very predictable individual if you give me a set of business equations, and I’ll optimize it for you. But the right answer isn’t always the best business answer. The right answer often times has a cultural element or a shareholder element because we are a family business. And I rely on some of the shareholder employees that we have to really help me better understand what it is I don’t know.”

Russ Slaten is the Associate Editor for Alaska Business Monthly.

This first appeared in the September 2014 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.
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