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Small Business Owners from Alaska Honored by SBA Alaska District Office

May 6, 2019Small Business

ANCHORAGE—The US Small Business Administration (SBA) Alaska District Office announced the winners of its annual awards program, part of National Small Business Week May 5-11, 2019.

“This year’s nominees, received from around the state, personify the spirit of Alaska itself,” SBA Alaska District Director Nancy Porzio said. “The competition this year was intense with a record number of nominations. The stories of determination from this year’s winners are truly remarkable and inspiring.”

2019 winners from the SBA Alaska District Office include the following:


Small Business Persons of the Year

Shelley Bramstedt, Jan Tatham and John Tatham, co-owners of PIP Printing of Alaska, Inc.
Anchorage, Alaska

PIP Printing of Alaska provides printing, copying, fulfillment and creative services. PIP employs more than forty people, including Alaskans seeking a “second chance,” and leads a local group to find solutions for the neighborhood’s homeless population. After using an SBA loan in their early years to expand their space, PIP has continued to grow. The firm recently renovated a once vacant property and built two additional large buildings in the neighborhood as part of their commitment to revitalization and beautification of downtown Anchorage. Small Business Persons of the Year winners from fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam will converge in Washington, DC May 5-6 when one of them will be selected as the National Small Business Person of the Year. 


Alaska Rural Business of The Year

Amie Sommer, owner of Tutka, LLC
Wasilla, Alaska

Tutka, LLC provides environmental cleanup and heavy civil construction services. Tutka has twenty-three employees and has been in business more than twenty years, with steady growth strategically persevering through Alaska’s economic downtimes.


Alaska Veteran-Owned Business of The Year

Kevin Tennant, president of Glass Doctor of Fairbanks
Fairbanks, Alaska


Willian (Bill) Dishon, president of Orion Construction, Inc.
Wasilla, Alaska

Glass Doctor of Fairbanks started with a kitchen table, an idea, and $500 in 1997.  Because Tennant had accurately identified a niche and worked hard, the company saw quick success. Glass Doctor of Fairbanks built its first building in 1998, financed with an SBA guaranteed loan. After more than twenty years in business, Glass Doctor has grown both its services and revenues and is projected to grow again with a new Wasilla location.

Orion Construction is a Service-Disable Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and HUBZone certified contracting business with more than forty years of experience in sub-arctic and arctic construction. They currently have twenty-two employees and also work extensively with other small business contractors to assist in their growth.


Alaska Woman-Owned Business of The Year

Carrie Jokiel, president of ChemTrack, Inc.
 Anchorage, Alaska

Chemtrack is an 8(a) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) specializing in environmental engineering, remediation services, spill management, emergency response, and construction.  Jokiel champions for small business and women-owned business through her community involvement, participation in hearings from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, mentorship to many Alaskan businesses. Jokiel is also a graduate from the SBA Emerging Leaders program.


Alaska Micro Business of The Year

Brian K. Horner, president of LTR Training Systems, Inc. DBA Learn to Return
Anchorage, Alaska

Learn to Return, an emergency services training company, has been in business in Alaska for more than thirty-one years and staffs four full-time employees. LTR has a 7,000 square foot training facility that includes indoor climbing towers, aircraft egree simulators, inversion seat trainers, confined space rescue simulators, glacier crevasse tube rescue trainers, and other extreme rescue training equipment. Their goal is to build a full directed fall protection center designed to support the growing Alaskan industries of construction, wind energy, and telecom. Having suffered numerous personal tragedies and unusual business challenges throughout their thirty-one years, LTR’s story of business survival resembles some of their rescue stories.


 Alaska Business Champions of The Year

Paul Robinson, Robinson and War, P.C.
Fairbanks, Alaska


Tom Tougas, Major Marine Tours/Harbor 360 Hotel
Seward, Alaska         

For the past thirty years, Robinson has served Alaskan small businesses as both an accountant and as a community servant. He has been an faculty member at University of Alaska Fairbanks, mentored local business,  currently sits on multiple state boards in support of Alaska’s small businesses, and is active in the community. He has received numerous honors including the Alaska Society of CPA’s Public Service Award, Volunteer of the Decade Award from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) (2005), and Alaska Financial Services Advocate of the Year for the SBA in 2003, and in 2006 he was inducted an honorary member of the Golden Key Honor Society.  He currently sits on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Economic Development Commission, the Chancellor’s Community Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Fairbanks Economic Opportunity Task Force.

Tom Tougas is an Alaskan businessman who has spent the past 40 years promoting the growth and progression of the Alaska Visitor Industry; and, supporting job creation for hundreds of Alaskans over the years. Tougas is active on numerous boards, offers informal mentoring to small businesses, and conducts his well-known Small Business Management Class – with enrollment fees donated to the Seward Library. Tougas has been recognized with the 907 Alaska Ocean Leadership Stewardship and Sustainability Award from the Alaska SeaLife Center, the Business Energy Efficiency Leader of the Year Award from the Seward Alternative Energy Group, Kenai Peninsula Outstanding Business in Tourism, Visit Anchorage “Member of the Year” Seymour Award, and the Alaska Tourism Industry Association Visitor Industry Hall of Fame Award.

“National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact of small businesses, which make up 99 percent of all businesses in the Pacific Northwest and create two out of every three net new jobs,” SBA Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. “Small business owners represent our country’s best. They are innovators, job creators and community leaders. Shining a spotlight on their inspirational stories and journeys is an honor.”

A celebration honoring local SBA winners from Alaska will be May 10 at the Loussac Library in Anchorage.

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.

For more information about National Small Business Week, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.


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