The Top 5 of the Top 100: Alaska’s Largest Private Employers Put People First
Some of the caregivers from the Day Surgery Team at Providence Alaska Medical Center.
Alaska Business’ Corporate 100 Special Section is an annual recognition that people drive business; the state’s five largest private employers have learned that focusing on their employees is key to finding success.
Providence Alaska leads the Corporate 100 pack once again—with NANA Regional Corporation, Trident Seafoods Corporation, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), and Fred Meyer rounding out the top five largest private employers in Alaska.
Over the past year, the top five collectively provided jobs for more than 20,000 people, despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. These companies lead by example and represent about 27 percent of the 75,541 jobs reported by the 2022 Alaska Business Corporate 100.
With 5,000 employees in Alaska (adding to its parent network’s 119,000 worldwide), Providence Alaska is number one on the list once again. The largest private sector and nonprofit employer in the state, the healthcare provider serves Alaskans in six communities: Anchorage, Eagle River, Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Kodiak Island, Seward, and Valdez.
The company’s mission is one of the top reasons why employees say they work for Providence, which provides care for the poor and vulnerable, regardless of ability to pay. The company cares about its employees just as much and is dedicated to helping them gain skills and opportunity.
To better support their caregivers’ learning and growth, Providence recently started using a self-paced virtual learning platform to allow its employees “to reinvent themselves one skill at a time.” The company also brought on LinkedIn Learning as part of that platform and increased its tuition reimbursement to $5,250 to help support caregivers who are pursuing external education. Providence is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Program’s Transition to Practice for all nursing hires, which is designed to ease a nurse’s path into practice through things like didactic cases, precepting, and mentorship. Other employees are hired into structured residency development programs (doctors and nurses), into positions that require specific license (Certified Nurse Assistant), or into positions that provide on-the-job training (Food Service or Environmental Services).
The company continues with its incredible track record of success by attracting the best hires—and by providing the right training and tools to make sure their employees are successful, have room for growth, and can participate in team decision making. Even when things are difficult—for example, during the COVID-19 pandemic—Providence caregivers provide compassionate care to the people who need it.
The first Sisters of Providence arrived in Nome in 1902 to provide care for people who had come to the state during the Gold Rush. That commitment to providing care for the poor and vulnerable continues today.
“As the largest private employer in Alaska, Providence offers many amazing career opportunities that deliver on our mission and meet the needs of our patients, their families, and our communities throughout Alaska,” says Florian Borowski, Chief Human Resources Officer for the Alaska Region.
NANA Regional Corporation
Once again, the Alaska Native regional corporation for Northwest Alaska comes in at number two in the Corporate 100. Founded in 1972, NANA is owned by more than 14,500 Iñupiaq shareholders or descendants, and its subsidiaries range from construction and engineering to information technology, telecommunications, logistics, and facilities management. NANA has employment opportunities for everything from entry-level jobs to highly skilled positions.
NANA’s mission is to improve the lives of its people by maximizing economic growth, protecting and enhancing its lands, and promoting healthy communities. The company extends hiring preference to NANA shareholders, their spouses, and descendants—to the extent that is allowed by law.
While NANA was staggered by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, the corporation received $32.8 million in federal relief funds from the CARES Act and distributed the money to shareholders and aid organizations. Providing direct financial benefits to shareholders is a key part of NANA’s mission, said CEO and President John Aġnaqłuk Lincoln in October 2021, soon after becoming the corporation’s top officer.
In the same statement, Board Chair Linda Lee said, “NANA has had many successes despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
For instance, in September 2021, NANA Vice President of Lands Elizabeth “Liz” Qaulluq Cravalho was appointed by President Biden to serve on the US Arctic Research Commission as an industry member through 2024. Also, the corporation announced a 2021 shareholder dividend of $10.75 per share, for a total distribution of $18.49 million.
Beyond those dividends, NANA brings value to its shareholders through the social and cultural contributions it makes as well as economic development, cultural initiatives, and other programs.
Trident Seafoods moved up two spots in this year’s Corporate 100, coming in at number three, with 4,077 Alaska employees (and 10,000 worldwide). The 100 percent American-owned and privately held seafood harvesting and processing company started in 1961 and remains a family business today. Though the company lost co-founder and chairman Chuck Bundrant in 2021, three generations of Bundrant’s children and grandchildren are committed to keeping his dream alive.
After forty years in business, Trident is an integral part of ten coastal communities, and the company says on its website that it’s “committed to the long-term health of each one.” The company also says it puts the well-being of future generations above short-term profit.
Trident operates its own fleet of fishing vessels (trawlers, trawl catcher/processors, floating processors, crab catchers, freighters, tenders), and it also partners with thousands of independent Alaskan fishermen. The company credits its employees as the foremost reason for its success, which allows it to be the leader in the seafood industry. Trident also operates shoreside processing facilities and fleet support along the coast from “Ketchikan to Kodiak… from Sand Point to St. Paul.”
The company’s website mentions its “culture of innovation,” as it was the first company to catch and freeze Alaska king crab on board a fishing vessel. Sustainability is also at the core of the company’s beliefs. “It’s why we invest in and support the local communities where we fish,” notes the website. The company partners with organizations like the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, and the National Fisheries Institute to help “ensure a responsible stewardship of Alaskan seafood for generations to come.”
Finally, Trident notes that the company strives for a higher standard of achievement and is “committed to providing exceptional operating conditions and an environment of dignity and respect,” adding that “[the] success of our business is dependent on the trust and confidence we earn from our fishermen, employees, and customers over the long run.” In light of these beliefs, the company contributes to several charitable organizations and invests in the local communities where it fishes and works.
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation
ASRC President and CEO Rex A. Rock Sr. (left) and ASRC Chairman Crawford Patkotak (right).
ASRC comes in at number four on this year’s Corporate 100 with 3,165 Alaskan employees (14,656 worldwide). The company represents the business interests of approximately 13,000 Iñupiat shareholders. While second to NANA among purely Alaskan-owned corporations in terms of in-state and worldwide payroll, ASRC dominates on the revenue side. For the past twenty-seven years, ASRC has held the title of the largest Alaskan-owned and operated business by gross revenue.
ASRC President and CEO Rex A. Rock Sr. attributes the company’s continued success to the long lens its early leaders used to guide their decisions. Recognizing decisions made in the corporation’s infancy would have impacts decades down the road, leadership chose to forgo short-term gain and instead focused on long-term viability. “The approach of making decisions for the long term is a pillar of ASRC’s stability and continues to be the foundation of ASRC’s business strategy,” says Rock.
Stability in both earnings and leadership has created an environment that attracts and retains talented employees who are dedicated to ASRC’s mission. The company provides the very best resources to attract, retain, and develop future generations of leaders across Alaska, says Rock. To do this, ASRC offers some of the best health and retirement plans in the state, including medical, dental, vision, pet, legal services, life insurance, and identity theft, as well as a 401(k) contribution match and more.
ASRC offers training, professional development, and education programs to its workforce as part of the company’s long-term efforts to promote from within. The company also hosts a leadership program for employees, who are selected for the year-long program based on their demonstrated commitment to the corporation and their potential as a leader. The leadership program’s goal is to give future ASRC leaders greater insight into the corporation’s operations and strategic vision and to foster leadership development throughout the company.
At ASRC, Iñupiaq values like respect, high performance, stewardship, relationship, resolution of conflict, and integrity are critical elements in the company’s continued success. “The tone is set from the top with emphasis on teamwork and unity,” says Rock. “The message is genuine and personally understood by ASRC leadership, who often wear multiple hats in their communities—president and CEO, chairman, director—but also whaling captain, hunter, and basketball coach. These roles embody teamwork, unity, and trust: principles that are carried over into the workplace.”
“The approach of making decisions for the long term is a pillar of ASRC’s stability and continues to be the foundation of ASRC’s business strategy.”
Fred Meyer rounds out the top five of the Corporate 100, with 3,132 Alaska employees (39,000 worldwide, nearly one-tenth of the workforce for parent company Kroger). The one-stop shop for groceries, apparel, housewares, pharmacy, home electronics, and more credits its success to the company’s great benefits, culture, and the many opportunities available to its employees. “You can come for a job and stay for a career,” says Holly Mitchell, Alaska District Manager for Fred Meyer Stores. “In fact, many of our company leaders started their careers working in the stores.”
Mitchell further notes that company associates are “like family,” and that Fred Meyer strives to incorporate its stated purpose—feeding the human spirit—into everything they do. “One of the best ways to describe our work culture is through observing our honesty, integrity, respect, diversity, safety, and inclusion,” she says.
Holly Mitchell is the Alaska District Manager for Fred Meyer.
Fred Meyer helps its employees advance by providing multiple forms of training. Associates are eligible for competitive wages, health and wellness benefits, associate discounts, ongoing education, and more. The company’s leadership team is committed to maintaining a healthy environment for employees and has ways for associates to be successful and make meaningful contributions regardless of their role within the company, says Mitchell.
Finally, the company also credits its success to its customers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fred Meyer took steps to protect health and safety, such as adjusting store hours and using physical distancing and advanced cleaning. The company also expanded associate benefits.
“Fred Meyer has always been a customer-first company, so our growth and the direction we take comes directly from what we learn from our customers,” says Mitchell. “We develop new innovations and change our model to be what the customer wants and needs.” One example of this is the Pickup service, which Fred Meyer began offering years before COVID-19 made it a life-saving necessity for some vulnerable customers. The company continues to adapt to meet its consumers’ needs. “We love Alaska, and we are proud of our heritage here,” Mitchell says. “We are excited to continue to serve our customers and be part of the community.”
“Fred Meyer has always been a customer-first company, so our growth and the direction we take comes directly from what we learn from our customers… We develop new innovations and change our model to be what the customer wants and needs.”
This year the Alaska Railroad is celebrating 100 years of transportation people and cargo around Alaska. While the railroad is one of the states oldest transporters, it certainly isn’t the only one, and in this issue of Alaska Business we also check in on the Marine Highway, Span Alaska, and the White Pass & Yukon Route. For those interested in Southeast, our focus on that region provides updates on Kensington Mine, Tongass FCU, the troll fishery, and Juneau’s growing landfill.