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Prospecting for the top 49.

Finding Alaskan Gold

In 1990, the Alaska economy was back to business as usual, sans oil spill cleanup income that caused 1989 revenues to skyrocket. The heavy spending by Exxon and government is gone, but not forgotten. At many companies, the shot-in-the-arm business improved stability and long-term prospects.

The year of efforts to repair damage to coastlines in Prince William Sound and other parts of Southcentral Alaska also won't be forgotten because of the way it skews statistics. Take the New 49ers of 1991, for example. The combined 1990 revenues of these 49 Alaskan-owned, Alaska-based companies are $177 million shy of their combined revenues in 1989.

The decline in only one company's revenues for the year accounts for more than triple the difference. Following its stint as Exxon's general contractor for oil-spill cleanup work in 1989, Veco International's gross revenues dropped almost $700 million.

Even without spill-cleanup revenues, 1989 was a year of expansion for Alaska businesses, and 1990 continued that trend. The average increase in revenues for the New 49ers in 1990, despite Veco's 73 percent drop, is 20 percent.

Alaskan businesses have been bolstered by increasing population, rebounding real estate markets and growth in several industries, most notably mining, construction and services. According to the Alaska Department of Labor, all regions of the state enjoyed greater employment in December 1990 than in December 1989.

Total employment of New 49er firms in 1990 was 21,108, down from 23,860 for the top 49 companies the prior year. This figure, too, was skewed by one company's 6,000 workers in 1989.

Among businesses with outstanding growth in 1990 are seafood processors whose businesses were stymied by the oil spill of 1989. Sea Hawk Seafoods of Valdez and All Alaskan Seafoods of Kodiak saw revenues increase 72 and 74 percent, respectively.

Also enjoying expansion last year were building contractors, including Brice Inc., with a 118 percent increase in 1990 revenues; C.R. Lewis Inc., 99 percent; Construction & Rigging, 78 percent; and Gaston & Associates, 68 percent. Similarly reflecting an uptick in the building trade, the construction subsidiaries of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp. contributed largely to revenue increases of 94 and 46 percent, respectively, at those two Barrow-based firms.

Not surprisingly, automobile dealerships, which have been visibly expanding with new showrooms in Anchorage, also reported revenue growth in 1990. Continental Motor Co. followed a 30 percent surge in 1989 revenues with 33 percent growth in 1990.

Among newcomers whose revenues increased enough to push them into the top 49 Alaskan businesses are Sea Hawk Seafoods, C.R. Lewis Inc., Brice Inc. and Integrated Solutions. Cold Weather Contractors, Alaska Fish & Farm Products and Klawock Timber Alaska should have been on last year's list but weren't discovered in time.

Firms no longer on the 1990 list include Alaska Joint Venture Seafoods, which no longer meets the Alaskan-owned criteria; Kurani Inc., Walsh & Co. and Eastwind, for which information was unobtainable; United Lumber Co. and Chugach-NANA/Marriott, now out of business; and Chugach Alaska Corp., because information on 1990 revenues being compiled for the bankruptcy court as part of the firm's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization was not available by press time.

Don't expect to find either Eastwind or South Coast on the 1992 New 49ers list. Earlier this year, Veco acquired Eastwind and Klukwan Inc. purchased South Coast.

METHODOLOGY. To qualify as a New Forty-Niner, a business must be operated for profit, headquartered in Alaska and owned -- at least 51 percent -- by Alaska residents. Although most companies listed are privately held, publicly traded firms are eligible; state-owned businesses and cooperatives are not.

Gross revenues generally are the total value of goods and services sold. For financial institutions, the figure used includes total interest income, fees and other income. In evaluating travel agencies, real estate firms and insurance companies, we consider revenue to consist of commissions or fees and other income.

In most cases, the source of a company's data is the firm itself. Although information is available for financial institutions, some air carriers and many Native corporations, most New 49ers are private corporations that have provided the figures themselves. We also consult public documents, industry experts and other sources.

Because Alaskan companies use a variety of fiscal years, the 12-month periods represented as 1990 revenues are not true to the calendar; some end in June 1990, others in March 1991. We use the 12-month period that reflects the most months in calendar 1990.

We've made every effort to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the 1991 New 49ers ranking. We've attempted to verify discrepancies in reporting revenues for 1989 and are satisfied that differences reflect accounting changes.

Thanks to all who've helped us identify and recognize these successful miners of the 49th state's commerce and natural resources. The New 49er companies -- their owners, managers and employees -- are precious as gold to the state's economy.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Alaska Business Publishing Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Alaska's top 49 revenue producing companies; The New 49ers
Author:Griffin, Judith Fuerst
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Proving Poker Flat.
Next Article:Eight that soared.

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