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The Superior Group: from heating and plumbing to building Alaska, this company has shown growth and promise.

Position This Year: 49

Position Last Year: N/A

2005 Revenues: $35.54 Million

Alaska Employees: 105

Worldwide Employees: 105

The 49th position on this year's Top 49ers list is held by The Superior Group, an Anchorage-based general contracting and mechanical construction company, an entity that has several past appearances on Alaska's top business ranking.

As far back as 1995 and as recent as 2002, The Superior Group has appeared on the publication's 49ers list of top Alaskan-owned businesses.

This year, the company earned the final slot with its $35.54 million reported gross revenues in 2005, an increase of more than 26 percent over the prior year.

The growth came mainly due to a large contract to build the Mat-Su Valley Medical Center, a 200,000-plus-square-foot facility constructed in 18 months, according to company president Jan van den Top.

"It is a private hospital and they were very eager to get it operating ... very willing to make decisions required in a matter of time to keep the work flowing," he said. "But that is a very short period of time for something as complicated as a hospital."


Alaska's construction industry has been "very active" in the last 10 years or so, van den Top added, helping to contribute to growth by the company. "It depends on which niche you're in-the activity keeps moving around."

Military construction has offered significant work opportunities for The Superior Group in recent years, as has rural building projects. The company constructed the Cape Fox Lodge in Ketchikan and the Arctic Slope Regional Corp.'s office building in Barrow.

"We were very much deep in the Bush schools construction, but that was about three years worth of work, and then it was all over," van den Top said. "We can't really specialize in anything because the market is changing all the time and it's such a small market."

Other major projects include the Anchorage Museum of History and Fine Arts, the Alyeska Prince Hotel in Girdwood and the Seward SeaLife Center. Currently, the company is working on a power plant facility in Nuiqsut and a project at Providence Hospital in Anchorage.


The Superior Group was originally founded in 1964 by Marion Fox and Bob Pope as Superior Plumbing and Heating. The company's crew installed commercial and residential heating conversion systems when Anchorage made the switch from oil to natural gas in the mid-1960s.

The business entity has evolved through the years, adding other construction skills and specialties through subsidiaries Alaska Sheet Metal, Superior Mechanical Service, Haakenson Electrical and, most recently, Support Services of Alaska.

"We offer the total package-design, installation and maintenance," van den Top said.


Diversity of services offered and the ability to meet customer needs-no matter where the projects are located, has helped the Superior Group survive in Alaska's volatile economy, he added.

Staying flexible and allowing employees to own apiece of the business has also helped The Superior Group succeed.

"We are an employee-owned company, so we have a good succession plan that will last. There are no surprises when the leadership disappears," van den Top said. "If I wanted to hand down the company but had no son, then what happens? This gives us another tool--to have employees participating and feeling like they are a part of the business."

The number of employees at The Superior Group varies, depending on the current projects, ranging anywhere from 90 to 105. The company has been recognized by the ESOP Association for its employee-owned structure.

"Quality customer service and a dedication to excellence have placed us consistently among Alaska's top five construction subcontractors; that is a long way from humble beginnings," van den Top said. "Success like that can only come from a team of dedicated professionals professionals who will make sure The Superior Group continues to get the job done."


As one of only a handful of 100 percent Alaskan-owned large businesses in the Last Frontier, The Superior Group is "here to stay," van den Top said. "The Superior Group Inc. doesn't leave a job behind just because we've finished construction. We're local and we're Alaskan."

Clients can depend on maintenance technicians to provide around-the-clock service, he added. Employees perform tests and inspections of mechanical system installations to ensure smooth, efficient operation after a building or facility is occupied, with follow-up inspections and maintenance programs tailored to specific needs of different clients.

Business and civic recognition received by The Superior Group includes a certificate of investment from the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. in 2002, a certificate of recognition from the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce in 1999 and an award of excellence and a division manager's award from Industrial Indemnity for the company's achievements in risk control.
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Title Annotation:Alaska's Top 49ers: The New Gold Standard of Business
Author:Liles, Patricia
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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