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Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation.

Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost community in the United States, is perhaps best known for the 1988 rescue of three ice-stranded whales through the tireless efforts of local Inupiat hunters and other volunteers.

The community of Barrow is also well known as the seat of government for the North Slope Borough; as headquarters of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC); and as the birthplace Inuit Circumpolar Conference dynamic organizations are a trademark of Barrow, then Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (UIC) is no exception. An Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) village corporation, UIC was incorporated in 1973 as a profit-oriented venture for the Native residents of Barrow.

in its early years, the corporation operated businesses with more emphasis on social and cultural benefits than on earning profits. In 1987 Ronald H. Brower Sr., a member of the board of directors since 1980, was elected president of the corporation.

Brower took immediate and decisive action, separating the traditional tribal government responsibilities from the corporation. He began laying the groundwork that would bring corporate definition and profits to the company. With the separation of the two entities, the traditional council was able to perform its role of attending to the social needs of the community, while leaving UIC the task of expanding its business interests.

One of UIC's first major investments was the acquisition of a local mercantile business. In support of this investment's potential, UIC constructed a modern building to house the rapidly expanding operation. Now leased for retail use and operated by Alaska Commercial Company, the property generates sales in excess of $10 million per year.

Brower credits the success of the company to its management style: "We work together as a team, instilling a sense of family among shareholder and corporate partners." UIC's foremost operating principle is management by objective, a commitment that incorporates Brower's personal commitment to management by values.

The business direction of UIC in the 1980s and 1990s illustrates adherence to a simple philosophy: increase the overall wealth of the village and enhance shareholders' ability to control changes affecting their unique way of life. To accomplish these objectives, UIC management strives to invest wisely; to manage the corporation's real estate profitably; to provide training, job and business opportunities; and to share corporate profits through shareholder dividends.

UIC's extensive real estate holdings - incorporating more than 200,000 acres - do not include timber, mineral or fisheries resources. To develop business ventures and profits for shareholders, the company has concentrated on providing business services in diverse competitive markets.

The corporation's wholly owned subsidiaries include UIC Construction inc., Umialik Insurance Company, Bowhead Transportation Company, Arctic Industrial Services, and Barrow Technical Services.

UIC Construction is a $23 million a year contractor involved in commercial construction, gravel mining, window manufacturing, logistics services and government maintenance contracting.

Umialik insurance Company is a multiline property and casualty, carrier. it is the only Native-owned insurance company in the United States. Umialik is AM rated at B+.

Bowhead Transportation Company and Arctic Industrial Services are headquartered in Seattle. They provide seasonal barge and other transportation, staging and consolidation services to North Slope communities.

Barrow Technical Services provides surveying, construction management, civil engineering and design services to North Slope communities and the oil and gas industries.

UIC's major joint ventures are with the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, a Native regional corporation. They include Piquniq Management Corporation, a company grossing $60 million per year. Piquniq specializes in project management in such diverse areas as Prudhoe Bay, Amchitka, Kodiak and Wake Island. Another partnership, Ukpeagvik Arctic Slope, is the Barrow gas fields operator and field maintenance contractor.

An important part of UIC is UIC-NARL. A division of the corporation, its ownership represents the only truly successful transfer of a former military installation to profit-oriented private ownership.

UIC has carefully explored appropriate scientific uses of its facilities at UIC-NARL. Formerly the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory, the complex is situated on a 70-acre gravel pad three miles from Barrow and includes staging areas; a fueling depot; warehousing and residential units; full-service light- and heavy-equipment shops; a body and paint shop; carpentry, electrical and plumbing shops; a window manufacturing plant; office and laboratory lease space; recreational buildings; and an 88-bed hotel with on-site cafeteria-style dining facilities.

UIC-NARL was recently selected by the National Science Foundation as the site from which Arctic ozonedepletion studies are to be conducted. only time will tell how critical this research is to Arctic residents, if not to the global community.

UIC assisted the NSF endeavor by providing lab space and equipment installation at half price. The corporation also has worked diligently to ensure local involvement. For example, area students will participate in this long-range environmental monitoring program. UIC management feels that this project will provide valuable experience and knowledge for future inupiat scientists.

President Brower also points to the support and input UIC provided in the creation of the National Arctic Research Policy as an example of the corporation's concern for the future of its shareholders. UIC fought for sensible legislation that would streamline bureaucratic management of Arctic resources and resolution of Arctic issues.

UIC's concern for the fragile Arctic environment can be witnessed in its logistics operations at Barrow. While the prospect of actual offshore development is considered frightening, UIC management has sought to establish solid working relationships with industry, arctic researchers, and governmental entities, believing this approach offers the best means of shaping a positive course for future development. Explains Brower, "We take a problem-solving approach to this type of social issue, anticipating a mutually beneficial outcome.

UIC's short- and long-term business expectations also reflect the corporation's concern for protecting the Barrow community's ability to direct its future. President Brower says, "Our objective is to create a local business environment that attracts outside businesses to the community."

In the near future, UIC management anticipates starting a lively and enjoyable winter tour program. For the long term, UIC plans to capitalize on the strengths of its existing businesses and to pursue other opportunities compatible with its corporate philosophy.

Proud of UIC's accomplishments, Brower notes "Barrow is the traditional hub of commerce in the North Slope Region. UIC's success exemplifies the cultural and entrepreneurial spirit of Barrow and its Inupiat people." UIC management is dedicated to protecting the social character of the inupiat people as it develops harmonious business pursuits in the 90s. 2
COPYRIGHT 1991 Alaska Business Publishing Company, Inc.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business Profile
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:company profile
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:1991 fishing forecast.
Next Article:Bottomfish brouhaha.

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