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Kakivik: Providing critical assistance

In today’s economically-challenged market, many industries are trimming their capital expenditures by attempting to prolong and optimize the life, capacity, and efficiency of their existing infrastructure. In response, Kakivik Asset Management LLC, established in 1999, provides viable solutions for the oil and gas, aviation, marine, construction, mining and petrochemical industries to meet these critical challenges.

A full service asset integrity management company which specializes in nondestructive testing, corrosion investigation, and quality program management, Kakivik is a subsidiary of Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) in Anchorage, Alaska. Owned by the Eskimo, Indian, and Aleut shareholders of BBNC, an Alaska Native regional corporation founded and organized pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA), “Kakivik” is the Yup’ik word for a small pouch that contains items critical to survival in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.

The very nature of the company’s work makes it easy to understand how Kakivik got its name. Kakivik Interim CEO and BBNC Chief Operating Officer, Scott Torrison; “Market, economic, and social factors have combined to make asset integrity management an increasingly vital component of successful industrial operations today. Much of our nation’s industrial infrastructure is being used well into the end days of its useful life.” That is where Kakivik comes in.

Kakivik inspectors and technicians assist clients and the industries they serve with extending the serviceable life of their infrastructure. Working collaboratively with engineering, projects, design, systems, quality and safety controls, and commercial client groups, they help to improve life cycle management, cost performance, and technological advancements. Other services include civil inspection, laboratory analysis, materials evaluation, and failure analysis. With integrity and innovation, Kakivik helps its clients meet the demands of business, technical, and regulatory mandates to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements.

“Additionally, we serve industry verticals that place an unwavering premium on safety and environmental protection. Protecting the health and safety of employees, vendors, and contractors at the facility or on the job site is paramount, as is protecting the environment. Meeting health, safety and environmental requirements begins with ensuring the structural integrity of your facility,” Torrison said.

Situated in the far north, Kakivik was once the exclusive inspection and NDT service provider for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the Greater Kuparuk Area and Alpine oil fields on Alaska’s North Slope. They have also served a variety of clients from the Alaska Air National Guard and the Boeing Company, to ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. and Olgoonik Environmental Services, Inc., a company that provides environmental management and remediation, oilfield, and environmental training services.

Today, however, they have expanded into Texas, and now hold reciprocal certifications with the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council, the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council, and the Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council which serves the southwest region of Texas bounded by Austin, San Antonio, Harlingen and El Paso.

The company’s prodigious growth may be attributed to methodical attention to work procedures, meticulous screening of employees, and mandatory training and testing in safety and technical qualifications. Torrison firmly believes Kakivik’s penchant for excellence has helped the company grow. “Our performance history, reputation and the length of our customer relationships represent us well as prospective customers consider utilizing our services. The technical skill, certifications and experience of our workforce is very attractive to new customers who desire a contractor who can work well with their reliability engineers and facilities maintenance engineers to develop project scope and technical solutions.”

Kakivik has long focused its business development efforts on technology acquisition, but its more recent initiatives, have focused on new customer acquisition and geographic diversification. “We plan on continuing our capital investment in new technology and in advanced NDT solutions,” says Torrison, “but we will continue to invest in developing the skills and certifications of our personnel; and growing our workforce. Kakivik is also dedicated to expanding its solution set, those capabilities that we bring to bear for the benefit of our customers.”

BBNC has more than 8,200 shareholders and owns some three million acres of land with breathtaking landscapes and an abundance of natural resources. Since its inception in 1971, the corporation has expanded and developed a reputation as a shrewd managerial operation with 31 subsidiaries and annual revenues in excess of $1.2 billion.

Kakivik is proud of its status as a “Diversity Supplier,” and of the heritage of the native people of their Bristol Bay owners. They strive to emulate Native cultural traditions, inculcating a strong work ethic and integrity in all that they do while maintaining an ongoing support for the communities in which they live and work.

“The employees of Kakivik are proud of the cultural heritage of the indigenous people of Bristol Bay, and the Eskimo, Indian and Aleut shareholders who are our owners. We strive every day to emulate their traditions of a strong work ethic, integrity in all that we do, and support for the communities where we live and work,” Torrison said.

Torrison also said that management and daily operations at Kakivik have been greatly empowered by Native culture. “The principal way in which Native culture informs business activity at Kakivik is through our board of directors, and through the owner company, Bristol Bay Native Corporation,” Torrison pointed out. “One attribute of our corporate culture that derives in part from our owners and shareholders, is the unwavering commitment to honesty, integrity and ethical business conduct.”

Kakivik’s currently employs 171 individuals, and has a robust program of continuing education that includes technical and safety training delivered by both in-house instructors and by respected industry professionals. As of August 2009, Alaska Native/American Indian employees comprised more than 23 percent of the Kakivik workforce, and preference is given to shareholders of BBNC and other Alaska Native corporations. According to Torrison, “When all other factors are equaled or exceeded by the shareholder – education, technical certifications, experience, employability, adherence to safe work practices, and leadership abilities – preference is given to the shareholder applicant in hiring decisions.

In their efforts to enhance opportunities for the native community, Kakivik also reaches out to academic, tribal, and civic leaders of the Bristol Bay region to increase shareholder employability. Outreach is being made to high schools and vocational training centers to support efforts to improve basic work and math skills, to teach students how to conduct job searches, prepare a resume and engage in a successful job interview.

“The jobs we provide are highly suited to those who wish to continue living in their traditional villages conducting their subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. Jobs are typically on a two-week on/two-week off rotation, and employees can return to their villages, sustain their subsistence lifestyle, and contribute to the local economy,” Torrison said.

Jason Metrokin, president & chief executive officer, BBNC added, “BBNC is healthy and energized to take on future challenges. While we believe our future is bright, we recognize the challenges our region and the nation face with high energy prices and unemployment. We, along with our subsidiary companies, will strive to provide sustainable shareholder benefits that help enrich our Native way of life, and continue to support programs to enhance education, training and employment opportunities.”