S&K Technologies is a Section 17 Corporation incorporated under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1935 and was formed in 1999 as a very small professional services company on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Now, less than 20 years later, it has become a family of five subsidiary companies and one closely held corporation as well, with customers circling the globe. Recently S&K Aerospace, one of the subsidiaries, received a $4.2 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force that illustrates the growth and reputation S&K Technologies has built as a whole.
Headquarters for S&K Technologies is in St. Ignatius, Montana, on the Flathead Reservation. It’s home to the Salish and Kootenai Tribes, hence the S&K title, plus the Pend d’Oreille Tribe, and is wholly owned by the tribes.
The Air Force contract is with S&K Aerospace, one of the subsidiary companies, and is the largest single contract to date with S&K. The contract includes options that could result in an extension to 15 years and thus worth considerably more than the current contract. It will also add an additional 100 employees.
This contract involves working with 93 foreign military customers with procurement and logistic requirements for aging weapon systems and obsolete parts for those systems.
Over the years, customers include not only the U.S. Air Force but also the Army, Navy, Marine Corp., NASA, Department of Interior, Department of Energy, and many others worldwide, both federal and commercial.
Anthony Amadeo is president of S&K Aerospace. He retired from the U.S. Air Force but while in service he learned of S&K. “They offered me a position and I grabbed it. I retired on a Friday and came to work for S&K on Monday,” he laughed. He added that a lot of the field jobs are filled by retired military from not only the U.S. Air Force but also the Army and Navy.
Asked about going from military duty to working with tribes he said, “It’s been a great experience, not only professionally but personally. I think all our people enjoy working for the tribes. There’s a special bond between employees and the tribes. They’re good to the employees and the employees recognize that and in return give a little extra. It’s not your typical stockholder company but more of a giving back to the tribes. You see that across the board with our employees.”
Tom Acevedo, a Salish tribal member, is CEO for S&K Technologies. “We are in effect a holding company for the limited liability companies and the closely held corporation,” he explained. “We oversee the operation of these subsidiaries. We provide human resources, 401K, billing, expenses, accounts receivable and accounts payable, insurance and legal. They just focus on customer service with their contracts.”
About 40 employees work at the location in St.Ignatius, 17 of which are tribal members. “They are mostly finance people, human resource, logistical services and accounting folks. We have a difficult time getting our tribal folks to move elsewhere,” Acevedo added as he explained that other jobs are located in far ranging places.
Acevedo pointed out that S&K is not primarily an employer of tribal members but upwards of 7,000 tribal members directly benefit from the success of this corporation through a yearly dividend payment. Between 2002 and the present, the company has given over $25 million to the tribal government. “This allows the tribes to use the money to assist their governmental structure in providing services to the members. We’re pretty proud of that.”
Upwards of 400 people are employed by the company with the majority located elsewhere around the globe.
Other offices within the U.S. are located in Georgia, Texas and Florida. An office was also opened in Saudi Arabia in 2012 working with the Royal Saudi Air Force for supply chain government contracts.
The variety of work involved in these numerous contracts requires an equally wide variety of skills and knowledge. Among those employed are former military persons, psychologists, physicists and engineers.
S&K Global Solutions is one of the subsidiary companies under the S&K Technologies umbrella. It provides technical and engineering services for NASA’s International Space Station program and Orion program. Part of their work involves developing robots to use in space exploration, including Mars exploration. To facilitate this contract S&K has an office in Houston, at the Johnson Space Center, so as to work closely with the NASA director.
S&K Logistics Services is another subsidiary company. They have led efforts to remove contaminated materials at the former atomic energy site near Moab, Utah. Another somewhat similar project is at a 310-square-mile site in Georgia, working with the Department of Energy, where nuclear materials were refined.
Acevedo added that their work has illustrated it’s possible to locate your business nearly anywhere and to be successful now that internet services, smart phones and computers are all available. Using the huge Air Force contract as an example he said “it’s an exciting thing for tribes to be involved in. We have multiple contracts with various federal agencies. That is our emphasis and will continue to be in the future as well.”