Aleut Corporation: navigating international commerce.

Author:Slaten, Russ
Position:ALASKA'S TOP 49ERS 2014: FEATURED 49ER - Company overview

The Port of Adak is a view of the future for the Aleut Corporation. Not only is it in the region, translating to more opportunities for shareholders, it has the potential for exponential growth over generations to come.

The Aleut Corporation, formed in 1972 under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, or ANCSA, with 3,249 shareholders at one hundred shares each, has grown to a little over 3,800 shareholders through gifting and passing down shares from one generation to the next.

Aleut Corporation lands, also settled under ANCSA, are nearly seventy-one thousand acres of surface lands and more than 1.5 million acres of subsurface land. The area stretches from the western tip of the Alaska Peninsula and covers the Aleutian Islands, Shumagin Islands, and the Pribilof Islands. The area's primary industry is commercial fishing.

Aleut Corporation CEO Dave Gillespie has spent more than twenty years in the energy business in the Lower 48 with experience ranging from leading start-ups to international power and gas entities, along with small utilities and renewable energy. Gillespie says what most attracts him to the Aleut Corporation is its mission to promote economic, cultural, and social growth for its shareholders.

"When you work for a Fortune 500 company, for example, and you have five thousand shareholders and most of them are institutions, you don't have that connection to consider how decisions impact the people. But when we [at Aleut Corporation] issue a dividend check to somebody, it matters. And it may be someone that we know personally. So there's much more of a connection [to shareholders]," Gillespie says.

Boosting Business Lines

The Aleut Corporation employs more than 650 people, with 160 in Alaska and the rest based elsewhere. Aleut Corporation owns nineteen subsidiaries and joint ventures with business lines under commercial and residential real estate, government contracting, fuel and port services, gravel operations, water utilities, mechanical contracting, and oil well testing, and others.

The Aleut Corporation holds its government sector companies in a separate league from its private sector companies.

"Companies that are good at government contracting are uniquely not good at working in the commercial sector. I have not seen an entity make that transition well," Gillespie says. "Our businesses that work for the government, work for the government. We've made a conscious choice to do that, because the way you do...

To continue reading