Alaska to Louisiana: One Shareholder’s Journey to Job Success

Tami Krukoff, from NDC's Shareholder employment AND Development department, VISITS with Jay Kennedy during his visit to NDC headquarters in January 2014.


One shareholder’s journey took him from Kotzebue 4,000-some miles southeast to Galliano, La. There, he’s been fine tuning the craft of welding at NANA company, Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc. (GIS).

Gilbert “Jay” Kennedy has been working for GIS since January of 2012. He’s one of the first, and longest-standing, employees to make the transition to GIS after NANA Development Corporation (NDC) purchased the company in July, 2011.

Before Kennedy headed to Southern Louisiana, he attended Alaska’s Institute of Technology (AVTEC) in Seward, Alaska to learn construction welding. After graduating, he worked for another NANA company in Prudhoe Bay for a season.

That’s when he got the call from NDC’s shareholder employment and development department. They told him about an opening for a pipefitter helper at GIS.

“The opportunity arose, so I decided to take it,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy was born and raised in Kotzebue, Alaska. Louisiana was a great deal away from what he knew growing up.

“I wanted to go someplace else for a change,” he said.

Kennedy explains that while he had to take a pay cut from what he was making on the North Slope to take the job at GIS, he still sees the value in taking the leap. “I’m working with the best at GIS. These guys know their stuff,” he said.

“When I went down there, the pay was different from up in Alaska. If you’re willing to take a cut to learn your skills, try to do it,” he said.

Although he claims to be a beginner, Kennedy has completed tests to become a structural welder. Still in the apprentice phase, he hopes to be certified in the next couple years. He would like to eventually become a foreman where he would be the lead on projects.

One aspect of the job is crystal clear to Kennedy. Safety is a huge priority.

“It’s like any oil field job; you’ve got to respect the environment. Know what you are doing, be safe, and be cautious. Otherwise, the oilfield has no mercy,” he said.

He also recommends that other shareholders venture out and take the same path he did. He’s optimistic that if you focus on what you want to do, you can achieve it.

“Just try to go out. You can stay in place forever,” he said, “but if you want to experience the world, you just go for it. It’s fun to see different places.”

Founded in 1948, GIS services include fabrication facilities, onshore and offshore painting, offshore, onshore, plant construction and maintenance operations, and environmental services.  NDC acquired the company in 2011 and is now in the process of consolidating GIS with its Alaska based oilfield and mining support company, NANA Construction.

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