NIQI is a premier food supplier to the United States Armed Services. Lately, though, NIQI has been taking the skills developed over years of doing business with the military and translated it into other ventures, including one in its own back yard. The company recently bid on and won a contract to provide the Anchorage School District with chicken for use in school lunches.
NIQI is a relatively young member of the NANA family. Founded in 2005, NIQI — which takes its name from the Iñupiaq word for “food”— distributes high-quality grocery, frozen and chilled food items, including ice cream. For a small company, NIQI has made a big splash. In 2009, it made the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Troop Support Top 100 list of prime vendor providers, coming in at number 42 (based on sales). Last year, NIQI shot up to 22nd place.
“That was really exciting,” NIQI Program Director Rachel McClanahan said. “We’re up there with companies like Coca-Cola and other big names that you know.”
NIQI primarily provides products on an order-by-order basis to overseas military installations, but recently the company has been doing more domestic business. The jump up the DLA rankings last year was due mostly to increased orders from stateside military customers. Now NIQI is working on expanding its commercial business.
“We feel really good about what we have done to date with the military, and now that it doesn’t require 100 percent of our attention, we’ve been starting to focus on the commercial market,” McClanahan said. “We’re working on some arrangements with national distributors and the markets that they serve. Right now, it’s about finding where the biggest impact is that we can have.” Eventually that might mean working with large companies like Costco or Wal-Mart, but in the meantime NIQI is starting closer to home, beginning with its Anchorage School District contract. “It’s a healthier line of chicken,” McClanahan said. “It’s not just your normal chicken tender; it’s lower in sodium and fat.”
NIQI partners with small businesses, farmers and manufacturers to get quality products to their customers.
“We try to work with small businesses that aren’t able to take their products from their farms or their manufacturing plants,” McClanahan said. “We bring it from the plant to the customer.”
McClanahan said the company would love to do more business in Alaska, working with some of its sister companies in NANA Services to provide quality food products to cafeterias and commercial kitchens statewide. Eventually, she added, she’d like to see NIQI work on improving food options for all Alaskans.
“One of our goals is to find the right relationship so we can bring products of the same or better value, but lower cost, to Alaska.”
Former Soldier Shines at SAVA
Getting Derrick Kessler to say positive things about himself isn’t an easy task; he likes to throw the questions back at you. And that’s what makes Kessler so successful at his job. A senior project manager for SAVA Workforce Solutions, LLC, he’s so good at building relationships that he’s grown his project portfolio to $75-80 million.
“He’ll engage with someone and get that person to talk and feel good about themselves. When that person walks away, he or she will realize Derrick didn’t do any of the talking. He just listened,” says Doug Ingros, SAVA’s senior director for Law Enforcement & Security Programs. “That’s how you build relationships and become successful in this business - and he’s very good at it.”
Kessler, 35, grew up hunting, fishing and playing hockey in Mobridge, S.D., and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northern State University in South Dakota. After a short service as a police officer, he enlisted in the Army, serving two rotations in Afghanistan. Kessler was fresh out of the military when he was hired by SAVA, an NDC subsidiary based in Virginia that provides information technology (IT) and support services to the Department of Defense as well as federal law enforcement agencies and the Intelligence community. About 85 percent of SAVA’s nearly 400 employees have military experience.
“Most of us have that common thread. Having that strong work ethic and level of organization is great for our projects,” says Kessler. “In the military we’re also taught how to take care of each other. We all bring that to the table here. I can’t imagine working with a better group of people.”
And that strong work ethic is another reason his boss says Kessler has risen through the company ranks. Kessler had virtually no business experience when he was hired. Now he’s oversees about 140 employees and Kessler’s projects include three major Drug Enforcement Agency contracts with workers in nearly every state.
“Derrick’s the type of guy who will stay late to get the job done and he’s great at managing people. With his work ethic and people skills, he’ll continue to be a rising star here,” says Ingros.
While SAVA is far from NDC’s headquarters in Alaska, Kessler says he feels a connection to NANA. He visited the NANA region with other senior managers a couple of years ago and had the opportunity to talk to some shareholders.
“They told me how much they appreciate what we do for the corporation. That hadn’t occurred to me before and it made me realize how NANA still is a family business,” he says.
And speaking of family, that’s Kessler’s biggest priority right now. He and his wife Christina, who live in Virginia just outside Washington D.C., with her 15-year-old son, are expecting their first child on New Year’s Day.
NANA WorleyParsons' Team Approach Keeps the Slope Safe
NDC subsidiary NANA WorleyParsons provides a unique safety net for the men and women who work on Alaska’s North Slope.
Fire prevention and the detection of explosive substances are vital in oil and gas production worldwide, but they are of particular importance on the North Slope where NANA WorleyParsons does most of its work, company vice president Gary Powell explains.
“Most of the Lower 48 hydrocarbon facilities are outdoors, so a small escapement of gas will just disappear into the atmosphere,” Powell said. “In Alaska, we enclose production facilities in large buildings. All of a sudden, a small escapement of gas is a big problem.”
Trapped inside, explosive fumes that may be inadvertently released during oil and gas production and processing can threaten the lives of the men and women working at the facility. Making sure detection and suppression systems work reliably is a responsibility Powell and his team take seriously. “Our number one concern is protecting lives,” Powell said. “We’re also protecting the infrastructure that continues to fill the coffers of state government.”
Because of the unique nature of North Slope facilities, most of NANA WorleyParsons’ fire suppression work – about 80 percent, Powell estimates – is actually focused on detection and notification of explosive substances.
“We’ll analyze the hazards in a particular facility, and then we’ll determine the best way to detect them early enough to give warning to the occupants,” Powell said. In many cases, the solution to the problem is simply to increase ventilation, in order to dilute the dangerous substance; other times, a chemical agent must be activated in order to render the atmosphere inert and prevent an explosion. NANA WorleyParsons has a team of about 65 employees who take a collaborative approach to each system they design. The team has tackled some challenging projects. WorleyParsons, 50 percent owner of NANA WorleyParsons, recently took on a job in Canada, designing fire protection on a giant power shovel used in oil sands operations.
“The challenge was it had to be mobile,” Powell explained. “That complicated things.” Whether they’re protecting indoor production facilities in Alaska or designing innovative mobile suppression systems in Canada, the focus at NANA WorleyParsons is on teamwork.
“I think the way we work is what’s unique,” Powell said. “At most other engineering companies in the fire protection world, they divide up the work. If it’s detection-related they give it to their electrical people to do. If it’s suppression related, they give it to their mechanical engineers to do. We bring all that under one roof and they work hand in hand. We have multiple disciplines with one focus.” NANA WorleyParsons provides a variety of engineering, project management and construction management services to the oil and gas and mining industries, including, fire suppression system design and installation.
NOSI President Named to Native American 40 Under 40
NANA Oilfield Services, Inc. President Brad Osborne has been named one of the 2011 Native American 40 Under 40.
Awarded each year since 2009 by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise (NCAIED), the Native American 40 Under 40 recognizes existing and emerging American Indian leaders under 40 years of age who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication to achieve impressive and significant contributions in their businesses, communities and to Indian country.”
It’s a well-deserved honor for Osborne, according to Stan Fleming, former senior vice president and chief strategy officer at NDC.
“He’s a rising star,” Fleming said. “Of all the people who I’ve come in contact with during my time at NANA, I think Brad is one of the most innovative and has some of the best understanding of business.” Osborne and his fellow honorees were recognized at the 36th Annual Indian Progress in Business Awards Event (INPRO) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Between 200 and 300 guests were in attendance as each of the Top 40 was recognized individually. It was a big moment to walk across the stage, Osborne said.
“It felt so appreciative, so supportive,” he said. “I really feel blessed.”
Osborne added that he felt honored to have been put forward for the award by NANA. Fleming, who wrote one of the recommendations for Osborne’s nomination, said Osborne seemed to feel the recognition extended beyond himself personally to include the corporation.
“He felt the pride of being NANA when he was down there representing NANA as a shareholder,” Fleming said.
Asked for the secret to his success, Osborne had a few recommendations. In addition to a strong work ethic and good teamwork skills, he said, be willing to try new things.
“Be open to do whatever is asked of you,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever said no to anything I’ve been asked to do.”
Teich's Legacy: New Nullaġvik Hotel
Chris Teich, a seven-year NANA employee, was a guiding force behind the new Nullaġvik Hotel in Kotzebue. From design to construction to celebrating the facility’s first guests – NANA board members – Chris enjoyed every step of the journey. He says the board was the engine that drove the project and, “I am just glad I was able to play a small role in making the hotel a reality.”
With the Nullaġvik project complete, he decided that three weeks on the road each month was too much time away from his wife and kids in Maryland. Teich will be completing his full-time employment with NANA at the end of November.
“There are not many opportunities to work for a company that has a mission and values like NANA,” he said. “Playing a small role in creating such an important contribution to our shareholders and northwest Alaska was especially rewarding. Most of the credit goes to the team of NANA companies and their teams that made the hotel a reality. I’ll miss them all. My seven years at NANA are a time I will remember fondly, and I will always be part of its family.”
Teich is a great project leader and team player, but he is also a hero to Clyde Gooden, NDC vice president of strategic relationships. Last summer Gooden and Teich were at Gooden’s cabin and Teich “saved my life” by using the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a piece of food stuck in Gooden’s throat. “Teich helped NANA grow and we will miss him. He goes beyond the steward role for our shareholders. He invests his time and energy to train our shareholders and show them how to be successful in business. I’d imagine he’ll be doing that even working for another company.”
Teich smiles, “What got me up every morning is the mission to benefit our shareholders and improve life in the region. Not many jobs provide that kind of satisfaction.”
Pegasus President Receives New Award
Add another kudos to Carlos Nelson’s personal achievements.
The president of Pegasus Aircraft Maintenance Services received the Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson Aircraft Maintenance Company of the Year Award from the Negro Airmen International, Inc. (NAI), the nation’s oldest Black aviation organization. The award was presented during the annual Tuskegee, Alabama, Fly and Air Show, which is jointly sponsored by NAI and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.
“Carlos brings optimism and dedication to every venture he tackles,”said Dan Melchoir, Akima executive vice president of operations.
The Small Business Administration named Pegasus Alaska’s Small Business of the Year in 2007, and Federal Express, his former employer; the U.S. Air Force; and many of his customers have honored Nelson.
Originally a mechanic for Federal Express based in Memphis and then Los Angeles, Nelson turned humble beginnings into hard-earned professional success. He founded Pegasus in 2000 and grew the business into the success it is today with 90 employees and more than $11 million in annual revenues. Pegasus serves the global aviation industry from its headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska, and its clients include international air carriers, ground handlers and government agencies.
Pegasus became a subsidiary of Akima Management Services in 2009.
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