“If you hire good people and treat them well, they’ll do good things for you.” That’s a quote by our former chairman of the board Harvey Samuelsen. Our current chair, Joseph Chythlook, repeats it at every meeting and it’s become a mantra, an integral part of BBNC’s corporate culture. Equally important is having clear vision and a shared sense of purpose. For the past five years, we’ve committed ourselves to strategic initiatives—financial durability, in-region economic development, educational and employment opportunities for shareholders, building a more sustainable Alaska, and upholding our “Fish First” policy—that enrich and sustain our Native way of life.
The end of FY16 is around the corner, and it marks the conclusion of a five-year strategic planning cycle in which we’ve been laser focused on elevating and strengthening these initiatives. The results speak for themselves. We’ve seen record earnings. We’ve paid out record dividends. And we’ve witnessed a record number of shareholder hires and wages. BBNC ranks second in total revenue for companies based in Alaska, contributing to both the diversity and the vitality of our state’s economy. Meanwhile, here at home, we’ve ratcheted up our efforts invest in the region through innovative efforts like the Bristol Bay Development Fund, an emphasis on government contracting, and investments in our local tourism industry, to name but a few. These accomplishments are a source of pride, not just for us here at BBNC, but for shareholders and members of the broader Bristol Bay community.
As we prepare for the next planning cycle, which kicks off on April 1, we’re stepping it up even further. We’ve outlined new goals and will put forth new strategic initiatives that will embolden our mission and uplift our shareholders and our communities. I’ll talk in more detail about the new strategic planning cycle in coming issues of the Bay Report, but it’s worth noting that each initiative is inspirited by a distinctive point of view—one that is inherent to our corporate culture and around which the entire BBNC family rallies. We believe that by buoying the economic and cultural wellbeing of our shareholders, we’re all better off.
Diversification is part of the plan. While we’ll continue to invest heavily in oil and gas service companies, we know success rises or falls on our ability to put resources towards new business lines, creating even more opportunity for our shareholders and contributing to the overall strength of the Alaska economy. In the past five years, we’ve invested in sand, rock, and gravel and continued to seek renewable investments we can make on behalf of our region. We do so with a careful eye towards an appropriate balance between conservation and development.
Same goes for our commitment to the social side of this business, to the celebration and preservation of our culture. As a Native Corporation, this commitment is part of our DNA. And despite our primary focus on financial viability, we never lose sight of the social imperatives in this work. It’ll be an important facet of what we do going forward.
All of this will be even more important in the months ahead, given we’re staring down a period of economic and political uncertainty. Who will be our next president? What path will Alaska take to bridge its fiscal gap? When will the price of oil return to where it was just 24 months ago? Will our social support networks remain sustainable? These questions and others nag at us as we look ahead. But here’s the thing: Alaska Native people are resilient. We’ve seen tough times before. And together we’ve endured. BBNC isn’t going anywhere. We’re in this for the long haul, and our track record proves we can weather the potential challenges ahead of us.
I’m inspired by the wonderful things people are saying about BBNC. It’s exciting to have a brand that is driven by a clear purpose and promise. And it’s clear that our community is proud of what we stand for and feels energized by our commitments. In many ways, we’re seen as setting a new standard among Alaska Native corporations. That’s an honor we’ll keep striving to earn.
Enjoy the lengthening days of early spring, and thank you as always for your ongoing support.