In the face of declining oil prices and a statewide economic recession, North Slope Telecom has a lot of be grateful for in the last year!
2016 was a tough time for Alaskans, losing about 6,800 jobs and thereby netting the first annual jobs loss for the state since 2009 (Zak, Annie “2016 was bad for the Alaska job market. 2017 might be worse.” Alaska Dispatch News 5 Jan. 2017: www.adn.com Web. 8 Mar. 2017). Then, in October of 2016, Alaska recorded the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 6.8% (DeMarban, Alex “Recession grips Alaska as employment losses hit new sectors” Alaska Dispatch News 2 Dec. 2016: www.adn.com Web. 8 Mar. 2017).
However, it is with great pride that NSTI announces that ZERO of the 6,800 lost Alaskan jobs belonged to NSTI employees. In fact, NSTI ended up with more employees at the end of 2016 than the beginning.
“Everyone who worked for NSTI at the beginning of 2016 and wished to maintain that employment, still had their job at the beginning of 2017; and we are very proud of that!” – David Smith, Vice President
NSTI can attribute some of that success to our focus on strategic diversification. By taking on new challenges, new clients and new types of work consistent with our core competencies, skills and values, we have expanded our market to keep our company healthy and whole during the economic downturn in our primary market, Alaskan Oil & Gas.
Many of the ‘non-Oil & Gas’ projects we undertook in 2016 are in very, very remote locations; in some cases, hundreds of miles from the road system. Due to the secluded nature of these sites, NSTI employed the use of nearly a dozen different aircraft (including fixed wing and rotary) to transport crews and about 150 tons of airlifted materials, equipment and fuel. NSTI technicians worked on six isolated mountain top sites, most only accessible by helicopter. Working in these conditions require use of and experience with unconventional technologies such as Rapid Deployment Communications Systems (RDCS) foundations which required the use of 85,500 pounds of ballast. Of these remote sites, most are completely off grid. This required NSTI to engineer, provide and install complete, multi-faceted hybrid energy systems including: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), PV solar panels, DC generators, wind turbines and battery banks designed to withstand the extremely unforgiving environment of the Alaskan Interior. NSTI is pleased that some of this work resulted in bringing two separate villages broadband internet to their clinics and schools!
Another way we were able to grow in 2016 was by taking something we were already very good at and expanding the size/scope of the work we offered. For instance, NSTI has been known for installing high quality fiber optic communication networks throughout the state for decades. Now in 2016 we stepped into the ‘long-haul fiber’ market with a 125 mile fiber installation along the northern part of the Dalton Highway; successfully completing all 2016 project objectives ahead of schedule.
North Slope Telecom recognizes and appreciates how fortunate we are to have the clients we do and look forward to the progression of these relationships. We are equally excited to form new connections and continue our contribution to a healthy economy in this great state!
Here’s to a tough, but nevertheless successful 2016 and to a safe and prosperous 2017!