New CEO named for Glodbelt

Posted: Friday, February 04, 2000

New Goldbelt President and CEO Gary Droubay says the Juneau Native corporation has the right economic game plan for the future and just needs to execute it.

Droubay, previously chief financial officer for the corporation, was promoted into the top job at a rescheduled board of directors meeting Wednesday night. But he said he has a stay-the-course attitude about Goldbelt's tourism ventures.

Outgoing President and CEO Joe Beedle, whose contract expires June 30, had predicted the board would conduct a ``process-oriented'' recruitment for his successor, including the appointment of an interim top executive. Beedle, finishing out his sixth year, announced his impending departure Jan. 14.

But the board, which had postponed a meeting Saturday, acted unanimously and decisively Wednesday, giving Droubay the job outright and putting Beedle on special projects for his remaining five months.

``The board was pleased to be able to promote from within the existing management team,'' Chairman Bob Martin said in a press release.

``We have witnessed Gary's commitment to Goldbelt and our corporate vision over the last two years, and we are confident in his ability to manage the company's operations,'' Martin said. ``I'm expecting a seamless transition.''

Droubay, who says he's ``in my 50s,'' came to Goldbelt after 14 years with KPMG Peat Marwick, an Anchorage accounting firm, and six years as vice president and chief financial officer for Alaska Sales & Service, a General Motors dealership in Anchorage. He was contacted about the chief financial officer job at Goldbelt by an executive search firm.

Droubay said if there had been a search for president now, he would have applied. Like Beedle, he is not an Alaskan Native.

Droubay acknowledged Goldbelt needs improved performance over 1999, when a cruise ship grounding blew a $1.8 million hole in anticipated revenues, resulting in the cancellation of a fall dividend for shareholders.

``We will show a loss for the year,'' he said. ``We have to basically turn things around and prove we can run a profitable operation. We're not going to do a lot of new investing - very little, if any.''

Goldbelt has acquired businessinterruption insurance for its four small cruise ships that tour Glacier Bay, he said. Beedle was faulted by some shareholders for not having such insurance in place before the cruise ship accident in June.

As for the dividend, Droubay said it remains to be seen whether it can be reinstated. ``As we approach the spring, we'll take a look at the dividend issue again.''

Goldbelt employs a seasonal peak of about 650 employees through the parent corporation and its various subsidiaries and partnerships, located in Southeast, Seattle and the Washington, D.C., area. That's more than twice as many as the largest single private employer in Juneau, the Greens Creek mine.

The corporation generates about $40 million a year in revenue, Droubay said.

During Beedle's tenure, Goldbelt moved out of timber and into tourism, expanding aggressively. The corporation has concession rights in Glacier Bay National Park, operates a hotel and the Mount Roberts Tram in downtown Juneau, and has strategically positioned land holdings at Berners Bay and Hobart Bay and on Douglas Island.

Asked if there would be a different style at Goldbelt, Droubay said: ``I am different than Joe Beedle. I guess exactly how I am different remains to be seen. . . . The whole idea is to make the transition, at least in the short run, without a lot of change.''

Droubay has not decided whether to fill the job he vacated. There could be some shifts in duties among the vice presidents, he said.

Beedle's base salary is $156,000 a year. Droubay said he will meet with the board next week ``to look at a contract.''



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