Looking up at Goldbelt

Company trying to rebound from bad year, candidates for board critical as vote nears

Posted: Sunday, May 28, 2000

Eleven people are running for three seats on the Goldbelt board of directors after a year in which the company had a net loss of $4.6 million.

Board members will be elected, and the corporation's 1999 annual report and its plans for the future discussed, at the company's annual meeting Wednesday.

The Juneau-based Native corporation is projecting a return to profitability in 2000, Executive Vice President David Goade said.

According to the company's annual report, one of the biggest contributors to the 1999 loss was an accident last June involving the cruise ship Wilderness Adventurer, owned by a Goldbelt subsidiary, Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises.

Insurance covered the cost of repairs to the ship, but the accident took the vessel out of service the rest of the summer, resulting in a loss of more than $2.5 million.

The report notes other significant factors contributing to the loss were Goldbelt's share of a loss in an Allen Marine, Goldbelt Tours operation in Seward and Whittier, which amounted to about $450,000; and the writeoff of some prior year investments in Keta Seafoods, DocuPro and the Covered Bridge LLC, which amounted to $588,000.

The company is projecting an improved bottom line in 2000, Goade said. ``Everybody is very focused on year-end profitability.''

``It's looking good,'' Goade said of the tourism season which is just getting under way.

Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises and the Mount Roberts Tramway are the company's two biggest tourism investments.

``Many of our boats are already at 80 percent or better in terms of full capacity for the season,'' he said. ``We're right on target for what we had hoped we would be at, or slightly above target.''

And the tram is expected to make a ``very modest'' profit for the first time the year, he said. ``They're going to turn the corner this year probably. ''

Goldbelt has over the past several years been moving into tourism as its timber operations in Southeast wind down. The tourism companies are all relatively new, and it was expected to take time to start making money, Goade said.

``It takes a little while to turn a profit and that can be anywhere from three to five years,'' he said. ``Most of them are on track.''

Among details about Goldbelt's tourism operations included in the annual report:

The tram lost $229,000 last year, an improvement over the $1 million dollar loss of the previous year.

The Goldbelt Hotel made $275,000.

Alaska Cruises, a Ketchikan-based company, produced $676,000 in income.

Goldbelt Family Travel made $72,000, about $20,000 less than the previous year.

Goldbelt Tours made $33,000, an improvement over the previous year's $76,000 loss.

The Seadrome Marine Complex finished the year with a $2,000 loss, an improvement over the previous year's $62,000 loss.

Auk Nu Tours made $393,000, a slight decrease from the prior year.

Auk Ta Shaa Discovery had a profit of $29,000, compared to a $72,000 loss the year before.

Alaska Catamaran Tours, a partnership with Allen Marine to offer tours in Seward and Whittier, lost money, and Goldbelt's share of the loss was $450,000. The report also notes that the company's Anchorage apartment buildings are making money, but plans to develop some Kodzoff Acres property as housing for mine workers have been shelved and the property is up for sale. A Seward industrial site Goldbelt is a partner in has also not been successful, and it is up for sale.

The corporation normally has two scheduled dividend payouts a year in the spring and fall. However, no dividends were paid last fall or this spring because of the loss.

A decision on whether a dividend will be paid this fall will be based on the company's performance this year, Goade said.

He said 11 candidates for the board is not an unusually large number and he didn't attribute the interest in board seats to the company's financial difficulties.

``Sometimes we have as many as 18 (candidates), sometimes we only have nine or seven,'' he said.

In statements mailed to all shareholders, several of the candidates refer to their desire to restore profitability and dividends.

Current board member Andrea Cadiente-Laiti, 48, said while the company has ``weathered the impact of rapid growth, streamlining still needs to occur. ''

``Goldbelt must manage conservatively and make our acquisitions work for us,'' she said. ``Spending must be curtailed, corporate overhead must be reduced, profitability must be stronger, and dividends must be restored.''

Candidate Roger Baines, 33, wrote of working hard to restore Goldbelt to profitability. ``I think that Goldbelt is on the right track, but it can improve its operations so we can return to profitability,'' he said.

The slate of candidates includes:

Carol Aceveda, 57, of Sitka, general manager of Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Baines, who works in accounting in the state Department of Natural Resources.

Della Brouillette, 48, of Haines, a union laborer in highway construction.

Cadiente-Laiti of Juneau, who is human services director at Douglas Indian Association.

Michael Corpuz, 42, of Juneau, who works in construction.

Arsenio Credo Jr., 53, who is working on his Ph.D. in finance.

Walter E. Johns, 60, of Lincoln, Neb., who is retired from administrative program management.

Joseph E. Kahklen, 63, of Juneau, a current board member, who is a retired Bureau of Indian Affairs Alaska liaison officer.

Ken L. Perkins, 58, of Juneau, owner of Perkins Postal Contract Station.

Kathy (Howard) Polk, 56, a current board member who is owner of Ketch-a-Bunch Shack and Polk's Net & Gear Sales.

Lonna Stevens, 30, an administrative assistant at Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and education director at Perseverance Theater.

Todd Antioquia, manager of shareholder/public relations, said 81 percent of shareholders have already voted. Shareholders may change their votes at the annual meeting.

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