Goldbelt posts $3 million loss in '03

Native corporation says tourism, gov't contracts to bring profits next year

Posted: Friday, September 10, 2004

Goldbelt Corp. lost $3 million in 2003 but is experiencing a turnaround this year after selling unprofitable assets and seeing a strong tourism season, according to the annual shareholders report.

Goldbelt did not sell its unprofitable Glacier Bay cruise ship and lodge operations until November of 2003, carrying the financial burden for most of the year, President and CEO Gary Droubay told shareholders in a letter. The annual shareholders meeting was held Sept. 4 at the Tlingit & Haida Community Center in Juneau.

Goldbelt, Juneau's urban Native corporation, is in the process of selling property on which it posted losses, Droubay said. The property, in the Mendenhall Valley and Seward, was not used in any of the company's operations, he said.

For 2004, the company is expecting a profitable year due to a stronger tourism market and some of its companies securing government contracts, Droubay said. Goldbelt, however, will not issue a dividend to stockholders, he said.

June and July of this year were the strongest financial months since the Mount Roberts Tramway opened in August of 1996, General Manager George Reifenstein Jr. said Thursday.

"We've had wonderful weather and the (cruise) ships have been full since the beginning of the season," Reifenstein said.

As of Sept. 1, 10,000 more people had used the tram than in all of the 2003 season, he said. He expects more than 200,000 will use the tram when this season ends on Sept. 27. More than 25 percent of the passengers include independent travelers and locals. The rest are cruise ship passengers, he said.

Goldbelt's Misty Fjords cruise/fly tour in Ketchikan has had higher sales in the past two years, Droubay said.

"We've been having a good year, and I think we've had at least as good a year as last year," said Dale Pihlman, marine operations manager for the tour.

Pihlman could not cite sales figures, but said gross income was as good as before he sold his service to Goldbelt in 1999.

He attributed increased sales to more cruise ships carrying a higher number of passengers. Five years ago about 500,000 cruise ship passengers arrived in Ketchikan, compared to 600,000-700,000 this year, he said.

About 10,000 people go on the Misty Fjords tour and 5,000 take the local Tongass Narrows Harbor trip each season, Pihlman said.

Droubay expects some of Goldbelt's companies to generate a profit due to contracts with the federal government.

Goldbelt Eagle, an energy and infrastructure company, secured five contracts with the federal government totaling more than $41 million.

Goldbelt Wolf, a leasing company, landed a contract with the Internal Revenue Service for lease of 130 Dodge Quad-Cab pickup trucks for three years.

Shareholders also named three people to the company board of directors. Incumbents Edith McHenry and Del Cesar were re-elected to three-year terms. Trudy Skan was elected after board member Carl Nelson resigned. He completed service from 1987 through 2004.

In a reorganizational meeting following the annual meeting, the board elected Walter Johns Jr. as chairman, Joe Kahklen as vice chairman, Cesar as corporate secretary and Edith McHenry as treasurer. All executive officers were reappointed to their posts.

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