Sitnasuak Messenger | At Work For Our Shareholders | 4th Edition
RECOVERY CONTINUES AT SNC SUBSIDIARY IN PUERTO RICO
You can hear Enrique Denegri’s optimism as he chuckles then describes the highs and lows of the last seven months recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico last fall. Denegri, Chief Operating Officer at SNC Technical Services, LLC (SNCT), is audibly proud when he talks about the way people worked together to soften the blow from the back-to-back storms, acknowledging that much work remains for the hardest hit communities. Camp stoves and other temporary fixes have had to become semi-permanent solutions for some Puerto Ricans as the U.S. disaster recovery efforts grind slowly forward.
“Camping is fun,” he commented. “But even camping, after three days you want to go home.”
Some of the stoves and other essential supplies came from the company that Denegri works for, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sitnasuak Native Corporation.
SNCT’s own facilities were largely spared in the disaster, so Sitnasuak mobilized leadership teams in Nome and Puerto Rico to tackle the logistical challenges of restoring power and providing essential services to their employees and their families on the island. The company offered subsidized lunches to employees and onsite daycare for employees’ children to aid in the recovery efforts.
But the local response needed additional support to be effective, including basic provisions unavailable locally. SNCT’s parent company, Sitnasuak, sent satellite phones and other communication equipment, generators, fuel, camp stoves, water-purification systems, ice makers, and other necessary items. Ice, especially, was in high demand to help keep food from spoiling, and SNCT supplied as much as it could each day from its own machines.
“There were huge lines in town,” Denegri described. “Long lines at the bank. Lines for water or soda, if it was even available. Walgreens and Walmart were out.”
In the early days of the recovery, many electronic services were down, including everyday conveniences like cellphone coverage, merchant cards, and ATMs. SNCT recognized immediately the support employees needed to be paid in cash for the first couple of weeks to help facilitate day-to-day transactions. The seemingly small accommodation was one of many aimed at helping employees recover and maintain routines at SNCT’s two manufacturing sites and in their surrounding communities of Camuy and Orocovis.
As one of the largest American manufacturers of uniforms and tactical gear for men and women serving in the U.S. military, SNCT employs over 700 people between the two locations. Keeping the factories running was important for the company and customers, but especially important for the people who work there. A closed factory would have meant lost pay and would have added to the other challenges and stresses facing the communities, like obtaining food, power, and water. Many businesses have not restarted in the months since the storm, adding to the woes of their employees. SNCT’s employees were some of the few on Puerto Rico who barely missed a beat and we applaud all for their commitment and teamwork to make this possible.
The pair of hurricanes wreaked havoc on much of the island. The first, Irma, pounded Puerto Rico along the northern coast, where SNCT’s Camuy facility is located. Less than two weeks later, Maria charted a course directly over the entire island, the center of the storm passing over Orocovis located in the central mountains, and exiting to the sea over Camuy, along the northern coast.
“The worst (of the storms) hit toward the end of the week and over the weekend we worked to clear things out and get up and running,” Denegri shared. “It was amazing how everybody worked together to clear debris in the streets and neighborhoods. We didn’t wait for help.”
Though the SNCT manufacturing plants suffered limited damage, the employees’ homes were not as fortunate.
“Hurricane Maria devastated the island,” said Humberto Zacapa, CEO of SNCT. “Our employees had nearly 300 homes with damages and 57 homes were a total loss. We tried to maintain some sense of normalcy and community by providing meals, supplies, and secure jobs.”
Current estimates indicate up to 20 percent of Puerto Rico residents remain without power, according to Celeste Segarra, Employee Engagement Manager for SNCT. Segarra noted that, even though the areas were still dealing with issues related to the storms, people were dependably going to work.
“We’re doing things to make sure we connect with employees, having luncheons and town halls to listen to them,” she said. “It’s good company leadership to connect emotionally and understand their needs for a strong workforce to recover from such disasters.”
That attitude of taking care of each other is one that the subsidiary shares with the parent company in Alaska where it’s a part of Sitnasuak’s traditional values. In addition to supplies, Sitnasuak raised over $2,500 in funds among its Alaskan employees to aid people in the affected areas through the United for Puerto Rico nonprofit organization.
“Our Iñupiaq values are part of our approach to business,” said Roberta (Bobbi) Quintavell, President and CEO of Sitnasuak Native Corporation. “We are all responsible for each other, regardless of whether you are an employee in Nome or at a subsidiary halfway around the world. As Iñupiat, we take our responsibility to take care of one another seriously.”
All the recovery efforts have helped keep spirits high among the employees despite some remaining challenges, according to Denegri.
“We’re a positive people here,” he shared. “Sometimes, it can make your day to get a hot shower or get one dot on your cellphone where maybe we used to complain if it was only three dots. You learn to not take anything for granted.”
We are looking forward to a stronger Puerto Rico and continue to be committed to our many employees.
ARCTIC FUTURES WORKSHOP TO BE HELD IN NOME
Sitnasuak is glad to be a partner the Arctic Futures workshop which will be held in Nome March 26-27 at the UAF Northwest Campus. The theme of the workshop is: “Arctic in the distant future…gaining Alaskan Native insights to challenges anticipated across Maritime and Coastal Regions.”
As background, the workshop will be led by the UAA Arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC) in partnership with federal agencies and Arctic based organizations including Sitnasuak. The workshop recognizes that the Arctic is strategically vital to U.S. national interests. The US Arctic is known to be rich in resources and geographically essential yet can be considered austere and remote. Preserving and protecting U.S. national interests, including securing borders and ensuring safety and security in adjoining Arctic waterways, remains an important task, but also resource challenge for U.S. federal agencies. At the same time, the U.S. Arctic region is facing an unprecedented amount of change in terms of environment, weather and human activity.
Accordingly, ADAC is working with Arctic organizations (including Sitnasuak), the U.S. Coast Guard and Arctic Policy Planners to facilitate this workshop, specifically oriented to “listen and learn” from Alaskan Arctic experts in local and place-based knowledge in anticipating the challenges, expected changes and opportunities that may present in the Arctic in the coming decades. The workshop will help create a comprehensive report that allows follow-on inquiries and most importantly, inform planners as they update and create new U.S. Federal strategies on the Arctic. Additionally, the workshop seeks to inform policy makers as they prioritize capability needs and resource decisions.
ADAC is very appreciative of the efforts of Sitnasuak, City of Nome, the University of Alaska Northwest Campus and Kawerak in their gracious efforts to help plan and host the workshop. Workshop planning is now a collaborative effort in partnership between:
Shareholders and Arctic residents are invited to join the workshop which is planned as a complementary effort to precede the 2018 Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference, (WAISC) – which will also be held in Nome March 28-30.
SNC SHAREHOLDER SURVEY
Sitnasuak Native Corporation invites Shareholders to participate in a survey for helping improve our services. You may follow the link and complete the questions at: https://snc.org/news/2018-shareholder-survey Alternatively, you may pick up a hard copy at the Nome or Anchorage corporate offices and complete it by hand, returning it to those same offices by March 30, 2018. You may also mail the completed hard copy of the survey to:
Sitnasuak Native Corporation
Attn: Corporate Affairs
PO Box 905 | Nome, AK 99762
You may also fax it to: (907) 443-6437
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