Corporate 100 Special Section
The Top Five of the Top 100
Providence tops list again, Fred Meyer makes entry

ver the past year, the top five private employers in the state provided jobs for more than 19,500 people—jobs that support families and the community, not just with the tangible dollars in hand but also by providing stability and security when uncertainty and fear abound. One purpose of the Corporate 100 is to celebrate those companies that find ways to keep Alaskans employed, even as budgets shrink. The five companies here lead by example, representing about one-quarter (26 percent) of the 74,537 Alaska jobs reported by the 2021 Alaska Business Corporate 100.

Providence Health & Services Alaska
Ranked #1 by employing 5,000 Alaskans*
Providence Health & Services Alaska reported in 2019 it had invested $65 million throughout the state’s communities as part of its mission to make healthcare readily available to any Alaskan who needs it. Preston Simmons, the organization’s CEO, could have never known just how important his words would become when he wrote in the annual report’s executive summary, “Community partnerships are a critical part of fulfilling our commitment to those in need.”

Providence Health & Services Alaska first appeared in the Corporate 100 rankings in 1998 with 2,261 Alaska employees; it has appeared among the state’s top employers every year since except one. The organization reports it experienced 4 percent employment growth in 2021 for its Alaska employees. Worldwide employee numbers remained flat at 120,000.

Guided by its core values of compassion, dignity, justice, excellence, and integrity, Providence Health & Services Alaska’s 5,000 Alaskan employees have worked under tremendous pressure this past year to make sure every person who needed care received it. Whether that was in a COVID-19 isolation ward or through the organization’s recently-opened Express Care and Express Care Virtual care models, every worker in the healthcare organization contributed to caring for Alaska in 2020. And for that we’re all grateful.

Ranked #2 by employing 4,750 Alaskans*
NANA moved up three spots in the Corporate 100 rankings this year by reporting about 1,700 additional Alaskan employees. The Alaska Native corporation’s companies range from construction and engineering to information technology and telecommunications, facilities and logistics, and resource management. Employment opportunities span the gamut from entry-level positions to highly-skilled professional roles.

NANA, like every company in every industry, felt the effects of COVID-19. Despite developing strong safety protocols and working closely with upper Kobuk communities, the continued uncertainty of COVID-19, in conjunction with an already delayed and therefore much shortened field season, led Ambler Metals and NANA to cancel the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects 2020 summer exploration program.

“We know the decision to delay work until next year affects everyone involved.”
Darryl Steane, past Interim President, Ambler Metals
“We know the decision to delay work until next year affects everyone involved,” said Darryl Steane, who was serving as interim president of Ambler Metals when the July 2020 news was released. “However, we believe this to be the right decision for the long term, and we remain fully committed to the UKMP.”

At the same time, NANA and Teck’s flagship project, Red Dog Mine, continued operations with a few hiccups. Red Dog provides economic opportunities for independence and local control for residents of northwest Alaska. In 2019, wages paid to shareholders from mining and mineral exploration were more than $53 million and represented 61 percent of all shareholder jobs at NANA or with its partners and affiliates.

NANA debuted on the Corporate 100 in 1993 with just 960 employees. The next year it grew by about 7 percent, or 300 people, and… fast forward to 2021 and NANA has grown its operations to become one of the top five employers in the state with nearly 5,000 workers.

Princess Cruises, Holland America Line & Seabourn
Ranked #3 by employing 3,450 Alaskans*
What can be said about the tourism industry in 2020 that hasn’t already been said over and over? It was decimated and led Princess Cruises to temporarily pause its global ship operations.

Sister companies Seabourn and Holland America also stayed docked. In early March, Seabourn announced that while it is maintaining optimism for the “ultimate restart of travel” it was also taking a practical approach and extending its current operational pause. “Our highest priorities are compliance, environmental protection, and the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, crew, and the people in destinations we visit,” said Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn in a company release. “We understand guests are eager to travel and, even though we have extended our pause in operations a bit further, we continue to prepare to welcome them back once again.”

Holland America extended its hiatus through the end of April and canceled all Alaska cruises through mid-May, Alaska departures on three ships through early June, and any Land+Sea Journeys connected with canceled Alaska sailings.

But the companies continue to look to the future, providing creative travel options (such as HAL@HOME, a virtual series showcasing Holland America experiences and artists) while awaiting the safe return of cruising and managing to keep 3,450 Alaskans employed during this past year.

“Our highest priorities are compliance, environmental protection, and the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, crew, and the people in destinations we visit. Ranked #5 by employing 3,000”
Josh Leibowitz, President, Seabourn
Fred Meyer
Ranked #4 by employing 3,377 Alaskans*
If you live in Alaska, you know Fred Meyer. The company is based in Portland with more than 130 stores throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. Fred Meyer offers one-stop shopping with employment opportunities in apparel, housewares, food, pharmacy, and home electronics, as well as in its division office.

Fred Meyer’s parent company, Kroger, said of its broad COVID-19 precautions: “As America’s grocer, our most urgent mission is to be here for our customers when they need us most, with open stores and openhearted hospitality. We’re taking proactive steps to protect the health and safety of our associates, customers, and communities, including adjusted store operating hours, enhanced cleaning procedures, physical distancing precautions, and expanded associate benefits.”

The biggest merger in Kroger’s history was Fred Meyer in 1999. The $13 billion deal created a supermarket chain with the “broadest geographic coverage and widest variety of formats in the food retailing industry.”

Fred Meyer operates eleven food and ten jewelry stores in Alaska. The company reports it reinvests more than $1 million annually in the community at food banks, nonprofits, and schools.

Trident Seafood Corporation
Ranked #5 by employing 3,000 Alaskans*
“The story of Trident Seafoods starts back in 1961, when a 19-year-old kid with nothing but a dream drove an old Ford from Tennessee to Seattle in search of a great adventure at sea,” begins founder Chuck Bundrant’s account of starting the company with partners Kaare Ness and Mike Jacobson more than forty years ago. Today Trident reports it is the largest vertically integrated seafood company in North America; it operates its own fishing fleet (in addition to partnering with independent, local fishers) and processes the catch on both on- and off-shore processing plants.

The company did not go without its share of COVID-19 struggles. Trident saw outbreaks throughout the year at several of its processing plants, both on- and off-shore, but said it was committed to focusing its efforts on eliminating COVID-19 to ensure a safe working environment for all 3,000 employees in Alaska. The company’s safety precautions include fourteen-day required quarantines, daily health monitoring with temperature checks, and COVID-19 PCR testing.

Trident first appeared in the Corporate 100 rankings in 1994 with 2,555 employees in Alaska. It offers employment opportunities in Alaska, Washington, Minnesota, and Georgia for seasonal, hourly, corporate, vessel, and skilled trades.

*Editor’s note: During our data collection process, we ask potential Corporate 100 employers to report their peak number of employees if employee numbers fluctuate seasonally.