ABR was founded in 1976 in Fairbanks, Alaska, as Alaska Biological Research. Since that time, we have progressed from a start-up partnership (Bob Ritchie and Jim Curatolo), to a growing, family-owned business, and finally to an established, employee-owned business. Bob Ritchie has been a guiding force in the evolution of ABR, and he still plays an important role in business development. Now formally known as ABR, Inc.—Environmental & Research Services (an S-Corporation), we have over 60 employees in Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska. ABR also maintained an office in Forest Grove, Oregon, from 1995–2015. Although we have closed this office, we still retain several of our key Oregon employees, and we aspire to continue to serve our clients in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, and the other locales that traditionally have been served by our team in Oregon.
During the past 40 years, we have distinguished ourselves as a premier environmental services company with a well-earned reputation for rigorous and objective science, effective project management, and strong safety programs. In addition to our list of long-term private sector clients, we also have worked effectively with state, federal, and municipal resource agencies and with Alaska Native entities and communities. We have extensive experience working on teams with other firms and institutions and in recent years have taken on prime contractor responsibilities for large multidisciplinary projects. Our strong reputation and our ability to work successfully with diverse partners and stakeholders provide exceptional value to our clients.
Our President and Board Chair Steve Murphy has been at the helm of ABR since 2002. Steve is supported by an active Board of Directors, an experienced administrative staff, and three discipline-specific Research Coordinators. This team of directors and managers is focused on providing exceptional services to our clients and on supporting our Senior Scientists, who serve as Principal Investigators and Project Managers on all of our projects. Most of our 23 Senior Scientists (6 PhDs, 17 Masters degrees) have more than 20 years of experience at ABR, and they represent the face of ABR to our clients and the diverse array of stakeholders involved in many of our projects. Our 300+ peer-reviewed publications authored or co-authored by our scientists are testimonials to the quality of our work and our scientific leadership.
ABR currently is recruiting and developing a new generation of leaders in business and science. Outstanding talent is now emerging within our ranks, which gives us reason to be very confident about the future of ABR in new and valuable services. Bright and energetic scientists with advanced skill sets and a mastery of rapidly changing technologies also have allowed us to expand our current suite of services in rapidly changing markets.
OWNERSHIP AND OPPORTUNITY
ABR’s employees are the critical links to our business success. In recognition of this simple fact and as a strategy to secure the long-term future of ABR, since 2009 we have increased the number of employee shareholders from 4 to 29, which is ~50% of our employee population and nearly 100% of our senior scientists and managers. We will continue to recruit additional employee/owners and complete the transition to an employee-owned business.
TRIPLE BOTTOM-LINE: BUSINESS, COMMUNITY, ENVIRONMENT
ABR has always engaged in business practices that support a triple bottom line philosophy: economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. We have been leaders in promoting these business practices for nearly 40 years, including donating ~7.5% of our annual profits to charities, investing our retirement account in Socially Responsible Investments (SRI), sponsoring and compensating our employees in many of their non-profit ventures, and compensating employees who carpool or use alternative transportation to commute to work.
We also have been at the forefront of carbon accounting since 2005, whereby we annually measure our carbon footprint and then self-impose a “tax” to mitigate our carbon emissions. Examples of how we have mitigated our carbon footprint have included investing in a Windfarm with Native Energy in South Dakota, methane separation on dairy farms and landfills in western states, purchasing solar panels for a school in Fairbanks, Alaska, and providing a rebate to employees who purchase hybrid vehicles.
Our community and global outreach programs have included volunteer work for organizations like Big Brothers & Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity, serving on non-profit boards for The Nature Conservancy, Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, and the Interior Land Trust, and sponsorship of our own Bioshare program that gives support to our employees to pursue their scientific and conservation interests in areas where normal sources of funding are not available. A good example of a Bioshare program was sponsorship of a scientific and technology exchange for an environmental assessment study of windpower development in eastern Mexico.
Closer to home, we have also forged relationships with Alaska Native residents and the various institutions that represent their interests throughout the state. Some of these efforts have been supported by our clients. For example, with CPAI support we established a qaaktak (arctic cisco) panel in Nuiqsut to provide community input and support for subsistence harvest monitoring in the village. In western Alaska and with AVEC (Alaska Village Electrical Cooperative) grants, we provided a variety of services for small rural utilities to help establish wind turbines to power remote villages. We have worked with young scientists in local and rural communities in a variety of venues such as science fairs, internships (Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, UAF), and field work.
Our interest in maintaining strong connections in the communities where we live and work is a strong component of our triple bottom line. Combined with our environmental stewardship initiatives we are proud to spread the message that good corporate citizenship in the form socially and environmentally responsible business practices is not at odds with economic success. These values will continue to be an integral part of our future.