Paula Tobin of Welding Services and owner Keith Raham show how easy their bear resistant latch works
While many people are worrying about the potential loss of jobs in the Nikiski industrial parkway, Keith Raham, owner of Welding Services, has experienced nearly a 100% growth in his workforce. “A year ago I had about 1.5 employees and today I have 12 people on the payroll,” said Raham. The growth for Welding Services has been due in part to Raham’s aggressive pursuit in manufacturing bear resistant trash containers. A community effort supported by Fish & Game biologist Larry Lewis, sports groups, and local municipalities has been encouraging Alaskans to install bear resistant trash containers to deter bears from seeking food near human habitats. “We’ve been working with the Larry for well over a year to develop a working prototype that would be acceptable to the public, but not acceptable to bears,” explained Raham.
The City of Kenai Wildlife Conservation program in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the Safari Club recently applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife Service to modify public behavior, reduce the instances of having to destroy bears, and protect natural habitat. According to acting Kenai City Manager Chuck Kopp some of the $90,000 grant will also be used to help the public purchase and place bear resistant trash containers into use, “It is hoped that we will be able to put 600 bear resistant containers into service,” said Kopp. The Safari Club will be administering the grant and helping to distribute the containers says Kopp. Additionally the City will be providing signage to indicate Brown bear conservations areas.
Raham adds that prior to his design the only containers that met the federal specifications were manufactured in Alberta, Canada, or California, “I saw an add in the Alaska Journal of Commerce for 111 bear resistant garbage containers and that was when I started my research and discovered they were all being manufactured out of state.” Raham says that his scientific design and local production gives him a transportation advantage in competing with outside contractors. He is also retailing the bear resistant containers at his Nikiski shop at mile 20.5 on the North Road.
Welding Services also manufactures custom made tool and truck bed boxes, “Like it says on our sign; there is no job to small for us to do,” says Keith. For more information you can visit or call Welding Services at 776-8279.
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