Two local businesses crack magazine's 'Top 49ers' list

CPGH, Kenai Chrysler officials credit community support

Posted: Sunday, November 05, 2000

Two Kenai Peninsula businesses appear this year on Alaska Business Monthly's list of Alaska's top 49 businesses ranked by gross revenues.

Central Peninsula General Hospital, on the list for the first time ever, ranked 33rd, with 300 employees and 1999 gross revenues of $34.8 million. That is up from roughly $29.7 million in 1998. Kenai Chrysler ranked 43rd, with 53 employees and 1999 gross revenues of $21.9 million. Last year, Kenai Chrysler ranked 42nd based on 1998 gross revenues of $21.6 million.

Alaska Business Monthly compiles the list each year based on a survey of Alaska-owned-and-operated businesses. Arctic Slope Regional Corp., which reported 1999 gross revenues of $885 million, has topped the list for six consecutive years. Transport giant Lynden Inc. ranked second this year with 1999 gross revenues of $330 million. Oilfield support company VECO Alaska Inc. ranked third with gross revenues of $305 million. Fourteen Native corporations appear among this year's Top 49ers.

Arctic Slope Regional Corp. also ranked first by number of employees, 5,225 in 1999. VECO Alaska was second with 4,000 employees.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough owns Central Peninsula General Hospital but leases it to nonprofit CPGH Inc., which runs the hospital and employs its staff. Diana Zirul, president of CPGH Inc., attributed the 15 percent growth in gross revenues from 1998 to 1999 partly to growth in the number of services the hospital offers.

Last year, CPGH installed an MRI, a high-tech machine that produces high-quality images of the human body. Also last year, CPGH opened a satellite physical therapy office in Kenai to save patients the drive to the physical therapy office at the hospital in Soldotna. Several years ago, the hospital added chemotherapy services so that cancer patients would not have to travel for treatment in Anchorage.

Bonnie Nichols, director of public relations and marketing, credited community support for putting the hospital ahead.

"It's been community support and taxpayer dollars that keep us technologically advanced," she said. "That's another really big element."

Zirul said four new doctors -- a general surgeon, an orthopedist, a pediatrician and a pathologist -- have come to the central peninsula since June 1999. Each expands the range of available services.

Some of the growth comes with growth in the community, she said.

"Some is growth by design," she said. "Now, we're working on a medical staff development plan in correlation with our community survey. We're working with the medical staff to determine what their needs are and what our needs are."

The corporation is continually assessing the need for new services, she said. Soon, it will open a six-bed chemical dependency treatment facility off Kalifornsky Beach Road. CPGH Inc. is assessing the need for a more convenient physical therapy office in Soldotna. It recently broke ground for a new medical center in Kenai. That will provide laboratory and X-ray services, saving Kenai patients the drive to find those services in Soldotna.

Kenai Chrysler owner Bob Favretto said his business employed just 22 people when he bought it in 1996.

"When we grow from 22 people to 50, the impact we have, the money they spend in the local economy -- that shows it can be done and you can grow in Kenai," he said.

He credited numerous efforts for the growth in his business.

"I think the most important thing, when I came to Kenai, was getting involved with the community. I get involved with a lot of nonprofits as a networking source," he said.

Kenai Chrysler also does lots of advertising. In addition, Favretto has increased his stock. Chrysler dealers must boost sales to earn allocations of new cars for stock, he said, so growth there has taken time.

"On the used side, when you sell more, you generate more," he said. "I'm trying to buy cars all the time through auctions and private parties."

DaimlerChrysler counts Fav-retto's market as the area from Seldovia to Turnagain Arm, and 90 percent of his customers come from the Kenai Peninsula. However, his Anchorage market is growing and he sells some cars to the Bush.

"I focus a lot of my advertising on the Kenai Peninsula, but I advertise all over the state, and I advertise in Anchorage heavily," he said. "That's 230,000 people up there."

Roughly 50,000 people live on the peninsula.

Favretto recently opened a new one-person department to market cars for business and government fleets.

"We're active in the local and state levels and we're trying to access the federal system," he said. "I can see a long-range effect. It's a really positive influence."

The Top 49ers include other businesses familiar to peninsula residents. Cook Inlet Region Inc. ranks fourth with 1999 gross revenues of $297 million. National Bank of Alaska, recently purchased by Wells Fargo, ranks fifth with gross revenues of nearly $288 million. Chugach Alaska Corp. ranks ninth, First National Bank of Anchorage 10th and Peak Oilfield Services Co., a CIRI subsidiary, 15th. Seekins Ford Lincoln Mercury Inc. ranks 18th.

Inlet Fisheries Inc./Inlet Salmon, which operates plants in Kenai, Kasilof and Naknek, appeared among the Top 49ers last year. It would have ranked in the 30s on this year's list, said Scott Earsley, manager of the Kenai plant. However, it did not return the survey forms to Alaska Business Monthly.

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