It is with deep sadness that we announce that Barney Uhart, 59, devoted father and President Emeritus of Chugach Alaska Corporation, passed away on Saturday, September 8th after a lengthy battle with Cancer.
Barney’s career with Chugach Alaska Corporation began in 1993 and he became President and CEO in May 2000. During his tenure, the company grew phenomenally rising from $19 million in 1993 to over $1 billion in 2009 in revenues. He was not only a charismatic leader and hard worker, but a close friend to many who worked with him over the years. His tenure at Chugach spanned almost 2 decades, and his dedication to the company, its people and employees was steadfast.
On July 6, 2012, he announced his retirement from Chugach to focus on his health and spend time with his family. The Chugach Board of Directors of Chugach Alaska Corporation appointed Barney “President Emeritus” in honor of his 19 years of service, dedication and leadership.
A celebration of his life will be held on Wednesday, September 12th from 4-6 p.m. at the Alaska Native Heritage Center - 8800 Heritage Center Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99504.
Barney’s career with Chugach began in 1993 when he joined Chugach Development Corporation (CDC) as Operations Manager. With a background in Engineering and Business Administration, his project experience in managing BOS contracts in extremely remote locations began 33 years ago when he went to work on his first BOS contract on Wake Island in 1979.
“I was living in Hawaii and one day I was helping a friend deliver office furniture to a place called Kentron International. I had no idea what they did, but it sounded like an exotic and exciting place to work where you would get to travel. The next day I put together a resume and slid it under the door. Then I had an interview, and after about 45 minutes, I thought the interview was over and I got up to leave when the manager said, ‘When can you leave?’ The following Tuesday I was on a plane to Wake Island in the mid- Pacific and I still didn’t know what Kentron International did,” he said.
Born in Fresno, California in 1952, Barney moved to Hawaii in 1970 following high school. His father had recently passed away and he was looking for a place to attend college. This was at the height of the Vietnam War, his brother had already done two tours in Vietnam, and he expected to be drafted anytime. He enrolled in the University of Hawaii and played baseball until he was injured. He then worked general construction until he decided it wasn’t the area he wanted to pursue, when he accidentally got involved in the BOS field after delivering the furniture.
After six months working in Wake as the Planning Technician, he was offered the Civil Engineering Manager’s job. A company named INTELCOM took over the contract and, (another six months later) when the Project Manager retired, they named him Project Manager. He spent the next three years working as the Project Manager on Wake Island for INTELCOM when the company approached him with an opportunity to take over a project in the states.
“I was ready for a change and decided to take it when the company said I needed to stay at Wake for another year to help them transition the workforce and recruit Thai nationals,” he said. “I interviewed around 800 applicants in about a four-week period and stayed with the company for another year. I ended up leaving after the transition because the opportunity to return to the states was no longer available and I was offered a job as a Facility Engineer for IT&T in their Virginia office.”
He spent the winter in Greenland in 1985 and then was offered the job as Superintendent of Administration for the DEW line, but declined because he didn’t want to spend another year in the Arctic. After Greenland, he went to work for his first 8(a) company in Hampton, Virginia where he helped grow the company from $200,000 to $6 million a year in revenue.
In early 88’ and he was offered a job with a woman-owned 8(a) company in Louisville, Kentucky, and was promoted to Vice-President of Operations of the company, and moved into their new offices in Panama City, Florida. Then he got a call from Mike Brown (Chugach’s President and CEO from 1992-1999) who was working for Piquniq Management Corporation (PMC), a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
Mr. Brown received Barney’s name from someone who had worked at Wake Island with him years before and he wanted Barney to become his Project Manager at Amchitka Island, an island in the North Pacific Aleutian Chain, for a BOS contract. Not wanting to move to Amchitka Island, Barney declined the offer and went back to Florida when Mr. Brown called him again five months later and offered him a job as Manager of Special Projects in Anchorage.
“This time the position was in Anchorage, so I accepted and one of the first jobs as Manager of
Special Projects for PMC in Anchorage was go to out to Amchitka Island and evaluate the contract. So he kinda suckered me in with that one,” Barney said with a laugh.
While at PMC, the team he worked with received a Coast Guard contract, the Wake Island contract, and the contract to run Midway Island. By then he was Vice-President of Operations for PMC for 1992 and most of 1993 when Mr. Brown, who had gone to work for Chugach, and Dusty Kaser (Chugach’s President and CEO from mid to late 1999), recruited him again. His early work with CDC took him to Valdez for six months, and then to King Salmon for a year, and then to Adak, Alaska.
“During that time, the Chugach management team started marketing for the Wake Island contract and we took it away from PMC in 1996. So you can see that Wake has been in my blood for a while, he said. “Then we received a contract for the Army Housing and Maintenance at Fort Richardson/Fort Wainwright in 1995.
By 1996, Barney became the Ops Manager for CDC and would travel to the contract locations and oversee the start-ups. When he left to oversee the start-up of Wake for CAC, he had returned full circle to the site from where he started 16 years earlier. He then went to Whidbey Island, Washington, for their start-up in late 1996.
“By then I had become the BOS Ops Manager for CAC working for Dusty Kaser and the team started getting more and more contracts. Then I was promoted to Vice-President of Ops for CAC, and when I came back from starting up MacDill in late 1999, I was offered the job as president of CAC,” he said.
In May 2000, the Board of Directors of Chugach promoted Barney to the position of President/CEO and he served as both until 2009 when the position was split to select a qualified Chugach shareholder to lead as CEO. During his tenure, the company grew phenomenally rising from $19 million in 1993 to over $1 billion in 2009 in revenues.
“How have we gotten to where we are today? The reason is simple ― the people. All the people associated with Chugach are responsible for this success. From the wisdom and direction of the Board of Directors; the patience of the shareholders; the vision and perseverance of management; and the dedication and drive of all the employees, this is what has allowed us to succeed,” he said.
“Without question, our reputation and our people are our greatest strengths. I am constantly amazed at the quality and caliber of our employees and the effort that is put forth by them. Rarely does a day go by when one of our people doesn’t do something that gains recognition from our customers or does something ‘behind the scenes’ to improve conditions, quality, or processes. I see it and hear about it everywhere I go.”
“In more than 26 years involved in service contracting I have never been associated with a more conscientious and committed group of individuals. Day in and day out I see these people do extraordinary things, work long hours, spend extended periods away from family and friends, travel to remote locations and do it all while maintaining a sense of sanity and humor, all in the name of Chugach.”
“As you are aware, a devastating series of storms and tornadoes passed through the south in early May. The letter below is from Duane Brandt, Project Manager at our Redstone Arsenal ISS project in Huntsville, Alabama. Duey has the right idea! While many have suffered as a result of the effects of these storms, I can think of no better way to respond than to assist some of Chugach’s “own” in this time of crisis. To assist those who are directly responsible for our success is the right thing to do. Chugach corporate has donated $10,000 to assist our employees. Please do what you are able.”
“In the meantime, you’ll know it’s moving day when you see me walking up 36th Avenue with my sailfish under my arm!”