In late 2019, Ahtna purchased marine dredging and heavy equipment assets from Cavache Dredging of Pompano Beach, Florida. These assets included three dredging barges, several booster pumps, a tugboat and several work vessels, as well as earth-moving heavy equipment such as dozers, excavators, and loaders. The assets were assigned to Ahtna Marine & Construction Company, LLC (AMCC), which had recently been formed as a new subsidiary.
Throughout 2020 Ahtna successfully integrated the equipment assets and personnel from Cavache into AMCC. By year-end, the company was performing very well and was able to meet its annual budgeted financial targets. For 2021, AMCC increased its financial goals by over 70%. While AMCC began this year with just one project, by mid-year it was clear there were lots of good size dredging projects for various federal and local agencies that were perfect matches for AMCC’s equipment and capabilities. AMCC also started a new joint venture relationship with J.F. Brennan, a well-known and highly experienced and successful marine construction company based in La Crosse, WI. In planning for upcoming opportunities, the only issue was whether there was enough capacity to perform all the work; therefore, in late spring, approval was granted by the Ahtna, Inc. Board of Directors to purchase a new high-capacity production dredge. The new dredge was aptly named the “Katie John” in recognition of the Ahtna Elder’s work over the years in advocating for and securing customary and traditional practices and subsistence fishing rights.
With the added dredging capacity of the Katie John, AMCC aggressively bid several new dredging projects to be performed throughout the end of the year. These projects include the following new contracts, totaling over $28 million, which will not only enable AMCC to exceed its goals for 2021 but provide solid backlog going into 2022:
- $8M Bal Harbour Dredging for the Jacksonville US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
- $7.8M Palm Valley Dredging for the Jacksonville USACE
- $4.3M St. Lucie County, Fort Pierce Inlet Dredging Project
- $3M Winnapaug Pond Dredging (AMCC – J.F. Brennan JV project) for the New England USACE
- $2.8M Blount Island Dredging for the Jacksonville USACE
- $1.4M Earth Tec/Cemex Sand Mine Dredging (currently in progress) for Earth Tec Construction
- $750K Vilano Boat Ramp Mechanical Dredging (currently in progress) for St. Johns County
- $600K Port Everglades Dredging for the Port of Everglades
The Katie John has already performed well on the Earth Tec/Cemex Sand Mining project, and she is likely going to be used for the Blount Island and Palm Valley projects located in the Jacksonville area.
AMCC has benefitted significantly from Ahtna shareholder and shareholder descendant employee support. Shareholders Earl Bell and Freddie Christofferson assisted with projects in 2020, and Freddie along with Jeremy Stevens actively supported the dredging efforts in 2021. In addition, in just the last few months, AMCC has hired Zachariah Martin to assist with various in-office support functions. Zachariah gets along with everyone, works hard, and is learning fast.
AMCC’s successful integration of an existing firm’s assets and hiring of their employees has helped lead to rapid growth for AMCC. In many ways, AMCC is setting the model for how Ahtna can pursue and grow into other industries and business lines.