BSNC Buys Chain of ‘Alaska Industrial Hardware’ Stores

The Alaska Industrial Hardware store in northeast Anchorage. Photo: Google Street View.
The Alaska Industrial Hardware store in northeast Anchorage. Photo: Google Street View.

Bering Straits Native Corporation is getting into the hardware business after purchasing a small Alaska-based chain of industrial construction and equipment stores.

The company announced Monday the purchase of Alaska Industrial Hardware.

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Founded by James Thompson in 1959 in a Quonset hut in midtown Anchorage, AIH now operates eight locations statewide—including three in Anchorage—with stores in Eagle River, Wasilla and Kenai. Outside of Southcentral the company also has stores in Fairbanks and Juneau. The company also hosts the annual Salmon Classic Fishing Tournament.

Details of the sale—including the purchase price for the company—were not given by BSNC or AIH. As of a 2008 profile in Alaska Business Monthly, AIH boasts a $15 million on-hand inventory in its stores, but AIH President Terry Shurtleff said Tuesday those numbers are higher today, and the company’s distribution network connects it to 400 retailers across Alaska, including the bush.

“If they’re buying hardware in western Alaska, odds are the vendor who has it purchased it through our wholesale division,” he said.

In a release from BSNC, corporation president and CEO Gail Schubert was quoted as saying “AIH is a solid company that fits well with the growing Bering Straits portfolio of companies.”

Shurtleff and the existing executive team will continue managing the company, and its more than 230 employees, on a day-to-day basis. No major changes in staffing are expected as a result of purchase.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to know that we’ll continue to be Alaskan owned,” Shurtleff said of the sale. “I think some of the expertise that Bering [Straits Native Corp.] brings to the table, and expertise we bring to the table, we’re going to be able to use that to benefit all the shareholders of the corporation … that’s what we’re here to do, it so provide a return to the 7,100-plus shareholders of the corporation.”

Bering Straits said in the release the purchase is part of the company’s strategic plan to expand its holdings beyond commercial and government operations, lands, and resource development.

BSNC was established to represent shareholders in the Bering Strait and Norton Sound region under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.

Matthew Smith is a reporter at KNOM in Nome.

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