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North Wind’s Diversification Drives Growth

(Idaho Falls, Idaho) North Wind Group has done well despite the recession – and anticipates big growth in 2012 – by predicting which way the wind will blow.

That means this once environmental services-only firm is now much more – adding new sectors of business by evaluating growth trends. In recent years, the company has added engineering, construction, demolition and decontamination, and hazardous waste removal to its list of services. And it’s considering additional sectors that can be served, according to North Wind Group president Sylvia Medina.

“Our diversification has allowed North Wind to keep moving forward,” said Medina, who started the company in 1997 and sold it to Cook Inlet Region, Inc, an Alaska Native Corporation, in 2009. “Ninety-five percent of our business is with government – we look at what government needs in terms of what type of work is needed. Then we diversify into that. We cross-train our people. It’s been very successful for us.”

The company recently won contracts with the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Energy. It has projects in Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska among other sites around the country. Its growth trajectory continues steadily upward with a potential of adding another 100 employees in 2012.

One of North Wind’s largest projects is in a remote area of Alaska, where it has a contract with the U.S. Air Force to relocate personnel from one area to another. The new location is open terrain with no housing or services. North Wind’s job is to set up a new camp, including building housing, bathroom facilities, kitchens and mess halls. Medina said the assignment was challenging because equipment had to be airlifted or barged in and then trucked across the rugged terrain. She said they work with Alaskan villages to provide work opportunities for Native Americans.

“The Food Channel actually came out and did a bit about the chefs out there because it’s such a unique situation,” said Medina. “That was kind of fun.”

North Wind also continues to do work in its hometown of Idaho Falls, which is also the location of the Idaho National Laboratory, operated by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“There are highly technical people here – it’s a hub for the industry we’re in,” said Medina. “We can hire excellent employees here.”