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Doyon Limited president shares year in highlights for virtual shareholder meeting

At Doyon Limited’s annual shareholder meeting Friday, March 20, 2020, CEO and President Aaron Schutt shared some positive news during his address.

The meeting was held as a virtual webcast out of coronavirus concerns. Though some shareholders took to Facebook to comment about problems with streaming internet in rural Alaska.

During his address, Doyon Limited CEO and president Aaron Schutt (Koyukon Athabascan) apologized to shareholders for the change in process.  He  acknowledged concerns about bandwidth -- particularly in rural areas -- affecting access to the meeting.

“I hope people understand that we're trying to take everything into consideration,” Schutt said Friday by phone during a brief stop along his drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage. “We're trying to look out for the best interests of our health and safety of our employees first and are our shareholders and board members and others, but also try to preserve the economic security of our shareholders with their jobs across all our subsidiaries operating all over the U.S.”

He says two special board meetings were held to determine the best way to move forward -- but Doyon Limited’s bylaws dictate that the annual shareholder meeting occurs in March. He also says Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy waived a state statute –clearing the way for the Native corporation to hold its meeting virtually.

During his opening remarks, the Doyon Limited CEO and president talked about COVID-19, and steps Doyon will take as a precaution to minimize risk to its employees and stakeholders.

He then transitioned to talking about the impacts of oil-and-gas prices and the coronavirus on Doyon’s economic status.

“We have to think for the very long term, we're trying to provide employment opportunities, steady dividends and benefits to our shareholders. So diversification is a strategy that when you're in a in a downturn in the particular industry, having investments in businesses and other industries can be very helpful.”

That diversification, Schutt says, has created a very strong balance sheet:

“And again, that's an intentional strategy by the Doyon board for many years to again take some of the risk off the table when we have challenges,” Schutt said. “This is a very steep crisis. It's going to affect many businesses and then it will affect us. But we're certainly doing all we can to weather it as best we can.”

During a financial report which aired before Schutt’s presidential address, Doyon announced that in October, the corporation had reached one-billon-dollars in assets.

“The short story is we got into the drilling business in the early 1980s and built our business around the success of that subsidiary,” he said. “It's still our largest income producer and most year in our largest employment opportunity for our shareholders in every year. And we've done very well in Alaska's oil industry by reputation.”

The Doyon Limited CEO says the corporation is also expanding into utilities and telecommunications.

“We also, (WEB: as I explained to our shareholders this morning,) have virtually no exposure to the stock market. We don't have a marketable securities portfolio,” Schutt said. “So start stock market tumbling may hurt employees like me’s 401(k) accounts, but it doesn't hurt Doyon directly.”

On Wednesday, a large section of ConocoPhillips’ oil drilling rig Doyon 26 – A-K-A “The Beast” – slid partly off a gravel road. No one was injured and there were no spills. ConocoPhillips hired a Doyon Limited subsidiary to build the 9.5-million-pound rig.

”Yes, it looked way worse than it turned out.”

Schutt told shareholders that The Beast was back on the road Thursday night and moving toward ConocoPhillips’ Alpine field.

Schutt also announced the election of board of directors incumbents -- Georgianna Lincoln, Shirley Cleaver, and Orie Williams -- as well as new board members Marvin Roberts and Cheryl Cadzow. Each seat has a three-year term which ends in March 2023.

Originally from the Midwest, Tripp Crouse (Ojibwe, a descendent of Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, pronouns: they/them) has 15-plus years in print, web and radio journalism. Tripp first moved to Alaska in 2016 to work with KTOO Public Media in Juneau. And later moved to Anchorage in 2018 to work with KNBA and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. Tripp currently works for Spruce Root in Juneau, Alaska. Tripp also served as chair of the Station Advisory Committee for Native Public Media.
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