Alaska is often referred to as The Last Frontier, and for good reason. As development continues further into the arctic regions of the world, one of the prevailing complications facing planners, engineers, and contractors has been permafrost. Building on permafrost can be difficult as the heat generated from the structure risks thawing the permafrost and destabilizing the foundation. The severe Alaskan climate causes repeated thawing and freezing which can easily degrade and destroy foundations in a matter of seasons. Climate change only intensifies these issues and makes permafrost even more fragile.
Understanding the engineering and construction issues presented by Alaska’s frozen ground, Erwin “Erv” Long developed several technologies to address these unique challenges and founded Arctic Foundations in 1972. Long’s flagship patent, the Thermopile system, is a heat-transfer device used to preserve frozen ground conditions by extracting excess heat from soil. The company handles every aspect of the Thermopile system in-house, including research and development, engineering, design, manufacturing, and installation, as well as offering other construction services.
Over time, Arctic Foundations has continued to refine and improve their products, going on to become a leader in state-of-the-art permafrost solutions. In 1981, Edward Yarmak joined the firm as their chief engineer and went on to become president of the company in 2013.
Before partnering with Alaska USA Insurance Brokers, Yarmak recalls the frustration of being shuffled from broker to broker. “We had previously used smaller brokers for our business insurance, and several times they were bought up by larger firms,” he describes. “The last time this happened, the company was very large. At first we thought this might be beneficial, but it turned out we were just another number and the everyday service was nonexistent. After a year of that, we moved our business insurance to Alaska USA.”
To protect the business and their people, Arctic Foundations relies on Alaska USA for property, casualty, and auto insurance, as well as workers compensation and international coverage. “These insurance products are absolutely necessary for our business. Having those at a competitive price with the personal service we get from Alaska USA makes our work a little easier,” Yarmak says.
Today, Yarmak enjoys the stability and attention Alaska USA provides to Arctic Foundations. “We have an excellent relationship with Alaska USA,” explains Yarmak. “Jack Grieco and his department ensure that we get excellent service with a personal touch. I would encourage other business owners to invite Jack over to talk with them about their business insurance needs.”
After more than 40 years in business, Arctic Foundations continues to thrive. Both Long and Yarmak remain the leading names in permafrost solutions and are regularly cited in publications and journals for their expertise. And, the company’s award-winning systems continue to ensure the stability of hundreds of construction projects in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia. In fact, the earliest of these installations – built near Gakona by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1960 before the company was founded – is still functioning today.