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Vol. 13, No. 48 Week of November 30, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

AK-WA Connection 2008: Heavy duty cold-weather supplies work year-round

Triumvirate tackles the Arctic: Jackovich Industrial and Construction Supply, custom manufacturing and Seattle suppliers keep rigs running in the North

Susan Braund

For The Alaska-Washington Connection

Jackovich Industrial and Construction Supply is one of the toughest industrial supply players in the North.

Owner Buz Jackovich knows what products and supplies work in extreme conditions. In fact, he probably had a hand in their development. With 39 years experience in the North, Jackovich has become expert at industrial solutions. His knowledgeable team regularly advises contractors about what type of arctic hoses to use for rigs, the dig teeth needed for a permafrost loader, the type of cables for rigging, right down to the right oil and grease to keep equipment moving in extreme conditions.

“We give them our best advice from extensive experience,” said Jackovich. “We have become experts in operating equipment in cold climates. Our reward is that what we sell works for our customers and they save time and money.

“For conditions in Alaska, Canada and Russia, contractors need rubber hose to flex and bend at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit while the coldest temperature it’s designed for is minus 40 F. So, we’re always looking for new lines and equipment and ways to make it work here. We talk to the manufacturers and chemists about producing exactly what we need for the Arctic, whether it is oil, grease or hoses. It’s easier than modifying existing products.”

For instance, with the Fisk Brothers in Ohio the company developed a low-temperature, special Arctic grease that can still be pumped at 50 and 60 below zero, Lubriplate Mag I, now in use for 29 years.

Over the last 39 years the industry has changed. “The equipment is bigger now,” said Jackovich. “A lot of it has gone hydraulic, which is a problem in cold weather. We solve this with custom lubricant, special hoses and fittings.”

Transitioning from tractors

When Joe Jackovich and his nephew Buz purchased Seattle’s Western Tractor in 1969, they renamed it Jackovich Tractor and opened the flagship store in Fairbanks. During the ’70s their products and services were instrumental in supplying materials needed for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and its camps.

“We were the very first ones for oil and gas and we were one of the first for roads and airstrips,” said Buz, “getting equipment up north so they could develop Prudhoe Bay. We worked with the pipeline contractors on the first road and provided the first drilling supplies on the first well.”

Jackovich recited an anecdote from early pipeline days: “Frontier Rock and Sand, owned by Tennessee Williams, was building the first road to Prudhoe, sending CAT trains out of Fairbanks. They were crossing rivers and lakes and equipment dropping through the ice,” said Jackovich. “So he needed winch lines and cables right away! I remember heading to the shop at 2 a.m., to make up chokers, trying to wrap them up in small enough balls to fit into a small Bush plane for the flight north. Believe me, 175 feet of 1 1/4-inch wire rope is heavy and bulky! We’ve always done what it takes for our customers.”

In the 1980s the name changed again to Jackovich Industrial & Construction Supply, Inc. to better describe their services. Today, 39 years later, Jackovich continues to serve the petroleum, timber, mining and construction industries. When the elder Jackovich passed away in 2000, Buz became the sole owner and his son Troy now works in the business.

Jackovich commands loyalty. “Those early companies are still our customers,” he said. “They stick with us because we know our business. And, old customers, now working in Russia, call us for advice and products.”

Serving the state

The company, which stocks well over $3.5 million in inventory and employs more than 40 Alaskans (80 at peak season), has four locations in Alaska: two in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks and a new store in Wasilla.

The Anchorage stores are Jackovich Industrial and Construction Supply and The Parker Store. Jackovich Industrial provides construction supplies, especially for arctic conditions, and the Parker Store specializes in hydraulic hoses and fittings that help customer applications work faster, cleaner, smaller, quieter and more efficiently. The Fairbanks store is a mix. The Wasilla location, opened in 2007, is doing well with Stihl products, pumps, generators, stoves, rigging, and general hardware.

“Our new store in Wasilla is doing very well! Anchorage was expanding, people were moving to the (Matanuska) Valley, so we decided to supply them,” said Jackovich. “Four of our Anchorage employees were already commuting from the Valley, so we were able to open with experienced employees. It was a win-win for everyone.”

For our 40-year anniversary next year, we’re looking at ways to thank our customers and suppliers for helping us grow. We rely heavily on our Washington connections, the companies that stock products for us,” said Jackovich. “We often need things in a hurry or overnight, so we appreciate all our suppliers.”

Jackovich extends an offer to new companies coming to work in Alaska’s harsh environment: “We can make your life and operations a lot easier. Don’t learn the hard way; let us save you time and money and share what we know. If you need to keep your wheels movin’ at 60 below, call Buz.”

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Buz Jackovich prides company success on “Service is our specialty” and services many of the products the company sells, including warranty repair service on some lines.

Alkota Cleaning Systems — steam cleaners, pressure washers and parts washers sized for home or commercial use.

Bethlehem Steel wire rope — wire rope made in the USA from 1/16-inch to 1-1/2-inch for hoist and crane ropes, winch lines, bridles and slings made to your specifications.

Black Cat Blades — ISO 9001 certified.

Civacon/OPW — fuel handling equipment, nozzles, cam locks and truck transport equipment.

Desa/Master Heaters — all sizes available from 50,000 Btu to 300,000 Btu diesel, fuel or forced air and warranty service center.

Enerpac — high-pressure hydraulic technology and integrated solutions.

G H Hensley — bucket teeth for loader and backhoes. Jackovich can fit all models and carries a huge inventory of teeth and earthmoving components.

Graco Lubrication —lube dispensing equipment and air operated grease pumps, hose reels, grease guns and zerks.

Husky Corp. — gas and diesel nozzles in automatic and manual, leaded and unleaded with arctic seals for tough Alaska conditions.

Lincoln Engineering — grease equipment for stationary and portable lube dispensing systems, and grease guns, hoses, hose reels and air pumps for transferring oil and grease.

Lubriplate Lubricants — specializing in arctic lubricants and greases down to 60 below zero in containers from cartridges to 55-gallon drums.

Multiquip Inc. — all sizes of water pumps from 1 1/2” to 6” diesel and gas operated. Large selection of generators, rammers and plate compactors with generator sets available from 3 kW to 6 kW.

Parker Hannifin Corp. — The largest inventory of hydraulic hose fittings and adapters in stock. All sizes up to 2-inch low- and high-pressure, plus brass adapters and ball valves.

Stihl© — Chain saws, brush cutters and back pack blowers. The world’s largest selling chain saw. German engineered and made in the USA. A large selection of all sizes in stock — along with bars, chains, chaps, oil, gas cans and accessories.