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Press Release July 15, 2009

El Paso Company Grows

Pictured: Jeff Booth

El Paso company grows: Glacier Technologies thrives as contractor
By Vic Kolenc / El Paso Times
Posted: July 12, 2009 06:59:19 PM MDT

Jeff Booth, general manager of Glacier Technical Solutions, which last year was spun off from Glacier Technologies, stood Wednesday inside a server room at the Glacier Technologies offices at 1200 Golden Key Circle on the East Side. Glacier Technologies, a subsidiary of an Alaskan tribal-owned company, plans to spin off at least two more companies to do federal contracting. (Rudy Gutierrez / El Paso Times)

EL PASO -- The national recession hasn't slowed the growth of Glacier Technologies, a 4-year-old El Paso company doing technology, engineering and call center services, mostly for federal government agencies.

The company is growing because of the quality of its work, Trumbla said, but also because the economic downturn hasn't affected federal government contracting. "Our cost structure is very competitive," he said, because of a streamlined management structure and because El Paso has lower salary levels than many other cities. Trumbla has run the company since it spun off from another El Paso technology company, Vista Technologies, in January 2005. Vista was purchased in 2001 by the Bristol Bay Native Corp., of Alaska, renamed SpecPro, and later moved to San Antonio. Glacier is a subsidiary of Bristol Bay, an Anchorage company owned by Eskimo, Indian and Aleut tribe members. Bristol has more than 30 companies that do federal contracting. Trumbla was a program manager at SpecPro for about four years.

Joe Diaz, president and CEO of Miratek Corp., a 170-employee federal technology contractor that has teamed up with Glacier in pursuing several federal contracts, said Glacier is another good source of jobs for El Paso graduates. "They are growing. Their advantage is they are an Alaskan native company" which is given contracting advantages by the federal government, Diaz said. "They are leveraging the Alaskan native advantage to build a high-tech company in El Paso."

Glacier also has Bristol Bay's large corporate structure to draw resources from, he said. Trumbla, 61, is a retired Army sergeant who never left El Paso after being stationed at Fort Bliss in 1966. He said one of his aims is to provide technology and other technical-skill jobs in El Paso so the city's college graduates can stay here if they choose. "I have many friends that have children who don't want to leave (El Paso) but are forced to leave because they can't find good jobs," he said.

Lori Ontiveros, 43, a business development specialist at Glacier, said she and her husband, Norman Ontiveros, a Glacier manager, probably would have left this area if the El Paso natives hadn't landed the Glacier jobs. "These type of (technical) jobs are difficult to get here," Ontiveros said.

Besides growing Glacier itself, the company also is creating jobs through spinoffs. Glacier's growth means it can no longer get small federal government contracts, so spinning off companies is one way to continue to get those contracts, Trumbla said. The spinoffs will also provide opportunities for Glacier employees, he said.

Jeff Booth, an El Paso native who has worked for SpecPro and Glacier for about six years, said he also might have moved out of town if it weren't for getting jobs at SpecPro and Glacier. Now Booth is general manager of Glacier's first spinoff, Glacier Technical Solutions, formed about a year ago. Booth expects the company, focused on information technology, to this year double re venues, which were $300,000 last year, and increase employment from four now to 10 to 12 employees. "The idea of the new company is to emulate the business model of Glacier Technologies so we can be successful, too," Booth said. "We focus more on IT (information technology) and Glacier is more broad," with both IT and engineering services, he said.

Glacier is likely to spin off a company next year to handle call-center operations, which now account for about half of Glacier's business, Trumbla said. It plans to also form a new company in Arizona to handle satellite communications for the intelligence community, he said.

Glacier's contracts include operating a help desk to handle computer problem calls from about 40,000 workers in the U.S. Forest Service nationwide and providing technical support for missile system tests at Fort Bliss, said Bob Sumrall, manager of Glacier's business development department. The company has operations in 19 cities around the country, many of them tied to military bases. Jobs range from entry-level positions in its U.S. Forest Service call center paying about $10 an hour to management jobs paying $100,000 a year. "A handful of El Paso companies are doing this type of work for (federal) government contracts," said Sumrall, 66, who has lived in El Paso 18 years. "This is the type of (technology) company El Paso (leaders) say they'd like to see more of."

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