Hide and Skin: An Alaska Tannery Conundrum

Authors: Jeri Rubin and Irfan Ahmed

Disciplines: Business and Management

Themes: Economic Development

Tribes: Alaska Native, Inupiaq

Kellie Olanna and Roger Nayokpuk were co-managers of Shishmaref Traditional Industries (STI), a tannery and small enterprise in the village of Shishmaref, Alaska. The village is located on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea, just north of the Bering Strait and five miles from the Alaska mainland. STI custom tans furs and hides and retails tanned furs and hides as well as finished fur and hide products. STI is facing an uncertain market, an unreliable supply chain, and dated machinery that inhibits its ability to excel in its business. STI has made a decision to seek funding for new machinery and facilities expansion. In order to justify and support the decision to expand the tannery and undertake a major investment, Olanna and Nayopuk need to conduct industry and market analyses to determine the attractiveness of STI’s industry and market.