Case Studies

Grasle and Associates Inc.

Well-equipped to Handle the Last Frontier

Grasle and Associates Inc. (Grasle) is a full-service electrical contractor serving the northern region of Interior Alaska. Although incorporated as its current designation in 1982, the company’s roots date back decades prior. Grasle was previously a local branch of Oregon-based W.R. Grasle Company, which was owned by Reed Grasle and operated in three Alaska locations: Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks.

From its low-lying location in Fairbanks in the Tanana Valley, Grasle travels the surrounding area, from Pt. Barrow to the high peaks of Denali National Park. The company, utilizing skilled workers, completes power line construction and heavy electrical work for industrial, commercial, utility and governmental customers. With additional engineering capabilities, Grasle can also perform turnkey projects.

Understanding its Operation

After three decades in business, Jerry Peterson and Bob Herman, two longtime employees of W.R. Grasle Company, as well as Jerry Evans purchased the assets of the Fairbanks operation. In the early 1980s the trio formed Grasle.

Mick Manning, Peterson’s step-son and current president of Grasle, joined the team after turning out as a journeyman wireman from the National Electrical Contractors Association/ International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547 apprenticeship. Manning worked his way up the ladder over the years and initially worked alongside late business partner John Herman. Manning is now joined in leadership by Chris Bush, office manager and secretary/treasurer, as well as Dan Amundson and Rick Bowlin, longtime foremen for Grasle.

Grasle has crews for power line construction, commercial and industrial inside wiring, outside plant communications, as well as fiber optic installation. The company’s crews are as tough as Interior Alaska’s extreme climate and are not derailed by unique challenges or harsh weather, as the winter low temperature can dip to negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit and its averages range from negative 15 to 25 degrees.

In order to complete challenging installation jobs, Grasle is stocked with heavy-duty equipment and trucks. These resources were useful when delivering a recent job for one of Grasle’s essential clients, Eielson Air Force Base (AFB). Grasle was tasked with completing a massive generator and distribution switchgear renovation to the AFB’s existing and still operating power and heating plant.

Because heating is a must, the plant couldn’t be shut down. The team had its work cut out, transferring the existing electrical load to the new equipment on a working power plant. The $15 million design-build project for Eielson’s Iceman Team was crucial to the continued support of 6,000 personnel on base.

Serving the Community

Governmental jobs are a niche for Grasle, and the company has done extensive work for Golden Valley Electric Association, the U.S. Military, the city of Fairbanks and the state’s Department of Transportation. According to Manning, one particularly exciting project involved running a power cable from the maintenance area in Denali (Mount McKinley) National Park up to a crucial radio repeater near the top of Mt Healy. However, in this particular instance, the job had to be completed without the team’s fleet of heavy-duty equipment.

In order to successfully complete the job, Grasle, working under Doyon Emerald, brought in helicopters to haul reels of wire and other electrical equipment to the top of the mountain. Furthermore, linemen had to walk for over two hours to access the site, as the U.S. Park Service would only allow foot travel to protect the vegetation. Despite difficulty of terrain, stunning views of Mount McKinley – being the highest peak in North America – made for a first-rate jobsite.

More locally, in the city of Fairbanks, Grasle was tasked with upgrading 870 streetlights and deteriorated underground wiring and Fairbanks North Star Borough Plug-in Program. “Both projects were for the state of Alaska Department of Transportation managing Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System [FMATS] federal grants,” explains Manning. “One was to convert the high-pressure sodium streetlight heads to LED lights and the other was to install over 500 head bolt heater outlets at two local high schools intended to help with the cold weather emissions from cold starting vehicles. Both projects were an important aspect of FMATS extensive Transportation Improvement Program for 2012 through 2015.”

Firmly in Alaska

In addition to its work on the FMATS improvement program, on several other jobs with Fairbanks, Grasle will subcontract out concrete asphalt patching, painting and traffic control as needed. It all depends on how much tearing up the job requires; however, for whatever the job requires Manning and his team are there with the necessary guidance.

In his current leadership position, Manning is proud to look back at the numerous difficult projects the company has accomplished over the years. Maintaining what is best for the success of the company and its employees, Grasle is a member of NECA and a signatory to the IBEW Local 1547.

As is the nature of the industry, competition can be fierce, but Grasle continues to keep its head above water in the dog-eat-dog world of electrical contracting in the wilds of Alaska. Staying alive is something the company has excelled at, having built on the solid foundation of experience. With Manning at the helm, Grasle and Associates Inc. will continue to take on tough, challenging jobs and deliver exceptional results to customers for years to come due to an investment in heavy duty equipment and a well-equipped installation team.

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Spring 2018



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