If someone needed a brief description of Fountainhead Development Inc., the words diverse, dynamic and dedicated would be a good start.
While mainly focused in Alaska, Fountainhead Development Inc. has operations in Washington state and North Dakota through its subsidiaries including Fountainhead Northwest LLC and Equipment Source Inc. With headquarters in Fairbanks, Fountainhead also takes pride in serving as an independent hotelier, a general contractor, a distributor of construction equipment, a supplier of industrial heat, a packager of power generation, and a collector of antique cars, vintage clothing and Alaska memorabilia.
“Fairbanks is a relatively small town, and it’s easy to reach equilibrium in one market area, so we have expanded by adding different businesses” said Fountainhead Development owner and president Tim Cerny. “We have found opportunities over the years to keep people busy, employed and challenged in their roles so staff can grow and move forward.”
Fountainhead Development began in Fairbanks in 1985 but has expanded its business to the Pacific Northwest, offering class A commercial office space for companies such as Alaska Airlines, Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin. Photos courtesy Fountainhead Development
An AGC member since 2000, Fountainhead Development employs 332 people. All but 26 work in Alaska. Despite its diversity in business, Multifaceted company taps into talent for relocations, resorts and restored cars Fountainhead Development does almost everything in-house; from general maintenance to remodeling, few tasks are contracted out.
“We’re primarily a vertical company,” Cerny said. “It explains why we have so many employees.”
Fountainhead Development has operated in Fairbanks since longtime resident and business entrepreneur Dennis Wise founded it in 1985.
At that time, Cerny had been working as a banker in Fairbanks for the past five years. He was preparing for a possible move to the San Diego or Seattle areas when Wise contacted him and said he needed a financial advisor to help start Fountainhead Development.
“It took a bit of convincing,” Cerny said. “There were a number of lunches involved. But Dennis convinced me to stay on in Alaska.”
Wise eventually sold the company to Cerny on Jan. 1, 1999. Cerny said his banking experience has played an instrumental role in the continued success of Fountainhead Development.
“I understand the requirements of lending institutions to meet underwriting guidelines for commercial and residential ventures,” he said. “I’m able to package and deliver loan requests in a format they can understand, which allows them to review them quickly.”
Cerny also has a background working with life insurance companies for long-term finance projects as well, which he said is important when a business is working with large-scale development. Back in the 1990s, Fountainhead had large-scale activities in Phoenix, offering millions of square feet for lease. The company is now focused in the Seattle area with 436,000 square feet of commercial class A rental space. Some of its tenants are Alaska Airlines and Lockheed Martin. Its largest tenant is Blue Origin, which is the space program owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
This past spring, Fairbanks company Stantec experienced the benefits of working with Fountainhead Development.
Stantec is a multidisciplinary firm that offers architectural and engineering services. Stantec hired Fountainhead to remodel their new 3,065-square-foot office located in Ridgeview Business Park. Fountainhead was not only the general contractor but also the landlord. Stantec, meanwhile, was the designer.
Nick Ferree, left, vice president of Equipment Source Inc. stands with sales representative Steve DeMolen. Fountainhead Development Inc. owns ESI, which has locations in Fairbanks; Anchorage; Tukwila, Washington; and Williston, North Dakota.
Some of Stantec’s project goals for the new office were to improve space functionality, increase natural light, encourage more collaboration and provide showers for its active employees.
“Bobby Hanson with Fountainhead Development helped Stantec achieve these goals by being a proactive general contractor,” said Stantec associate Jessica Cederberg. “For example, Fountainhead was very accommodating when special requests were made during the construction phase. Bobby would send me progress photos right after a task was complete, such as wall and floor tile or carpet installation or wall covering. It was instant gratification.”
The new office space includes a reception area, private offices, open work area, a conference room, a copy center with bike racks, library, break room, showers and phone enclave.
“Fountainhead understood our vision of design, and we enjoyed working with them,” Cederberg said.
One of Fountainhead Development’s most beloved properties is about 3 miles down the road from its headquarters in Fairbanks.
With 464 rooms and plenty of amenities, the Wedgewood Resort is the largest property of its type in the Fairbanks area, Cerny said.
“I believe it’s the only true resort in Alaska in terms of having activities on site,” he said.
To name a few, the Wedgewood offers a private wildlife sanctuary, an Alaska interpretive island, plus a nationally recognized antique auto museum that houses pre-World War II, American-manufactured vehicles.
The Wedgewood and Fountainhead Development became AGC members in 2000, but the company forged ties to the construction industry when Fountainhead started in 1985. The resort focuses a great deal of attention to visiting companies that bring employees to Fairbanks. It’s equipped with 305 full-service apartments that can be rented by the day, week or month.
“We can pretty much provide any service that a contractor would need to house large numbers of employees in Fairbanks,” Cerny said.
Fountainhead Development owns the Wedgewood Resort, home to the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks. The museum showcases vintage autos and period fashions.
The Wedgewood often books extended stays with oil and construction workers, firefighters, visiting doctors and nurses, and displaced individuals. One-, two- and three-bedroom apartments come fully furnished with either weekly or daily housekeeping. Extended-stay guests also have access to a full-service bar and restaurant during the summer, meeting and convention facilities year round, as well as a plethora of Alaska-themed activities and displays.
“It’s a home away from home,” Cerny said. “It’s a unique place.”
Overall, Cerny thinks Fountainhead Development has become a dynamic company too.
“We’ve got a great staff,” he said. “You can’t do what we are doing without a staff who is able to take assignments and run with them. That’s what makes it work. It’s fun.”
Kevin Klott is a freelance writer who lives in Anchorage.