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New CEO gets feet wet at BBEDC

February 22nd, 2013 | Hannah Heimbuch Print this article   Email this article  

Norm Van Vactor's new job became official just two days ago. The new Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, it's no small position he's taken over.

He's spent the last few weeks taking part in board meetings and focus groups, meeting BBEDC business partners and working with exiting CEO Robin Samuelsen to make a smooth transition.

It's too early to say what changes might come with this new leadership, Van Vactor said, but he looks forwarding to starting by promoting the corporation's strengths.

"One of the very, very initial observations that I've made is that they've got a tremendous number of excellent programs that a lot of people don't actually know about," he said. "One of my focuses will probably be just getting folks aware of what we already have to offer, and see if we can't get a higher level of engagement on that level before we talk on new and different things."

Van Vactor was in Seattle with Samuelsen last week, meeting some of the BBEDC business partners located there - such as Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Leader Fisheries. Those meetings will help him fulfill another important role as CEO, Van Vactor said, as he works to support the corporation's existing investments.

"Now a major part of my role will be making sure that that tradition continues," he said, "and supporting and facilitating appropriate financial investments that maintain growth, and at the same time turning that revenue stream into an asset for all of the individual communities that make up BBEDC."

Before signing on with BBEDC, Van Vactor worked with Leader Creek Seafoods as its general manager. Prior to that he served as Peter Pan Seafoods' Bristol Bay general manager.

Van Vactor's history with the region goes back much farther than his professional leadership roles, he said, and he looks forward to returning to live in a region he loves.

"Herman Schroeder Sr. hired me as a deckhand on a tender that he operated," Van Vactor said. "I had four very productive, enjoyable years that literally helped pay my way through school. That exposure made me fall in love with Bristol Bay, (and) when an opportunity subsequent to college presented itself I jumped at the chance."

Van Vactor and his wife Lynn are in the process of selling their Seattle home and moving into an apartment in Dillingham.


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