PUBLISHED: 4:34 PM on Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Ketchikan woman starts business, plays an active role in community
Chere Klein developed a the successful company "Wetlands Delineation & Design Services" in 2000 while working full time, and raising two girls as her husband is frequently gone with his business. She's a lifelong Alaskan, originally born and raised on a "bush" homestead in Southeast Alaska. She educated herself while working full time, starting a business and raising children while taking college business classes at night and attending technical seminars. She started her own business that is today highly sought after for specialized environmental wetlands delineation, assessment, and permitting.

In the 1990s many Alaskan companies received regulatory violations and fines for filling wetlands. Klein saw non-Alaskan contractors come to assist the companies on simple permitting and related requirements while charging extremely high prices for what seemed like little effort, sloppy fieldwork, and often-unreasonable negotiations.

She was determined to learn more on how to help businesses "do it right," and she researched requirements on wetland identification, characterizations, regulation processes and certifications. Klein is sought after by private and government clients in performing work.

  Chere Klein
Her community service includes being a member, board of director, supporter and a regular and active volunteer in many community organizations including, Southeast Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Ketchikan Youth Court, Lions Club, Ketchikan Running Club's Totem to Totem Race, Gymnastics Club, Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce and First City Republican Women's Club. She also was chosen to be on the United States Forestry Service Regional Advisory Committee, representing interests for energy and mineral development to provide collaborative relationships between USFS and local communities.

Here are her answers to five questions recently asked by Capital City Weekly.

Why did you start your own company?

I started Wetland Delineation & Design business because there is a definite need in southern Southeast Alaska for these services. I was actually encouraged by associates within the regulatory community who saw the need and were familiar with my knowledge of the area.

How do you balance issues both from development and environmental conservation standpoints?

This is a good question, and I do think that I am able to understand both sides. My husband owns and operates a construction company so I'm certainly pro-development. However I also understand the need for developing in a responsible manner. Specifically in doing the wetland delineations, the parameters are quite definitive so that if all three parameters are met, than it is considered a wetland and if not than it is upland. In regards to my business, I don't decide if developing or not developing an area is appropriate - I simply report what is there. Just because an area is wet doesn't mean that it can't be developed, it's just that it needs to be developed in a responsible manner. For example, routing water from a filled in muskeg off your property and onto the neighbors isn't exactly very responsible, but perhaps going down the property lines with that drainage would take care of it. On larger projects, scenarios such as this can cause quite a bit of change/damage in an area. Due to the large amount of rainfall here, of course there are quite a few wetlands, otherwise the plants wouldn't survive.

Why do you feel it is important to volunteer in the community?

I think volunteering and staying informed within our community is crucial to keeping our minds open and keeping our communities healthy. Volunteering helps me to especially appreciate what I may take for granted and there is always a very rewarding feeling when you have helped others. I think it is energizing to be involved in the processes that help to shape or affect our community. I believe that those of us that are capable of meeting our needs should than help others less fortunate as we never know what the future may hold!

How do you balance your professional responsibilities with raising a family?

It can be challenging sometimes, but my girls have been attending meetings, performing community service and going out in the field with me or my husband since they were able to walk, so they take it in stride and we make our times together a family affair. I have lessened my involvement in some organizations somewhat in the last couple of years so that we are able to spend more time as a family. By my involvement in some of their activities they will hopefully grow to be well-rounded individuals. Again I think it is a matter of perspective; if we are out in the field or a construction job, we are combining both business and family time together and learning from each other.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business?

I kind of "fell" into my business so I don't know that I'm especially qualified to give advice, but I would certainly encourage anyone that is interested to thoroughly research their market, put together a good business plan, take classes at the community college for any aspect of the business that they need more education on, contact their local and state business and development councils, be prepared to work and be willing to change and grow! I think that it is especially important to realize from the beginning: change is an inevitable part of not only our lives but also the business world.