Montana Public Radio

Can Do: Montana Tribe Builds Global Tech Powerhouse From Scratch

Nov 1, 2019

Any investor I know would be ecstatic to see a return of $40 million on an initial investment of just $150,000. But that is exactly what has resulted from the seed money that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes invested in a tribally-owned startup in 1999, and which has remarkably operated debt free ever since.

S&K Technologies has grown since then to a family of five companies of more than 900 employees with offices throughout the U.S. and around the world. From its headquarters on the Flathead Reservation, nestled in the Mission Valley in rural St. Ignatius, Montana, the company manages a complex government acquisition business that includes a landmark $4.2 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force.

Today on Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Montana Entrepreneurs, we are joined by CEO Chad Cottet, who took over the operational reins in 2018 after serving as board chair for seven years.

Learn how the company created five sustainable operating entities; how it manages contracts and contacts with the U.S. military, 93 foreign military customers, the Departments of Energy and Interior among others; and built a unique capability in engineering, research, logistics, system integration and technical data management from scratch.

Support for this episode of Can Do is provided by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, dedicated to investing in people to improve the quality of their lives. And from the Greater Montana Foundation, encouraging communication on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans. And from Blackfoot, providing communications solutions for Montana businesses. Plus opportunities like C2M Beta, an innovation lab aimed at helping startups thrive.