Totally back to the future

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Eight years after selling sightseeing and adventure company Totally Tourism to tourism giant Skyline Enterprises, Queenstowner Mark Quickfall’s bought it back – and in the process stepped down as Skyline’s chairman.

Totally Tourism’s eight brands, which Quickfall started acquiring 20 years ago, include The Helicopter Line, Milford Sound Scenic Flights, Harris Mountains Heli-Ski and Milford’s Mitre Peak Cruises.

After selling out to Skyline, he became a director of that company, then, in 2014, chairman.

He says: “I made the decision a while back that I needed to make myself redundant – I wasn’t going to be there forever.”

Separately, Skyline’s board had decided to exit Totally Tourism, as CEO Geoff McDonald explains: “As great a business as it is, it’s reasonably capital-intensive, and we’ve got that many other big projects on the go [that we decided] let’s make sure that we can focus on these and invest in them.”

Once that decision was made, Quickfall says he reflected: “If it was going to be sold, I could be the obvious buyer because it was quite a straightforward transition.”

Once he put in an expression of interest, he imme-diately took leave from his role as Skyline’s chairman, and deputy chair Jan Hunt took over as acting chairperson.

The remaining Skyline directors got an independent valuation of Totally Tourism, and since it was consistent with Quickfall’s bid, decided to sell it back to him – a transaction that’s likely to be completed by the end of next month.

Quickfall says the last time he owned the company, “I was a true owner-operator, but there’s more management capability and resource there now, so my plan is not to be there every day”.

“My plan is to ensure strategy and direction and let the very good management team do the managing.”

Hunt, meanwhile, has been confirmed as Skyline’s new chairperson, following Quickfall’s retirement as chair and director of Skyline and related companies last Thursday.

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