Heli Acquires Great Canadian Heli-Skiing

Heli Acquires Great Canadian Heli-Skiing

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Heli Acquires Great Canadian Heli-Skiing

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Golden, BC – On Friday December 16, 2022, a transaction was finalized between Greg and Maaike Porter to sell Great Canadian Heli-Skiing and Heather Mountain Lodge to a private capital group led and sponsored by Heli (Heli Adventures, Inc.) for an undisclosed price. The full acquisition includes 11 acres of private land, 20,000 square feet of lodging, and the exclusive use permit for the 150,000 acre ski tenure.

Earlier this year, the Porters solicited strategic partnerships in a competitive process managed by CBRE. Andy Culp and Brock Strasbourger, co-founders of Heli, immediately pursued the opportunity. After a few initial conversations with CBRE, Culp and Strasbourger decided to fly up to Golden to meet with Greg and Maaike to properly introduce themselves. What was supposed to be a quick drink turned into a four-hour conversation. They talked about their stories, their collective vision for the industry and GCHS. 

In a phone interview, when asked about the meeting in Golden with the Heli founders, Greg Porter laughed, “We could feel their energy and passion from the first minute we sat down. We’ve seen what they’ve already managed to accomplish in the industry as a recognizable brand and powerful booking partner for heli-skiing operations in BC and around the world. They know heli-skiing. They are bold. We saw our younger selves in them. It felt right.”

Culp and Strasbourger, both self-described as “recovering bankers”, launched Heli in 2016 as a marketplace for heli-skiing and other adventure travel (kitesurfing, surfing, diving, mountain biking, etc.) by partnering with operations, like Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, around the world. “Heli has traditionally been a tech business focused on customer acquisition and building booking software for operations like Great Canadian. Over the years, we found ourselves in a very unique position in the adventure travel and hospitality space with thousands of established relationships with the best supply in the world and powerful customer insights. It became clear to us that we should consider vertical integration. We evaluated a number of opportunities in the last couple years but we couldn’t find the “right” moment until now. This made too much sense from both a strategic and investment thesis perspective,” says Strasbourger, Heli co-founder.

The Heli team was awarded the deal at the end of October with the goal of closing before the start of the season, which didn’t leave a ton of time. Asked about how the process of getting a deal done with such a quick turnaround, Maaike Porter said, “I am super happy with how both teams performed on such a tight timeframe. Greg and I run a very organized business. So when the Heli team approached us in October with a December closing date we were ready to process it. However, getting things done always comes down to the people, working and communicating together. Heli was a great partner on this common goal. Its a testament to the qualities of all the people involved, and the great future for the companies.”

While there may be new ownership, all senior management, guides, and staff have been offered continued employment and no material change is expected. The Porters will work alongside the Heli team led by CEO Andy Culp to support a full-year transition period. When asked about what this means for the future of Great Canadian Heli-Skiing and Heli, Culp replied, “Very little will change. We have been in this industry for long enough to know that it’s the staff and guides at these operations that make them so special and successful. We told Maaike and Greg from the beginning that we want the entire team to stay on and we feel very strongly about respecting the legacy of not just Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, but the entire community of operators who we think of as friends and peers. We do have a view on where the industry is headed and will work closely with Dani Loewenstein (COO) and Eric Oxner (Head Guide) to naturally evolve Great Canadian Heli-Skiing to meet the demands of our existing and future customers. As for our existing marketplace business Heli, we will continue to support sales and marketing on behalf of all of our partners in BC heli-skiing and beyond.” When asked to comment on how it feels to have secured the Great Canadian Heli-Skiing asset, Culp paused and answered, “interior British Columbia is where the forefathers of heli-skiing pioneered the sport – it has the best and most reliable conditions on top of the most diverse and interesting terrain. To be entrusted with one of the greatest trophies on the planet is a true honor.”

About Great Canadian Heli-Skiing

Great Canadian Heli-Skiing was founded in 1988, in prime heli-skiing real territoy. It operates in the legendary Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges, just north of the birthplace of heli-skiing. Its neighbor, Rogers Pass, a ski touring mecca is one of the snowiest places in Canada. Greg and Maaike Porter bought the business in their 20’s and were the first owner-operators who were not guides. As true entrepreneurs, they have spent the last two decades committed to innovation within the industry. Under the Porters, the company pioneered small group heli-skiing, being the first operation to exclusively fly in the Astar helicopter. In 1996, the classically Canadian timber-framed Heather Mountain Lodge was built as a luxurious staging point for winter heli-skiing and summer adventures in Canada’s undiscovered Glacier National Park. 

GCHS has access to a vast area of mountain terrain in one of Canada’s top five snowiest places with, on average, 112 days of snowfall and 864 cm (340 inches) of snow, and 215 days of snow on the ground. This allows guests to ski on fresh powder on every run. GCHS has a very low-down day average, with only 2 full down days a year. In total, there are 200+ runs that the business has access to in over 150,000 acres of mountain terrain.

 

About Heli

Launched in New York City in 2016 and now headquartered in Aspen, Colorado, Heli is a marketplace for global adventure travel and experiences. The company was founded by Andy Culp and Brock Strasbourger who combined Culp’s heli-ski industry experience as a salesperson for CMH with Strasbourger’s tech start-up and product development expertise. After building out the initial concept to facilitate bookings within the heli-skiing vertical, Heli scaled into multiple adventure categories including kitesurfing, surfing, diving, safari, mountain biking, yoga/wellness, and more. Today, the Heli Marketplace has curated the best adventure and experiential packages on seven continents.

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