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Jim Boult Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Filed under Awards, News.

We take a look at one of our director’s careers, Jim Boult who was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jim has had a high profile and varied career starting out as a government deer culler on Stewart Island, then helping to build the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter as part of the team at Kaiser Engineers, before becoming managing director of Shotover Jet, CEO of Christchurch International Airport and embracing various directorships including the Child Cancer Foundation (current), Tourism New Zealand (former director and deputy Chair) and the Government’s Tourism Growth Partnership (current).

On 8th November 2014, his contributions were recognised at the 2014 Westpac Queenstown Business Excellence Awards, where he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Jim credits the award to the many people he’s worked with over the past 30 years. We look back at Jim’s life so far and how he’s been able to achieve his ambitions.

Born in Invercargill, Jim had a happy upbringing as the youngest of four children. His two older brothers followed their father into the family tailoring business, which went on to become New Zealand’s most successful suede and leather clothing manufacturing company.

Jim opted to take a different route and took a gap year to do ‘something’ before going to University. At 18 years of age, after stints as a government deer culler on Stewart Island and a bulldozer driver, the Southland winter drove him to seek an inside job. He took a role in the office at Kaiser Engineers, building the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, where he remained for a number of years. Jim attributes many of his business skills to his time at Kaisers and talks fondly of the years he spent there.

After leaving Kaisers, Jim worked in merchant banking and at 24 years of age became Marac Finance’s youngest branch manager. Two years later he moved to the Bay of Plenty to become Area Manager for Marac, which at the time was Marac’s largest single branch. This was around the time he met his future wife, Karen.

After a few years in Rotorua, Jim and Karen returned to Queenstown, got married and bought a house at Lake Hayes. Their first business in Queenstown was a fashion store at the top of the Mall, called Cherry Modes. Karen ran the shop while Jim did the books and thought up ways to make money.

Jim was always entrepreneurial and after a 12-month stint as manager of the ‘Mountain Scene’, he bought and sold a building in the mall – the start of his ‘real’ business career.

In 1984, Jim (along with Trevor Gamble and Trevor Stalker) bought the Frankton Hotel, followed in quick succession by O’Connells Hotel, Lakeland Hotel, the Chateau on the Park in Christchurch and the White Heron in Auckland. They formed a public company called Queenstown Resorts, which was bought out by another public company a year or so later.

In 1986, Jim bought Shotover Jet, something he describes as one of his best business decisions. At the time the Shotover Jet was being marketed as a jet boat ride but Jim recognised that people were buying a life experience and marketed it in that manner.

The Shotover business became enormously successful and led to Jim buying Dart River Jet Safaris, Fun Yaks, Goldfields Jet, the Christchurch Tramway, Rainbow Springs and Rainbow Farm Show in Rotorua and starting Huka Jet in Taupo and Shotover Jet Fiji.

As if that wasn’t enough, Jim also took up a role as Chairman of then Baycorp Holdings Ltd (now Veda Advantage). When he became involved the company was in poor shape with a share price of around 5 cents. Nine years later when Jim left shares were selling for $22 each and the business was one of New Zealand’s best performing public companies. 

Jim elected to sell Shotover and all its subsidiaries in 2001 to current owners, Ngai Tahu. He subsequently bought back the Christchurch Tramway and acquired the Christchurch Gondola.

Throughout the 2000’s he dabbled in property and became a Crown Appointee to the Board of Christchurch Airport. In late 2008, Christchurch Airport lost its CEO and the Board asked Jim to step in for a few months until they found a replacement. Three months later the Board asked him to stay in the role for a longer period and he remained there for 5 years. This coincided with two major events at the airport – the Christchurch earthquakes and the construction of a new terminal.

Jim considers his five years at the airport his most successful business period and often talks about the staff. During his tenure, staff engagement improved from 13% to 97%, the terminal was built on budget and on time and no one lost their life in the airport during the earthquakes.

In addition to his role at Hawkins, Jim is Chair of Stonewood Homes, a director of the Civil Aviation Authority, a member of the NZ Customs Audit and Risk Board, Chair of the government’s Tourism Growth Partnership and Chair of Signal Management. He recently got back into the finance business (following a 30 year absence), starting a business lending primarily on plant and equipment with two partners.

Jim has always been community minded and has raised money for numerous causes throughout the years including multiple sclerosis, the Frankton Retirement Home, Wakatipu Rowing Club, the Queenstown Events Centre and St John’s facilities at Frankton. He became Patron of the Wakatipu High School Angelo Programme in the mid 1990’s. It provides opportunities and assistance for gifted children. He remains patron today. He is also Deputy Chair of Friends of Lake Hayes, which is charged with improving the lake’s water quality, and is a member of the Steering Group for Shaping our Future.

Jim’s main charity work is through the Child Cancer Foundation. He became involved in the early 1990’s following the tragic death of the son of a close friend. He is National Chairman of the Foundation. He is also Chair of the Otago Southland Child Cancer Accommodation Trust and has put in countless hours. He never goes anywhere without promoting Child Cancer Foundation. It is, along with his family and car racing, his lifetime passion.

Jim and the organisations he has led, have won multiple awards and mentions over the years. He is always ‘delighted and humbled’ and credits the people around him for these honours, saying:

“A successful career in business is reliant on having good people around you. I have been very fortunate to have outstanding support from so many people over the years and it is thanks to their encouragement and hard work that I have been able to achieve my ambitions.”

Congratulations Jim. You truly deserve your Lifetime Achievement Award.