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Interim Discovery Air boss on mission to new frontier

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The search is on for a new boss at Discovery Air Inc. but Brian Semkowski, the London, Ont. businessman named interim president and CEO after David Jennings stepped down last week, has work to do before passing on the reins.

Last Wednesday, the Yellowknife-based specialty aviation company announced director Semkowski would assume the role of interim president and CEO, while Jennings, who held that role since Sept. 2008, would join the board and act as a strategic advisor to Discovery Air.

"It's a change in roles for both of them," investor relations manager Sheila Venman told Yellowknifer, adding the board and Jennings came to this agreement together.

The change in roles was prompted by a new phase of growth the company is positioning itself for, said Semkowski, who is expected to lead the company through the "next stage" for the next six to nine months.

"Things have been going well at Discovery Air," Semkowski said.

"Dave Jennings did a great job of getting us from where we were to where we are and now it's just a different stage."

Under Jennings' leadership, Discovery Air added a number of subsidiaries through several joint-ventures and acquisitions across the North and in other countries, including the recent purchases of 10-helicopter operator Servicios Aereos Helicopters in Chile, and B.C.-based Northern Air Support.

The company also announced earlier this month a 42 per cent increase in revenues for the fiscal 2013 first quarter ending April 30, 2012, to $52.9 million compared to $37.2 million in the same quarter last year.

The next stage for the company under Semkowski's leadership will be to change a couple policies and procedures in order to bring its various entities together into a half-a-billion-dollar corporate entity, Semkowski said.

"It's a different type of person that takes a company from the startup and it's a different type of personality that takes it from mid-size stage and it will be a different person that takes it to the large stage as well," Semkowski said.

While Jennings was interim president and CEO before assuming the permanent role at Discovery Air, Semkowski, who is president of investment-based company Southwest Sun Group Inc., said his intent is not to assume a permanent placement as president and CEO of the aviation company.

"The intent is to find the right person to take Discovery Air from where they are, which has been pretty successful, to the next stage," he said. "The good news is Dave is staying on as a strategic adviser and on the board of directors."

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