Changes forced upon them turning out for the best

Despite business setbacks over the past year, Warren and Jodie McSkimming are still smiling and...
Despite business setbacks over the past year, Warren and Jodie McSkimming are still smiling and looking ahead. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
While they may not be farming sheep or milking cows, Warren McSkimming and his wife Jodie have tight connections to the Maniototo, where Mr McSkimming grew up.

Pre-Covid they were running successful businesses servicing the tourism sector. Post-Covid, they have had to dust themselves off and carry on.

Mr McSkimming was born and raised in Oturehua. He has fond memories of a free-range childhood on the family farm and plenty of backyard cricket. He represented the Otago Volts for 12 years and had stints for the New Zealand Under-20 side and New Zealand A team.

"I never got that elusive black cap,” he said.

He then went on to work for TruTest while also running guided hunting trips in the weekends for international clients.

Mr McSkimming worked as a guide for 12 years.

"I had a good business model. It was an absolutely awesome job and I got to meet some fantastic people. But once Covid hit, it was a no-brainer to call it a day on things.

"To be honest I was getting to a point that I felt the time was right to finish it up anyway. Our kids are getting older and being away most weekends, I was starting to feel a bit selfish missing a few things like kids’ sports games and whatnot.”

He said some of the mental skills he learned while playing cricket had come into play in recent times.

"Just knowing how to take the tough times with the good, I guess. Keeping your integrity intact and being accountable to the things you say you’re going to do.”

He now has a new role for fencing equipment supplier Stockade, as New Zealand-Australia sales manager.

"Sounds pretty good doesn’t it, but as yet I haven’t got over to Australia. If there’s one thing Covid taught us, it was that a lot can be achieved in a Zoom call,” he said.

Mrs McSkimming is a self-employed travel broker with a predominantly rural client base. When the borders closed around the world, all remnants of her income "went down the gurgler”, she said.

Mrs McSkimming finished cancelling holidays in November last year and since then has been working on booking trips for clients with travel credits or to extend expiry dates.

"It has very much been an emotional roller-coaster for my clients and I. There are many stories of unfortunate events and bad timings.”

Despite the uncertainty of her industry, she had not considered a career change.

"When it was all happening, all I could think was that it wouldn’t go on for too much longer,” she said.

"I love my job and I couldn’t think of doing anything else. I’ve managed to keep myself afloat and have been doing a handful of domestic bookings which has been really interesting actually. [I’ve been] learning about all these hidden gems that we have right here in New Zealand — a silver lining on what has been a living nightmare for the travel industry.’’

A number of travel agents had fallen by the wayside, which put her in a strong position now that travel bubbles were opening up.

"The last two weeks have been humming. Rarotonga bookings have been really strong. Some of Europe has also opened up to New Zealanders so they only need to quarantine when they return back. Things are slowly looking up,” she said.

- By Alice Scott

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