By Mary O’KEEFE
Changes continue along Honolulu Avenue with the sale of Montrose Travel to Corporate Travel Management, an Australian based company.
For 60 years Montrose Travel has been part of Montrose. Joe McClure Sr. and his wife Leora purchased the company in the early 1970s and together they built a business with small town values and community spirit. Since the ’70s the company has stayed in family hands with Joe McClure as president, Andie McClure-Mysza as co-president of Montrose Travel and president of MTravel and Julie McClure as chief financial officer. The company has weathered recessions and the Internet and is still going strong; it’s no wonder other companies have been looking to purchase Montrose Travel over the years.
“We never put our company up for sale,” said Joe McClure. “Over the past two years we had been pursued by all the major travel companies in the United States including the major online travel agencies. None of the opportunities felt right and we turned down all of their offers.”
Then in 2015 Montrose Travel worked on large projects with Corporate Travel Management (CTM; CTD.AU).
“We came to like and trust them as a people and found our cultures and ventures were aligned,” he said.
There are some similarities between the two companies. CTM was established in Brisbane by founder Jamie Pherous and two staff members, according to its website. From those humble beginnings the company has grown to operate across 81 cities in 53 countries globally.
“We started talking about joining our company with theirs and one discussion led to another and we decided that combining companies would deliver strong and long-term positive outcomes for our employees, independent contractors and clients,” McClure said.
He added that though the family was not looking to sell, if they were, CTM had the exact criteria they would be looking for and, looking at the future of travel companies, the sale made sense.
“CTM is a nearly $3 billion global travel management company that’s listed on the Australian stock exchange. They decided to penetrate the U.S. market and sought to use us as an anchor. What became very attractive was that CTM wanted our people to help shape and grow the North American market. Creating and securing opportunities for personal growth for each member of our team has always been important to us. Now, with this deal, each member of our team has significant opportunity to secure the next chapter of their lives and to help grow a global company,” McClure said.
“Beyond securing the future of our people, CTM was attractive because it also secured the long-term future of our company. With Expedia recently purchasing Orbitz and Travelocity, other large agencies in the U.S. continuing to merge, and Google wanting to control the distribution of travel, size becomes more and more important. So at $300 million, while we were a large business, we questioned if we were large enough to compete for the long run. We are a strategic acquisition for CTM and we share the same vision to build a long-term, sustainable and profitable global business.”
However, whenever there is a sale of a company the questions asked are “What of the employees?” and “What will change?”
To the question of layoffs, McClure replied, “No. People are the heartbeat of any successful business and our Montrose Travel family has the skill set, experience, drive and knowledge that CTM wants and needs to grow their North American operations. Further, our people and agents have strong ties to the local community and their clientele. It’s a beautiful thing. Everyone is excited.”
McClure will remain as president of Montrose Travel, Andi will remain as president of MTravel, the company’s independent contractor network and Julie will remain CFO.
The employees were told on Dec. 17, 2015 of the sale, which coincided with announcing it to the Australian stock exchange the morning of Dec. 18.
“Within two hours, CTM became the best performing stock on the exchange that day,” McClure said. “It was exciting.”
The deal officially closed on Jan. 2, 2016. According to McClure the future will be business as usual. The decision on whether to remain Montrose Travel, to incorporate CTM’s name or a combination of the two names will be made in the future.
The locations though do appear to be steadfast with CTM taking out long-term leases on the Montrose Travel properties in Montrose, La Cañada and Palmdale.
For the McClure family, the change seemed to come with the right company at the right time and their hearts are still with the company their parents purchased and grew.
“Montrose Travel is celebrating its 60th year in business this year. Our parents, Joe and Leora McClure, purchased Montrose Travel in the early 1970s and retired in 1990 when Julie McClure and Andi McClure-Mysza and [I] took the reins,” Joe Jr. said. “The company has transformed from a small travel agency into one recognized nationwide with $300 million in sales and six operating divisions. Along the way, we’ve felt it was important to maintain our local roots and involvement in the community. So, it’s really been our baby. We’ve all grown up with it, as have many of the people who work with us. We’ve all grown into this one large family that truly cares about one another.
“It’s unique and we’re quite proud of our organization and of all the amazing people that built it.”