An era has ended in the helicopter offshore oil-support business with Carroll Suggs, wife of Petroleum Helicopters Inc. founder Robert Suggs, selling her family’s majority interest in the company to Louisiana businessman Al Gonsoulin. A resident of Houston with 35 years of experience in the oil- and gas-service industry, Gonsoulin took over as chairman of the PHI board in early September. According to a statement, Suggs sold Gonsoulin 51.975 percent of PHI’s outstanding voting common stock and 28.197 percent of the total outstanding common stock for $30.5 million. With this sale, the Suggs family is fully divested out of PHI.
Operating a fleet of about 280 aircraft (almost exclusively helicopters), PHI provides contract transportation services from bases across the U.S. and in 10 other countries. Founder and one-time president and chairman Robert Suggs virtually created the offshore oil-support business in the days right after World War II, operating early Bell 47s from a barge anchored in the oil-rich Louisiana bayous. Today, 80 percent of PHI’s helicopter-transport business is oil drilling and production support, with the rest taken up by aeromedical transport.