b'KOA Seeing Explosion of New Construction with a Dozen Parks Currently in the WorksIn the past four years, Kampgrounds of Amer-ica Inc.(KOA) has seen an explosion of new-con-struction campgrounds, according to a releasefrom the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor of some525 campgrounds. This dramatic increase pointsto the health of KOA and the camping industry asa whole, according to information from KOA.Between 2000 and 2006, the KOA systemdidnt add any new-construction parks. Butthings began to change during the period be-tween2007and2009,whensevennewcampgrounds were added. New construc-tion again ground to a halt when the GreatRecession dried up capital and put plans onhold. KOA didnt see another newly built parkuntil 2016.But in the past four years, the interest innew-build campgrounds has increased dra-matically. KOA franchisees have opened eightnew-construction campgrounds since 2017 andKOA currently has 12 parks either in the plan-ning or construction stages. Thats the mostsince the early days of KOA in the 1960s and1970s, when hundreds of campgrounds rosepractically overnight across North America.We really turned the corner four yearsago, said Larry Brownfield, KOAs senior di-rector of franchise de-velopment. We startedto receive a lot of in-quiries from very quali-fied folks. Prior to that, Ithink I spent most of mytime trying to talk peopleoutofbuildinganew a week from folks asking about new builds,campgroundand and out of those hundreds and hundreds ofLarry Brownfield steeredthemtoward calls, maybe one campground would becomebuying an existing campground just due to the reality. They said that there were easier waysexpense and the other challenges brought by to own a KOA than building a new one.permitting delays. But Baker had a perfect piece of family-owned land, as well as the bulldog tenacity toStarting A Trend Towardtake on what turned out to be a four-year localNew Construction permitting and zoning process.John T. Baker, owner of the Austin East KOA When I got my franchise agreement inHolidayin Texas, can attest to the challenges. 2013, 99.9% of the franchise sales businessThe first time I called KOA to ask what it was in conversions, he said. Today, it haswould take to build a new park, they were po- drastically shifted to new construction. Sincelite, but they didnt seem all that interested, Ive been through the process, I get a lot ofBaker said. They told me that I had to appre- calls from people asking for my take.ciate the fact that they were getting five calls Bakers three-year run as a campgroundowner has been highly successful and wasntslowed much by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hecredits KOA for much of that early success.Most of our fantastic results were due to thatyellow flag and everything that goes alongwithit,hesaid.KOAkeepstheguestspointed in my direction. He plans to enterphase two construction at Austin East KOAHoliday in 2021, hoping to more than double thesize of the park by the first quarter of 2022.The Wait Was Worth ItBaker showed plenty of perseverance dur-ing his four-year wait to open a new KOA. ButDavid Hunsader, owner of the new Braden-ton/Hunsader Farms KOA in Florida, took pa-tience and fortitude to biblical Job levels.Hunsader first started dreaming of a camp-ground on his familys Bradenton tomato farmin 2001. By 2005, hed invested in a KOA fran-chise. Over the next 14 years, he struggled withcounty officials over permitting and zoning.Hunsader was finally able to open the gates tohis KOA in January 2020.It turned out so nice, Hunsader said ashe rode his tractor along planted tomatoesnear the edge of his new park. Weve beencampers all of my life. Ive probably been tomore than 200 KOAs around the country, tryingto figure out the best things to do. Today,campers enjoy the campgrounds 100 sites,petting zoo, ninja playground and a wonder-ful train that circles the park with 4,000 feet oftrack.KOA Constructioncontinued on page 2912 -March 2021 Woodalls Campground Management'