b"QUESTION & ANSWER nBY BEN QUIGGLEThe Jenkins Organizations Kelly Jones Uses Lifetime ofIndustry Knowledge to Propel Company to New HeightsKelly Jones, the vice president of operations forNorth America. After working in several position, she Great Escapes RV Resorts, which is owned by Theeventually became vice president of operations be-Jenkins Organization, has a long history in the out- fore leaving in March 2020, as the COVID pandemic door recreation industry stretching back to whenhit the U.S., to take on her current role at The Jenkins she was just seven years old, and her parents pur- Organization.chased an Illinois park in 1976. The Jenkins Organization has continued to grow In 1987, that park entered the Yogi Bears Jelly- its Great Escapes brand, with a total of 14 parks now stone Park Camp-Resort franchise system and be- included under the moniker. Several more are in dif-came the systems largest privately held park forferent stages of development. The brand includes quite some time, according to Jones. Her parentsseveral parks under the Jellystone Park and Kamp-would later sell the park to Equity LifeStyle Proper- grounds of America Inc. banners as well.tiesintheearly2000sandbothofherparentsJonesrecentlytooksometimefromherbusy worked for the company for several years. schedule to sit down with Woodalls Campground Jones by that time began working for Leisure Sys- Magazine (WCM) and chat about the work she has tems Inc.now known as Camp Jellystonethebeen doing at The Jenkins Organization.franchisor of more than 75 Jellystone Parks acrossBelow is our edited conversation. WCM: It is amazing the growth thathave been acquisitions, The Jenkins The Jenkins Organization has seenOrganization is starting to develop over the past few years since enteringitsowncampgroundsfromthe the outdoor hospitality industry inground up with the first one set to 2019. Why did your current role ap- open soon in Bryan-College Station, peal to you and what has been excit- Texas, and a couple more on the way. ing about working for the company?Whatwasthedecision-making KellyJones:IworkedforLeisureprocess for deciding to build parks Systems for many years, and I lovedinstead of just acquiring them like my position, I loved working with thebefore?franchisees and I obviously loved theJones: At the end of the day, I think bears. I just kind of got to a pointitcomesdowntosupplyandde-where I was ready for a new challengemand. If you talk to ARVC, the num-and some growth opportunities pro- ber of campgrounds that currently fessionally. I met The Jenkins Organi- exist, it's not that many in the grand zationsCOOTroySheppardatscheme of things. several different industry events andWe are looking for larger properties then the company purchased a Jelly- andwhenyoutakeoutproperties stone Park, and I was just excited tounder 150 sites, the pool of potential seewhattheyweredoinginthisparks closes up even more. The natu-space. I've been in the industry a long time and I've seen many companies kind of come and go in this space and most often the ones who went were the ones who didn't do their research first. One of the things that impressed me about The Jenkins Organization was the fact that they did their re-search first. They sent people to The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds(ARVC)National School of RV Park and Campground Managementwhich is where I first metthembeforetheyevenpur-chased a park. I don't even remember the number of parks that they toured before they bought a campground. TheytalkedwithKOA,theytalked with Leisure Systems and they talked with other multi-park operators to learn the industry and understand the industry before they got into the industry. When I came aboard, we owned two parks. Now we have 14 up and running, and we have several others in various stages of being built. It's beenaveryactivetwoyearsand we're going to continue to grow our portfolio and continue to hopefully haveapositiveimpactintheRV space. WCM:Whilemostofyourparks WOODALLSCM.com September 2022 33"