b"Q&A ORourkefrom page 37 not an amenity, when you're talking front country camping. I consider KOA business since 2011 coming right outto be what I call front country camping. of the Great Recessionis over 300%.If you're going to camp in the back It's just been an amazing ride of year- country, it's OK to not have Internet over-year growth. We were a little flat atconnectivity, but people expect that at thestartofthepandemic,butthenour campgrounds. I work from the road business has just catapulted since thatall the time and I have a certain level of point. We're up, I think around to whereexpectation about the connection and we were in 2019, which had tradition- the quality of the Wi-Fi Im going to ally been our best year in history. have,whetherthat'satahotelora Beyondjustthenumberofnewcampground. I'm not alone in that.campers coming in, we just got such aWCM: Another big change has been great team here. Weve got so many newthe amount of competition that KOA programs and were adding so manyKOA continues to see growth through the development of new resorts, parkhas had to deal with over the past few new people. Its just been a fun time toacquisitions on the corporate side and new agreements with franchisees.years. There are a lot of companies and be part of this growing business. Youindividuals getting into the industry dont think of a company being 60 yearstion. We are building it sustainably anda lot more comfortable with workingand starting to buy parks. How has that old as being in growth mode. It just feelsit is probably going to be gold certifieddifferently. And so, even as we designimpacted the way KOA acquires parks?like a whole new place here, just this re- by the time this is all said and done. our new home office, weve been veryORourke: I love competition. I think birth, almost like a startup mentality.WCM: Speaking of staff members, youthoughtful about how we engage peo- competition makes us sharper, stronger WCM: You have taken that momen- have some scattered all across Northple who are not physically in that spaceand smarter, and we have to be on our tumandarecurrentlybuildingaAmerica, so KOA has embraced the re- through use of technology, then alsotoes. This is a different landscape. In brand-new corporate office in Billings,mote working lifestyle to some degree.having, like I said, those hotel spaces forany given market there are lots of op-Mont. What does that say about theHowmanypeopledoyouhaveoutpeople to drop in and work when theytions to camp, and that's always been commitment you have for the future ofthere in the field right now? are in Billings. true. But as you pointed out, we're see-the brand? ORourke: We have around 120 peopleIts definitely changed the way weing a lot more entrants where people ORourke: Companies across the coun- here in Billings at the moment. We dontwork, but it's for the better. Were ableare creating brands. We havent had a try are getting out of their office space ascount staff at franchisee-owned parks,to tap into a broader workforce poolhuge,brandedcompetitor,andnow we move to more of this hybrid workbut we probably have around 2,000 cor- acrossthecountry.That'sdefinitelythere are lots of new brands popping culture. We have been leasing space forporate employees. A lot of that is staffbeen a new evolution for us and it'sup. We compete just even for eyeballs in around 45 years in downtown and I juston the campgrounds, but we are defi- making us better for sure.the digital sector because there are a lot cant wait to have our own building thatnitely a remote workforce. Even here inWCM: It probably also helps you re- of people investing in this market be-reflects our brand. Its just going to bethe office, we have a hybrid work envi- late to campers who are also workingcause it's so hot.such a source of pride for our company,ronment, not everyone's required to befrom the road, right? We have gotten very responsive in for our franchisees when they visit andin the office. We have hotel space if theyORourke: Thats definitely a trend thatour efforts, whether thats in attracting also for the whole community just to re- want to come in for a day or two. Ourstarted a couple of years ago. Peoplecampers and attracting franchisees. Ac-ally have this landmark here and showwhole IT staff, for example, several ofworking or schooling from the road,quiring parks is a challenge and its a what our company is all about. ourbookkeepersandevenourCFOand that underscores the need for gooddifferentlandscape.Therearealot We really took to heart our mission ofand head of franchises are only herequality Wi-Fi,whichwecontinuetomore players, and a lot more people connecting people to the outdoors andpart-time because they don't live indouble down on. buying campgrounds, but its been fun. everything has been thoughtfully de- Billings.I think Wi-Fi just has got to be a util- I embrace it and I think its good for the signed for this indoor-outdoor integra- I think the pandemic forced us to getity at campgrounds right now. This isQ&A ORourkecontinued on page 41WOODALLSCM.comFebruary 2023 39"