Kampgrounds of America
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Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the world's largest system of privately held campgrounds with almost 500 locations across the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1962 and is based in Billings, Montana, United States. The current President/CEO of KOA is Toby O’Rourke.
KOA was founded in 1962 in Billings, Montana by businessmen Dave Drum, John Wallace and 2 other partners. Drum got the idea to start the campgrounds while walking his property along the Yellowstone River and seeing travelers heading to the Seattle World's Fair. The first campsites, known as Billings Campground, were located on Drum's property north of the Yellowstone River. For $1.75 per night, campers could pitch their tent on a campsite that included a picnic table and fire ring. This first campground also provided hot showers, restrooms, and a small store. The campground was quickly successful and by the summer of 1963, Drum, Wallace and their partners decided to create a system of campgrounds throughout North America. They named the company Kampgrounds of America and began selling franchises.
By the end of the 1969 camping season, KOA had 262 campgrounds in operation across the U.S. By 1972, 10 years after KOA's creation, KOA had 600 franchise campgrounds.
The Arab oil embargoes of 1973 and 1978 caused the collapse of many travel-oriented businesses, but by 1982, the KOA franchises had increased to nearly 900. By 2002, after stricter quality standards weeded out many campgrounds, KOA campgrounds numbered almost 500, with most being in the United States.
Today, KOA annually inspects each campground with a 600-point inspection, which it claims is the most stringent in the business.
In 2015, Jim Rogers stepped down as CEO after 15 years and was replaced by the president of the company, Pat Hittmeier. In April 2019, Hittmeier retired, and was replaced by new CEO Toby O'Rourke, the first woman to hold that position in the company's 57-year history.
In popular culture
In the 1978 movie Every Which Way But Loose, Philo, Orville, Echo, and Clyde stay at a KOA Campground in one scene.
In 2011, in a commercial for Progressive Auto Insurance, a boy wears a KOA shirt (KOA and Progressive have entered into a marketing partnership whereby KOA recommends Progressive for RV insurance).
- Klemann, Dustin (30 December 2015). "Kampgrounds of America announces change in leadership - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- Howard, Tom (September 1, 2012). "KOA's history started with a good idea and a humble campground". The Billings Gazette. Billings, Montana. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- Falstad, Jan (August 3, 2002). "Homegrown camping company celebrates 40 year anniversary". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
- Olson, Erik (December 30, 2015). "KOA announces new CEO". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-01-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-14. Retrieved 2013-01-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-12-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
KOA Corporate Offices
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