Interview with Toby O’Rourke – President of Kampgrounds of America

Toby O’Rourke – President of Kampgrounds of America

Are you familiar with the Montana Ambassador organization and if so, would you share your experience?

I have not had direct experience with the Montana Ambassadors, but have heard a bit about the program in conversations with a couple of people who are involved.

We can view information about you and your organization more readily today, what is something we may not see that you would like to share?

We care deeply about our local community and are active in organizations like the YMCA, local schools, and are a long-term founding sponsor of the Big Sky State Games.    Nationally we put significant resources towards KOA Care Camps, an organization that raises funds for camps across the country for children with cancer.

What are some of the pleasures of your job?

Ultimately, it’s a rewarding job as at its core our focus is bringing family and friends together in the outdoors and fostering entrepreneurship in our support of over 500 businesses across the US and Canada.   My background is in marketing and I enjoy our work across digital advertising and PR to reach our new customers and drive repeat business.   We’ve become extremely data driven in recent years in our marketing approach.    We are also a software company in that we develop and support a proprietary campground management tool used at all of our locations.   We have been in the midst of a complete rebuild of that product and are excited about expanding it across our system.

If you could wave a magic wand and which produced a solution for this issue in your organization what would that be?

I’ve become increasingly interested in workforce development in Billings and in the state of Montana.   We have a talented, driven staff and fortunately have minimal turnover.   However, we are always looking for talent across various core disciplines and have had difficulties in certain recruiting efforts – particularly in tech.   We’d like to be more engaged in helping foster economic and workforce development in our state.

What are some of the advantages of being a Montana based company?

Number one is work-life balance. KOA is in the business of families spending time together in the outdoors and that value is core to who we are since our inception in Billings nearly sixty years ago. The Montana lifestyle is also more affordable and flexible. I have lived and worked in large metro areas where traffic and commute times can affect how business operates and also impact time with family. These decisions and compromises ultimately control part of your life.

 What are some of the challenges?

While proudly based in Montana, I believe travelling and gaining additional perspectives and new experience are always highly beneficial.   We recommend continued training for our staff and gaining fresh outside influence to keep us relevant in our business approach.  Having recently visited Austin, TX the whole region is buzzing with excitement, startups and new ideas. I see glimpses of that in Montana and would love to see more of that catch fire.

What would you say to other business owners in your industry about the advantages of being a Montana based company to get them to consider opening an office/facility here in Montana?

The magic is in Montana people! They are loyal, hardworking, family focused, kind and have strong values. Our quality of life combined with the strength of our people are key ingredients to success for any business in Montana.