Jim Rogers is tonight’s Undercover Boss. For outdoor activity fans, you probably wouldn’t miss Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in your checklist. Rogers happens to be KOA’s Chairman and CEO and with his covert operation, we’ll see behind-the-camera scenes on how KOA employees, systems and operations are in place. This may just give an indication of whether camping out in a KOA area is worth it.
After 50 years of operations, KOA campgrounds has grown into a full-fledged national company with campgrounds in 475 locations and 5,000 employees. Rogers started his career in KOA as a management trainee and after 34 years, he’s been offered the post he currently holds. For his undercover work, he aims to check whether KOA’s mission is being maintained: getting people to experience outdoor living and creating happy campers.
His first task is to learn the nitty-gritty of store work in KOA Delta. He meets the manager, Sadie, where he witnesses a computer malfunction leading to a long queue of tasks concerning in-store customers and reservations. Being the only employee in the store, Sadie calmly handles the chaos and tension. Sadie feels that the company doesn’t reciprocate her commitment and efforts.
In Ventura, California, Rogers meets Nathan for housekeeping training. Nathan notes that if Roger’s undercover identity would succeed in this line of business, he needs to experience all the facilities including an 800-foot zip line. Rogers’ nerves get tested but he survives. Rogers also observes poor housekeeping preparations particularly the use of a general cleaning solution in all parts of the living quarters.
In a KOA franchise in Williams, Arizona, Rogers meets owners Laurie and Bruce. Rogers learns that managing a franchise, especially for a family that runs it, entails a lot of time and stress. Whoa! Did they just uproot a tree there? It’s ironic that an outdoor company’s expansion entails destroying natural resources.
Back in California, Rogers learns tasks for guest services in KOA Sta. Cruz. The CEO wants to see the factors behind this location’s high occupancy rate. He observes that the manager, Paul, is extremely efficient and engaging. Paul shares his life philosophy: family and friends come first before the money. Paul imparts more: showing full appreciation to employees is important. As a result, Rogers realizes that he needs to find more time listening to other people.
When Rogers reveals his true identity to the KOA people he met, he shows his appreciation and gratitude through the following:
– for Paul: $50,000 donation to Paul’s camping program, $10,000 to fix his home and $10,000 to finance a trip that will allow him and his wife to see their granddaughter;
– for Nathan: an all-expense paid trip to KOA’s training grounds and $5,000 to experience other theme parks (including his family);
– for Bruce and Laurie: $25,000 to purchase a facility that will enhance their business and $10,000 for a vacation trip.
Original article archived: Nerdles Archive from January 2013.