Current Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) President Toby O’Rourke has been named the company's new CEO by Oscar Tang, whose family has owned KOA since 1980.
President Toby O’Rourke
According to a press release, O’Rourke takes over the top leadership role at KOA from Pat Hittmeier, who has announced his retirement after 38 years with the company. Hittmeier served in a variety of roles at KOA’s corporate headquarters in Billings, Mont., before being named CEO in 2016. He will continue to serve as a consultant to KOA, specifically in the areas of new acquisitions and development of company properties.
O’Rourke has served as KOA’s president since March 2018, and she will retain that title in her new role as KOA president and CEO. She first joined the company in 2011 as its director of digital marketing, and quickly rose through the ranks to become vice president of marketing and then chief franchise operations officer in 2016.
Her arrival at KOA in 2011 coincided with a period of strong growth for the 57-year-old camping company, which was founded in Billings in 1962.
O’Rourke is only the sixth person to lead KOA, and the first woman in the top leadership role.
KOA now has 517 camping locations throughout North America and has achieved record revenues under the leadership of Hittmeier and O’Rourke.
“It’s truly been a highlight of my career at KOA to be able to work with someone of Toby’s caliber,” said Hittmeier. “I can’t tell you how confident I am to turn the future of KOA over to someone with her drive, vision and track record for success.
"Toby does so many things so well, every day," he added. "She is a strong, natural leader who provides the kind of direction that fuels progress towards achieving short- and long-range strategic goals. I have complete trust in Toby’s ability to move KOA into the future while maintaining the valuable culture and integrity of this great company.”
O’Rourke is a Sheridan, Mont., native. Before coming to KOA, she worked in brand management and digital marketing for WhiteWave Foods in Broomfield, Col., and the Hillshire Brands (now Tyson Foods) in Downers Grove, Ill. She also has a background in software development and business architecture consulting. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In 2017, she was named to the exclusive “Forty Under 40” list by Advertising Age Magazine.
Hittmeier served in nearly every department during his long tenure at KOA. Before being named chairman and CEO, he became KOA’s chief operating officer in 2009 and was promoted to president of the company in 2010. He had also served as KOA's vice president of franchise services and led KOA’s system development division.
“We are very fortunate to have had such a strong leadership team in place at KOA,” said Tang. “Hittmeier has successfully dedicated nearly his entire career to the advancement of family camping. As the CEO of KOA for the last seven years, he has led the company to a period of unprecedented growth, not only in its business levels and profitability but also in the capabilities of its organization.
"He has now chosen to turn the leadership over to Toby and her team, who we are confident will take this established company in new directions," he continued. "Keeping us relevant in the marketplace while never losing sight of providing the quality outdoor experience that our guests have come to expect.”