Current Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) President Toby O’Rourke has been named the organization’s new chief executive officer. The announcement was made by Oscar Tang, whose family has owned KOA since 1980.
According to a press release, O’Rourke takes over the top leadership role at KOA from Pat Hittmeier, who 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 will retain that title in her new role. 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, founded in Billings in1962. 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. 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, a Sheridan, Mont., native, worked in brand management and digital marketing for WhiteWave Foods in Broomfield, Colo., and the Hillshire Brands (now Tyson Foods) in Downers Grove, Ill., before joining KOA. She also has a background in software development and business architecture consulting.
She earned a bachelor’s from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA 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, including chairman and CEO and chief operating officer. He was promoted to president in 2010.