Pat Hittmeier, the President of KOA
The President of KOA addressed the Marketing and Entrepreneurship class on March 29th. After providing an overview of his background and a series of useful tips, he gave everyone in the class a very cool marshmallow roasting device to be used at KOA campsites throughout the country.
Pat Hittmeier, a 31-year veteran of Kampgrounds of America’s home office in Billings and most recently the vice president of its System Development Division, was promoted to the position of President for the 50-year-old Billings-based company in March 2010. He had served as the Chief Operating Officer for KOA since April 2009.
Hittmeier has done nearly everything there is to do at KOA. Early in his career, he worked in KOA’s Company Operated Properties Division, learning the nuts and bolts of campground management. He later was in the field building new KOAs like the beautiful Polson, Montana KOA Kampground. He’s also been at the helm of KOA’s Franchisee Services Department, a complex operation that is at the very heart of the value KOA brings to its franchisee partners. As vice president of KOA System Development, he achieved the remarkable result of adding 50 new campgrounds to KOA in just two years.
Hittmeier, a native of Litchfield, Illinois, is a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He moved to Texas after graduation and worked with youth outdoor education programs in Houston and Waco. In 1977 he moved to Montana and became a forester for the State of Montana. In 1979, he came to Billings to be sales coordinator for the Mossmain Industrial Park before joining KOA in June 1981.
President Hittmeier’s suggestions included the following
- Know how to do everything in the business.
- Timing is important; be ready.
- Most people who own a business are good operators but not good marketers.
- Think about working on your business, not just working in your business.
- Hire the right employees; people that you can trust. Then, trust them to do what you hired them to do.
- Most successful small business owners have a strong 2nd; often a spouse.
- Know when to ask for help
- New people perform better when they buy a business because they are open minded and will listen.
- Love what you do.
- 2+2 doesn’t = 4. People do not view things in the same way. Be willing to accept this fact. You must work on getting your point across to the other person.
- How you dress DOES matter.
- Math, writing and speaking skills are critical.
- Your grammar must be correct.
- Business writing is critical.
- Initiative is the key. There are slackers out there in the real world. You will stand out if you exhibit initiative.
- Humility is important.