'Undercover Boss': Kampgrounds CEO Jim Rogers Offers Deluxe Cabin, Vacation To Workers
Campsite owners Lori and Bruce dream big and work hard. As the owners of a Williams, Ariz., franchise with Kampgrounds of America, Inc., they were working to convert a mini-golf station into an 18-hole course. "Until we're the best KOA site in America, I won't be happy," they each said on this past Friday's episode of "Undercover Boss."
Of course, Bruce and his wife, Lori, had no idea that they were talking to Jim Rogers, the CEO of KOA, who was posing as "Tim Bickford," an ex-accountant on a reality show who was trying to win money to open a campground.
This "Undercover Boss" episode offered the kind of celebration of the true grit and spirit of the American worker that initially brought viewers to the CBS series, now into its fourth season. Bruce and Lori didn't disappoint. It's not a job for the fainthearted, Bruce noted, adding that he's had to clean up vomit left on the campsite. He also was shown throwing himself into the task of clearing trees from the site.
In the episode's reveal, Rogers told the couple that he will give them $25,000 to buy a deluxe cabin for their campsite, in addition to $10,000 for a vacation to Lake Powell, located near the Grand Canyon.
Bruce and Lori weren't the only salt-of-the-earth workers featured in this episode. Paul, manager of guest services at a KOA in Santa Cruz, Calif., told "Tim" of his hardscrabble life: The former meatpacking industry worker and his wife, Sean, sold their house so that they could nurse Paul's mother, who eventually died of cancer.
Not every boss who has appeared on the show has been seen such exemplary workplace conduct. Ron Lynch, for example, the CEO of Tilted Kilt, worked with one of his servers, Kalian, who made pornographic displays out of straws to charm customers.
And Rogers did see areas that needed improvement, such as in the technology. While working with Marina, a store manager in Stockton, Calif., "Tim" learned that the computer system to check for reservations often needed a reset while customers were on the line. "It's an archaic system," Marina alerted "Tim."
Rogers, for his part, accepted responsibility for the disappointing technology during his appearance. Speaking off-camera, he put it bluntly: "KOA technology is not meeting the diverse needs" of the campsites.
Rogers brought the same good spirit to the show's reveal. For Paul, he offered $50,000 to be donated for the camps for children suffering from cancer. That was topped off by a gift of $10,000 to fix up Paul's home, and another $10,000 so that he and his wife could visit his grandchildren in Pennsylvania.
For Marina, he told her that his new software was already being developed to help with the technology problems. He also offered her a week off and $5,000 so that her large extended family could all spend a week taking advantage of the campground.
"We'll treat them like first class guests," Rogers promised.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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