Chattanooga North KOA is located 25 minutes in any direction of something wonderful!When Tim Clark's company closed their doors, he and his wife Ann had a choice to make: He could find another job within Michigan's struggling auto industry, or they could try something new.
"We both felt that it was time to try something different," Tim said. At the time, they had no idea what "something different" might be.
So the owners of the Chattanooga North/Cleveland KOA Campground decided to do some traveling before they made a decision on their future home. They packed up their RV and hit the road, driving across the country to California, then visiting Texas on their way to Florida.
While they had talked about the possibility of settling in Tennessee, the idea of owning a campground had never crossed their minds. After they returned to Michigan, they learned that the KOA Campground in McDonald, Tennessee was on the market, so they jumped back into the RV and headed south to take a look.
The campground needed quite a bit of work, but Tim and Ann were ready to start a new chapter in their lives, so they accepted the challenge. "The campground was under distress," Ann said. "But we're very high-energy, get-it-done people, and we saw the potential." So they bought the campground and immediately got busy upgrading the facilities and improving their visitor's vacation experience.
The mild weather, plus the campground's location just 25 miles north of Chattanooga played a role in the their decision. "You get to see the mountains every day," Tim said.
"It's beautiful here," Ann added. Chattanooga has a beautiful downtown walking area, the Ocoee river offers amazing whitewater rafting, and the Tennessee River offers riverboat cruises. We're 25 minutes in any direction from something wonderful."
The Chattanooga North/Cleveland KOA Campground offers short-term and long term reservations RV's, Cabins and Tent Campers. The facilities include a swimming pool, playground and game area, and free WiFi is available thoughtout the campground. Learning to run the business has kept Tim and Ann very busy. "We faced a major learning curve," Tim said. There are a lot more challenges as a business owner. You're doing things that used to be done for you when you were an employee."
But they weren't just learning how to run one business-there are many distinct businesses that fall under the umbrella of campground operations, including a coffee shop, gas station, convenience store, hotel, RV repair and campground-and they had to learn how to manage them all. A new kitchen bistro area is expected to open in summer.
Managing the campground has become a family affair for Tim and Ann, as they've been joined by two of their four children, a daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. "The hardest part of starting a new life was moving away from everybody, including friends and family. "But now we have a business that they can visit easily as well as spend everyday with our kids and grandkids." Ann said.
It's a new lifestyle," Tim said," I worked with the same people every day for 28 years. Now I have a conversation with someone new every single day. We're really enjoying getting to know people.