A company that hits a 45 year milestone in part owes its success to the employees who carry out the company's mission and embrace the vision that steers the company down that path to success.

If you think about one of the first "employees" of Thousand Trails, of course, it's Milt Kuolt. In the early days of Chehalis, Milt was known to be out there doing whatever needed to be done, from sales to financing, from management to maintenance.

As we celebrate our 45 years, I would like to recognize the efforts of all our employees. I would also like to share with you the stories of just a few people who have been with us for quite some time and whose stories have been brought to our attention by supervisors and peers alike.

Like Milt, these people have worn many hats in their years with Thousand Trails, doing whatever needed to be done to ensure the experience for the member was as expected. Our TrailBlazer staff spoke with each of them and found out why their Thousand Trails experience has been a lasting one.

Take Nancy Geddes, for example. Currently the Preserve Manager at La Conner in Washington, Nancy originally came on board at Snowflower for what she thought would be a short time. "I had a small business of my own and many of the people at Snowflower would come into my work," she recalls. "During my own business' slow season, I went up to work at the preserve and here I am 23 years later." Through the years, she worked at several California preserves and has been at La Conner for the past seven years. "If someone told me I'd be here all these years later, I would have said ‘you've got to be kidding,'" she said. "But it was a good fit for me. I love the outdoors and I like interacting with the members and being on this beautiful property."

Don Haymore has been at Lake Minden for 30 years. It's where he started and it's where he will retire from later this year. Don was instrumental in creating the Lake Minden Family Farm, which was up and running during the 1990s. "It was great to see the kids come down to visit who had never seen an egg hatch or interacted with farm animals," he recalls. "We essentially had a working farm and the kids could help clean the cages, gather eggs, and feed the animals." Of his thirty years at Lake Minden, Don says it has been a great fit for his skill set and his love of the outdoors. "It's been fun," said Don.

Dave Lyons started at Morgan Hill in 1981 and is currently the Preserve Manager at Wilderness Lakes, and likens managing a preserve to "running a little city." "The campers want a safe, clean place with plenty of things to do," he said. "And it's our job to make sure that is what they get." While he notes that flexibility and opportunity in his roles at Thousand Trails have kept him here, it's the camaraderie with the members and staff that make the job work for him. "It's the greatest job – out in the park talking with the folks."

So, here's to you – and there are many more stories like this to tell. I look forward to highlighting our employees and members throughout this year of celebration.

I don't know about you, but I am so glad to say goodbye to winter. Spring is here and our preserves are ready and waiting for another season of camping fun. And when you pass a preserve employee, give them a smile. We're all here to make the best camping memories possible.

Marguerite Nader
President & CEO