Take 5: New KODI owners Amy and Dave McGrath
May 10, 2016
There's a new rafting power couple in town.
Back before Christmas, longtime KODI Rafting owners Campy and Christy Campton finished their three-year search for a new husband-wife duo to take over their Frisco-based company. The Camptons weren't the original owners — the outfit was founded in 1986, and the two took over in 2001 — but they left an indelible impression on the local rafting community, growing from a single gas station storefront to six locations across the Rocky Mountains.
Now, it's time for Amy and Dave McGrath to put a personal stamp on the local rafting scene. The Kansas couple has spent the past seven years on ranchland in their home state, but their ties to Summit County run deep. They lived in Summit County for several years in the 2000s, when Dave McGrath split time between guiding for American Adventure Expeditions and running the mix batch plant for Everist Materials in Silverthorne. Long before then, he made regular trips to visit his uncle, Bob Craig, the late founder of the Keystone Science Center.
Of course, the Camptons couldn't simply disappear. The couple still operates Rivers Clothing Company on Main Street Frisco, and, for the first time in years, Campy Campton will join trips the way he started: as a guide.
"They're not leaving us high and dry," Dave McGrath said. "Campy will even guide for us a few times this summer. He'll get a chance to just run the river."
The thick of rafting season is on temporary hold thanks to wintery weather, but, soon enough, the sun will come out and KODI will be firing on all cylinders. Before the season truly begins, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with Dave and Amy to hear about their vision for KODI, their ties to Rocky Mountain rafting and why the company's 30th anniversary season is the perfect time for two new faces on the river.
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Summit Daily News: First off, congratulations on the new company. What made you decided that now was the best time to take over at KODI?
Amy McGrath: The reputation, for one thing.
Dave McGrath: When I was at AEE (American Adventure Expeditions), we would rent a guide from Campy on occasion, and I was just so impressed with how he ran his operation. I'd see him around town when I was living here and got to know him better. Over the years, I saw this company grow from a single shop in Johnson Village to five offices all over the place and an amazing outpost in BV. I just saw this company grow, and Campy was really the big draw for me. I knew him and knew he ran a clean show. It just grew incredibly in the 15 years he owned it.
SDN: What made you decide to move to Colorado and trade ranching for rafting?
DM: From the day I started rafting, I knew this was something I wanted to do. We've looked at other companies and this was the best.
AM: We looked at several, but they were never the right fit. We were mainly looking at Colorado but nothing came together until now.
DM: Yeah, we never found the one that we enjoyed, but when this came up we knew it was for us.
AM: We've also boated together privately and gotten to know the community in Colorado. It's like snowboarding or skiing — you get involved in the community and this is a great way to do that. Now we're also business owners and we'd like to help KODI grow for the next generation. We want to share that with our kids. Some people have kids who start skiing when they're two. Our's just paddle.
SDN: You're the first new owners in 15 years. What do you two bring to the company?
AM: Well, Campy and his wife left huge shoes for us to fill. After that, after we continue what they were doing, we want to bring our own personal touch. Customer service is huge for us, based on the jobs we've had and how we're raised. That's a key component for us. When people come here — whether they're hiking, biking, shopping, coming to the county for the history — it's important that, no matter what they do, they're getting a taste of what the good people in Summit County are all about, why we live here. It's our job to make sure they bring that back with them and go home with good memories of Summit County, of Colorado.
DM: I always admired what my uncle, Bob, did for Summit County and the outdoor industry as a whole. He was so big with climbing and skiing, and I want to bring that same dedication to the rafting industry.
SDN: Now that the season is nearly here, what do you and KODI bring the rafting scene in Summit?
DM: I'm really looking forward to raising our children in the outdoor world, in the mountains. I want to introduce them to the individuals who work for us to get that perspective about why someone would want to work in this industry. It's not an easy industry, and, with KODI, you get to see how many senior guides we have. I hope our kids get to know those folks and really see the passion they have for the outdoors in Colorado.
AM: KODI has always gone by the tagline, "The KODI family," so whether you're a guest or an employee or just a local who likes to raft with us, you're part of that family. That extends beyond the front door for us and that's exciting for us to expand our family. We always laugh: When you're working at the ski shop, you have Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with your friends because you can't see the family, and that's something unique about living up here. We're open to expanding that family even more. And why wouldn't you be excited? We feel like we're coming home.
SDN: Did Christy and Campy leave you with any words of advice?
DM: They told us it takes two to run it. They had other people looking at this who were single, individual raft guides — people from all over the place — but they chose us.
AM: They had the choice of who to work with, and they went with us.
DM: Yes, they went with us because they felt we were a good fit for each other and for the family they were passing onto us. They had looked for three years, and, when it came down to crunch time, they chose us. We were very honored that they picked us to hand things over.
AM: To hand over the paddles, I think is what Campy said.
SDN: And how do you feel about that? Like you said, theirs are big shoes to fill.
DM: We're all forward. We're super excited, with tons of energy to take this on. It's been a dream.
AM: Definitely. We're living a dream right now.
DM: I've worked just about every job I've ever wanted. Even when I was a kid, all I wanted to do was work at Everist Materials, to drive a dump truck. When we decided to own a raft company, we took our time. We did our research. And now we're here.
AM: The timing just couldn't be better.
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