BA Economics, 1951
Kuolt received his bachelor's degree in economics in 1951 from the then Central Washington College of Education. With a wife and child to support, he took an entry-level position at Boeing, working his way up to become the business planning manager for the 737 aircraft program. While working for Boeing, he also bought and sold real estate on the side, as a way to supplement his income. The business skills he acquired helped him to develop a new concept in leisure-lodging accommodations.
In 1972, Kuolt founded Thousand Trails, the first private-membership campground, near Chehalis. The concept was to sell memberships for the property, complete with a clubhouse, swimming pool and waterfront lots. Members could use the lots for their vacation campsites. Kuolt took Thousand Trails public in 1979, and then sold his interest in 1981.
That was the same year he would found the regional air carrier Horizon Airlines, with service only between Seattle and Yakima. Three years after its first flight, Horizon went public. Five years after it began, Kuolt sold Horizon to Alaska Airlines.
Kuolt has been quoted as crediting the success of his companies to understanding customer service and the needs of his employees.
Kuolt was presented the Pathfinder Award which honors the contributions of Northwest pioneers in aviation and aerospace. Kuolt and Dick Gordon, Apollo astronaut, were the recipients for 2002.
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