2019-12 – Winegard Connectivity, Vintage Trailer Resort and Replacing an RV Fan

On this week's show, we take you inside Winegard for a behind the scenes look at why this company has been the leader in television reception and connectivity technology for over 69 years.

Later, we join Jeff Johnston as he takes us to a vintage trailer resort everyone can enjoy, even if you don't own a vintage trailer.

Then later, we join Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101 and see what they have in store for us for this week. These stories and our supersized Winegard dish contest.

Winegard for Today's RV Connectivity

Even though RVers will tell you, "We love RVing because it allows us to get out, get away from it all, and enjoy a simpler lifestyle," they still want to stay connected and in touch no matter where they are. And if you think we're kidding, go and check out any new RV and see how many you find that aren't wired up for television and Wi-Fi.

Why today, most RVs come with at least one flatscreen TV, and in most cases two or three. You'll find TVs in the living rooms, bedrooms, and even outside. And if you don't see a TV, don't think it's not there, you just have to look for it. The best way to enjoy TV in your RV is with satellite reception using a fixed or portable satellite antenna.

There are numerous companies that sell satellite antennas, but only one company engineers and builds its own components and systems in-house here in the USA. And they began building TV antennas back in 1953.

Today, we visit Winegard and sit down with company president and COO, Grant Whipple, to learn all about the company and its products, past, present, and future.

Grant Whipple: "Winegard started in 1953 by John Winegard, and basically he wanted to receive television signals when that was the only way to communicate, the only medium from Chicago. So, he developed one of the first multichannel TV antennas, pointed it at Chicago, received the broadcast from there.

And that was sort of the beginning because, you know, neighbors, friends heard about it that they were able to receive television from that far away. And the rest was sort of history obviously. He repeated that and made other antenna systems for other people in Burlington, and that's how it all started.

Now, from there, of course the next real step was C-band satellite. So, if you remember the really large 8 to 12-foot dishes that rural America was putting in their backyards, that was Winegard. And so, we moved from TV reception to satellite TV reception.

From there, we moved on to, as the technology has improved, to much smaller DVS satellite dishes, which is today's modern-day Dish Network, DirectTV, those types of services that are allowed.

And of course, that really worked well for mobile applications also because the antenna size got so much smaller. And of course, as we continue to progress, we've moved on into other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, and other wireless broadband communications as we sit now." What impressed us the most is that Winegard produces all its components in-house, from small metal brackets to the satellite dishes.

And where most companies buy their circuit boards usually from overseas, Winegard produces all its own boards right here in Burlington, Iowa as Grant explains. Grant: "Depending on the circuit board, it, of course, goes through-- more complex circuit boards will go through various stages of tests throughout the process. And what we're checking for is all the data and information that's moved throughout the board to make a-- let's take a satellite system that moves around and automatically locks onto the correct satellite. We want to make sure that that's functioning correctly before we even place it into the product itself. So, as that's populated and built, we test it at various stages to make sure that all connections are there, all the RF components are in the right place, and then it moves on throughout the assembly process.

Winegard believes in doing virtually everything in-house. And that philosophy includes the customer service department, as Grant explains. Grant: "We actually have over 20 technicians and customer service agents who sit right here in Burlington.

So, they understand the assembly and the factory itself and everything that's going into that. They're all trained before they start on all of our wide array of products. And that close vicinity right here, as opposed to outsourcing the customer service to somewhere else in the country or even outside of the country, we think is also much more efficient and gives the customer a much better experience because the people understand the product here and they know what they're talking about, as opposed to having to talk to somebody outside our company walls only to have to wait to get an answer on what's going on, et cetera. So, we really like to give as much customer service as possible to make that ownership experience a good one." Learn more about Winegard here.


Want to know where Winegard is heading in the future? Listen and watch this full interview with Grant Whipple, President and COO of Winegard!

Stay in a Vintage Trailer

Jeff Johnston: "Every campground has a personality all its own. Here at the historic Sou'wester Lodge, you have an opportunity to take part in the camping experience that's, well, a little different than the ordinary."

Thandi Rosenbaum: "We're at the Sou'Wester Lodge. We're a historic lodge and vintage travel trailer resort. We have suites in our large cabins and a fleet of about a dozen vintage travel trailers. They're all from the '50s. They're very cute.

Our collection of vintage travel trailers is an eclectic mix of all different kinds. There were many different mom and pop operations that tried their hand at making trailers in the '50s. And the ones that have survived the best often end up being aluminum framed. And the Spartans of those have been really stellar for us. They were built by an aircraft company, and so they used super high quality aluminum. They're really well-built.

Jeff: "During our time here at the resort, we stayed in this beautiful old Spartan Manor trailer. We walked in, and we noticed that the living room has a nice, comfortable sofa. And a lot of windows and screens, and a lot of shades for privacy. And for your entertainment, we found a great selection of LPs, so music anyone?

The kitchen is well stocked and clean. It has original appliances. All the pots and pans, toaster you'd need, nice dishes, even a French press. We love the bedroom, wonderful paneling, down comforters and pillows. We had a great night's sleep, and it was a wonderful time staying in the Spartan. Jeff: A stop in the lodge gift shop is a fun part of a visit to the resort. Local fare is a specialty here. Sometimes, just hanging out by the fire is the best part of a camping adventure, either in one of today's RVs or one from RV history. At the Sou'wester Lodge, it's your choice. Camp in your own rig, or rent a classic trailer and enjoy a taste of RVing in days gone by. Lear more about the historic Sou'wester Lodge and Campground here.

Replacing an RV Fan with RV 101

Mark Polk: "Hi, and welcome to another segment of RV 101, understanding your RV. I'm Mark Polk and I'll be your host today. Today's topic is RV roof vents and how to install a high speed ventilation fan on your RV.

When you purchase an RV, it will typically come equipped with standard roof vents in some of the roof openings. In the bathroom, the roof vent typically has a small built-in 12 volt fan for ventilation. A really nice upgrade you can do on your RV is to replace the existing roof vent with a high-powered ventilation fan.

This particular fan by Max Air offers intake and exhaust functions, and it is operated manually. We are going to replace an older unit that no longer works on our RV to demonstrate the installation process. Let's go up on the roof and get started."

Watch the show for the rest of the step by step detailed installation of the Max Air fan by Mark Polk." For more information about using and maintaining your RV, visit www.rvonlinetraining.com.

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