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Catching Up with the RVWA 'Drab to Fab' Project

Susan Carpenter: So we took about a six-week break. It was supposed to be about two, three weeks because of the holidays. We thought everybody else is busy with family that we’d take a break, but then we didn’t know with COVID how exactly, you know, that was gonna go after the holidays. Would it peak? So we decided to extend the break until the end of January. So we’ve actually been off for six weeks. So coming back here, it was like, “Okay, where were we at? What were we doing?” you know? “Where do we start back up?” So it’s been a total refresh. So it’s been fun getting back into it. As much as it’s been a lot of work, it’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve missed seeing all the ladies and working on this.

Mandy Leazenby: I’m here today to volunteer for the RV Women’s Alliance “Drab to Fab” project, and I’m also going to be green certifying it at the end. So while I’m doing whatever they assign me to do today, I’ll be keeping an eye on materials and things that are being used. This unit had an opportunity to go to the landfill, but the group decided it was something that could be saved, and so you’re automatically ahead of the game when you decide to rehab, as long you’re using the right materials and components and processes, so this is going to be a very, I think, well-rounded green project. So we’re gonna be looking at resources, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor air quality. And I know radiant flooring is used. That’s gonna be an energy-efficient way to heat the unit. The insulation is green, low formaldehyde, recycled content. Solar panels. I’m gonna put the checklist on my website, and even though it’s not complete, it’s just going to be kind of a running tally. But Certified Green RVs is our website, and it shows all the manufacturers that have earned green certification. Every material or component that you’re taking out, consider what you’re putting in as a replacement. Is there a better option? Is there a safer option? Is there a more eco-friendly option? You know, whether it’s sealants and caulks, is it water fixtures, the shower head. Is that low flow? If you’re putting in new carpet and flooring, is that low VOC? These are really small units, and so if they’re not ventilated properly, you’re gonna kinda get a backlash of some of the chemicals, and that’s what the RV industry wants to stay away from. And that’s why I always tell clients, whether you’re buying a new or used RV, just ventilate it, get everything kinda acclimated, and be smart about what materials you’re bringing into it, especially when you’re rehabbing it on your own.

Susan: Okay, so this is my husband, Chris, and why are you here today? Well, so, we don’t know everything, as much as women like to think we know everything, so we do like to bring in some expertise in certain things. So Chris is usually sometimes, if we’re needing extra hands or another brain, I’ll sucker him into coming with me and saying, “Hey, you know, how would you do this?” Chris Carpenter: And I’m close by. I’m five minutes away, which helps a little bit. And since we do live in the same household, a lot of times it’s a matter of me finding some parts and delivering them to her that she needs just to get– like hose clamps, which was what I brought in today.

Susan: So we were installing the Suburban hot water tank. It’s the on-demand system, so something I’m very unfamiliar with. So on Saturday and today, Chris has been generous enough to come out and advise us and show us what–you know, how it should be plumbed, and you know, all that kinda stuff.

Chris: There’s a lot of plumbing intricacies on the hot water heater. In the old days, it was a cold water in and hot water out, and now there’s bypasses and drain hoses and condensation tubes and everything else. So as we’re modifying from an older unit to a brand-new unit, it’s a lot of finagling and figuring out where can we make this plumbing go from here to here and still get the job done.

Chris: And two young ladies, from East to West, on Saturday actually did all the installation on the tank and did all the plumbing. All I did was help out and cut some PEX tubing, and showed ’em how to use the fittings, and they did an awesome job at getting it installed. So now it’s just a finishing touch, one more clamp.

Chris: Global Link Distribution and Creative Products Group. Creative Products Group is the aftermarket division. Our claim to fame is door locks. We make 90% of the door locks on towable travel trailers, and fifth wheels, and most of the compartment door locks. We also supply a good 70% of all screws and fasteners to the OEM manufacturers here in the area. So if you need a 3-inch bronze screw, you can’t get that at the hardware store, but we have those in our warehouse.

Susan:  He’s very modest. So the Key Alike system is one of their claims to fame. So when a new unit gets delivered to a dealer or actually, you know, to the end user, you may have four different keys, one for your compartment door. If you have two doors, you have two different keys for those doors. So you know, you’re handed this bundle of keys just to get into this little unit. So what his company does is he– they have the ability to key your whole unit alike where it’s just one key to get into the RV, and that’s what they’re gonna do to our RV.

Chris:  I love the fact that some of the ladies involved with the build, how much they’ve learned and dug into it and things that they had no reason to learn. The two young ladies doing the hot water tank on Saturday had no idea what we were doing but dug right in. Didn’t even bat an eye, just dug right in and started doing it. So I think it’s a great thing for the industry to get more people involved and to see
what is available to do. There’s a lot of consumers now– of course RVing is on an upswing like there’s no tomorrow– who would love to take an older unit like this and strip it like the ladies have done and start over and build it all fresh, and this is gonna be a great way to show that, that it’s doable.

Mandy: I don’t know who’s gonna win this, but they’re gonna be excited because it is going to be basically new to them. It’s gonna be green certified. It’s going to have all of the ladies’ hard work put into it. It’s got the support of the RV industry, so a lot of great sponsors, lot of great products that have been donated to go into this RV, so they can count on having a quality product.