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rv industry and rv community

RV Women's Alliance and their Fun Drab to Fab Project - Episode 2!

Susan Carpenter: Today is November 11. We have the special guests of Lippert Components today. Lippert is a very big company that owns a lot of other companies and some subsidiaries. So, what’s nice about today is although they’re all from Lippert, they’re all from different divisions, so they really don’t know each other. So, this is exactly what we’re trying to do is get women to engage with one another, so it’s been an exciting time. 

Michilah Grimes: So, we have over 70 locations. So, all of these women, most of them are from different departments. So, we don’t actually workside by side, and most of us don’t even work in the same building. These volunteer opportunities allow us to meet new team members within the company. You know, everyone always asks, “Do you know so and so from Lippert?” We have 10,000 team members, so this is just one example of people being from all different divisions of the company getting to work together. And some of us are meeting for the first time. 

Susan: Today, they are installing their windows. So, the first thing that they’re doing is they have to clean where the windows were before, all the caulking off, and get it nice and clean. And then what they’ll do is put in the new windows. 

Michilah: Lippert Components donated windows for the RVWA build, and so we brought a group of women out today to actually help with the install. We’re very supportive of women in the RV industry and also wanted to get our hands dirty while we supply the RV industry with a lot of products. Not many of us have ever built an RV. A lot of us probably–I guess I should speak for myself, not even tried to use some of the tools. But we’re excited to learn, good fellowship, and an opportunity during a time of uncertainty with a group of women is also a bonus for the company.

Susan: We’re all volunteers. None of us have really built an RV before. So, that’s what’s great about this project is that none of us know anything, so we kind of have to have people that come in and say, “Yeah, don’t do it this way, or do it that way.” We do have a resident advisor, his name is Chris. He is a gentleman, and he does advise us from time to time when we kind of get in a pickle and say, “Yeah, don’t do that. It would be easier to do this.” It’s really great to have that kind of advisor at times where we’re kind of stretching our heads. We can’t know everything. 

Michilah: It’s already proving very difficult. My arms are already tired, and I’ve been working for like five minutes trying to get glue off of the windows. But I do think it’s a great experience. At Lippert, we have a lot of volunteer initiatives, so it’s great to be out here, again just with fellow team members, meeting some of them for the first time. And I always say it’s the best organic team building opportunity, getting to volunteer together, and learning about team members, their families, what they like to do, questions you don’t get to ask at work because everyone’s so busy, especially right now. Team members are working six days a week, a lot of overtime. Which is a good problem to have because we are very busy, and we’re very fortunate, and it’s good.

It’s been good for the RV industry to bring about how much the outdoors is important. And you know, families and kids spending time together in an RV or on a boat, just bringing a different kind of quality of life and togetherness for families. So, while it’s amazing, it is overwhelming, so we’re just trying to encourage our team members to stop and have a little bit of fun, enjoy these moments, enjoy times with your coworkers, and look at the positive light in all of this.

Susan: This past weekend, we put in wallboard. And with–you know, even with a house, it’s very challenging. This is not a new unit, nothing is square. Everything is a little wonky on it, so we had a lot of challenges and had to cut– recut a couple times trying to get that wallboard to fit quite right. So, it wasn’t always perfect, which kind of made it a little fun. 

We have a lot farther to go. Every time I think something’s done and, you know, completed, there’s always something else that we forgot to do. So, I’m going to say we’re probably about a quarter of the way through. We’re still–we’re at least rebuilding now. We’re no longer tearing down, we’re rebuilding everything. We’ve put in the new floors as we did last time. But one of the fun things is underneath the bedroom flooring, we installed radiant heat. And that’s going to be a nice surprise for the owner because that bedroom is going to be toasty at all times.

So, windows today. Who knows what’s tomorrow? I think it’s important not about getting women in the industry. I think there are a lot of women in the industry already. I think it’s important to get them together and to showcase women in the industry because I think a lot of times, people think of it as more of a male dominated industry. And women are out here building this RV to prove that we can do it too. And we have fun with it. It’s a good way to join forces with other companies. Today, for example, it was just Lippert team members out here. But throughout all their other different days of the week, it’s different people from different companies coming together for one purpose, and that is to build this RV, to auction it off, to raise money for RVWA to encourage and engage more people to join the RV industry. And also opening up their eyes to all the positions and possibility in the RV industry. It’s not just about manufacturing. There are so many growth opportunities in the industry itself.

Susan: As I keep telling everybody who comes to join us that the RV is just a vessel. The real meaning behind this project is bringing women together within the industry to get to know each other. If I look back on the project as of today, my–what I bring back with me is all the different women that I don’t think I would’ve had an opportunity to meet before. So, it’s been really great to, you know, engage with them, get to know them. Most of them we haven’t scared away, they said they want to come back. I think there’s going to be a lot of great friendships. As people are leaving, they’re exchanging phone numbers. It’s exactly what we wanted to do in this project, and I think so far it’s been very successful.

Michilah: I think this is a great reminder of how easy it is to step outside the box and get involved in your community, and volunteer for a great organization. So, whether it’s volunteering through an organized platform like this, where they have it all set up for you, or just going out and doing something good in the community. And we’ve worked with a lot of RV influencers over the past year, and there’s so much opportunity out there, whether it’s shoveling a neighbor’s driveway or raking leaves, just getting out there and reminding people of the positive aspects in life. And just teaming up together to bring about change, I think this is a great way to do that by getting women together to build an RV, and we’re excited to see it get raffled off next year