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

Kelly Robertson: Today, we’re working on the RVWA Drab to Fab rehab, trailer rehab. Thetford has been on the ground floor of developing the RVWA so to help support women in the industry and also to get more women into the RV industry. And when they came up with this idea to do this project, it’s sort of like a mobile Habitat for Humanity. And we’ve been involved with RVWA and the Habitat for Humanity, women build here in Elkhart, Indiana. So, this is just a natural great project for us to flow in and bring our female team members down to actually get an RV and do some work, and really install a toilet and see how things work from the inside out. And also it’s for a great cause, and it’s going to be raffled for charity. 

Kristen Phipps: I have never actually built an RV from scratch, so I’m looking forward to this experience. I have done a lot of construction type things and demonstrations for customers, so I’m looking forward to seeing how all of these parts work together to really rehab this beautiful RV.

Tracy Anglemeyer: So yeah, a lot of ladies don’t have experience, and that’s fine. What makes the camaraderie better is because we don’t have a lot of experience, right? And we have expertise in different areas, but we’re all learning, and doing it together, and we can laugh about it, right? And have we messed a few things up? Yeah. Have we fixed them? Of course, we want to to be right, and we want it to be proper and through codes and everything for the end user and done correctly. 

Kristen: I think it’s already very fun, and I think we’ve already laughed about a few things. And as well I think it’s a valuable learning experience for all of us because we do get to get hands on with our products and with other products, and really think about things through the eyes of the RVer.

Kelly: It’s really exciting to be able to get out of the office and come into this wonderful RVIA Technical Institute here, and see how things are done and how things are put together, and really kind of be on the ground floor of this gutted RV, and see how things not only how our parts play together, but how all our industry players play together, and how they’re connected into the RV that makes the final end product. And yeah, we don’t have a lot of skills, so we’re in it for the learning too. 

female: So, we, Thetford,  are supplying the Aqua-Magic V toilet, which is America’s bestselling RV toiler. And as well, our sister company, B&B Molders, is supplying a lot of the rain spouts, vent hatches, many other things that come, you know, standard on an OARV, but are available in the aftermarket. Kelly: We would have loved to put in a fancier, bigger toilet in this unit, but because of space constraints in  his particular unit and it being a little bit tighter, we needed to go with the Aqua-Magic-V, which is a really compact, lightweight toilet, which is a perfect solution for this size unit.

Tracy: Is there a trend in the industry right now of taking older units and fixing them up? I don’t think that that’s just in the RV industry. I think there’s a lot of people that are do-it-yourselfers, right? That have come up, they’re taking old homes and redoing them, right? We’re seeing that where they’re restoring old cars, we’re seeing a lot of that. And the RVs fall right in line with that. And with the lack of supply of what’s going on the last couple years in the industry, it has really grown in our RV industry of let’s take one, fix it up ourselves. You know, just like the concept of this one, we took a bunkhouse coach, we took out the front bunks, and make it an office. So, it’s really a COVID work from home RV, right? And then we know there’s a lot of that going on. Baby boomers are retiring, they’re got kids on both coasts, right? They’re traveling. We know the millennials, a lot of them want to work from home, they’re running Wi-Fis, we’re putting Wi-Fi into this coach, exactly what’s going on with that. So, I think, yeah, there’s been a lot of fixing up. There’s been a lot of let’s take the old 1960 coaches and make them kind of new in the retro style. So, a lot of, lot of that going on. 

Kristen: So, I think there’s an emerging trend not only within the RV industry, but within our population of more family time, and more time together, perhaps out in nature, kind of unplugging. And so, I think it’s becoming more and more common for people to find an RV and either buy– purchase one new, or buy one that’s a few years old and do things like replace the toilet, and replace the sinks, and maybe upgrade the shower, and fix some of those OE vents and hatches so that it’s more your own, it feels like a new experience, and you’re comfortable taking your family and friends on a vacation in it.

Tracy: As I say, you know, you can’t hold Americans down. We want to go travel. We want to see our vast country. We want to travel as families. And what better way to do it than in an RV? You don’t have to worry about airplanes, or hotels, or is the restaurant shut down in that hotel, or what’s going on with the cruise lines? RV and America’s got space to roam, so utilize it.

Kelly: Well, at Thetford, we are pleased that the original social distancing of camping has come back so strong. And it gives people an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the RV lifestyle that was really put on lockdown for awhile. Being in Michigan, we really had to really completely lock things down for a little bit to help contain the virus and flatten that curve, as they said. We were able to be designated as an essential business so that we were able to get our operations back up and running to support all those RVers. You know, the million plus people that live in RVs full time need our products, particularly our holding tank treatments and RV care products to really help them maintain their lifestyle. So, we got back up quickly and have been working on fulfilling all the demand. It’s great for our industry that there is so much demand, and our people at Thetford and Norcold have been very willing to get back on it and to really work–get their nose to the grindstone and work hard to meet not only the needs of our customers and distributors and dealer partners and retail partners, but also to get things out there for the consumer so that  they can continue to social distance in the campground.

Tracy: With the industry right now and the burden on supply chain, you know, trying to schedule ahead for us to get supplies has been fun too, but the suppliers have been great coming through. And what we’ve tried to do is, okay, this day we’re going to put this in, and this company has supplied this. Or we’ve got EastWest ladies coming in, which is a manufacturer. And okay, so well, what’s their background? What can they help with? Utilizing them to their best, you know, potential, which is great bringing in the actual suppliers because they know their product, right? So, and they want to come in and help too, which has been awesome. So, they’ll send groups in and help put their own product in. 

Kristen: So, I think the most exciting thing for us coming down today and taking part in this is that the RVWA is doing this for a great cause. So, not only are we trying to create camaraderie between women in the RV industry, but this is also going to be raffled off for a great cause. So, I feel like this is a win-win for just a few hours of our time.