Women in the RV Industry - Meet Amber Selking
My background actually started in the manufacturing world in HR right out of undergrad at Notre Dame and never thought I’d be back into it because I went on a journey of sport psychology and applied human performance psychology to really look at how do humans become the best version of themselves and how do we build systems that help them become the best version of themselves and really grow and flourish. And I really thought my world would stay in that sports space, but I had the opportunity and honor of having Jason Lippert, the CEO of Lippert Components, on my podcast and when we ended that conversation, he just made the comment, you know, “We could use someone like you in our business to help us continue on our cultural journey and maybe think about it differently than we have in the past.”
And so, that was my first segue into the RV industry. It’s interesting, the RV industry, historically, hasn’t always cared about people and culture and, you know, how do we innovate, how do we transform the industry. Those aren’t the questions that were on the minds and hearts of most of the leaders, right? It was very much a numbers-driven, production-driven, get it in, get it out, turn and burn people if you have to, if we’re getting units out the door, that’s all that matters. And quite frankly, Lippert was that way as well. We started off as a mom and pop business in Michigan, in Alma, Michigan, with Grandpa Lippert, you know, and over time continued to grow and evolve and see opportunity in different, you know, segments of the business and so now we’re in third generation.
Our leader, Jason Lippert, had sort of this epiphany that there’s a better way to do business. And if we do business better, we can win in the lives of our people and send them home happier and healthier and transform the world through that. But, oh, by the way, as we do that, it changes how they show up every day. And we can keep our people longer. By the end of 2019, our attrition numbers were down to 30% and the impact that we’ve seen that make on quality, efficiency, safety, innovation, has been tremendous, right? And, you know, through those years, it’s really changed how we’ve done business and, you know, we talk as an executive team, the different mile-markers from a revenue standpoint that we’ve hit over the years and we’re almost a $3 billion company now, and that’s one of the things that we set out as, like, “Hey, let’s hit this target.” But at the end of the day, we all come in with this purpose of, “How do we take care of our people and how do we grow our culture?” And guess what? The by-product of that is business growth.
And so, we are constantly making acquisitions. We are not slowing down, we are not getting smaller, and it’s not of the intent to hit those revenue targets. It’s with the intent of getting more people in our Lippert family to let them experience what a positive, thriving work culture can mean and be for them, and if we can go to work and have a better experience where we feel respected, where we feel cared for, where we feel like our ideas matter, where we can put our expertise into creating something special, then we believe that those people will go home happier and healthier. And when we do, they’re gonna be better spouses, better parents, better friends, better community members. Not gonna kick your dog walking into the house, right? And little by little, in all these little communities all over the world, we believe that we can start to change the world. And so, quite frankly, that’s the vision that captivated my heart and brought me to Lippert and gets me excited about coming in every day.
You know, it’s been really fun to see the evolution of women in the industry. I’m new to the industry so I haven’t seen the history of it, and yet, I’m still often one of the only females in different rooms, you know, throughout the company because we are predominantly still a male-dominated industry and space.
But what I love about the RV industry too, is that they are passionate about winning. And I think that we value excellence more than we value what gender you are or what your socio-economic background might be or what the color of your skin might be. This is a place where anybody from any background with any experience set can come and find a place to be great. And so, within that desire for excellence and, you know, transformation, I think women have continued to find a great niche here. I mean, even just in our organization, we have several of our executives in all different functions who are women, right? You can just see sort of the spectrum, even in our executive staff, of the different functional expertise that they bring to the table. And then that’s sprinkled throughout our entire organization from accounting and finance to IT to marketing to operations, you know?
We’ve got some incredible women operations leaders as well that is just fun to see them grow and thrive. You know, I think women bring a lot to the RV industry, obviously, and the inclusion of women around the table in these conversations, I think, just brings fresh ideas, different ways of understanding how we can grow, evolve, and collaborate towards the next version of ourself as an industry. You know, if you’re looking for an opportunity, the RV industry is where it’s at. I mean, there is so much diversity of work within the RV industry that regardless of what your background is, you can come and add value. There’s a place at the table. And I encourage everybody to think about these three things as you bring to an organization or to an industry, but specifically if you are a minority in whatever group, for us, as women within the RV industry, you know, I always look at trust, being able to build relationships that are grounded in trust. Competence, having a high level of competence. You’ve gotta be good at what you do. And if you wanna sit at the table and bring something, you gotta sit at the table and bring something. And so, you know, having that trust, having that competence in what you do, and then showing up with a level of confidence in trusting in what you’ve got and how you can bring it and this place is wide open to bringing the absolute best into the industry or helping you grow into the absolute best.
That’s the other awesome thing about the RV industry. If you’re willing to work hard and get energized and injected into what you’re doing, man, we can teach you anything. You know, when you see a Lippert sticker somewhere, I hope you think two things. First of all, I hope you think that whenever, wherever, we make your experience better. Because that’s our hope. We wanna make your RV-ing lifestyle experience better. So if you need anything, call us, all right? The second thing I hope you come to learn about us is the heartbeat of our organization. And that’s to be a force for good in the world. And if you’ve got Lippert stickers on your RV, our hope is that you become a force for good to the people that you pull up next to in the campground, to the campground and nature itself. That we all start taking on the sense of personal responsibility and accountability to being a force for good in our own lives, to people’s lives around us, and to the world where we get to live, work, and play.