By Darian Armer, Lisa Dicksteen and Holli Koster
Four years ago, RV PRO magazine launched what has now become its annual August Women in Business special section to highlight the growing number of notable women in the RV industry.
As in past years, this year’s Women in Business section features women in a variety of leadership positions – including general manager, chief operating officer, senior manager, director, vice president and president – from across industry segments, including RV manufacturing, suppliers, business services, dealerships and associations.
While the women profiled in this section have unique backgrounds and came to the industry via different paths, they are united in their belief that the industry offers invaluable experiences and opportunities for both women and men who are willing to work hard, seek out talented mentors and embrace challenges.
So, join RV PRO in celebrating the accomplishments of these women. RV PRO sincerely thanks everyone who participated in this special section; it is our honor to share these inspiring stories.
Also, a huge thanks to sponsors Advantage Pressure Pro, Cummins Engine, Dragonfly Energy, Duo-Form Plastics, Northpoint Commercial Financial, NTP-STAG, RVDA, RVIA, THOR Industries and United States Warranty Corporation for supporting this annual special section.
Vice President of Leadership & Culture Development
When Dr. Amber Selking joined the leadership team of Lippert Components in 2018, the leading RV industry supplier was in the midst of a sweeping internal transformation.
While the company had a track record of financial success, LCI’s internal culture just three years earlier stood at a crossroads. The Elkhart, Ind.-based company had a reputation for driving employees hard and not paying well, CEO Jason Lippert told the South Bend Tribune in a 2018 interview. As a result, LCI had 110 percent annual employee turnover.
An expert in applied sport and human performance psychology, Selking spent nearly a decade coaching individuals, businesses, organizations – even the Notre Dame Football team – on leveraging mindset and leadership to drive sustainable results.
Sensing an alignment between Selking’s area of expertise and LCI’s emerging focus on its team, Jason Lippert brought Selking on to lead People Performance, ultimately promoting her to vice president of leadership and culture development. In her current role, Selking heads up leadership, personal performance, corporate and community impact and LCI’s Lippert Academy for Leadership.
Launched last year, Lippert Academy for Leadership is a separate division of the company serving external businesses, nonprofits and individuals with on-site training and leadership development programs, executive coaching, speaking engagements and a two-day in-house leadership development experience.
“We’re developing a model of work here at Lippert under the cultural umbrella of ‘Everyone Matters,’” says Selking. “We want to make work a place that builds health and wholeness into individuals who want to take care of each other and their community, because we believe business can and should be a force for good in our world.”
Selking says that driving philosophy is one reason LCI sought to extend its reach through the academy, providing support to business leaders in the RV industry and beyond, whose exposure to leadership development resources is often limited.
These are relationships Selking says she hopes to develop further as she continues to gain depth in the RV industry. Describing her foray into the RV world as fast and furious, she says she is grateful to her mentors in LCI senior leadership – CEO Lippert, Chief Sales Officer Andy Murray, Senior Vice President of Operations Ryan Smith, Chief Information Officer and President of Aftermarket Jamie Schnur and Vice President of Customer Support Services April Klein – for helping her get a handle on both the business and the industry.
Meanwhile Selking continues to forge relationships in the local community, earning her recognition for demonstrated career success and community engagement as part of the Michiana “40 Under 40” 2020 class.
As for her foray into the male-dominated RV industry, Selking describes her experience as exhilarating. As a former athlete who comes from a small business family, Selking says the industry’s competitive and fast-paced nature feel familiar to her.
“These are people who work hard and know how to handle both success and failure,” she says. “RV people have a grit in them, and at the same time they are very relationally driven. I have an affinity and passion for that.”
Director of Aftermarket
Tracy Anglemeyer is the director of aftermarket for Furrion – a position of authority that she says could not have envisioned for herself years ago when she got her start in the RV industry.
“I do have to laugh remembering my first show season and all the guys peering down the aisles and whispering, wondering if I could do the job.”
When her boss suggested she give sales a try, her initial response was “but, there are no women sales reps.” She says he remarked, “‘it shouldn’t matter’ and encouraged her to apply.
“I’m glad times have changed and you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard enough and make the right choices,” she adds.
Anglemeyer began her career in the RV industry by happenstance: It’s the best place to get a job during college, if you happen to live in Elkhart, Ind.
She applied for a production line job but instead got a job as a parts advisor. During Desert Storm, she was relocated to the warranty department and then the accounting department in a dizzying blur that she now sees as “the best base to have while moving up in the RV industry.”
At the time, she looked at those jobs as a way to pay for college. However, “as others have said, ‘it gets into your blood.’ Once you are in it’s hard to leave. There are a lot of very good and talented people in this industry and I have been fortunate enough to know quite a few of them,” she says.
Many of those talented people served as mentors to Anglemeyer. Now she is enjoying seeing the next generation of industry professionals come up.
“Chris Lizzy showed me how to hook up a trailer for my first prospect trip in the early ’90s,” she says. “Now his sons are in the industry and I’ve had the pleasure of working a few shows and open houses with them.”
Although Anglemeyer says she did not have any female mentors, she did “gain a lot of knowledge from some very intelligent guys.”
For her part, Anglemeyer says a formal mentorship arrangement is not necessary for one to teach – or to learn.
“Most people are mentors and don’t even know it,” she says. “We can influence others by our attitude and the way we pursue and complete tasks.”
Over the years, Anglemeyer says her curiosity about the industry has led her to learn public speaking, computers, profit and loss statements, Cogs, negotiation, personal skills, selling, how a plant runs and product knowledge.
She says she enjoys sharing that knowledge with women entering the industry and finds the RV Women’s Association an ideal forum for “giving back to other ladies – young or old – who have questions and need guidance in the industry or life.”
The first thing Anglemeyer tells them?
“Set goals, work hard, make good choices and align yourself with intelligent mentors,” she says. “There are many opportunities for you if you make them.”
Duo Form Plastics
As the president of Duo Form Plastics, Shelly Ditmer counts among her most critical achievements modernizing the look of the company’s bath products and ushering in a phase of growth. During the 14 years she has worked for the company, Duo Form’s sales have climbed from $15 million annually to more than $25 million in the company’s RV sector alone.
“We’ve brought more modern colors and prints – including a print that looks like marble – as options for the standard white plastic shower,” says Ditmer, who began her career with Duo Form as office manager in 2006.
Founded in 1968 in Edwardsburg, Mich., Duo Form Plastics has been a long-time supplier of RV OEM parts. Today, the company specializes in heavy-gauge plastic sheet thermoformed products for an expanded range of key markets, including automotive, trucking, medical, food service, aerospace, gaming, signage and – most recently – the RV aftermarket.
In her role at the helm of the company, Ditmer is working on a plan to continue driving Duo Form’s RV OEM sales and its push into the RV aftermarket over the past year. The roll-out, says Ditmer, has included a mix of Duo Form bath products – tubs, showers and sinks – and new products like skylights and RV slide-outs.
Ditmer’s career success with Duo Form comes on the heels of a long career in RV and manufactured home component manufacturing. As a young professional home from college for the summer, she took a temp job at Design Components, which offered a college tuition payment program for employees. She transferred from Purdue University to Indiana University South Bend, where the company paid for her to complete her degree in business administration, management, and operations.
After 10 years with Adorn Components (now part of Patrick Industries), Ditmer transitioned into an office manager role at Duo Form Plastics, where she moved into leadership roles in customer service and sales. She credits industry mentor Mike Wagner, director of the Middlebury Hardwood Products Division of Patrick Industries, and Duo Form Director of New Product Development Dave Rheinheimer with helping her acquire the knowledge she needed to lead the organization.
“Mike Wagner’s background is in inventory control and accounting,” says Ditmer. “He mentored me to learn more about the manufacturing process of a company.”
Rheinheimer became an important mentor for Ditmer when she came to lead the customer service department at Duo Form. Relationships like these have remained important to Ditmer, as she has continued to grow her role within the RV industry.
“No matter how big the industry becomes, it continues to have a small, family feel,” she says. “Everybody knows everybody, and you get excited when you get to go to shows and see people in person.”
While the industry has historically been male dominated, Ditmer says she has always felt respected and supported – although she also acknowledges that her leadership role remains outside the industry norm. To women coming up in the industry, Ditmer offers the following words of encouragement: “Don’t sell yourself short. Know your voice, and know your worth.”
To see more in RV PRO’s section honoring remarkable women in the RV industry in our August issue, click here.
Click here to read a Q&A with Sandy Ellingson, the first executive director of the RV Women’s Alliance.
Click here to read about Brenda Bailey, who co-owns Pennsylvania’s Fame RV Center with her cousin, Derek Bidwell.