It’s a natural evolution in any industry for the younger generation to rise in the ranks as they start to learn from the seasoned pros – and this is just as much a trend in the RV world as it is in other sectors.
While 2020 showed an uptick in younger buyers looking to find new ways to explore and travel in a socially-distanced world, many RV companies and associations also took a minute to recognize that they had a set of qualified, inspiring young people on staff.
To get a broader scope of the up-and-coming workforce in the RV industry, RV PRO has launched the inaugural installment of U40 – an extensive lineup of individuals under 40 years old from across market segments. Candidates were nominated by co-workers and others representing men and women from dealerships, suppliers, distributors, OEMs, business services, and associations, just to name a few.
“Luckily, we found a great response to the U40 program. When we first issued a press release about it, a lot of folks quipped that it would be easier to find 60 over 60,” says Publisher Chris Cieto. “They were probably right. But walking through the process, we realized that there are dozens of young professionals across the country who are making an impact. We are proud to introduce our readers to these professionals in this section and look forward to doing it again next year.”
RV PRO is grateful to everyone who submitted nominees and helped shine some light on what look to be future leaders in the RV industry. Read on to learn more about them.
Stacy Fendley, director of products and benefits, Coach-Net
Years with the company: 4 years, 9 months
Best known around the office for: According to the company, Fendley is “smart, quick- witted and loves to laugh.” In addition to being an accomplished negotiator, Coach-Net credits Fendley with being an accomplished writer, having written several blogs for the company. “Stacy is completely selfless and would do absolutely anything for anyone,” the company adds.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: A luxury Class A RV, according to Coach-Net, as “she would travel in style.”
“(Fendley) needs enough room to bring her dog, Barney, and ensure they have plenty of room to be comfortable,” Coach-Net adds. “She would enjoy the large amount of storage space to bring all of her necessities and more. Stacy loves to bake, so a large kitchen is a must.”
Achievements: Fendley’s career began outside the RV industry, as Coach-Net’s VP of sales, Kim Gregory, met her while shopping for a new wedding band with her husband. At the time, Fendley was doing legal contract work during the day and moonlighting on the weekends selling diamonds. Impressed with Fendley’s professionalism, Gregory passed along her business card and soon after, Fendley came onboard with Coach-Net, applying her law knowledge to her new role.
The company says Fendley also was intrigued about the ability to travel the country, as well, and help dealers become profitable and successful. Coach-Net says she has been “an invaluable member of the Coach-Net Sales Team for over four years.”
Starting as a regional account executive, Fendley was quickly promoted to director of products and benefits and is responsible for securing the best benefits and services to Coach-Net’s members while ensuring all products comply with the different states’ departments of insurance.
With a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law and an active license in the state of Texas, Coach-Net contends that she “provides a unique perspective and legal analysis within the outdoor industry market.”
In addition to her accolades at Coach-Net, Fendley was also named as secretary for the RVWA board in 2019.
Matt Foxcroft, salesperson, General RV
Years with the company: 2
Best known around the office for: Foxcroft is known for his focus on selling and introducing people to the RV lifestyle. Sales Manager Nathaniel Ambrose says that Foxcroft is “the most open and fair salesperson I have met,” adding, “He will do as much for his teammates and very seldom asks for any part of a deal.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: “I would see him in a Bounder,” says Ambrose. “He is a fun-loving individual and the Bounder suits him and his family.”
Achievements: While Foxcroft has been with General RV for two years, he joined the industry 11 years ago. Foxcroft’s nomination is two-fold: in part because of his achievement as one of the top motorhome salespeople in the General RV family of dealerships, as well as creating a video series for the industry. In addition to his sales prowess with General RV, Foxcroft has carved out a name for himself as the star and creator of Matt’s RV Reviews. The YouTube series is a co-branding sponsorship with General RV Center and features regularly updated RV review videos.
“(Foxcroft) took Matt’s RV Reviews and made it not just a tool for him, but for all his fellow salespeople in the industry,” says Ambrose, suggesting that Foxcroft’s unique take on RV reviews could become the “new norm” for selling RVs.
“I worked the Hershey show with Matt six years ago and he told me he had this vision of doing YouTube videos,” says Joe Mullen, Coachmen RV, Sportscoach Diesel Partners. “I thought he was crazy; (he) proved me wrong!”
Mullen says Foxcroft currently has more than 76,000 subscribers (as of September 2020) and more than 1 million views a month.
“This guy definitely has it going on and has a great future ahead of him influencing people to enjoy the RV lifestyle,” Mullen says.
Brent Taylor, vice president of product development, Dometic Corp.
Years with the company: 14
Best known around the office for: “Brent is extremely positive, full of energy and ready to take on all tasks,” says Stefan Brosick, vice president and general manager, adding that Taylor “engages easily with customers and peers and makes everyone feel important. Although almost always the youngest member of the senior staff, he is often looked to for his careful opinion.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Class C, because, Brosick says, Taylor “is a marathoner and a triathlete with little children, so he would want the interior space and an RV that is easily parked in our National Parks that can accommodate bicycles on the back.”
Achievements: Shortly after completing his studies at Lipscomb University, Taylor joined Dometic as a process engineer and, according to Brosick, “was easily recognized as someone with talent and great leadership disposition.” Brosick credits Taylor with introducing new manufacturing processes and being a driving force behind moving company factories from California to Indiana. Later, Taylor moved up to lead engineering for Dometic, where he introduced the concept of the Innovation Team, which Brosick says led “a transformation of technology and spark(ed) a tidal wave of new developments.”
A lifelong outdoors enthusiast, Taylor’s entire career has been focused on helping RVers live better lives, travel more safely and enjoy the outdoors. Currently the youngest member of Dometic’s Leadership Team, he trains daily as an endurance athlete and encourages others to pursue their fitness and wellness goals.
Adam Maxwell, CEO and president, inTech Trailers
Years with the company: 10
Best known around the office for: inTech’s Scott Tuttle says Maxwell always brings a “calming, inspiring presence” to the RV maker and is known for creating a positive, fun work culture that encourages people to do their best in a team environment. Tuttle says this purveying culture also has helped keeo turnover low at the company.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: Tuttle points to inTech’s off-road Flyer because of its “rugged construction, lightweight design and flexible living and sleeping options for him and his young family.” Maxwell and his family camp often in an inTech camper.
Achievements: Maxwell founded inTech Trailers in 2010 as a builder of aluminum racing trailers. In 2016, Tuttle joined the company and worked with Maxwell to get the company into the RV market. Maxwell and company have since earned multiple awards for design and innovation, such as “Best of Show” awards at the Open House Week and Louisville shows and twice having products being named finalists for “RV of the Year” from industry magazines and websites.
Maxwell also has instituted a profit-sharing program for all employees. Tuttle says the positive workplace culture created by Maxwell has resulted in an industry low warranty rate (less than 1 percent) and “workers that understand the value of doing it right the first time.”
Jodi M. Latshaw, president/CEO, United States Warranty Corporation
Years with the company: 17
Best known around the office for: Taking time each day to sit down and chat with every employee. “We’re a big family and it’s nice for us all to feel connected. I enjoy seeing the mail carrier every day to see what’s coming in and what’s going out,” Latshaw says.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: Latshaw recently acquired a Jayco North Point 382FLRB.
Achievements: Latshaw’s family legacy has been in the RV industry for a while, including her father, Terry Landis, who originally owned USWC. She’s worked multiple roles at the company before her current leadership role, including answering phones and sorting checks.
According to the company, Latshaw “upholds her dad’s core principles of service, integrity and trust in every aspect of business.”
“During the pandemic, companies had to make some tough choices. Jodi evaluated our tolerances and executed tactics to mitigate risk, but also leverage internal talent,” the company says. “Under her leadership, the entire company was ‘all hands-on deck’ to keep USWC running smoothly.”
Latshaw holds a BA in business management and an MBA with a concentration in finance.
She is a mother of three and the family enjoys traveling.
Candace Luker, general manager, Chesapeake RV Solutions
Years with the company: 12
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: A fifth wheel toy hauler because of the space for toys and friends.
Achievements: Coming from a family already steeped in the RV industry (Luker’s parents own a dealership), Luker earned the title of parts/ administrative/title clerk at 18, moving to finance/sales manager at 24, and eventually to general manager by 26.
“(Luker’s) parents started entrusting her with managing the dealership when they went camping,” says Jacqueline Loen, VP/owner at Chesapeake. Luker did so well, Loen says, she was promoted to general manager. At 30, Luker is involved in the transition of a new location and new building.
Jim Waters, regional sales manager, Lance Camper Mfg.
Years with the company: 5
Best known around the office for: “His mustache!” jokes Bob Rogers, director of marketing, adding that Waters approaches daily assignments “with a super-positive attitude and does the critical thinking required to complete assignments with minimal supervision. His staff/ dealer/customer interface is excellent and superior to most.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A truck camper because, according to Rogers, Waters “loves the versatility and functionality the truck camper affords,” particularly when pursuing surfing conditions in southern California.
Achievements: A Bay Area native, Waters moved to southern California to attend California State University Northridge, where he obtained a bachelor’s in journalism. Waters was hired as marketing coordinator for Lance Camper and since coming onboard, he has been project manager on numerous successful key projects for Lance during the past five years, including brochure design and development, P.O.P. design and development, and SEMA project vehicle design and development. Rogers says Waters has also been the “key driver in getting Lance’s social media presence to where it is today, which is second in the industry on all major social platforms.” Additionally, Waters headed up plant tours, pre-COVID, and helped the company close numerous sales in the process.
Waters enjoys surfing, mountain biking, and outdoor adventures with his girlfriend, Kristen, and dog, Buoy.
Frank L. Martin, president. Apalachee RV Center
Years with the company: 15
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: According to the company, Martin currently owns a travel trailer with enough sleeping accommodations for his family.
Achievements: Born in Atlanta and raised in the Auburn, Ga., area, Martin was heavily influenced by his father, who was well respected in the automotive repair industry. When faced with the choice of going the automotive or RV repair route, “he weighed the potentials of each and wisely decided RV work had more challenges and greater potential,” says Tracy Fulkerson, company GM and vice president. Martin holds an extensive list of training and certification accolades in the industry, including a 2013 RVDA/RVIA certificate, multiple hours logged with the Lippert Technical Institute, and a host of other manufacturer-related training hours logged since 2007. He also became a full-service RV technician in 2009.
Fulkerson says since coming onboard as president 2017, Martin has achieved substantial goals, including increasing profits by 17 percent his first year and increasing them again in 2019 by 39 percent. Even with the hurdles COVID has handed many businesses, Fulkerson says under Martin’s leadership, “we have been able to maintain all our employees and keep them working.”
Martin enjoys his family of three kids and his wife. He plays a very active role in assisting his grandmother and his sister
Mark Lawson, regional sales manager, Jayco
Years with the company: 3.5
Best known around the office for: An “incredible positive attitude and an infectious laugh,” the company says, adding that he’s “very active with dealership personnel at all levels, creating a team with whoever is willing to win with him.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: “With three kids, a Jayco bunkhouse model would very likely fit their active lifestyle,” says Jayco.
Achievements: Lawson started in production at Forest River in 2008, putting himself through school at the same time. When an opportunity arose to become a sales coordinator and trainee in 2012, he took a pay cut and went to work supporting the sales staff. After significant growth in the Rocky Mountain states, Lawson’s territory has been expanded twice. His specific “value-added” training led to a successful marketing campaign, training, and website. This year, he was named “Rep of the Year” by Bish’s RV.
Nick Campbell, director of sales and finance, Pete’s RV Center
Years with the company: 10
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Jayco Seneca Class C Motorhome. “Nick loves camping, tailgating, and entertaining in style,” says LeClair.
Achievements: With a foot in the RV world since high school, Campbell began as a parts clerk and eventually moved his way up to director of sales and finance, now overseeing five stores. A highlight LeClair points to is growing the business to a Top Five Jayco dealer.
Jaz Shelton, RV service tech, Fretz Enterprises
Years with the company: 5+
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A bunkhouse fifth wheel, with “plenty of space for family and animals, while still having a vehicle for daily excursions,” according to his employer.
Achievements: Originally starting in the electronics world in the early 2000s, Shelton left the industry after the electronics hype bubble burst, according to the company. He took a road trip, and upon return applied for a RV mechanic listing, not knowing what an RV was at the time.
Shelton was hired “on the spot” and has continued his work in the industry. He gained his original RV certification within his first year- and-a-half in business, at the age of 22. Shelton rose from PDI tech, to service tech, to shop manager, to service manager, and eventually moved back to service technician. He lives in Bethlehem Township, Pa., with his wife, Megan, and two children. They enjoy camping every weekend possible at a seasonal site.
Emily Christian, marketing specialist, Winnebago Industries
Years with the company: 4+
Best known around the office for: Positivity and can-do attitude. According to the company, Christian is “highly dependable and is a real asset to the marketing and Class B product teams. She is well-respected among her peers.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “Emily would travel in a Winnebago Travato, specifically the 59KL floorplan. She appreciates the open floorplan, and the lithium batteries. She loves the ease of use and the freedom it provides to go off the grid,” says Kelli Harms, marketing manager. “Emily is an avid-outdoors person – she loves to hike and camp.”
Achievements: An Iowa native, Christian started part-time at Winnebago and has worked her way up to be a valuable member of the marketing team. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English language, literature and communications.
“(Christian) is very knowledgeable of the industry and our company,” Harms says.
Brett Thomas, general manager, Hughes Autoformer
Years with the company: 3
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: “A Bruder EXP-4,” says Thomas. “I love the idea of really ‘getting away’. This would allow you to really go to remote places and ponder the beauty of America in different ways than just at a campsite (which is not bad, either). I have always loved camping and hiking, this would just make it a better experience, especially since my two boys are still a little too young for the all-out backpacking/hiking trips.”
Achievements: Born and raised in Anaheim, Calif., Thomas majored in international business with a minor in marketing management from Cal Poly, Pomona. After college, he spent 14 months teaching English in Japan and traveled. He briefly moved to Hawaii and eventually returned to California. Still an avid traveler and outdoorsman, Thomas is credited with increasing brand awareness, new product development with innovative products, maintaining excellent customer service, and turning Hughes Autoformer into a “known name in the industry” for both voltage boosting and advanced smart surge protectors. He continues to reside in California with his wife and two sons.
Ron Preston, sales manager, Midwest Automotive REV Group
Years with the company: 6
Best known around the office for: Energy, attitude, product design ideas, and, Preston “will jump in to help anyone with any customer or product needs,” says Ron Dick, VP brand manager at Norco Industries.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Class B Van. “(Preston) appreciates the versatility of the vehicle,” says Dick, adding that the vehicle is “very comfortable to drive,” and it provides basic needs for a family who enjoys the outdoors.
Achievements: Preston began with an internship at Coachmen Industries, eventually moving to Midwest as a salesman. He’s credited with creative ideas for product design, a personable sales approach, and a thorough follow-up with customers after the sale.
Additionally, the RV gene runs in the family. “(Preston’s) father owned a few different businesses that supplied parts to RV manufacturers, and now Ron is on the retail side,” says Craig Cinque, owner of Sunshine State RVs.
“Ron is constantly striving to improve and develop product designs to fit the needs of both the new, young RV generation and the product needs of an accomplished RV customer,” says Dick. “I think his product knowledge ability and his results-oriented drive is what helps him exceed at his company and in the marketplace.”
Kalie Reynolds, sales and marketing, Space Craft Mfg.
Years with the company: 3
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “She would choose a Space Craft semi unit with heated tile floors, a custom shower, residential appliances, a wine fridge, and a comfortable bed,” says Greg Wallman, owner of Space Craft.
Achievements: Joining Space Craft after a stint in the PR and advertising sector, Wallman says Reynolds is “driven to be successful in developing custom trailers for customers, as well as developing Space Craft’s sales and marketing process.”
She is married, grew up in Kansas City and has a love for animals, particularly dogs, Wallman adds.
With Space Craft, Reynolds has helped sell and design more than 40 custom fifth wheels, semi, and travel trailer units. She’s also credited with helping redesign the company website and set up an automated marketing program which assists in all of Space Craft’s industry shows.
Johnny Hayes, purchasing manager, Meyer Distributing
Years with the company: 5.5
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A smaller towable style large enough to accommodate his wife, a couple dogs and himself.
Achievements: Hayes started as a general buyer for Meyer, moving his way up the ladder as a leading performer and was able to expand heavily into the RV/towing market. The company dubs him as integral in helping Meyer establish itself as a “national distributor leader in the market,” and capable of maintaining healthy, professional, and personal relationships with vendors.
BruceTerwiske, director of purchasing, says Hayes “is passionate about helping vendors achieve their desired results through Meyer sales.”
In his spare time, Hayes works on performance cars and likes to spend time with his wife and pets.
Devon Wilson, COO, Origen RV Accessories
Years with the company: 5
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: The company says a Keystone Raptor because the style and overall fit match the stage he’s at in life and “ever since he first saw a Raptor at his first RV show, it has stuck in his mind as his RV of choice.”
Achievements: After years in the concrete and construction business, plus a four-year business degree, Devon partnered with his father and brothers to launch RV SnapPad.
“Devon is the co-founder of RV SnapPad and a driving force for its growth,” says Kent Wilson, CMO. “Five years ago, he helped launch the company with a single page website and a product that was conceived and prototyped in a garage.”
As SnapPad’s COO, all major aspects of the business run through Devon Wilson, and he has been “at the forefront of the business as SnapPad has gone from unknown company and product to almost a household name in the RV industry,” adds Kent Wilson.
Mike Conway, national account manager, Southwire Co.
Years with the company: 3
Best known around the office for: His high energy and passion for his work. Conway also “introduced the Southwire Largo, Fla., team to Rise & Roll’s cinnamon caramel donuts, which he routinely ships down to them,” jokes Bobby Raatz, managing director of Arterra Distribution.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: “Mike would travel in a diesel pusher Class A,” says Raatz. “(He) really likes his creature comforts and space while traveling.”
Achievements: Born and raised in northern Indiana, Conway has been around the RV industry for nearly 15 years. He started at a small RV OEM on the production line, developed into a group leader, and has continued to work his way up through the industry. Raatz says Conway was “instrumental in growing Southwire’s RV OEM business to a record level.” He has since taken over all account responsibility for the mobile power business and is continuing his sales success.
Conway is an avid golfer and enjoys playing mini golf with his wife and two sons, as well as vacationing to Disney World.
Jesse Mullet, president, nuCamp
Years with the company: 8+
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: “As a family man, Jesse elects to travel in a nuCamp AVIA,” says CEO Scott Hubble, adding that the space is “ideal for a family of four, and Jesse and his wife very much enjoy the overall aesthetic as well as the fit and finish that the AVIA provides.”
Achievements: In 2012, on the heels of spending a decade in construction, Mullet was invited by his father, Joe, to join nuCamp. Mullet began his stint at nuCamp by dedicating himself to improving the inventory system and company’s best practices. A few of his key achievements, according to Hubble, include:
- Designing the company’s new facility in 2014.
- An expansion in 2017 in which he was responsible for the entire plant layout and workflow.
- Spearheaded efforts to provide exceptional cabinetry by partnering with Italian CNC machine center manufacturer SCM.
In addition to being a family man, Hubble notes that Mullet is “a marathon runner, Ironman, champion cyclist and philanthropist.” In 2018, Mullet pedaled 3,400 miles cross country and raised money for Pure Gift of God, an organization committed to helping families overcome financial barriers to adoption. “He is active in the community and strives to be exceptional in all that he does,” adds Hubble.
Darrin McIntyre, parts manager, Parkland RV Center
Years with the company: 3.5
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: An East to West Alta 315D because of “the structural qualities, such as laminated ceilings, 5.5 inches of block-foam insulation in the attic, 2-inch walls, and state-of-the-art design and décor.
Achievements: Spending most of his life in the farming world until entering the RV industry with Parkland, the dealership credits McIntyre with restructuring the parts department to incorporate new and upcoming items and developing solid relationships with suppliers. According to the company, Parkland has seen a 250 percent increase since McIntyre joined the department.
Alex Walker, director of sales, Blue Ox
Years with the company: 5
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A fifth wheel. “I like larger trucks and need the height to be comfortable in the unit,” says Walker. “(It) also gives the chance to travel with various ATVs and UTVs to the campsite.”
Achievements: “I had interviewed with Mike Hesse (president of Blue Ox and son of Jay Hesse, founder) at his previous company, and ended up turning the job down,” Walker explains of his path to Blue Ox. “When he got involved with Blue Ox, Mike gave me a call and we are continuing to grow today.”
Walker is credited with expanding distribution and growth across the U.S.A. and Canada. The company also credits him with implementing the largest number of new products in company history within the past year. Additionally, he’s credited as playing an “integral role in expansion of the Blue Ox Weight Distribution line-up,” and leading marketing and customer service to the “highest engagement and efficiency in company history.”
Rebecca Maguire, senior manager, membership and marketing, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
Years with the company: 2.5
Best known around the office for: A keen eye for detail, critical thinking and her natural tendency to ask the hard questions. “She propels this team forward to producing incredible content and experiences for our membership,” says David Basler, vice president, membership and marketing. “She challenges each and every member of this team to think critically about our own work, our approaches, our planning, and our expectations of the final product. And it is because of this that we have a better understanding of our ‘why’ as an organization.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “A small tow- able – just big enough for her and her husband, their newborn and their two dogs – taking it around the country enjoying the outdoors and camping at private RV parks,” says Basler.
Achievements: A Georgia native and Piedmont College graduate, Maguire joined ARVC in January 2018.
Maguire recently lead a team that relaunched the arvc.org website for members and the GoCampingAmerica.com website, as well as mobile apps for consumers looking to find their next big RV/camping adventure. She continues to work on Phase 2 of the GoCamp- ingAmerica.com project as the organization prepares to launch “a fully-interactive trip planning feature that will allow RVers to plan complete trips and all their stops mapped along the way,” says Basler. She’s a member of the 50 State Club and loves to travel with her husband and two dogs. They recently welcomed a new baby boy, Bo, in late August.
“(Maguire’s) ability to lead her team, diplomatically and with a steady hand beyond her years, signals her bright future to take on greater challenges in a technologically fast-paced world that is changing every day,” adds Basler. “With Rebecca, we can be assured of con- fidently being at the forefront of this change. She possesses a unique ability to make that delicate blend of professionalism and friendship as a consensus builder in everything she is involved in. Her laughter is infectious and inspires others to ‘just be yourself.’”
Kyle Ferguson, general manager, Mericle RV
Years with the company: 2.5 months/10 years in the industry
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: Not listed.
Achievements: Ferguson started his business career as a golf professional focused in the Fort Worth, Texas, area. In 2009, he took on a role as a sales professional for Texas RV Outlet and has since taken to the RV community and lifestyle.
Since that time, he moved back to Colorado, his home state, and has worked for RV America (now Lazydays), Trailer Source, and is currently with Mericle RV. Ferguson has worked his way up in the industry, serving as a sales professional to learn the business and expanding his knowledge and expertise into management as a sales manager, director of sales and now general manager.
“In his short time at Mericle RV, Ferguson has created a 20 percent increase in service revenue and has streamlined multiple processes in sales and service,” says Amy Mericle. “His passion for coaching others is driving our team to new levels of professional growth. Ferguson’s knowledge of the RV industry is a huge asset to Mericle RV.”
Bobby Raatz, managing director, Arterra
Years with the company: 8 months
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A fifth wheel toy hauler to take his toys with him to the campsite.
Achievements: Raatz joined SM Osgood in 2007 as a regional sales manager, where he focused on RV OEM, marine OEM and marine aftermarket in his territory. During his time, he helped build strong partnerships with his customers and the lines he represented.
“One of the lines that Bobby was instrumental in growing in the RV OEM space was TRC, now known as Southwire,” says Mike Conway, national account manager at Southwire. “Bobby went on to join the Southwire team in 2014 as a regional sales manager, where he focused on both marine and RV OEM relationships.”
Raatz continued on in 2016 as director of sales for the mobile power and electrical safety business inside Southwire, moving to regional VP of sales at Southwire in 2018. Conway says that under Raatz’s leadership Southwire’s mobile power business “experienced significant growth in both the RV aftermarket and RV OEM spaces.”
In 2020, Raatz joined Arterra Distribution as managing director, where he currently leads the RV team. Raatz’s other accomplishments include a “Rep of the Year Award” from Thetford in 2013, as well as growing the sales of the Surge Guard at Southwire by managing the product development of the brand line.
Raatz has been married to his wife, Abby, for 11 years and they have two boys.
Andrew Chwalik, managing partner, Twillful
Years with the company: 3
Best known around the office for: Twillful employees recognize Chwalik for his work ethic and positive energy around the workplace. The company also recognizes him for wearing many hats – producing his own podcast, creating YouTube videos, and managing clients, just to name a few.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: The TAB320 Boondock Edition, the company says. “Andrew talks about how the TABs have everything you need for adventure and how they are built by artisan Amish craftsmen,” according to his employer. “He would love to live out of one of those campers and travel the United States.”
Achievements: Twillful dubs Chwalik as a “marketer, professor, entrepreneur, and videographer.” He holds an undergraduate degree in marketing from Walsh University and postgraduate degree in marketing from Trinity College Dublin, which he’s used to help develop digital marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies, as well as mom-and-pop businesses.
Chwalik started Twillful at the age of 24 to offer marketing services to the RV industry and has continued to grow the business year after year. After signing nuCamp RV as his first client, Chwalik has continued to grow the company and bring on additional industry companies. He’s earned accolades for his marketing podcast, as well as made appearances at numerous conferences on social media and positioning strategy.
Ashley Brinkman, legislative analyst, RV Industry Association
Years with the company: 2
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “I would see Ashley in a campervan because they are just so popular right now,” says Monika Geraci, senior manager, marketing strategy and operations.
Achievements: An experienced outdoor recreation public policy expert with a background in environmental policy, Brinkman monitors legislatures in all 50 states for bills or regulations that are harmful to the RV industry. She also chairs the State Relations Committee for the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, where she is an expert on Offices of Outdoor Recreation and how they can be used to improve outdoor recreation opportunities across the country. She earned her undergraduate degree from Hanover College in biology and a Master of Science degree from Bard College. Brinkman lives in Northern Virginia and can be found volunteering her time with animals.
Melissa Betts, digital marketing specialist, RV Industry Association
Years with the company: 3
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “I could see Melissa rocking a van camper and heading cross country to visit friends,” says Geraci.
Achievements: Betts manages the association’s website, blog, social media channels, and newsletter, and under her leadership the, “quality and quantity of information shared with the RV industry has grown exponentially,” says Geraci. “Melissa has a natural talent for storytelling and has produced awesome videos to tell the story of the RV industry.”
A graduate of Liberty University, Betts came to the role from the National Rifle Association, already very familiar with the outdoor recreation industry and how to tell a compelling story. She lives in northern Virginia near her family and friends.
Jett Williams, owner, Nashville RV
Years with the company: 16
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Class B motorhome because, according to Williams, they “have all of the essentials needed for a great vacation and the maneuverability to drive around large congested cities.”
Achievements: Williams entered the RV business at 16 years old in Memphis, Tenn., by buying a widowed neighbor’s RV and renting it out. From there, Williams says he learned “the ups and downs of the rental industry” over the course of 15 years, and now owns more than 100 new rental vehicles and operates the business out of Nashville, Tenn.
Williams is also a nine-year member of the Success Rental 20 Group and a founding board member of the RVRD network.
Ryan Brimmer, area sales manager, Sika Corp.
Years with the company: 5
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Class B or B+ motorhome to travel the country.
Achievements: Brimmer began his turn in the RV world working in sales for Dutchmen RV, eventually moving to other OEMs such as Sunnybrook RV, Starcraft RV, and later switching to the supplier side in 2015. Brimmer’s accolades include the following:
- 2016, 2017, 2019 Top Ten Supplier Awards – Newmar
- 2018 Salesperson of the Year – Newmar
- 2018 Virgil Miller Award of Excellence – Top Supplier Award – Newmar
- 2018 GEM (Going the Extra Mile) Award – Sika Corp. 2020 Top Performer Award-1st Quarter – Sika Corp.
“Brimmer is a man of integrity and always has a ‘Git-r-Done’-type attitude,” says Kurt Meister, Newmar production manager. “He is honest, passionate, and isn’t afraid to jump in and get dirty to help with projects.”
Brimmer lives with his wife, Tricia, and two children in Michigan.
Candice Telfer, CFO, Motility Software Solutions
Years with the company: 2.5
“Candice is the first one in the office on a daily basis and one of the last to leave,” says Marissa Marten, HR generalist/payroll analyst. “She is one of the most hardworking people I have ever met. She has a great balance between being empathetic yet stern when it comes to doing what it takes to make the business successful while still ensuring that the employees are taken care of.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: Marten suggests the Holiday Rambler Vacationer because “from my work experience with (Telfer), she loves convenience and, for lack of better words, nice things. This RV has a full kitchen, TV, ambiance of the fireplace as well as a spacious, fancy bathroom and bedroom. She would feel like it’s her home away from home and it’s spacious enough that they could take their dogs on their road trip vacation too.”
Achievements: Telfer’s achievements include a promotion to CFO from vice president of finance within one year, as well as helping launch the company’s MotilityPay program and, in August of 2020, the company crossed a processing milestone with the program, Marten says.
Telfer also has served as chief financial officer for ITEC Entertainment Corp., vice president of finance for Power DMS, and controller for Empower Software Solutions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Rusty Eckstein, owner/general manager, Mount Comfort RV
Years with the company: 14
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: Eckstein says a THOR Magnitude Bunkhouse Class C because “it suits our family well, drives nicely and also happens to be a favorite of my wife’s.”
Achievements: Born and raised in Indianapolis, Eckstein started in the industry at 14, washing RVs for a dealership. Since then he’s run a parts store, served as an RV technician, and opened Mount Comfort in 2006 with his father. Eckstein has grown the business from 13 employees and 60 RVs to approximately 70 employees and 400 RVs. His accolades include the 2015 RV Business Gaylord Maxwell Innovation Award, and a member of the 2017 RVIA Inaugural “40 Under 40”.
Zach Eppers, national sales manager, Coachmen Class A Coachmen RV
Years with the company: 7.5
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: According to Rusty Eckstein, owner/general manager at Mount Comfort RV, Eppers “would choose the converted yellow school bus because it is small enough to park in cities and still be able to entertain/sleep six people.”
Achievements: After graduating from Indiana University in 2013, Eppers worked his way up through Coachmen, starting as a sales coordinator.
“In my 23 years in the RV industry, Zach Eppers is easily one of the top five RV manufacturer sales representatives I have worked with out of hundreds, including many who are older and more experienced,” says Eckstein.
Eppers was named the national sales manager for Coachmen Class A and diesel motorhomes before age 30. His product design and insights were, according to Eckstein, “innovative, creative and aesthetically pleasing.” As a manufacturer sales representative, he’s credited with always going above and beyond what other sales reps would do, with a knack for organization and insightfulness.
“While most reps will sit by the phone and wait to take an order, Zach will analyze stats and national trends in order to be proactive and make sure that his dealers have the best selling products and floorplans both in stock and on order going forward so as not to miss a turn,” adds Eckstein. “I truly believe his effort and attention to detail go well above and beyond what we are accustomed to in our industry.”
Geneva Long, founder and CEO, Bowlus Road Chief
Years with the company: 9
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: A Bowlus Endless Highways Performance Edition.
Achievements: While attending the Wharton School, Long drew up a business plan to conceptualize the return of the Bowlus Road Chief brand. A native of Canada, Long holds a Bachelor of Economics and a master’s in finance.
Helena Mitchell, new business development at Bowlus, says two key milestones for Long include being named as part of the 2020 Forbes “30 Under 30” list, and contends that she is the first female founder of an RV company.
In addition to her passion for the Bowlus brand, Long enjoys long-distance hiking.
Jessi Papke, marketing manager, Duo Form
Years with the company: 18 months
Best known around the office for: “Taking pictures of everyone’s food,” says company President Shelly Ditmer. “She’s a cookbook writer and food blogger, by night, so no matter if it’s Amish doughnuts, pizza, or an employee appreciation food truck, or carry-in, Jessi snaps pics.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “Jessi would probably choose a Class B motorhome; something that would be easy enough for her to drive herself – across the country – easy to park and easy just to live in and adventure with,” says Ditmer.
Achievements: Papke joined Duo Form with 15 years of creative services experience in a variety of industries, such as office supplies, natural hair care, pools and spas, restaurants and tourism and she’s worked with major brand partners like Disney, ABC Family and the NBA in her role at Sears Holdings, building sales, networks, brands and engagement.
Based in the Chicagoland area, she is credited with multiple projects at the company, including:
- Redesigning the website and developing an online store, with seven-figure success in six months.
- Helping to launch the Duo Aftermarket program and a complementary social media landscape.
- Helped develop successful and important PPE sales.
- Dramatically increased positive DUO PR/awareness.
- Designed partnership programs with RVs4MDs and Tunnels to Towers.
Nick Schmidt, general manager, Sunshine State RV
Years with the company: 13
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Class B motorhome for his family, because, according to Ron Preston, REV Group, “he enjoys its comfortable driving dynamics and small size.”
Achievements: Schmidt’s introduction to the RV world came while he owned and operated a car dealership. After getting a Class B in on a trade, he found that he enjoyed the process of selling the campervan. Since then, Schmidt founded Sunshine State RV in his hometown of Gainesville, Fla. With Sunshine State RV, Preston says Schmidt has built “one of the most influential Class B dealerships in the market” through manufacturer relationships, excellent customer service, and a robust online presence.
Schmidt lives in Gainesville with his wife Mary and four children and is heavily involved in the local community.
Kyle Herschberger, general sales manager, National Indoor RV Centers
Years with the company: 2
Best known around the office for: Marketing Director Darrin Caldwell says “Kyle is passionate about customer experience,” and that Herschberger treats “every customer as a customer for life – because they will be.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: An Entegra Reatta XL 39. “The size is great for touring National Parks,” says Caldwell, and the independent front suspension is “a must for extended travel.”
Achievements: With 13 years of experience in the industry that spans retail, wholesale and manufacturing, Herschberger has grown with NIRVC of Las Vegas to oversee sales growth from five to 10 deals per month to more than 40 retail sales per month in less than one year, according to Caldwell.
Herschberger honed his craft initially as an internet sales manager for The Outpost RV in Middlebury, Ind., and during the Great Recession was able to focus on truck camper and toy hauler specialty markets, creating specialized marketing campaigns to dominate the value segment in those markets.
Kyle and Tina Herschberger have been married for 10 years and have two children. After spending most of their lives in the Midwest, they now reside in Las Vegas.
Jason Strachel, sales manager, Hemlock Hill RV Sales
Years with the company: 8
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: “I feel like Jason would choose a Class B van,” says Chris Andro, GM/partner at Hemlock. “He loves the outdoors, to play golf and to travel. He is very organized so the small space would fit perfectly.”
Achievements: Stratchel’s trajectory in the RV industry includes graduating from salesperson to F&I manager to sales manager.
“Jason is passionate about learning and becoming the best he could be at anything he does,” says Andro. “Travel is a passion of his, although it’s on the back burner for now.”
In his spare time, Strachel also enjoys golfing, fishing, and soccer.
Liz White, national sales manager, ADCO Products by Covercraft
Years with the company: 2
Best known around the office for: Dedication and thoroughness, as well as her attention to detail. According to Erik Guldager, vice president of sales at Covercraft Industries, White is “always willing to pitch and help, even in areas that are not her responsibility.”
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would she choose and why: “This is a question better suited to ask her,” says Guldager.
Achievements: White began her career as an office manager with RVLI and advanced to national sales manager before joining Covercraft as the RV national sales manager.
“Liz quickly rose from office manager at RVLI to their national sales manager and became one of the most respected manufacturers reps in the industry before being lured away by Covercraft to run its RV division, ADCO Products,” says Guldager.
In addition to a solid reputation with colleagues, White’s contributions to Covercraft include achievements such as:
- Revamped the ADCO Premier Dealer Program, which according to Guldager, has increased participation levels from dealers two-fold.
- Helped drive fall sales to record levels this year.
- Took the lead in developing ADCO’s social media presence. Participated in RVWA “Drab to Fab” program.
- Restructured ADCO marketing, which included the development of new P.O.P. materials and plan-o-grams.
David J Carter III, president, Dave Carter & Associates
Years with the company: 5
Best known around the office for: The company refers to Carter as the “go-to Excel guru” and adds that he is typically the one asked to fix any issues with Excel or help create formulas or code to automate certain task.
If the nominee could travel in any RV, which would he choose and why: A Class B at this moment because Carter “(does) a lot of primitive camping and tends to go off the beaten path in which most other RV classes would never have the capability to handle.”
Achievements: After graduating with honors from the University of South Florida, David Carter started his career in the financial sector working for almost a decade at Fortune 50 financial institutions. Since joining the family organization, Carter has implemented company-wide technology and processes that allows Dave Carter & Associates to proactively address concerns before they become an issue for the customer. Another achievement he is proud of is helping build a new team within the organization that focuses on innovative solutions for the RV industry and developing products that have never been introduced to the sector. He spends his free time outdoors or on the water with friends and family.
– Compiled by Mike Clark