Earlier this week, the RV Industry Association concluded a months-long search for an executive director for its RV Technical Institute, an educational hub meant to reduce repair event cycle time (RECT). The issue has beleaguered the industry in maintaining its steady growth. Buying an RV is one thing. Making consumers return? An even greater feat.
So, when Curt Hemmeler was selected to spearhead the RVTI – which will be headquartered in Elkhart, Ind. – he responded with the utmost enthusiasm. Currently, RVTI is an educational playground.
“It’s predominantly a blank slate,” Hemmeler told RV PRO in an interview. “Currently there’s not a lot of standards like there are in the auto and diesel world” – which uses AFC certification. “I would like to launch certifications within the RV industry very similar to (AFC) to give the program recognition and respect.”
Hemmeler comes with 20 years of experience from WyoTech, a division of Zenith Education. More about his background can be found here. During that time, he brought on 100 recruiters to go out across the country. And with manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and organizations in support of the RVTI initiative, Hemmeler sees the marriage of business and education being the solution to the skills gap.
With time and training, RECT may become a thing of the past.
“One of the key performance indicators that we are wrapping our arms around is the whole idea of RECT,” he said. “Basically allowing a unit to come in and be out the door fast. I will use that to be my temperature gauge for finding and producing technician that can continue to reduce RECT so that customer satisfaction is at a higher premium.”
Rendering of the RV Technical Insitute coming to Elkhart, Ind., in 2019.
Hemmeler officially takes the job Jan. 14, moving from Columbus, Ohio, to Elkhart, and he’ll be attending RVX in Utah come March. But his first 30 to 60 days will be focused on combing through RVIA’s past curricula and educational programs like the defunct National RV Technical Institute, which initially comprised 12 community colleges.
“I’m definitely a person that does not believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” said Hemmeler. “There’s a rich history (with RVIA’s past programs). A lot of successes. As the new kid on the block, I’m definitely going to be studying hard and reviewing anything and everything we’ve done.”
Some of his initiatives will include RVs that go out to locations across the U.S. with trainers and educational material, using various online platforms (like Blackboard) to deliver quality experience for students, and encouraging onsite visits to RVTI and its industry epicenter where many industry experts reside.
“I just want to commend the RV industry in general for being ahead of the curve – wanting to train and develop their technicians and not waiting for education to catch up with them,” he said.
It comes at a time where people need to be trained, he mentioned, to service the millions of RVs that are currently out there and the ones that continue to be sold.