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Tri-Star RV Service Pursues PDI

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“There’s a new thing every day,” Al Mullet said about the range of RV issues seen in his family-owned Tri-Star RV Service shop in Shipshewana, Ind.

Since Mullet was 17, he’s been repairing RVs and mobile homes. After 30 years of know-how, working for manufacturers like Crossroads RV, he decided to open his own service shop last year doing a series of awning add-ons and various upgrades for big names like Jayco.

But after some recent hires at his shop, Mullet has a keen eye set on a growing trend in the industry: Pre-delivery inspection.

Scroll down for images courtesy of Tri-Star RV Service.

Between Forest River, Thor, Winnebago, etc., there are thousands of units being built a day.

“I know (manufacturers) are trying to do quality work, but some things like that slip through the crack. If you’re making 25 a day, by the time you finally catch it, you might have a thousand units out with that problem,” said Mullet. “You might test one out of 10, but what about the other nine?”

Mullet recently began doing PDI for Shasta RV, a division of Forest River. Any upset customer, he said, looking to get out of their purchase would have to undergo Mullet’s inspection of the unit.

“I check all the systems, do a visual, cosmetic inspection, function,” he said, “everything.”

He has a checklist, sure, but Mullet goes further by running the RV in multiple situations as the customer likely may. “I’ve never had a phone call coming back from one of those units, so I guess that’s a good thing,” he said, modestly.

PDI differs from an on-spot inspection. There’s degree of eagle-eyed precision akin to a research paper undergoing a peer-to-peer review.

Grand Design, Jayco, and Camping World are some of the companies getting a head start on the PDI trend. Like Tri-Star, Middlebury, Ind.’s Ready RV does PDI, doubling its business since last year’s Open House. NeXus RV, which recently adopted a traditional distribution network, is dedicating a 27,000-square-foot facility to PDI.

The benefit of PDI truly comes on the dealers’ lot.

In his inspections, Mullet’s seen major issues that’ll cause problems down the road – issues that dealership managers may or may not see doing a four-hour walkthrough. One manufacturer, Mullet gave as an example, had a black waste tank that had been increased in size. However, the brackets holding the tank remained unchanged.

“As soon as the tank filled up, it dropped, and the toilet was sitting right on top of it,” he said. “All that waste is going into the underbelly.”

The most common issue he sees, though, is water infiltration from faulty slide-out seals.

With RVIA’s recent prediction of 491,200 units being shipped out for 2018, the probability of defects increase. From a business standpoint, Mullet said he thinks that PDIs should become a standard for manufacturers.

“The hardest part is going to be to convince them that there’s a value in it,” he said. “But I think, once it gets started, there will be such a huge opportunity.”

For more information on Tri-Star RV Service’s PDI, visit www.TriStarService.com.

David MacNeal

David MacNeal is the former digital content editor of RV PRO Magazine.

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