February '19

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rv-pro.com February 2019 • RV PRO • 35 shortage, improve a dealership's ability to reduce repair event cycle time (RECT) and meet the needs of a new generation of demanding customers. The interview is presented here in a question-and-answer format, with their answers edited for space and clarity. RV PRO: How did we get in this position where there is such a shortage of technicians and what can the industry do to improve the situation? Hugelmeyer: It's a systemic issue across the country. We're not alone in the RV industry. If you speak to any major manufacturing sector or vocational school, they're really struggling in this area to find people who want that type of career. Everybody has been told they need to go to college. We're also seeing a massive amount of the shop and vocation education leave the high schools due to budget cuts. You now have this gap in skilled labor and you have these technical industry sectors all fighting for a shrinking pool. We haven't been in that game. We haven't been promoting RV as a job and a career. Really, the only marketing has been from the dealers in their local areas. We lose techs out on the back end because we compete against other industry segments, but we've been basically just holding our own. If you have record sales, you are going to have record service events. We're not ready for them. Ingrassia: It's been more driven by the local dealers adver- tising for handymen, jack-of-all-trades, 'like to work with your hands', that sort of thing. They're really growing their own at this point. There is a number that the national Bureau of Labor Sta- tistics tracks on techs and it follows the trend in shipments. For instance, in the mid-2000s, when we were shipping about 300,000 units, we had about 10,000 techs. It dropped down and we got down to about 8,000. Now, it's been ticking back up and there are 15,000 techs, but we're doing half-a-million units. The percentages aren't the same. There's where you get the acute pain that the dealers are feeling with the lack of techs because we have so many more sales. It's out of whack. Hugelmeyer: The Technical Institute has several key com- ponents. One is to really drive improvement in Repair Event Cycle Times. That's something RVDA and RVIA are working very closely together on. The big change with the Technical Institute that's a real game-changer is this is the first time we are getting into the recruitment and placement game and competing against other industry sectors to go after that finite pool of talent and bring them toward the RV industry. RVDA President Phil Ingrassia (left) and RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer (below) have taken the industry's shortage of trained technicians as one of their biggest priorities over the past year. The result is the RV Technical Institute, which is expected to be open by fall.

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