March '20

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72 • RV PRO • March 2020 rv-pro.com industry and talking about the dif- ferent opportunities the market offered. Nor did it hurt that there are more than a few RV enthusi- asts among the approximately 6,000 people employed at Appliance Park. From there, much of the initial work involved MWSS employees scheduling time for GE product teams to visit the different OEMs to see for themselves what the oppor- tunities are. "They know their business really well," Wechter says. "They came back to us and said they wanted to go after rooftop air conditioning. We also introduced them to the idea of doing 12-volt refrigerators, and those ended up being the first two product lines to go forward." Innovation in the RV Space Even though GE Appliances has a strong presence in the consumer market with both air conditioners and refrigerators, going from Wech- ter's initial meeting with the com- pany to production quantities has taken the better part of two years. But, as both Wechter and Skaggs note, these products are designed specifically for RV buyers. "It would be one thing if they were just making a refrigerator that was sized for the industry," Wechter says. "It's another when they're actu- ally developing RV appliances." Certainly, some of what GE innovates for its residential customers carries over into what Skaggs refers to as the "RV space." Those things include energy efficiency, style, and a plethora of finish options from matte to glossy in a variety of hues. However, in getting into the RV market, Skaggs says GE also tried to learn from would-be buyers what they want, and from the OEMs, what they need. From consumers, "It might be larger capacity, or quieter oper- ation, or products that can cook faster – things that make the chore of using appliances not quite so much a chore," he says. One strong possibility: Wi-Fi connections to help people know how their appliances are operating, adjust the power, turn them on or off, or shorten cycle times. For the OEMs, Skaggs says a big effort was to learn what they needed to improve the manufacturing process. GE and Midwest Sales and Service announced their partnership during the 2019 RVX show in Salt Lake City. The companies were represented by (from left) Jim Rich, Wechter and Brigitte Mader.

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