May '21

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20 • RV PRO • May 2021 rv-pro.com WOMEN IN BUSINESS Lorem ipsum WOMEN IN BUSINESS Kim Gregory Vice President of Sales Coach-Net T hirteen years ago, in a different industry, Kim Gregory did some work for the then-vice president of sales at Coach-Net and his family. "He must have been impressed with my customer service," she says, "because he asked me to lunch and told me about a 'great opportunity.'" She became his administrative assistant, and today she has his job. The trajectory was not without stress. "Thirteen years ago, it was amazingly intimidating," she says. Her first industry event was RVDA of Canada's Canadian night preceding the National RV Trade Show, which she remembers as "just a sea of black jackets, maybe five females. It took my breath away." Undeterred, the competitive athlete in her "saw it as a challenge to earn respect in this space. I would just have to work harder," she says. To say the RV industry is and has always been male- dominated is to state the obvious. But Gregory says she was sure that "learning to communicate with males – they speak a different language than females" – would be an essential key to her success. She credits several mentors with helping her succeed, including David Ostlund, president and CEO of Coach-Net, who "truly helped me grow into the VP role and become a better leader." Others who helped her include Protective Asset Protection's Bill Koster and GE's Bob Parish. "Bill Koster was one of the first people to really help educate me on the industry itself and the folks in it. Who's important? Who I need to meet? He was always guiding me, helping me," she says. "Bob Parish was very kind. He would see me in a room full of men and make sure I was included in conversations. He helped me understand how to lead." Gregory says becoming successful in such a male- dominated industry has been very rewarding, adding that she has no regrets about leaving her previous industry. "At the end of the day, we get to sell a product that keeps people outside, together, making memories, having adventures, learning new things, enjoying the world," she says. "Who wouldn't want to sell that?" Another thing she enjoys about the RV industry is RVIA Committee Week, where industry representatives travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal lawmakers. The primary focus is on urging improvements to the infrastructure of federal parks and campgrounds. She says she'd "like to see more females get involved" in that effort. In addition to her day job, Gregory devotes a significant amount of time volunteering with the RV Women's Alliance, an industry organization dedicated to recruiting women into the industry and helping them succeed. She says she "feels honored to have been at the table at the very beginning" of the organization and notes that Coach-Net was one of the organizations' first corporate sponsors, saying, "The company and I truly believe in the message and purpose." Gregory credits RVWA's founders with transforming an idea into an industry organization that is "working to increase membership and propel and lift up women within the industry." To that end, she regularly recommends that women learn everything they can, get involved in industry organizations such as RVWA, and network, network, network.

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