RV Technical Institute shows Rep. Rudy Yakym how they’re keeping the industry tuned up

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:29 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Rep. Rudy Yakym returned to the “RV Capitol of the World” to get a look at a different side of this industry.

He got a tour of the RV Technical Institute, where folks are earning certifications for RV maintenance and repair work.

RV technicians are in high demand, and what better place to become one than where 85% of RVs are made?

Rookies in the industry can start their careers ahead of the pack by completing these courses, while others with more experience say that this knowledge will drive their careers to new heights.

“It’s just something that is a need and I can make some decent money. I actually quit my job, and this is going to be my job,” said RVTI Trainee Dusten Bowden.

Bowden is calling Elkhart home for the time being while he finishes his certification at the RV Technical Institute.

While the course will keep him here for about three weeks, the skills he’ll take back to his true home in Tennessee will last his whole career.

“I enjoy working with my hands, learning and helping people and there’s not really any techs or RV repair facilities in the remote area unless you go into Nashville or somewhere,” he said.

That’s a pretty common problem for RV owners, according to the institute’s vice president of education and operations. She says it’s typical for some RV owners to wait between four to six weeks to get their vehicle looked at.

“We find that if we have trained technicians in the field, they can diagnose them and repair them much quicker, and we can reduce that four weeks to four days,” said Sharonne Lee, RVTI Vice President of Education and Operations.

These students are getting their first two levels of certification.

“First at level one, they’re learning how to inspect and prepare a unit for customer delivery. So, they are making sure all the systems on the RV work properly and then it’s ready to go to the consumer for delivery and use. At level two we teach them if there’s a problem, how to troubleshoot, diagnose, and then fix that problem,” Lee said.

Many of the level-one techs could very well get their start at one of the RV manufacturing plants in Elkhart to make sure there’s nothing wrong with those vehicles before they’re sold.

Bowden will be a level two tech, which gives him the skills to help people fix their RVs after they’ve had them for a while, whether that be in the Hoosier State, back home in Tennessee, or somewhere else down the road.

“Other than helping people in the community, that can be our retirement plan as well,” he said.

Not only is the RV Technical Institute program the only one in the country created and accredited by the RV Industry Association, but it’s also one of the most affordable.

The RV Industry subsidizes these courses, so it only costs around $600 for people like Bowden to take them. You know a skill is in high demand when your industry is paying for you to learn it. Other similar programs can cost several thousand dollars for the same material.

Yakym said these tech positions would help support the overall industry even if they’re not directly related to sales.

“In order to continue production, we have to have the consumer have a good experience with their RV being repaired across the country, so here in Elkhart County, people fly in from all over the country to learn how to do RV repair and that’s what they’re doing today,” he said.

Yakym also announced that he’ll be one of the Co-Chairs for the Congressional RV Caucus in this legislative session, something he says his predecessor Jackie Walorski was also heavily involved in.