Elkhart, Indiana is the RV capital of America. 70% of all RVs made in the U.S. are made in Elkhart and 80% are made within 30 miles of Elkhart and by driving around the area you know it’s true. Everywhere you go there are RV manufactures or something to do with the RV industry. Driving down any road you will pass transporters moving the RVs out of the area to dealers across the country. There are signs everywhere looking for transporters. We caught a news story one night about how the RV industry is really hurting for transporters. The manufactures have huge inventories sitting in their businesses just waiting to be transported to dealers around the country. If anyone is looking for a job and has a truck here is where you could find work.
We stopped at Elkhart to tour where our Lifestyle was made but also to talk to the warranty manager, Rod, regarding a gap we have in the wall in our kitchen, made by a miss cut at the manufacture. La Mesa, the dealer where we purchased our coach told us it would be better if we went to Lifestyle to get it fixed and we did believe that was the best option. After Joe had a few telephone conversations with Rod and sent him pictures of the gap, Rod set-up an appointment to meet with him and the production manager at the plant. We had also set-up a tour of the Lifestyle plant for the same day. We were looking forward to both.
Our disappointment came early that day when we arrived for our 10:00 meeting with Rod and he had forgotten we were coming. He came out to check the gap without the production manager and pretty much told us they did not have a service bay at the plant and it would be better if we took it to a dealer to get it fixed. He assured us a dealer could fix it and he would ship out all the parts needed including a nine foot wall. Joe and I are so trusting and think people are looking out for what’s best for us. It took us a couple of days of going over what we were going to have to do at a dealer when we realized that this was not the best way to get our coach fixed. Talk about letting someone walk all over us! We’ve decided that we would take it to a dealer and see what our options were and if it didn’t look good for us – we will be back Rod!
Our afternoon tour of Lifestyle was pretty interesting. The companies do the tours after the workers leave for the day or during lunch break so we didn’t actually get to see anyone working but the two men that took us through the plant were good at how they explained things at each station. It was interesting to see how they put a 5th wheel together and we felt the money we spent on our coach was well worth it when we saw what went into ours compared to others they were making.
While in Elkhart we also had an appointment with Mike, the owner of Pro Custom Painting, to have an estimate done on the tree damage we had on the back end of our Lifestyle. Pro Custom does painting for many different RV manufactures in Elkhart and had done the original full body paint on our Lifestyle. Mike gave us the estimate and the next day had our coach in his new shop for the work. We spent the next two days in a hotel, which I hated (Joe can tell you how much I whined). Give me my own bed and everything else that I know is clean. Lily did too much sniffing in the room to make me feel comfortable. But thanks to the wonderful work Pro Custom did we had our home back in two days. When we went to pick up our coach, Mike asked if we would like a tour of his shop that he had just moved into after expanding his business. If there was a face to put with the description for someone who loves what he does it would be Mike. His tour was so interesting but watching him talk you felt any work that was done in that shop by his 60 employees was going to be the best work you could ask for. Lifestyle told us that it takes three days for them to build a 5th wheel like ours but Mike told us that once the 5th wheel comes from the manufacture it takes seven days at the paint shop for it to come out ready to go to a dealer. This was a very interesting fact and it does make you wonder. Hopefully we never need Mike’s shop again but if something would happen such as a tree getting in our way we would make the trip back to Pro Custom. First class! Thanks Pro Custom Painting and Mike!
We did spend one day exploring Elkhart that included a walk on the River Walk which was along the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. Pretty little walk but was a cold and wet day. We also made a trip to Rise N Roll Bakery & Deli in Middlebury. We stopped here two years ago and enjoyed the fantastic Amish bakery goods and it hadn’t changed. We bought way to much bakery goods but also enjoyed our drive through the Amish countryside with their black buggies and horses.
With our coach back to its new appearance but still the gap in the kitchen wall off we are heading west back slowly to Minnesota with a few stops in between. We have reservations at Dakotah Meadows starting May 8th and we have been watching the weather. We are waiting for spring in Minnesota.
Stay safe! Hugs to all!