A few days ago I replied to a post on the RV Dreams Forum and received a message from Steve Conrad. I had noticed his blog because of the name – Puppy Paths. I’m always on the lookout for information regarding traveling with pets so I can send links over to Karen. Steve’s message included his phone number, that he had looked over our blog and was willing to answer any questions I had about full timing in an RV. I went to work tired the next day after staying up late talking with Steve on the phone. What a helpful guy. Thank you.
I wanted to pass along a few of Steve’s comments about purchasing an RV in case it helps anyone out. Steve had a 2010 DRV Mobile Suites and traded up to a DRV Elite Suites. He now travels in a Tiffin motorhome.
Here was his message:
“Evin and I have owned three new RVs since 2010. In 2008 we were where Karen and you are now. Before buying we drove from North Carolina to Indiana and spent a week touring six RV manufacturers factories and watched them being built on the line. Despite this, we made some very poor buying decisions. What happens after you buy, in my humble opinion, is much more important than the floor plan or brand you select. The RV Industry almost went under in 2008 and many lost key employees that never returned. Many, many RVers that buy “new” spend the first couple of years fixing installation issues and manufacturing defects. In our 4 years of full-timing we have spent well over seven months at the factories or in repair status at dealerships or waiting on mobile repair services to get parts. Some factories no longer take appointments or there are long waits. Most dealerships we have gone to did not have parts in stock and were looking for experienced and factory trained service techs. ”
We had a good chat on the phone. I jotted down a few notes:
- Three things should be considered regarding service after the sale when selecting a manufacturer; Can you make appointments at the factory to have things repaired? Does the dealer have trained staff who can fix problems? Will the dealer stand behind the products they sell?
- In 2008 many RV companies went out of business. Lippert bought up the patents and that’s one reason so many of the components are built by them today. So whatever manufacturer we select they will all have some Lippert parts that break down regardless of the RV they are installed in.
- If he ever had to shop for a DRV fifth wheel again, he would shop with Rolling Retreats(Slade Tennery) in Oklahoma, Southern RV (Brad Walden) in Georgia or Tiara Sales of Indiana. What I learned from this comment, especially after reading about his terrible experiences with DRV, was that Steve still had a list of dealerships he would do business with even though they sell a rig he does not support. This is because he has respect for individuals at each dealership.
- He suggested once we decide on a manufacturer that we call the President of the company. If he/she will not talk to us on the phone then don’t buy from them. Get the President to agree to stand behind his product and to personally put it in writing!
- So far he thinks Tiffin provided the best after purchase service and he has had issues with his new rig. Steve heard Tiffin may start building a fifth wheel?
- Steve also referred me to three other blogs I might want to read up on. Two posters have left the lifestyle. I’m looking forward to reading about their journey to include what they did afterwards.
So now I have something to add to the list regarding selection of our final home:
- Fifth wheel or motorhome
- Establish a budget (We are in the $60-$70K range right now)
- Select a floor plan (which may dictate length).
- Narrow the manufacturers down to those that build the floor plan, or close to it, and who use reasonable construction methods.
- AND – Know that for some reason they all build units with problems. Try and figure out who gives the best service after purchase and stands behind their product! Perhaps I should move this to third on the list!
I want to return a favor to Steve. He is working with the folks at Angle Fire RV Resort in New Mexico. Actually, if I heard him correctly, Steve is volunteering his time, to help make the place a RV destination spot. Check it out! I added it to our spreadsheet of future travel plans.