What do Roadtrek owners do for warranty work and parts now that the company has shut down?
The biggest scandal to envelop the RV Industry continues to dominate the RV news this week, namely the sudden shut down if the Roadtrek and Hymer factories in Ontario and the immediate termination of more than 850 workers.
Nobody saw that coming, especially the revelation that the company is insolvent, $300 million hopelessly in debt because of years of management exaggerating or intentionally overstating profitability. The news has left tens of thousands of Roadtrek owners wondering what will happen to their warranties, what do they do about parts and repairs? We will offer some expert advice from our friend Nick Schmidt of Sunshine State RVs, who is stepping up to help with those issues.
Plus, news, tips and another fun off the beaten path report from the Burketts.
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
This episode of the podcast finds Jennifer and me in Florida for a couple of weeks before making our way west along the Gulf states.
If you happen to be anywhere near the Florida panhandle this coming weekend, Mike and I (and Bo) will be having a Meet and Greet Sunday, Feb. 24, from 2-5 PM on the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the second parking area west of the Navarre Beach bridge. That is inside the National Seashore boundary and is known as Beach Access #2
Bring some beach chairs and we can all hang out for the afternoon, tour each other’s' rigs and maybe find a local restaurant to eat dinner. We'd love to see you and show you the Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RTB we are test driving for the next few weeks. We’ll try and do more if these in our travels as we visit other parts of North America.
RV NEWS OF THE WEEK
Roadtrek's parent company terminates 900 employees, shuts doors
Erwin Hymer North America, the maker of Roadtrek, terminated 900 employees, closed its doors, and filed for receivership Friday. The devastating move came after financial irregularities were discovered in January.
America now has 61 National Parks
The spending bill that President Donald Trump signed last Friday included a provision to change the name of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Indiana Dunes National Park immediately. That brings the number of national parks from 60 to 61. The area is comprised of about 15,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, savannas, bogs, wetlands and the sand dunes. Its beaches run along about 15 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Oregon state parks break camping records in 2018; higher fees coming
Oregon state parks set a new record in the number of campers using its state parks in 2018. As a result, the state is piloting a program in 2019 that will raise camping fees at its most popular parks, lowering them at the less popular ones.
Joshua Tree National Park particularly hard it after tallying damage, lost revenue from federal shutdown
It may be several weeks since the federal government opened after the longest shut down in its history, yet the damage to its national parks is still being felt. California's Joshua Tree National Park was particularly hard hit, with a report out showing $1 million lost in visitor fees, some 120 illegal campsites, and 24 miles of vehicle tracks left where driving is prohibited, among other things.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
We hear more about why owners love their particular RV… another listener shares a newbe mistake… Mike is asked about ham radio in an RV…and a listener suggests a story from the point of view of someone who delivers RVs to dealerships for the manufacturers.
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RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
In the wake of the devastating news about the Roadtrek closure, we interview Nick Schmidt of Sunshine State RVs in Florida about where this leaves owners of the Roadtrek brand, where they can get parts and warranty service and whether he thinks the company will ever reopen.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
Mike Wendland And Nick Schmidt joins us right now on the phone from Gainesville Florida. Hey Nick, how you doing?
Nick Schmidt: Great, Mike. How are you man?
Mike Wendland I am great. Well, this Roadtrek closure certainly has stunned the RV industry. I know, at least in the seven years now we've been doing this, I have seen no story rock the industry like this one. Completely shut down, 300 million dollars insolvent, and the reason we're talking to you, many thousands of Roadtrek customers now wondering what do they do? What do they do about warranties? What do they do about service? And wanted to check in with you to first get some advice for everybody, and then tell us a little bit about what Sunshine State RVs is doing.
Nick Schmidt: Yeah, Mike. It's really sad what's going on or what has happened up there in Canada in Kitchener, and you know, first off for the employees of the company, I mean I've made long relationship with dozens and dozens of them, and it's really sad for them. They really work hard and they put their heart and soul in what they do. And then the reps that travel to all the shows and get to know everybody, I mean they're on the ground working with us, helping us through our issues, helping every customer that listens to your podcast. I'm sure you've made friends with a lot of them as well. It is really sad for them what's going on. But, then you take it past that, the thousands of Roadtreks that are on the road right now with all these warranties. I mean, you know that was a lot of reason why people bought Roadtreks was because of the six-year warranty because of the technology, and they felt safe with it.
So it is tough, and I've heard a lot of the frustration from our customers. You know, we're one of the top 10 Roadtrek dealers in the country. And, think of all the people that bought from us and now looking to me for advice or looking to us say, “Hey. What do we do now? Where are we at?” So, you know, the short and long answer of it is, yes, there is no Roadtrek warranty. But, we have really gone to some crazy lengths to find every part that we possibly can to try to support every current Roadtrek that is on the road right now, with the lithium batteries, with the underpin generators, with the solar panels, with the volt start components, the inverters, all OEM parts we found. So that way we can really help and support the Roadtrek community through this. Because it's tough, you know, you have a six-month-old, 150 thousand dollar RV that you can't use. And now what do you do?
Mike Wendland And that's a great question. You bring up some of the newer technology that Roadtrek brought on, all that solar, all that electronic stuff. But there are other parts as well, you know, from hinges for the cabinets, for other people who have the older versions on the market. I've received tons of emails saying, “Where do we get parts?” How are people set for those? Those relatively easy to find? They contact you or other dealers? Let's talk about the older ones for just a second, then we'll get to the new ones.
Nick Schmidt: Yeah, of course. So I had somebody ask yesterday, “I have a 2014 190 and I need a fiberglass step.” And only Roadtrek would have that, you know? So, what we have done for those hinges, for those latches, for those doors, we have found companies that make the closest thing to it. So, boating companies are big, you know doing Google searches for that, so we have found them. I know there's other RV dealerships that have sourced out a lot of that stuff. But you know, yeah, that is something that we're happy to help with, just shipping a part or two here to customers. But also we can send links to where they are. But a lot of it is, if you look for boating hinges and boating latches, that's how you can find a lot of those older, smaller parts for Roadtreks.
Mike Wendland And I think the lesson here is that there are parts available. Don't panic. You can find alternate sources for all of this stuff. It just is … I think that in the closing … The sudden unexpected closing last week of Roadtrek, I think that that caused a lot of people just to say, “Oh, my gosh, what do we do?” But when you stop and think back, there are sources.
Now talk about some of the newer things that the company had been known for, which was that underhood generator, all of that solar, the lithium batteries. Those are the things that I think that six-year warranty gave so many people peace of mind in buying, and as you point out, with no company now left, there is no warranty. So, what is their solution? I guess you mentioned you were able to get a hold of some of those batteries? What can you share of that there?
Nick Schmidt: Yes. Yeah. So being a dealer, they have agreed to sell us batteries, so we have two pallets of them coming in this week, and I'm sure we're gonna need far more than that, just because we've been getting calls all over the country of, “Hey, my RV's been in the shop for a month, waiting on parts from Roadtrek and now there's no parts coming, so I gotta pick my RV up and figure out what to do with it.” So, we're anticipating there being a big need for these, so we're really gearing up to make sure that we're ready for people all over the country bringing their Roadtreks to us, so that way we can get them back on the road, get them back enjoying camping and all that.
So, the volt start components, there's quite a few components for that. The underhood generators, the lithium, and the solar. Those are the main, and the inverters. Those are the main pieces, and we have every single one here in stock, so that way we can try to help as much as we can. And I know it doesn't bring your warranty back, but at least you can use our RV now, you know, because a lot of people are just suffering now.
Mike Wendland Now, am I right, and I know you guys are a dealer and you have new Roadtreks on the lot. And I have heard from other dealers around the country as well, that this is a great time to buy one because the prices are down. But talk about the value of buying one of those. Is the value gonna drop for a used one or for a new one? I mean, is this a good time to buy? Can people buy with confidence? What do they do about a warranty if they buy now?
Nick Schmidt: So yeah. So all of your chassis warranties are still in tact, Mike. I mean the Dodge, the Mercedes, the Chevy, those chassis warranties are still in tact. And then you even go as far as like the fridge. That's under warranty from Norcold. You got your air condition. That's under warranty from Dometic. So even if Roadtrek isn't in the picture, you can still go to a Dometic place and get that stuff fixed or replaced. So, yes, it's a great time to buy. There is some risk in buying right now, not knowing what's gonna happen with Roadtrek.
But, the solution that we've came up with is that we are giving the most comprehensive warranty, a six-year warranty, to include with every Roadtrek that we sell. So, and we sold three yesterday. We sold them at a crazy discounts, discounts that we haven't ever sold Roadtreks at before 'cause they're such high demand. But, we were able to sell them and people were able to get good deals, able to get a six-year warranty. And, they were able to still get one, with some warranty. Now, the only thing with these warranties is … Well, I shouldn't say the only … The good thing about these warranties is that they can be used at any RV dealership in the country. So people are really liking a little more flexibility with the warranty. It is an extended warranty, and some people love them, some people hate them.
So, there is going to be a little bit of working through that. But, there is a little more risk, but I think that if somebody's looking for a deal and they want a new Roadtrek now is the best time ever in the history of Roadtrek to get one because of the deals that are out there.
Mike Wendland Now, would you recommend for somebody who already owns one and thought they had that warranty, only now to discover with no Roadtrek there is no warranty, do you recommend that they hang on and wait to see what happens, if the company's picked up, if a new buyer honors those warranties. Or do they go buy an extended warranty now to protect themselves? What's your best advice for people in that situation?
Nick Schmidt: I've been recommending, 'cause a lot of my customers have been calling me, I've been recommend they wait. Unless they have something that they fear's been broken or … I've recommended that they wait and see what happens in the next month or two. Because, you can go buy a $5000 warranty today, and then next month Roadtrek's bought up and the person's gonna honor all the warranties, and so now you have … You just wasted all this money on a warranty. So I would say wait, see what happens, and kinda let the dust settle, let everything kinda calm down, and then you can make a decision once you know. You know, they say, “Hey, we're done. We're not opening. We're selling it for parts,” that's when you go buy a warranty. But, they may open up in a month now, which I'm confident they're gonna open.
I've been talking to so many different people that are in the Roadtrek community, even like these parts suppliers, they're telling me that people have been contacting them. You know, I mean there are interested buyers out there right now for Roadtrek. So I am so confident that they are gonna get bought up. I am confident that … I don't know what's happened with the warranties, but I'm confident that Roadtrek is gonna get bought up and be a thriving company again. It's just too good of a product, Mike. I mean, you know, you've spent years in a Roadtrek, and it's too good of a product for it to go by the wayside.
Mike Wendland It has such a great brand name recognition that I can't imagine that somebody's not gonna pick it up because they're gonna buy it at basically a fire sale rate. You know, the company is in receivership. Kind of the equivalent of bankruptcy up there. And, somebody's gonna come in and pick up what assets are remaining and I don't think they'll have to assume any of the liabilities, and they'll try to make it good.
I noticed, just a lot of comments that people seem to be settling down and logic just tells you that the company is not going to go away. It is gonna come back and hopefully stronger than ever. They've got just too good of a brand name.
Well, Nick, I appreciate what you guys have been doing. And, of course, as a sponsor here of the podcast, we would've had you on, even if you weren't. So, this is an extra free one for you, 'cause you've been really positive about that. And I know a couple of other dealers around the country are doing similar things, offering, buying up or giving a warranty with new purchases, so people need, that are owners or thinking, don't panic, and maybe just like when the stock market dips, you know it's gonna come back. It's the same with Roadtrek. Take it, buy in the low. And it's a great-
Nick Schmidt: Mike, I will tell you, you know now's a great time even from like kinda what we do here, Sunshine State RVs, is we will ship free anyone in the country. I know me and you talk about that all the time. You know, someone … I sold one yesterday to a guy in Arizona. We're shipping it right to his front door. So, we're willing to ship them anywhere free. We also guarantee service appointments within five days of someone calling. So, just those things that we really try to go above and beyond for our community, for our … For the people that put their trust in us, we definitely don't want to let them down, and I think that even now through this hard time, having that confidence that hey, you're buying from a dealer who's gonna stand there with you even through a hard time or through all this stuff. We really try to take care of your listeners, Mike. You know, we really appreciate everything that you do, and we like you a lot man.
Mike Wendland Well, hey. It's mutual. Besides being a sponsor, you are also a friend, and that's even more important than the sponsorship thing, right?
Nick Schmidt: It is.
Mike Wendland Hey, Nick. Thanks much. Sunny Gainesville Florida is where Nick is, and it's SunshineStateRVs.com, in fact, how about this? You're the interview of the week this week, Nick, and you are also the sponsor of the interview of the week, so I get to do a sponsor read right now about Sunshine State RVs.
Nick Schmidt: That sounds great, I love it. I love it. Thank you Mike. Tell [inaudible 00:12:18] I said hi.
Mike Wendland I will. Take care. Nick Schmidt, Sunshine State RVs.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom & Patti Burkett
We stopped in Gonzales, Texas to see the jail. Unique among frontier lockups, it had an indoor gallows in the middle of the cellblock so all prisoners could watch the hangings. Part of the first floor is taken up with the local visitors’ bureau, and the woman in charge invited us to look around the museum and cell area. Then she offered us a tour of the town. “We have two tour guides,” she enthused. “One wrote this book about Gonzales ghost stories, and the other wrote this book about historic houses in town.” We almost said no, because we’d seen what we came to see. What a mistake that would have been, in spite of the fact it turned an hour's stop into half a day.
After a phone call and a few minutes, Paul Frenzel showed up. “Before we go I need to give you some background,” he said, gesturing us into the conference room. He then treated us to a history of the town, relishing (as Texans do) a good story well told. I'll give you a much shortened version of it. In 1830, what’s now Texas was part of Mexico, and was subject to frequent and violent raids by Native American tribal warriors. When its own citizens could not be persuaded to settle the area, the Mexican government offered large land grants to anyone willing to homestead. Among those accepting the challenge was Green Dewitt, who gathered the families that would become the population of Gonzales and its surrounding farms and ranches.
The settlement proceeded, the raids continued, and Dewitt successfully lobbied the regional governor in San Antonio for a cannon to help protect the colony. By 1835, relations between the colonists and the Mexican government had soured, and Dewitt was ordered to return the cannon. He refused, and a hundred soldiers were sent to reclaim it. Eighteen men from Gonzales, with the help of others from the surrounding area, met the soldiers under a flag with a likeness of the cannon and the words ‘come and take it.’ The soldiers were repulsed, and the Battle of Gonzales is considered the first in the war for Texas independence.
Within the year, most of the men in Gonzales had gone to the Alamo for the battle there against Santa Anna’s much-reinforced army. Five men stayed behind to protect the women and children of the town. When word came of the defeat at the Alamo, General Sam Houston was in Gonzales mustering support to continue the fight against Mexico. Houston knew Santa Anna would be headed for Gonzales to avenge the slight over the cannon, so he sent the five remaining men and all the women and children east on foot and burned the town to deprive the Mexican army of its capture and resources. The escapees, some injured, some pregnant, some barely able to walk, trekked more than three hundred miles, crossed five rivers in spring flood, and eventually reached safety at the border of the United States.
As we drove out to see where the cannon was buried to hide it from the Mexican army, we passed a historical marker. The marker says, in part, “David Burkett, progressive patriot and citizen soldier in the Texas war for independence, served as a guard for women and children fleeing Gonzales before the approach of Santa Anna and is buried on his land grant south of this site.” Our host paused in the road and turned to look at me. “Yes,” I said, “my great-great-great grandfather.”
We knew the story of David’s life in Missouri, his marriage to Mary Ann Zumwalt, and his friendship with Daniel Boone. We have a piece of a quilt Mary Ann made while they lived at her father’s cabin, now Fort Zumwalt state park, north of Saint Louis. And even though we knew the family had moved to Texas in later years, we had no idea they were both involved in this harrowing chapter of Texas history. That quilt must have been with her when she fled Gonzales, pregnant with Tom’s great-great grandfather, Isaiah, because it survives today.
We’ve seen Mary Ann’s grave in a cemetery in Hochheim, Texas. David’s will be less easy to locate, but this year we’re going hunting to see if we can find that one too. We’ve been in hundreds of towns and heard hundreds of tales, but none more surprising than this one. What else is in store? No idea, but we’ll keep riding the small roads and stopping in the small towns, gathering stories and hoping to run across a few of you, out here off the beaten path.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Harvest Hosts – https://rvlifestyle.com/harvesthosts a network of farms, wineries, museums and attractions where RVers can stay overnight, for free.
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