From Fixing Meals To Fixing RVs – One Challenge At A Time

Oct 20, 2021

While much of Scott Tupciauskus’s life is in turmoil right now – a new baby, the sale of his home, the end of 28 years in the food service industry – at least his plans for a new career are moving forward steadily. Thanks to the RV Technical Institute.

Before COVID hit, Scott, 51, had most recently been the district manager for a large catering and contract dining company in Cleveland. This had followed several years of working as a corporate chef and earning one degree in hospitality and hotel management and another in culinary arts, the latter from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Scott’s love of cooking began as a child, helping his mother in the kitchen. But as a teenager, he developed another passion: turning old junkers into souped-up muscle cars. He loved the challenge of creating “works of art” and over the ensuing decade, he rebuilt several cars.

Money was tight during his college years (Scott worked 10-hour days as a banquet chef to pay for his CIA classes), so he figured he could save money by doing his own home repairs. Another challenge. Over the next few years, he drew on the basic plumbing, light electrical, and carpentry skills he’d learned from his father, and taught himself how to fix hot water systems, furnaces, air conditioning, and radiant heat systems.

This knowledge, combined with his automotive repair skills, came in handy when he and his wife purchased their first RV. Both had grown up RVing; Scott in a unit parked at a campground on Lake Erie where his family vacationed. Now, he looked forward to travelling in an RV with his own homeschooled children, visiting historical sites rather than just reading about them.

While learning to repair RVs to ensure the safety and comfort of its passengers would seem daunting to most people, Scott approached it with his usual determination and enthusiasm. “I find challenges fun; the more challenging, the more fun,” says Scott. “So, I dive headfirst into things and try to learn as much as I can.”

Soon, Scott was helping others with repairs on both their homes and their RVs. But without training, he found himself having to reverse engineer systems and work his way backwards to find the solution to a problem.

Then COVID hit and his successful career in the food industry came to an abrupt end. His primary contract providing meals to students at Case Western University was cancelled when classes went online and the campus closed. That’s when he decided to turn his new passion for RV repair work into a vocation. He and his wife, then expecting their fourth child, packed up the family and headed in their 35-foot Keystone Sprinter to Elkhart. There, Scott enrolled in RVTI’s four-week in-person training program to earn his Level 1 & 2 certifications.

“Just because I did my own repairs, I knew that they may not be the right way,” said Scott, who believes it’s never wrong to get more education. “Now I know that I actually had been doing many things correctly, but this training has given me a better understanding of how everything works and where to start to fix a problem. The instructors bring their extensive experience to the classroom, and they tie things together.”

While RVTI also offers a hybrid 3-week online and one week in-person program, Scott appreciated the hands-on training, citing the opportunity for spontaneous interactions. He also enjoyed learning about the RV business from classmates, the majority of whom were mobile techs.

“The RV community and family – from the dealerships to the service techs to the manufacturers – they seem to be very tight-knit,” he says. “A lot of the connections I made over those four weeks, I know that if I have a question, I can reach out to them and they’ll either give me the answer or the name of someone else who knows it. It was good to know that I’ll have that kind of support when I left there.”

Scott is now working on his Level 3 certification, which he hopes will help him to find a job at a dealership in central Florida, where he and his family are moving.

“I think the certification shows prospective employers that you’re serious about what you do, and that you’re eager and willing to keep learning,” he says. “They will be assured that you know what you’re doing.”

While Scott’s plan is to gain experience and more knowledge at a dealership, he also believes he can contribute some of the leadership skills he learned in his previous career.

“There are some similarities: in food service, teamwork is vital. No matter how good you are, if you don’t have a team, you’re going to fail,” says Scott. “If it’s my business or someone else’s, I want to build teams that work together, are cost-efficient and give the most they can.”

In the meantime, Scott continues to take on more challenges, like mastering the electronics on today’s more sophisticated RVs. It’s his weak point, he says, so he’s determined to make it his strength.

Scott is confident that he can always reach out to his instructors at RVTI who encouraged him and his classmates to do so if they had questions or problems.

“I feel like they truly meant that, and they want to be there for all of the students. They love teaching and they just want to share it,” he says. Ultimately, he and they share the same goals: to help get people on their way, so they’ll have positive experiences RVing.

“If I can put people’s minds at ease so they can enjoy their vacations, that’s a very satisfying challenge.

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