More than 250 people gathered at 3333 Middlebury Street last night in Elkhart, Ind., for the Grand Opening of the RV Technical Institute on Monday September 23. The event drew crowds of dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, local business leaders, news crews and industry media for the ribbon cutting ceremony which was led by U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski. The newly renovated 18,000-square-foot facility features seven classrooms, a student lounge, office space and a 10,000-square-foot bay area with classrooms, component parts lesson areas and RVs to be used in hands-on training and assessments. To date, approximately 80 percent of the renovations are complete with the remaining 20 percent, including exterior enhancements, set to be completed by the end of October.
To kick-off the ceremony, RV Technical Institute’s Executive Director Curt Hemmeler, welcomed attendees to the milestone event, highlighting the impact that the Institute will have on the RV industry and RV technicians across the country.
“Our dedicated staff have created a visionary, forward-thinking program designed to solve our industry-wide need for trained technicians,” said Hemmeler. “Today marks the first step on that journey as we officially open our doors and invite students into our new facility to become trained technicians, expand on their existing education and launch the program to regional partners across the country.”
Hemmeler also highlighted the work of his amazing team over the past years stating that he did not build this alone. In addition to industry buy in and support, the RV Technical Institute staff have accomplished a monumental achievement this year in record time and ahead of schedule.
RV Technical Institute Chairman of the Board and President of Newmar Corporation Matt Miller reiterated his excitement for the momentous occasion and his enthusiasm for the new education model.
“I believe in our new model for technician training and the impact increased tech training will have on the entire industry,” said Miller. “This initiative will help close the skills gap, draw new talent into the growing RV industry, retain existing RV techs and ultimately create a better experience for our customers, the RV consumer.”
Before welcoming Rep. Walorski to the podium, RV Industry Association Interim President Craig Kirby highlighted the fresh perspective that Hemmeler brings to the RV industry and thanked the staff and RV community for executing such an ambitious initiative with such a broad cross section of the industry with unapparelled buy-in. The launch of this new education and training model means, “We now have a standard, a uniform process for training, testing and certification that will be incorporated at a national level through a vast network of regional partners,” said Kirby.
Kirby continued, “Curt came into the process with a vision that combines both his business acumen and his experience within the education and training world. Curt will also tell you that as someone who got his start in the Air Force as a technician, at heart, he is still a tech himself. Thinking like a technician allows Curt to view the Institute’s mission through this lens, developing a program that includes improving the career path so we can better recruit and retain technicians across the country.”
Following the ribbon-cutting, attendees and news media toured the space, and discussed next steps and opportunities the Institute will be able provide for the industry. If you missed the grand opening, there are still multiple opportunities to take a tour throughout the entire week of Open House. Sign-up today for an available time slot this week!