A new RV podcast is looking to take listeners into a deeper dive into the RV industry. Known as “Beyond the Wheel,” the podcast has already scored interviews with executive management from such companies as Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Battle Born Batteries, TechnoRV, and Micro-Air Inc.
Beyond the Wheel was created last year by Kenny Phillips and Sean Chickery, both full-time RVers who shared a mutual curiosity for discovering more about the RV industry.
Phillips has been living the full-time RV lifestyle with his wife, Sabrina, a pulmonary critical care physician, for two years. The two also operate the “Moving Forward Adventures” YouTube channel, and they drive about 30,000 miles a year traveling the country in a 2016 Winnebago Vista 27N.
Chickery, a medical research study manager and doctor of health science, and his wife, Julie, are 20-year U.S. Air Force veterans. They are the creators of “Chickery’s Travels,” which can be found on various online outlets, and have published two books about RVing. After having started out in a 44-foot Heartland Cyclone not quite five years ago, the two bought a 30-foot 2019 Arctic Fox two weeks ago.
Recently they took time away from their travels to visit with RVBUSINESS.com and discuss the “Beyond” the Wheel podcast.
RVB: What led you to start the Beyond the Wheel podcast?
Kenny: Sean and I met a little over a year ago at the RVE Summit (RV Entrepreneurs event hosted by Heath and Alyssa Padgett) in Texas. We just kind of hit it off. Sean, we didn’t even talk before that, did we?
Sean: Actually, Julie followed your channel, but we never spoke before that event.
Kenny: So we were just chit chatting there, and then after we parted ways we kept in touch.
Sean: Then I had the idea to do a podcast. I’ve always been very curious about how stuff is made, and how it all happened. My career is as a medical researcher, so researching is just built into my brain now. So, as an RVer when I would get products or even look at RVs, I would wonder how they were made and what’s the story behind it.
I thought that would be a good podcast, but I knew I wasn’t very entertaining. So I thought back to who would be a good person to work with, who could sort of balance out my boredom with some entertainment, and Kenny was the person I thought of. I sent him a message and said ‘Hey do you have some time to talk? I have an idea for a project.’
Kenny: I quickly said yes. I asked Sean, ‘Who was your runner-up if I said no?’ He said he didn’t have one.
I couldn’t imagine doing this without Sean. I’ve listened to podcasts and I’d always thought it’d be very interesting to have one of my own. But I would have never figured out how to put it all together and I would’ve never had the drive or determination. Sean and I complement each other very well that way. Sean says he’s boring; Sean’s not boring at all. But I do feel like we do have two different personalities. Sean’s a little bit more serious and professional, and I’m just goofy. So I think the two go together well.
RVB: You have a new episode every two weeks and each is 30-45 minutes long, but what makes “Beyond the Wheel” different than the handful of other RV-related podcasts being created right now?
Sean: There’s an NPR podcast that’s more focused on startups — it’s called “How I Built This” — and Kenny and I had both listened to that. That’s sort of how we wanted to model it, but focus on all the different aspects of the RV industry and come at it from an angle of, ‘What was the idea behind this product or that product?’ It’s anything from campgrounds to consumer products and businesses to the actual RVs themselves. We really wanted to get behind the scenes and figure out how it all worked and what was the driving force behind it.
Kenny: Behind the scenes is the best way to describe it. Let’s find out how many times that it took somebody to come up with a product before it actually worked. Or why did they come up with the product, how did they get it to market, and what was the perception of that? What did they hear back from their customers?
RVB: You have an interesting format in that it’s really just the two of you having a casual conversation with someone.
Kenny: That was Sean’s idea, and it’s by design. We wanted it to be a very comfortable situation. We want to be laid back and enjoy it, but we want the person that we’re interviewing to also be laid back and enjoy the experience as well.
RVB: Out of the 16 episodes you’ve already produced, are there any that stand out to you?
Sean: Every time we do an episode I always tell Kenny, ‘Wow! I think this is my favorite episode’ because we learn we learn so much. Every interview that we do and every podcast we do, it’s always something that’s fascinating about that particular person or product that we’re talking about.
But, to answer your question, one of the first few interviews we did was with RV SnapPad. We really had no idea what we were doing, but our guest, Devon Wilson, the COO of the company, was just very well prepared and carried us along.
Another one was with (KOA President and CEO) Toby O’Rourke. We recorded that literally sitting on the floor in the KOA booth at RVX. We’ll probably never get another CEO to sit down on the floor in a big building with hundreds of people walking around just to talk with us.
Kenny: I really enjoy talking to the CEO’s and the presidents who have started the company from the beginning, like Sean Nichols and Denis Phares at Battle Born Batteries, because you hear their passion about their product. It’s almost like it’s their baby. They have a very strong connection to what they’re selling and why they’re selling it. And sometimes it’s not even a direct product. When we talked to Amy from gopetfriendly.com, she’s very passionate about the service that she provides online for everybody that is traveling with a pet. She finds these hotels in the campgrounds and activities to do for pets and helpful tips to keep your pets safe and to keep you safe.
RVB: Finally, who would be your dream interview for one of the podcasts?
Sean: I would really like to get Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and Good Sam and Gander Oudtoors, on the show. He’s in charge of the ‘Wal-Mart of RVing’ with Camping World — at least that’s the way I think of that store. I would really be curious to talk to him to ask him why Camping World, and why that business model for RVers.
Kenny: And for me, the two people who I want to interview are probably not the first people that you would think of when you think of the RV industry. But it would be John and Peter of The RV Geeks. When Sabrina and I were first learning about RVing, they were one of the first channels that we found on YouTube. I don’t think we would have stayed in the RV as long as we did if it wasn’t for those two guys with all their helpful videos.