The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will begin work to expand the “Technician in Training” (TNT) program nationally by the end calendar 2017 after the success the pilot effort had regionally over the past year.

As reported in the latest issue of RVIA Today, the pilot program was launched last year to increase awareness and participation for its industry technician training and certification programs by having field representatives call directly on RV dealerships to educate management and technicians about educational opportunities. 

During the test period, the program focused on three regional areas that included the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho); the South Central (Texas and Louisiana) and Upper Midwest (Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin). RVIA’s Wade Greenwood and Connie Acord worked with individual dealerships in these areas to determine training needs and schedule educational sessions taught by RVIA member companies on-site at RV dealerships.

During the pilot program, 180 RV dealerships were visited with 610 RV technicians participating in 44 training events. The RVIA-member companies that provided over 320 hours of hands-on training included Atwood Mobile Products LLC; Airxcel/Coleman; Dometic Corp.; Lippert Components Inc.; Thetford/Norcold; and Suburban Mfg. 

RV dealers who participated in the pilot program were encouraged by the results. “It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” said Mike Urain, customer care manager with Russ Dean RV in Pasco, Wash. “Our staff really liked the training. The presenters did a great job communicating. This type of approach is what we have needed.” 

“The program is tremendous” added Mike Regan, president of Crestview RV in Austin, Texas. “Everyone wins when our technicians are better trained. Our dealership wins, the RV manufacturer wins, and, most of all, the RV owners win. When RVers have a good experience on the service area, they are more likely to purchase another RV.”

Next year, the program is expected to expand into the remainder of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska in the Midwest and Nevada, Utah and northern California in the West. 

The biggest expansion will take place in 2016 with southern California, Arizona, Colorado, western Montana and southern Wyoming in the West; Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida in the South; Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky in the Midwest; and Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia in the East. 

In 2017, the final expansion will target Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey in the Northeast and eastern Montana and southern Wyoming in the West.

“We’re really excited to roll out the TNT program across the nation over the next three years,” said Sharonne Lee, RVIA’s director of education. “The success of the pilot program in bringing training directly to the dealership and their service employees indicates that this could provide a huge boost to our industry’s educational outreach.”