ELKHART, Ind. – Dozens of RV industry employees enjoyed light appetizers and an open bar during a happy hour presented Wednesday evening by the RV Women’s Alliance (RVWA).
The event was held at the Rooftop Bar atop the historic Hotel Elkhart and light rain stopped shortly after the event began, allowing those in attendance to enjoy the views from an outdoor patio overlooking the city.
The happy hour, an opportunity for women in the RV industry to network and partner, was held in conjunction with an all-female training session at Elkhart’s RV Technical Institute, according to Jennifer Rider, RVWA managing director. Eleven women currently are going through Level 1 training at RVTI.
“We do an all-female tech class. We did five classes this year and along with every class we like to do a happy hour,” Rider said. “It helps get the women of the class introduced to the women and men of the RV industry.”
The event doubles as a networking opportunity for the organization, which attracts women from all levels and facets of the RV industry.
Chantal Hershberger, customer care specialist at Truma, has been a member for two years and said she tries to attend all of RVWA’s local events.
“I’ve been part of most of the events they’ve had,” she said. “I really like the opportunity to get together with other women in the industry and I love that we’re seeing more men now at these events. It’s really reaching out and grabbing more people.”
She said RWVA helps fill a networking void in the industry.
“It’s good because if you’re not a person who goes to shows or rallies or things like that, you don’t always have the opportunity to network with other people in the industry,” see said. “I really like that everybody – whether it’s an hourly employee right up to my vice president is here – everybody can come together. … The networking opportunities are fantastic.”
Rider outlined a busy slate of activities that RVWA – a not-for-profit organization founded in 2019 and dedicated to fostering the next generation of female leaders and innovators in the RV industry – has on tap.
“We’re doing a summer discussion series and that’s going over very, very well,” she said. “We’ve done May and June so far, so we’ve got three more months … bringing on an expert in the RV industry to talk about a different range of topics, the next being leadership.”
An breakfast also is planned for Tuesday morning (Sept. 26) during the Elkhart RV Open House.
“We are going to be indoors this year at the Hall of Fame, so we’re really excited about that,” Rider said. “That’s always a great event. We’re going to do a lot of networking, a lot of panel discussions, a lot of open discussions for people.”
The big event for the year is the Education Symposium, planned Oct. 11-13 at The Renaissance at Schaumberg in Chicago.
“This year we are adding some new things, breaking out into workshops,” she said. “We’re doing conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, education, and we will actually have a very high level panel discussion about how to utilize all the things that they’ve learned in the RV industry today.”
In existence since 2019, RVWA is in growth mode, with nearly 2,000 members, Rider said.
“We are growing very rapidly. We gain anywhere from three to eight members a week right now,” she said. “With more and more women coming into the industry we are seeing huge growth in RVWA.”
According to a press release provided by RVWA, leadership and communication will be the focus of the upcoming Education Symposium.
Karen Zupko, an internationally recognized thought leader and speaker who advises many organizations and teams about the challenges and trends impacting them today, will cover an in depth look at how we communicate via our strengths and how teams can better communicate to achieve their goals. Karen will take participants through a guided understanding of your unique style based on your DISC assessment (assessment included as part of event) and how to then utilize your style to further enhance your career.
A pair of other sessions – one on conflict resolution and the second discussing emotional intelligence – will be facilitated by Mary Romeo and Heather French of Mary Romeo & Associates. Utilizing the Thomas-Kilmann approach to conflict resolution, attendees will learn their specific behavior in conflict resolution and the extent to which they project assertiveness and cooperativeness. Attendees will also participate in the emotional intelligence workshop to understand how to use and manage their own emotions to further enhance their careers.
The fourth workshop will be a panel discussion with leading women of the industry detailing how women can utilize everything they learned in the other workshops to advance their careers in the RV industry.
For information about the event or sponsorship availability, visit https://rvwa.org/events/educational-symposium/ or contact Rider at firstname.lastname@example.org.