July '18

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108 • RV PRO • July 2018 RV PRO: Origins Jerry VanDyke, President, VanDyke Enterprises B ack in the mid-1970s, Jerry VanDyke was giving a golf lesson to Larry Girard of AE Awnings at a golf course in Florida. VanDyke did such a good job trying to convince Girard that he had a good swing, Girard offered VanDyke a job as an outside sales rep for the state of Florida selling awnings. He would be on the road and make $17,000 a year. At the time, this was more than double what VanDyke was making as an assistant golf pro. VanDyke immediately accepted and proceeded to ask, "What's an awning?" VanDyke's early goals are cloudy, but by the time he moved to California, he wanted to be financially free enough to own a home and be a member of a country club. He has certainly met those goals. He was a member at South Hills Country Club for more than 10 years. He ended his membership due to distance, as the club was 45 miles from his home. VanDyke attended his first retail show in 1977 in Alabama. The dress code was a suit and tie, so he showed up in a Navy-blue outfit with a white shirt and a red tie. Moving to California and starting VanDyke Enterprises in 1993 was a turning point in his career. In 2001, he hired industry veteran Marv Flak. At that time, the business represented two lines – HWH and MaxxAir. From that point it was able to take on and represent some of the best lines in the industry (ADCO, Airxcel, Valterra, Roadmaster) for the Southwest – California, Arizona and Nevada. With that final push for growth for the company, VanDyke went from with one line and one state to 10 lines and six states with four total employees. – As told to RV PRO J U LY S P E C I A L S E C T I O N ✪ Ted Krueger, Technical Support Manager, WFCO Electronics D uring the van craze of the 1970s, I was making wooden overhead consoles for my friends' vans. The consoles had switches to turn on interior lights, radios, etc. and lighted fiber optic strands spelling out what was turned on. A few years later, a job posting came across for a switch panel designer at Transtronics in Elkhart, Ind. It was a small company and I was the second person to be hired. Transtronics was a subsidiary of Bivouac Industries of Vandalia, Mich., a leading manufacturer of van conversions. After that, I got away from the RV industry for almost 20 years before I attended my first RVIA Show in 2005. Not being involved for that period, I had no idea what to expect. I was amazed at how far RV electronics had progressed. In my previous jobs, I was always one of the technicians. WFCO gave me the opportunity to advance to a management position. When I started, I was responsible for two technicians; today I have responsibility for five technicians. I am pleased with my Power Pros team and our nationwide product coverage. I have many accomplishments that I'm proud of, but one of the most recent is at WFCO Electronics. For the technicians to do their best work, I wanted to find electrical/ electronic training for them at a local college. Nothing was available unless you wanted to sign up for course curriculum. I didn't want to give up on the idea, so I proposed that I teach them. Management agreed with my proposal. Now we are well under way with five technicians plus one salesman enrolled. We follow a textbook as a guide and meet once a week. I feel good that I can be a part of developing their knowledge. RV Pro Origins continues from page 57

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