July '18

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38 • RV PRO • July 2018 RV PRO: Origins J U LY S P E C I A L S E C T I O N ✪ Don Wilson, Tech Doctor, Xantrex I moved to Elkhart, Ind., to take a job in an unrelated industry. I had a friend in the RV industry who offered me a position. It sounded exciting, so I gave it a try. I wanted to make the parts we made simpler to understand and be able to explain the function of electrical devices and electrical theory to those who were not exposed to them every day. My first show was the 1997 RVIA show. My first interaction was an introduction to two RV manufacturers. The intent of the tour was to show the stark difference in two com- panies in the same market. One was clean, well-organized and regimented while the other was not. My trainer asked me to focus on returns, especially no-fault returns, of each company going forward. I learned a lot that week. For a lot of people, myself included, the downturn was a turning point. The recovery was not easy to witness. Much of the great talent was gone and a new generation of green talent came in. We needed to go through training all over again. I feel the industry is going well now, other than shortages, but it was a hard-fought time. Today, I enjoy hearing feedback I get from my semi-formal training sessions. Though one of my favorite memories was just a few weeks into my position at Xantrex, where I helped identify and correct a major flaw that gave the perception of a product failure. We were on the ropes with that manufacturer, but my work resulted in a customer save worth millions annually. Rich Gaudet, Vice President & GM, Xantrex X antrex Technology acquired Heart Interface, Trace and Statpower in 1999 and 2000. During the integration process in 2000, I moved laterally in the organization to head sales for the commercial vehicle markets in our mobile business unit. I got my start in the RV industry by listening and providing advice to my peers responsible for RV, based on my knowledge in other industries. Eventually, I was tapped to head sales and marketing for our mobile business unit which included RV. When I first started in the RV industry, I was a sounding board for my peers. But when I took over full responsibility for all sales in the vehicle and marine vessel segments, I had a simple goal of listening to our customers and wanting to get a pulse on the market to truly under- stand the RV industry and its needs. That first goal was a small step in re-establishing Xantrex as the go-to brand for power inverter products. However, at my first show, I discovered we had not treated our cus- tomers like they were No. 1 since the acquisitions Xantrex had made. We learned some difficult lessons during the 2000 decade that included the market downturn. The turning point was truly learning to internalize all the good and bad from the past that our valued customers shared with us. Through truly listening, we were able to transform our product offer and put customers No. 1. My proudest moment is setting the new benchmark for performance and OEM expectations with Freedom X; we designed it to optimize production efficiency and eliminate warranty issues.

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