The People Behind the Difference – Ritchie Diener

At Newmar, we believe our people are our greatest asset. Without their commitment to industry-leading quality and dedication to doing right by our customers, there is no Newmar Difference.

To help you get to know the men and women behind our spectacular line of Class-A coaches, we spoke with several members of the Newmar team about their roles and how they contribute to our shared success.

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Name: Ritchie Diener

Role: Senior Group Leader, Manufacturing Paint Department

Years with Newmar: 23

 

How would you describe your role at Newmar?

I’ve had plenty of title changes throughout the years, but right now the biggest part of my job involves our Paint department, where we do prep work, painting, detailing, cutting and buffing. We also do service / warranty work. Essentially, we’re responsible for bringing Newmar’s Full-Paint Masterpiece™ Finish to life. My main responsibilities include bringing in the right people and making sure they have the proper tools and training to be successful.

My goal is to serve our customers, coworkers and management team by consistently producing finishes that go beyond industry standards. By doing so, we can exceed the expectations of our customers with each and every coach we deliver. 

While describing your role, you used the word “we” and “we’re” quite a bit. Why is that?

The people here make the difference, they really do. Every once in awhile people will tell me, “Ritch, you’re doing a great job,” and I’ll respond with, “It’s not me, it’s my team.” They make me look good, that’s for sure. I’d put my crew up against anybody, because I truly believe they’re the best at what they do. It also helps that the Amish Mennonite community and general culture of the area in which we live brings us a work ethic, value system and range of skills that we as a group and a company find invaluable. 

What is it that makes people want to work for Newmar?

People come to us because they know management and their coworkers will treat them with respect, and because they’re looking for an opportunity to put their skills to work building world-class products. Our people come in, work hard and get home to their families on time. They know what’s expected of them, get paid a fair wage, feel secure and know that they are making a difference.

The average Newmar employee has been with the company for 13 years. What is it about Newmar that keeps people coming back for more?

There are a lot of reasons, first of which are the values that come from the top of our organization. Everyone here is treated with respect and honesty, and no one is ever made to feel as if they are less important than anyone else.

Secondly, Newmar isn’t afraid to spend the time and money necessary to improve worker safety. In fact, there are regular meetings that focus specifically on what we can do to make our work environment even better for our employees.

Finally, I would add that employees here are made to feel important because leadership has made it a point to listen to what everyone has to say and reward those who present ideas that lead to an improvement or cost savings in our operation. It’s why many of our most significant innovations have come from men and women on our assembly floor, and why our company is such a happy, positive place to be. 

You have a solid, experienced group working with you in the paint department. What have you done to help keep everyone together?

paint-finishWell, the funny thing is, when new hires join our team, the first thing we ask them is “what are your goals? Is there somewhere else you’d like to be one day?” We don’t hold individuals back if they want to go to another group, because people do best when they’re doing the thing they really want to be doing. For some, that thing is paint work.

One way we keep our people motivated is with our pay scale. We use a piece rate system, which rewards them for the amount of quality work they produce, not how many hours they’re in the building. In the end, we truly believe people make the difference, and we want to treat our employees fairly and incentivize them as much as possible.

Where does your team find the inspiration to develop new paint designs and patterns from model year to model year?

Newmar has a team that includes individuals from our Design, Sales and Production groups. They work together with our graphics vendors to develop custom designs for each Newmar model. It truly is a team effort and there’s always something new to try. 

You’ve been with Newmar for 23 years. What are you most proud of?

I get asked a lot, “How do you do it with so few people?” Because the reality is, Newmar’s paint department operates with a lot less man power than other paint departments in our industry doing the same volume. So I would say I’m proud of our efficiency – the exceptional quality we’re able to produce with a smaller group of individuals.

I’m also proud of our collective attitude and willingness to do “whatever it takes.” The way I see it, as a group leader, you have a choice to run your team like a ship or a battleship. When you take the battleship approach, you’re constantly fighting against something – management, the competition, etc. People do things out of fear of negative consequences. But with our people, it’s not us against anyone else. We’re a ship. And if there’s ever a problem, we clearly communicate our expectations to the employee and work with them to resolve the issues, while treating them with the respect they deserve.

I believe that approach makes people WANT to do the right things because it is the right thing to do. We, along with the rest of our company, have proven time and time again that we will work tirelessly to make things right. It’s just who we are. We just want to do the best that we can to make our organization proud. 

Last question: What’s it like to work alongside your brother?

Well, we don’t exactly work side-by-side – my brother runs our Finishing department. He does a great job. He is also very witty and quick on his feet. When people taking tours come to my area (after they have been through his), they’ll ask me questions that I know he set me up for. It’s a lot of fun. 

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Guest Post – The Road Trip of a Lifetime

RTFAD-CoachinSunLast year, my wife Lynda and I began our journey as full-time RVers, driving from California to Colorado for a family reunion in our 39-foot Newmar Kountry Star diesel pusher.

Although we’d faced some challenges over the years, what ultimately led to this cross-country adventure was Lynda finding out she had breast cancer in 2006. At that point, our lives changed dramatically.

Despite trying to work with the bank to refinance our mortgage so that we could continue making payments while Lynda was going through treatment, we were unable to afford both. After losing our home to foreclosure, we moved into a condo in Poway, California, just outside of San Diego. Soon after, we experienced another cancer scare, and my younger sister Doanne asked me, “What would you do if you lost Lynda?”

I had never even considered the possibility that Lynda could lose the fight. Tears began to form, and I told Doanne that I would probably “Buy a motor home and disappear.” Go skiing, hiking, maybe do some scuba diving, but essentially leave society, more or less choosing to return to the walkabout that I had begun when my first wife, Connie, passed away from pancreatic cancer.

Later on that same night, Lynda began to discuss her illness with Doanne. Afterwards, Lynda suggested we hit the road and live in an RV fulltime. Together. That’s how the idea to take a “Road Trip for a Lifetime” was born.

When we were shopping for an RV, we looked at several Class-A motorhomes. We wanted a quality rig that would last for quite some time. We went with a Kountry Star, which we now refer to as Koko – short for Kokopelli.

Yes, some thought we had lost our minds, but you know what? We hadn’t felt this excited about life in years. The idea that we could make a living on the road while traveling the U.S. just resonated with us. While we were not looking forward to being away from our friends in San Diego, we couldn’t wait to experience what was to come. The way we saw it, we had two choices: Get busy living, or get busy dying. We chose the former.

RTFAD-ErickandNephewWe began our journey in July of 2013, when we picked up our nephew, Garrett, in Salt Lake City and headed to Yellowstone followed by the Grand Tetons. We then dropped Garrett off in Denver and traveled to the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming for a six-day trip with NOLS, also known as the National Outdoor Leadership School, to do some serious backpacking. In August, we made our way to South Dakota to visit Mt. Rushmore National Park, one of Lynda’s long-time wishes. After that, our path became less clear, so we decided to head west and do some “bucket-list” hikes in the Northwest. Our first stop was Mt. Rainier followed by Sequoia National Park and then Breckenridge, Colorado, also referred to as “Breckenfridge,” for some skiing. 

Of course, when you travel like we do, the question is always, “How can the two of you afford to do this?” For one, we’re no longer shelling out big money on a mortgage payment. When Lynda was first diagnosed with cancer, we racked up some big-time debt. We blew through our savings, cashed in on our investments and were forced to downsize dramatically. However, while our house went through foreclosure we saved every penny we could and eventually paid off the remainder of our debt. As rough as it was to lose our home, being able to pay off Lynda’s medical bills was a huge relief. 

Over the past few years we’ve been able to rebuild our savings. Since Lynda and I are both able to work remotely, we still earn a living on the road, and live our lives on our terms. We use our blog, Road Trip for a Lifetime, to document our journeys, sharing our adventures in a way that is both entertaining and inspiring. We hope you’ll join us.

Happy trails!

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Erick and Lynda

Photo Recap: 2014 RVIA National Trade Show

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Last week, several members of the Newmar team traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the 2014 RVIA National Trade Show.

We had a wonderful time introducing attendees to our entire 2015 lineup, and we wanted to share some photos with you, our customers and friends. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking to see the 2015 Newmar lineup for yourself? Don’t miss your chance to explore every Newmar model, inside and out, at our first big consumer show of the season – the 2015 Florida RV SuperShow, January 14-18 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa! Click here to learn more. 

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Guest Blog – Meet The RVgeeks

RVgeeksPeter & John, better known as “The RVgeeks,” have been full-time RVers for nearly 12 years, having spent the last 10 years in their 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire.

After undergoing cancer surgery and chemotherapy, Peter realized that his life might not go according to the standard operating plan, which for many involves working until the age of 65 followed by a relaxing retirement. So he and John sold their house, cars, plane (Peter is a pilot) and just about everything else they owned, bought an RV and hit the road.

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5 Ways RVing Beats Flying

dv2074035_(1)If you love RVing, you’ve probably found yourself aboard a commercial jet at one time or another, thinking to yourself, “I sure wish I was 30,000 feet below, cruising down the highway in my motorhome.” If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people, including your friends at Newmar, would choose the freedom of the open road over a cramped airplane any day.

Still, there are some out there who feel that traveling the “friendly” skies is the way to go. For those folks, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why hitting the road almost always beats taking flight.

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Introducing Newmar’s Latest Wheelchair-Accessible Floor Plan

WheelchairWith the unveiling of wheelchair-accessible floor plan 3911 on the gas-powered Canyon Star motor coach, we at Newmar established our commitment to the idea of “open road access for all.” Since then, our engineers have worked tirelessly to develop and implement an all-new wheelchair-accessible floor plan option – floor plan 4311.

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10 RV-Friendly Fall Travel Destinations

smoky-mountain-premierThere’s no shortage of must-see fall destinations throughout North America. From the mountains of Colorado to the forests of Ohio, if you’re looking to take in all that nature has to offer between now and ski season, you have plenty of options. Still, there are certain fall staples that stand above the rest, offering the colorful foliage, temperate weather and RV-friendly accommodations that create the perfect autumn getaway.   

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