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California RV Specialists: Giving RV Owners a Personalized Experience

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In the spirit of entrepreneurship, meeting business owners and sharing their stories with our readers has always been a passion of mine. Traveling up and down the Central Valley for years, I have been fortunate to meet business owners from a myriad of industries and backgrounds. Even now, I find myself surprised when I learn about a small business that is taking its industry by storm! Dustin and Ashley Simpson of California RV Specialists in Lodi have done just that. Quietly growing in a side lot adjacent to Lodi’s oldest restaurant, Richmaid Restaurant, Dustin and Ashley have been working tirelessly on a new expansion. 

Dustin first opened for business in 2003. He grew up in Lodi and served in the National Guard. When he returned from service, he wanted to use his knowledge in construction while finding a new career. He worked for Geweke RV and found a passion for recreational vehicle repair. “Opening my own business was a dream. I wanted to give my customers an experience where they left feeling confident and satisfied with my work,” commented Dustin. The focus of the business includes repair, maintenance, remodel and restoration. “We are proud to offer services that the mainstream RV dealer does not provide,” further explained Dustin. 

Visualizing Progress
With a team of ten employees, Dustin and Ashley aim to give their customers a unique experience. “We take pictures and live videos during different phases of a repair project or remodel and send them to the customer. We also offer a free exterior evaluation before we start a repair,” Ashley shared. She, Dustin and their team have an understanding that these RVs are most likely the second largest investment for their customers, a second home that she and Dustin are entrusted with. It’s a responsibility they don’t take for granted. “For a long time, our business has grown through word of mouth. The RV world can be a small community and because of the trust we have gained, we have customers that travel from out of state, like Washington and Arizona!” she said proudly. 

Last summer, Ashley left her corporate job of ten years to help Dustin focus on building the business. “Ashley was the missing piece. Now that she is here, I have been able to focus on working with my team and educating my customers. I know she has my best interest at heart,” Dustin said with a smile. Ashley’s focus remains on the accounting and all of the back-end work of running a business. “This helps give Dustin the opportunity to be out front, talking, educating and giving in-depth explanations of the repair work. That is what he does best, talking with customers!” Ashley shared. 

Developing Skilled Tradespeople
The team at California RV Specialists covers an array of skillsets. From electrical, plumbing, cabinetry, body work, mechanical repair and more, Dustin and his team are experts in their trades. They are currently training a young teen from the 180 Teen Center and have converted the old office space into a classroom. “We are in the process of building a robust training program so we can work with additional youth from the 180 Teen Center and our church, First Baptist, so we can hire and mentor additional youth with a skilled trade,” shared Dustin. He and his team plan to help mentor youth by teaching them valuable trades that are not always offered in schools. “Our community is important to us and we want to give back. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the support from Gary and Janet Crow, owners of Richmaid Restaurant,” continued Dustin. “They have been like a second set of parents, encouraging and guiding us as we grow the business.” Dustin and Ashley were even married on the Crows’ property. 

Investment in Shelter
The world of recreational vehicles, travel trailers and toy haulers is expanding. The freedom to travel to different destinations, the comforts an RV provides and the landscape of California give people the ability to pick up and go while providing some of the comforts of “home.” Dustin also shared with me that some of his customers are investing in RVs for security. With more and more rolling blackouts, devastating fires and floods, people are making investments in RVs for security in order to escape danger. With generators, solar panels, batteries, satellites and WiFi extenders, RVs can provide basic luxuries and shelter during a disaster. 

Recently, California RV Specialists has expanded from behind Richmaid Restaurant to the open lot next door on Cherokee Lane. The Simpsons plan to hire four to six new employees as they expand the business in new directions, including a focus on accessories such as towing accessories. They also have plans for the future that include a small rental fleet and they will be taking a three-day course to become certified in rentals. Plans for continued growth and expansion are coming to life for California RV Specialists. This husband-wife duo has grown their business to be the largest repair shop for RVs in Northern California. “We want our customers to feel like this is a safe place; we treat everyone as equals and strive to build trust!” commented Dustin. From general maintenance to complete remodels, California RV Specialists is giving RV owners an experience they can feel good about. Congratulations, Dustin and Ashley Simpson, on your expansion!

For more information and services provided by California RV Specialists, please visit calrvspecialists.com and stay tuned for new episodes on their YouTube channel, What’s In The Shop?