(Editor's Note: Yan Seiner is a Roadtrek engineer)
I happened to be at the factory when the big Zion rollout occurred. Chrysler factory reps were going to be here, there was going to be a catered lunch, and the factory was buzzing. The sense you get from walking around the factory floor is that people were really excited and looking forward to this rollout.
I've worked in places where people didn't care, where management and labor were on opposite sides, where the engineering staff never mingled with the production staff, where the president didn't know the names of the people on the line. Roadtrek is very much the opposite; Jim Hammill seemingly knows the name of every single person out on the floor, and the engineers have their own toolboxes on the floor. I was talking with Kevin, Roadtrek's mechanical genius, and we started talking about one of the foremen on the line. Kevin spoke about how passionate this person was about his job and about the quality standards that he demanded (and that made him cantankerous and difficult to work with at times.) I'm just not used to hearing words like “passionate” used to describe production people; it's rare in most places. At Roadtrek, the passion is there. People here are fiercely proud of the work they do.
The Zion isn't just a new model. It's an embodiment of the pride Roadtrek has in its products. It's the continuation of Roadtrek's drive to simplify and modularize manufacturing. Traditionally Class B RVs are built from the inside out; small components are assembled into cabinets and counters and outlets by hand by craftsmen (and women) inside the vehicle. This is a long process. Roadtrek has been developing ways to build larger components outside the van, and installing them into the van as larger assemblies. This means quicker assembly, higher quality, less rework, and less variation from van to van.
As you can see from Mike's story on the Zion rollout, the rollout was a big happening. Chrysler staff was there, all of Roadtrek's management team were there, Karyn, the Director of Marketing even came in from maternity leave. Roadtrek runs two shifts, and while the night shift wasn't at the main rollout at lunch, Roadtrek and Chrysler catered a mid-shift celebration for them. Being a part of Roadtrek, whether as a Roadtrek owner or employee, is being a part of a huge family.
Meanwhile, back in one of the bays, the #2 Zion was being built.