by Clint Burgess

As the region basks in 70-degree weather, thoughts of summer cross the minds of road-trippers. The serious trip junkies are the dedicated souls who have gone their own way and put the cash up for an RV. While these houses on wheels are the best way to travel in style and comfort, they have their ups and downs, especially if you can't keep your beverages cold in the refrigerator. Proper maintenance and a good repairman are two things that will get your 36-footer down the road problem-free.

That is where Rick Johnson comes in. Johnson owns and operates a recreational vehicle repair shop and knows how to cure what ails your ticket to the wide-open road. Courtesy RV Service is the company, and the name pretty much sums up the business. Johnson is a fully mobile technician and can fix anything on an RV that isn't under the hood. Turns out there are plenty of mechanical and electrical problems that pop up inside the camper portion of an RV, creating headaches as much as any broken fan belt.

After spending 11 years in the business converting vans and servicing RVs with Custom Camper, Johnson went solo and started his own shop. "When I first started, I had a shop that I worked out of, and I offered mobile service as well," says Johnson. "I started getting a lot more requests for mobile work and ended up doing it strictly mobile." Since going mobile, Johnson has made a name for himself in the business. "I get referrals from all the lots, like Chucks, Johnsons and R n' R. They know when they send customers my way that the job will get done right."

Having built a reputation as a solid repairman and offering fair rates, Johnson has found a niche in the local economy that serves him well. "I'm a firm believer in getting the job done right the first time," says Johnson. "There are going to be those rare times that you don't get it 100 percent right the first time and you go back and take care of it." When you have the track record that Johnson has, it's easy to see why he has a loyal clientele as well and the backing of the local RV dealers. He says about 90 percent of the time he can have a job done in one visit. "I try to make sure I've got all the information I need before I head out to a job -- I get model numbers and make a best guess at what I'll need to get something taken care of in one stop," he says. It's in his best interest to be efficient with his time as well as resources.

While the summer is his busiest time of year, the current gas prices threaten to put some additional strain on business this year. "I haven't raised my rates because of the gas prices -- I don't want to price myself out of job," says Johnson. And as much as the prices might affect his costs, there doesn't seem to be a problem finding work. Johnson says he could work six days a week, 10 hours a day if he wanted to. But like his customers, he likes to spend a lot of time out on the road: He has a fifth wheel, and he plans on using it this summer.

Publication date: 04/28/05

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