RV how-to expert Gary Bunzer is taking his knowledge to television in a new DIY Network series called “RV Roadtrips.”
By Lazelle Jones
Gary Bunzer, also known as the RV Doctor, won’t ask you where it hurts, but he will tell you how to fix it. Among RV enthusiasts, his reputation as a technical expert precedes him wherever he goes. So it came as no surprise to those in the RV industry when he was selected by Homerun Entertainment and the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Network to host a new cable TV series called “RV Roadtrips,” which began airing on Friday, June 2, 2006.
Family Motor Coaching magazine readers have relied on Gary’s talents to help resolve motorhome-related technical issues ever since his column called “House Calls With The RV Doctor” debuted in the April 2005 issue. Those who have attended his live technical seminars also can attest that Gary speaks about the RV lifestyle with the passion of a man on a mission. It happens to be a mission he’s been on for many years.
Gary’s dedication to the RVing world revolves around three main areas: to help the RV enthusiast understand RV systems; to assist in resolving issues and problems that are often associated with these systems; and to encourage and help RVers to troubleshoot problems and learn to do their own service and preventive maintenance.
In a study Gary conducted that involved routine maintenance and service activities, he found that owners can save a substantial amount of money in labor costs by doing some of the work themselves. Furthermore, he insists that folks who take good care of their RVs will experience fewer equipment failures than those who do not adequately maintain their equipment. Breaking down on the road is not only inconvenient, but it can be very costly.
Gary’s immersion into the RV lifestyle, and especially the technical side of recreation vehicles, has its roots in the 1960s when he worked for his dad at the family mobile home manufacturing business in Florida. It was there that Gary developed his hands-on technical acumen, and his ability to explain to others the technical aspects of systems such as those found in an RV. He later went on to use the knowledge he’d gained in his work in the RV industry. He seems to have the natural gift of being able to demystify the technical aspects of RVing that baffle so many of us. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s also just plain likeable.
Gary is recognized and respected for these talents. As the RV Doctor, he teaches others that they, too, can be do-it-yourselfers when it comes to maintaining and servicing an RV. His advice columns and technical articles have appeared in numerous publications for the past 25 years. He’s written or contributed to several books; has presented instructional and informational seminars and helped develop training videos for the RV industry; and has his own Web site, www.rvdoctor.com.
Gary is in his eighth semester of teaching RV service, maintenance, and troubleshooting classes via Distance Learning online courses he has tailored for Northampton Community College (NCC) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (www.northampton.edu/distancelearn/programs/rv_default.htm). Partnering with the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) and NCC, he is responsible for putting together the curriculum, lesson plans, objectives, and testing methods for measuring a student’s success at completing these courses. Consequently, after completing an online course of study, those who have such an interest can take the written and hands-on examination that the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) educational committee offers. If the student passes the test, he or she can become an RVIA Certified Technician. Yes, Gary’s online courses are that complete.
Often individuals who take these online courses will be assigned to a mentor in the service department of an RV dealership in the area where he or she lives. During this time the student learns by doing the hands-on work under the direction and guidance of the mentor. Often, as a student’s proficiency, capability, hands-on experience, and skills level come together, and after they pass the RVIA certification process, the student is hired by the dealer as an RV technician. Some even start their own RV service business.
Among the many important things Gary points out is that in today’s world there is a shortage of qualified RV technicians, so when an individual becomes certified, it’s beneficial not only to the student, but to the RV dealer’s service department, and ultimately the RVing public.
Gary is also on RVIA’s Textbook Review Committee and works directly with RVIA staff to help edit and rewrite the textbooks used in many RV training programs. In addition, he recently completed a comprehensive owner’s manual for Woodall’s Publishing Corporation called the RV Owner’s Handbook ($34.95). Published in 2005, this 335-page manual provides troubleshooting basics and preventive maintenance procedures for all types of RVs.
When Homerun Entertainment (www.homerunent.com), producers of “RV Roadtrips,” began looking for a suitable host for the series, they called FMCA and asked for Gary’s number. It took just one meeting in Los Angeles, California, for both Gary and the production company to realize that they were all on the same page. Gary was brought on board to host the new show.
Each “RV Roadtrips” episode is divided into three segments. The first shows the enjoyment that individual families experience while RVing. Viewers get to tag along with a family as they visit a favorite destination. The RVing family also offers helpful tips for other RVers. Second, each episode shows the nuances of setting up a campsite and preparing for departure, using a different type of RV in each episode. Third, Gary shows RVers how to service or perform a specific kind of preventive maintenance on their vehicles. This includes any troubleshooting, disassembly, reassembly, and testing of the component and the system. He even makes “house calls” to RVers at the destination who need his help.
For example, in the first episode Gary showed a couple how to choose a rental RV that fit their family’s needs. In other episodes, Gary teaches RVers how to clean and service liquid propane gas appliances, repair water leaks in the plumbing system, maintain the battery systems, prepare for winter RVing, etc. For an individual who owns or uses an RV, this show can be a valuable way to spend a half-hour each week.
Each episode of “RV Roadtrips” includes approximately 22 minutes of airtime. But those 22 minutes are culled from approximately three days of continuous filming. The video crew literally follows each family around for the duration. Much work is required to put one of these episodes together, but the collective efforts really pay off for the viewer.
All of the first season’s episodes are completed, and Gary and Homerun Entertainment are laying plans for the future. With millions of RVs already plying the roads in North America and thousands of new units being built and sold each year, it comes as no surprise that DIY recognized what a significant niche market opportunity this type of show presents. And, as FMCA members know, there’s no one better to help take the technical temperature of this niche than the RV Doctor himself. Yes, the good doctor is in, and you’ll see him down the road.
Gary Bunzer can be seen in “RV Roadtrips” on Fridays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and on Saturdays at 1:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Eastern, on the DIY cable TV network. For more information, visit www.diynet.com/diy/shows_drvr.