RV mobile techs are the heroes of our adventures—and misadventures—on the road. What would we do without them?
A few weeks ago, I desperately needed the aid of one of those valiant road warriors. Later, a question popped into my head: What is the number one problem RV mobile techs fix?
We asked you in a poll last week, and I also asked the few techs I could get to return my phone calls.
Here’s how you answered (at the time of writing):
Refrigerators got my vote!
And here’s what the techs say:
“Refrigerators.” Keenan Kealy, Adventure RV Repairs, Shelton, WA.
“Mud daubers,” Marcus at MAD RV Repair, near Houston, TX. (Note: Even if you put up screens they can still get in just about anywhere, he said.)
“Awnings. And air conditioners.” Scott Allan, RV Doctor, Tampa Bay, Florida.
“Air conditioning and electrical issues.” Tim’s Mobile RV Technician Services, Plainfield, IL.
“Every season it’s cracked water heaters, cracked toilet water valves and other miscellaneous plumbing leaks—all from improper winterizing procedures.” Tim Maloney Jr., Trailside Mobile RV Service, Punta Gorda, FL.
“Slides. And awnings.” David Ma, ViaRV Parts and Service, Lynnwood, WA.
My RV mobile tech rescue
I wanted to share the story of the RV mobile tech who recently rode to my rescue.
I got myself in yet another jam in a somewhat remote campground off south Puget Sound in Western Washington. I wasn’t going to be able to move out of my space.
I frantically called a half dozen mobile RV techs and repair shops. Some answered. Some didn’t. Those who answered were—you guessed it—busy. As usual—booked weeks out. I am so used to that!
AND THEN—a mobile tech called back and came to my site a couple of hours later. Really. That has NEVER happened to me before—has it happened to you? I mean, it was remarkable!
He immediately fixed my problem and it was simple—but nothing I would have been able to figure out. (OK, I accidentally drove in reverse, instead of forward, on a stuck leveler and it was now backward. The arm kind. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.) Then he discovered why my second A/C was making such a loud noise (screw loose on the roof).
I was lucky to reach such a veteran. My RV star, Keenan Kealy of Adventure RV Repairs, Shelton, WA, started his career at age 16 washing models at a nearby RV lot and then helping with repairs. Now he’s 35, so that adds up to nearly 20 years (absent a few when he worked in other professions). I bet he has seen it all.
What does he see the most? Busted refrigerators. That’s right, Keenan said his number one repair job is refrigerators. (He’s even installed 60 or so Amish cooling units from the guys I wrote about a few weeks ago.) “This month alone I have had to replace five coolant units in refrigerators that were less than two years old,” he said.
And here’s something else—he’s busy 12 months a year without going South as many mobile techs do. I thought surely work slows down in rainy, cool winters, but no. 80 percent of his customers are full-timers, some on the road, some in parks, and many on their own acreage. He makes an average of 20 to 40 service calls a week. And yes, he does make an occasional repair the same day he’s called—emergencies only. I happened to be in the area where he was headed.
If you have an RV, I’m not telling you the news that we don’t have enough techs. Indeed, RV repair is the third most in-demand trade in the United States. (I checked that one out. RVIA said that in 2020. Look what has happened since!)
Keenan figures there are about 20 mobile techs on the west side of Washington—west of the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Oregon. That is a prime camping area! He knows a lot of them and they refer work back and forth. “We are not competing against each other because there is more work than any one of us can handle,” he said.
He says the RV repair field could use at least 20 percent more techs. He wants to see more people get interested in his career.
“Most shop techs I know are making $35 to $45 an hour,” he said. Keenan managed an RV repair shop for three-and-a-half years before starting his own business in August of 2022. He makes excellent money—but the RV mobile tech business is not for everyone. “A lot of guys try to start their own. They don’t last very long, because it is a very demanding job. It is very complex,” he said.
He averages 50 to 60 hours a week, but when I interviewed him, he was camping with family at Silver Lake near Mount St. Helens in his 1997 37-foot Gulfstream Class A.
Yup, you guessed it—Keenan likes the old RVs. “2008 is the year when they really started going downhill,” he said. “I like the late ‘90s and early 2000s I feel they were built really well and the parts were good.”
Parts today? Don’t get him started on how hard it is to get parts. Or how incredibly difficult it can be to get to the part that needs fixing. He finds himself saying: “How did they design this? Walls and cabinets are put in over everything and now you can’t get to the part that needs fixing.”
Still, despite the challenges, he says, “This will be my forever career. There is so much different stuff to it. It never gets old or boring. It’s plumbing one day, generator, refrigerator or electric the next. It’s always different. I like to talk to people. I’ve made a lot of friends now through working on their RVs. Some of my customers make me cookies when I come to their park.”
So, his life as a mobile tech is rewarding in two ways—the money and the opportunity to help people. People just like me, in their hour of need, waiting for that hero who can save the day.