Aaron Bashore, Tom Schaeffer’s Camping and Travel Center, Shoemakersville, Pa. represented Pennsylvania well at the Top Tech Challenge on March 13 at RVX: The RV Experience in Salt Lake City, Utah. The shop foreman/lead technician placed third in the second annual competition, which showcases the RV technician career and the importance of having well-trained technicians. He was one of just six RV technicians chosen to compete in the Top Tech Challenge.
Bashore said he found out about the first challenge just after the registration deadline, so he was determined to enter this year. Entrants were required to be employed as a certified RV technician with at least five years of experience. Along with the application, he submitted three letters of recommendation for consideration.
Rutledge Wood, NBC auto racing analyst and former Top Gear U.S. host, served as emcee for the event, where six contestants competed in a timed challenge requiring them to diagnose and quickly repair RV equipment. The tasks included refrigeration, electrical, furnaces, junction boxes, leveling and AC electric.
Bashore admitted that he was a little nervous going into the competition, which drew a large crowd of spectators. A sales manager and manufacturer representatives were in the audience to cheer him on during the competition.
“It was nerve-wracking at first, but once I had the first challenge completed, the butterflies went away,” he says. He was the first to complete the task, which put him in first place after the first round.
“I was pretty confident in my knowledge for the first round,” he says. “I nailed the first challenge and that was the best feeling. Unfortunately, the Dometic cooler tripped me up a bit.”
According to Bashore, he doesn’t normally end up repairing a lot of the coolers, since they are typically under warranty and get replaced. The difficult challenge cost him and several other contestants points.
In the end, returning champion Brandon Galbreath of D&N RV Service, Joppa, Alabama, won the 2019 Top Tech Challenge, which included the winner takes all $10,000 grand prize and a championship trophy.
Bashore, the grandson of Tom Schaeffer, owner of Tom Schaeffer’s Camping and Travel Center, started working for the dealership after graduating from high school in 2004. He has seven years of experience in the service shop.
He is excited about the changes the RV Technical Institute is making to its certified master technician training program.
“I’m happy they are changing the training program to be more hands on, rather than just focusing on the written test,” he says. “Some people don’t do as well on tests.”
He also noted that updating the training material to include the latest products currently available on RV, will be helpful to technicians.
As for the Top Tech Challenge… “I was glad I did well,” he says. “It was a good time and I plan on applying to compete again next year.”
Aaron Bashore, Tom Schaeffer’s Camping and RV Center, Shoemakersville, Pa., works on the furnace repair.