California RV Specialists ‘Rising from Ashes’

March 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is widely credited with saying, “Change is the only constant.” Janet’s Richmaid Restaurant and California RV Specialists, housed within the iconic Richmaid building in Lodi, Calif., are perfect examples of the adage, according to the Lodi News-Sentinel.

The old ice cream parlor is now home to a thriving restaurant, and the adjacent garage that once housed freezers and a repair bay for ice cream trucks is now home to behemoth RVs being serviced or modified.

No longer a manufacturer of ice cream, Janet’s Richmaid Restaurant has evolved into a family-run establishment where customers are on a first-name basis with the owners. The owners, Gary and Janet Crow, will celebrate their 12th year of ownership April 1.

In the same building, California RV Specialists is rising from the ashes of Central Valley RV Repair Inc., which was crippled by a down economy last year.

“I never would have got back in the business without their help,” said Dustin Simpson, co-owner of California RV Specialists.

In 2004, Central Valley RV Repair Inc. opened in the Richmaid building. The Crows and Simpsons enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship as people would bring their RVs in to get worked on and enjoy a meal while they waited.

However, Central Valley RV Repair Inc. fell victim to the crumbling economy. As gas prices rose, people lost their sources of income and RV manufacturers shut down, and the business suffered from the collapsing industry’s ripple effect.

When the RV manufacturers shut down, Simpson didn’t receive payment for the warranty work he did and then found himself without work for the majority of 2009. He credits his wife, Christine Simpson, with being a pillar of support during the tumultuous year.

The Crows, who have owned the Richmaid building since 1998, offered Simpson an opportunity. Like with his previous RV business, they rent out the space to Simpson, but now Gary Crow is a co-owner of California RV Specialists. The RV company employs five full-time workers. Simpson said he is grateful to work alongside the couple. “They are like a second set of parents,” Simpson said. “(Gary) is like the dad I never had.”

Gary Crow said he wanted to help out Simpson because he was never late on his rent and knew that he had suffered a bad break.

The Crows have an interest in RVing because they have owned several throughout the years and enjoy going on trips to Bodega Bay and Oregon. Traveling up the scenic Highway 1 and admiring the ocean view on the way to camping in Oregon is one of Gary Crow’s favorite ways to spend a vacation.

It was that love of RVs and travel that spurred the initial interest in Simpson back in 2004, Gary Crow said.

Like Janet’s Richmaid Restaurant, California RV Specialists prides itself on customer service. It offers first-time customers a free coach inspection.

“It’s like getting a physical,” Simpson said.

Besides doing repairs and maintenance on RVs, the business also has the ability to service boats, Simpson said.

While he is installing a new flat-screen television in an RV or pounding out some dings in its exterior, Simpson said his customers often help themselves to a meal at one of Lodi’s most popular restaurants.

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