Wed Aug 30, 2017
For 24 years, ATCO America and RV Cool were competitors in the remanufacturing of replacement RV cooling units. The two businesses started around the same time in the early ‘90s and both were successful even through the economic recession in the late 2000s.
Even though the two companies were thousands of miles apart – ATCO in southwest Oregon and RV Cool in central Arkansas – they knew each other well and were both competitors and friends in the industry.
In late 2016, ATCO America’s President and Owner Chuck Crowe decided to retire. ATCO America’s Owner Wick Weckwerth began negotiations with Crowe to buy the company and the acquisition was completed in December.
Since then, RV Cool has seen a significant increase in business, taking over the market in Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho, in addition to the business it had in the central United States. Since the acquisition, Weckwerth says he has seen an estimated 35 percent increase in sales for the year.
“Adding the northwest to our business has been pretty significant. Rather than keep both facilities open, we opened a distribution facility in Oregon, while all units are manufactured here in Arkansas,” Weckwerth says. “It’s RV dealers that we’ve never dealt with before. Those three states, we never did a lot of business with them because ATCO had the market covered. Now we’ve seen a huge increase in business in that corner.”
RV Cool started out in the industry rebuilding replacement cooling units for RV refrigerators for Norcold and Dometic units. In the last four or five years, the company has put a lot of time and effort in designing and building brand new boilers for refrigerators, something that Weckwerth says had been a problem area in the industry, as many boilers failed and people can get hurt when that happens.
Recently, the company redesigned the 1200 cooling units, called Bullet-Proof Boilers, which are heavy duty boilers in which the company offers a lifetime warranty, the only manufacturer of cooling units in the industry to do so. In all, RV Cool offers about 30 different models of cooling units in the remanufactured line and another 12 in the new model line.
All of the company’s cooling units are hand-welded by the company’s tradesmen who use an oxy-fuel welding process.
Taking over ATCO also has allowed for RV Cool to use the previous company’s galvanization technology along with its own brand new tubing to create a product that Weckwerth says is the best in the industry.
“What ATCO brought to the table was galvanized units and that’s our next step is incorporating that galvanizing process,” Weckwerth says. “Our new units with the galvanizing setup will make a cooling unit that’s unbeatable. We built them like the OEMS, all new parts and all new tubing, put it in place and weld it. That, combined with ATCO’s galvanizing process, which adds a zinc coating to further keep it from rusting, now we can take our new tubing, put a galvanized coating over it, it has tremendous value.”
To visit the company’s website and to order any of its products, visit www.rvcool.com.