As per our previous post, we arrived at Entegra about 5:00 p.m Sunday evening. When we pulled into the parking lot and found the overnight sites, we were intrigued to see an Aspire already there with the exact same paint job as ours. Hmm, hope we don’t get confused!
Once we were parked, plugged into the 50A juice and settled into the wide space provided, the coach owner, Larry from Texas, came over to chat with us. We learned that he has had his 2013 Aspire for almost a year and was there having a few things checked out. Really nice guy!
It turned out that his unit was identical to ours in more than just exterior color scheme – exact same interior colors and same RBQ (rear bath) layout. It was great meeting someone with the same model – Rob was able to get answers to some of the questions he had. And the really good part was that he could not say enough good things about the coach and Entegra customer service and that made us feel very comfortable about having to be there.
During our conversation, Larry mentioned that the rope lights around his ceiling emblem in the main salon had stopped working. We replied “what lights?” It turned out that we had rope lights around our emblem which had never worked so we didn’t even know we had them! How funny is that? So that item was quickly added to our ever growing punch list! Ever growing because during the trip out we discovered a few other minor items to add to the list. Good thing we drove it ourselves instead of having it transported by someone else.
Entegra is a relatively new subsidiary of Jayco who acquired the assets of the well respected Travel Supreme brand in 2008 when the economy went south. They moved the factory, made a lot of engineering design and process improvements and have already achieved a booming growth in popularity by building a premium coach at a very attractive price point.
A refreshing aspect of Entegra is their family oriented corporate ethic toward both customers and employees. For example, the founders of Entegra, Derald and Wilbur Bontrager, are Mennonites and the factory workday is tailored to fit that culture. So most of the service employees start work early at 6:30 a.m. and leave by 3:00 p.m. so they have time to work on their farms and be with their families for the latter part of the day.
We had been warned that there would be a knock on our door at 6:30 a.m. so we knew we would need to get up at the crack of dawn (or even before) on Monday morning to be ready. We figured once they took our baby to service to start investigating/fixing the kink, we wouldn’t be able to stay in our coach on Monday night so in the morning we would need to transfer any food, clothing and other stuff that we didn’t want to leave there into the van for the trip home.
It’s not often lately that we’ve been up early enough or in a good viewing spot to catch a sunrise but there was a really pretty sky on Monday morning. At a little after 7:00 a.m. PJ (one of the customer service reps) and David (a service technician) knocked on our door. They spent at least 1-1/2 hours with us going over each item on our list, explaining what they would do and answering our questions. What great guys! Very accommodating, very professional and very patient!
After they drove our coach away (sniffle, sniffle), PJ had us come into the Customer Service building where we met Jacob and the other Customer Service reps as well as Joyce Skinner, the Director of Customer Service.
We were asked if we wanted to take a factory tour again and if we wanted to attend their customer pancake breakfast at 7:00 a.m on Tuesday which would be followed by a Q & A session. Yes to both! Since the tour wasn’t until 12:30 p.m. we left Entegra and went over to Das Essenhaus for a delicious breakfast.
At this point we still did not have any accommodation for the night. We called the Hampton Inn across the street since Entegra has a corporate rate with them, but they were full because of the Flea Market in Shipshewana on Tuesday and Wednesday. So we ended up staying at Das Essenhaus again (Room #215) which was fine with us! It was as wonderful this time as it was during our previous stay in March except that it sure looked a lot different – NO SNOW!! Woo hoo!
We checked in and rested a bit before heading back to Entegra for the tour. Nate, one of the salesmen, was our tour guide and we were joined by another couple who were interested in buying an Entegra and also Chuck, a current Monaco owner. Chuck is a full-timer and part time RV driving instructor. He had driven a customer’s Entegra during an instruction session and was impressed so was checking things out for future consideration. He had lots of good intel on the build process and some of the problem areas still being worked out. He and Rob kept getting “lost” during the tour.
It turned out that our guide, Nate, had only been with the company a few months, had never been camping and had never driven an Entegra. Huh??? That seemed a little odd to us, but Nate was clearly in learning mode and anxious to acquire a full understanding of the product and its customers, but for now it was difficult for him to answer any questions and/or concerns expressed by the other people on the tour. I think Rob & Chuck knew more than Nate did!! The tour was good for us in that we got a fresh look at the build process and were able to glean a few more details, but we would suggest to Entegra that for new potential customers they make sure the tour guide knows the product (and the RV lifestyle) inside and out.
One thing we did see at the end of the tour when we went aboard one of the 2014 Aspire RBQ models waiting for transport was a new pull out unit in the pantry. The pantry was a new feature recently added to the later 2013 models and fortunately ours had a pantry but unfortunately it didn’t have any type of pull out shelving.
Rob and I had been talking about how we could improve our pantry unit but hadn’t come up with a specific solution. The pantry is really deep so we were concerned that stuff would be put on the shelves, never to be found again kind of like what happens in your freezer.
Well, when I saw the new pull out, I knew that I had to have it!!! After doing a little sweet talking to PJ, he agreed to add that improvement to the end of our list. Since it wasn’t a warranty repair, there would be a charge for it but from our point of view, it would be well worth it for them to install it instead of Rob. His “to do” list was already quite extensive and he certainly didn’t need a new item added to it.
After the tour, we drove over to the Guggisberg Cheese Factory. What a place! Every kind of cheese you could imagine – all made there by the Amish. And the best part – you could sample each type.
They don’t give tours there but you can watch them making the cheese through some windows and learn about the process from information provided on an overhead TV monitor.
It was tough deciding which to buy but we ended up buying their award winning Colby Cheese, their Amish Creamery Cheese (my favorite) and a Sharp Cheddar. Delish! Have I mentioned before that cheese is one of my favorite food groups? Forget chocolate, just give me a chunk of cheese on a cracker and I’m one happy camper!
Of course, after buying the cheese we now had a new dilemma – we needed to find a grocery store to buy some crackers to go with our newly purchased cheese. What’s cheese without crackers?? Did I mention how much I like cheese?
At a nearby market, we saw several buggies with the horses tied up to a hitching rail. Interesting seeing modern technologies next to the not so modern! Not sure why but we still find seeing the buggies everywhere fascinating.
Back at Das Essenhaus, we took a walk around the grounds, then headed back to the room to rest a bit. That night we ate in our room, dining on a take out order of Broasted Chicken with several sides (mashed potatoes, homemade Amish noodles, green beans and gravy) from their restaurant. Knowing it was going to be another early morning and another long day for us on Tuesday, we hit the sack early!
More about the next phase of this trip in the next post.