Andrea Calhoun – Come Friday afternoon, everybody’s one big family.
Andrea Calhoun has been in Elkhart, Ind., and around the RV industry long enough to know the good times and the tough times.
She has seen the times like the industry now is enjoying where there is more business to be handled than there are people to handle it. And she’s not so far removed from the times of layoffs and cutbacks to not remember getting her job done and keeping her head down. But through it all, there has been family – not just her own, but the family that grows from people working closely together in a similar situation that leads to the kind of closeness you just don’t find everywhere.
Calhoun started in 2004 with Forest River Inc. at the Wildcat Division, and then on to the Sunseeker Division before becoming a sales coordinator for the East To West Division for the Della Terra plant. If you ever see a Della Terra travel trailer on the road, she helped make that happen!
“I love working with people, “she said. “When I first started at Forest River, Inc. you got to know everybody at that division. Then I started working the shows as part of the setup crew for our division. This is where you meet people for the other divisions. You actually become one big family. Every Friday after work we’d all get together and go out as one big family and just have fun! You have to stick beside each other.”
Staff has grown and time has passed to the point that it isn’t just a figurative family anymore. Calhoun’s real-life family is part of the workforce as well.
“My husband has been with has been with Forest River, Inc. longer than what I have and is now with the East To West Division, and my kids are also part of the East To West Division as well. “When they were younger, every summer they would ride their bikes five minutes down the road to the Wildcat Division. They saw what we did and how hard we worked. Now I see that in them.”
All that togetherness doesn’t necessarily mean everything is sunshine and roses every day, though. Calhoun said “It’s going to be hard at first. It always is no matter what job you go to, tell yourself, ‘You can do it!’ Anybody coming into the industry needs to be prepared for hard work and determination, and to keep going when you are feeling down. That’s where chocolate and county music got me through it!
“I also went to college,” she continued. “Forest River Inc. at that time when I was working for the Wildcat Division, had a program where I could go to college, so I took advantage of that. It took me a while because I did work full time and took the classes at night. I finally graduated and worked my way up, so here I am.”
She said the current success of the RV industry and the increasing pace gives her confidence in the future and makes her want to go further in reaching her personal and professional dreams along the way and would love to get into sales.
It gives her a reason to encourage other women to get involved in the industry.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “It is hard times, but any women in any industry can make it happen. You just have to put your mind to it. You have your family backing you up. My kids were pushing me out the door. You come home from work so tired that you didn’t want to go to school – especially at my age – I didn’t want to go back to school, but I did it. They gave me a reason. I am very glad they did! One foot in front of the other.”