Lots of people are just waiting for the day when they can quit their desk job, buy an RV and travel the country. They just don’t have the money to do it.
But what if you could keep your job and see the country in an RV at the same time? That’s what Chris Gage has managed to do in a 40-foot motorhome that she is taking on a two-year cross-country trip that combines work and pleasure.
Gage is vice president of operations for RMS (Retail Management Solutions), which supplies pharmacies with point-of-sale technology for credit and debit card transactions, prescription records and inventory control. She won permission from her boss to travel across the country to visit each of RMS’s 850 customers.
The idea for the trip arose from a book, Live a Thousand Years, by Giovanni Livera. Brad Jones, the president of RMS, heard Livera give a motivational presentation at a pharmacy industry trade show and was so impressed that he bought copies of the book for all of his employees.
The book is an inspirational tale whose theme is about setting priorities to make the most of your life—do it right and you can live the equivalent of a thousand years. After reading the book, it occurred to Gage that she could combine her job with a personal goal of seeing the country. She wouldn’t be making sales calls, but would visit existing customers to get ideas on how RMS could improve its products and services, and also show customers how to take better advantage of those products and services. Along the way, she would have time to see new places, and, as a self-described foodie, try interesting restaurants.
She took the idea to her boss with some trepidation. Her opening line was, “I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but…” His response was, “This is crazy enough to be a brilliant plan.”
Brad Jones started RMS out of his home in 1998. In the beginning, he could meet face-to-face with all his clients, but as the company grew to more than 40 employees, most contact was reduced to phone calls and e-mail. So he saw Gage’s proposal as a great way to increase interaction with customers.
While her boss was enthusiastic, Gage said her friends had a mixed reaction to the plan: “Some thought it was really neat, and some thought it was insane.”
The skeptics were influenced by the fact that Gage had never traveled in a motorhome before. She had been on camping trips as a child—traveling in a van and sleeping in a tent—but RVing represented a completely new experience.
Nevertheless, she sold her 2,300-square-foot house in Vancouver, Washington, bought a 2010 Itasca Meridian, hooked up a Jeep as a tow vehicle and set out for her cross-country adventure on Nov. 29 with her partner and a 10-year-old cat.
The offices of RMS are in Olympia, Washington, but Gage had always worked out of her home in Vancouver, about 100 miles away, so the idea of working on the road in a motorhome wasn’t a big stretch.
Still it has required some adjustment. We caught up with Gage by telephone first in Newport Beach, California, where she was spending six weeks calling on customers, and later in Arizona while she was driving to Flagstaff.
She had no regrets about giving up her house for a motorhome. “I don’t miss mowing the lawn,” she said. She just wished she had included a washer and dryer in the RV she bought.
Listening to Customers
The pharmacy owners and managers she has met have appreciated the in-person contact, and she has picked up some ideas for improving her company’s products. A suggestion already implemented is to increase the company’s telephone contact with customers. One thing she has learned, Gage said, is “how important it is that we communicate more frequently.”
By being on the road she has managed to do things she could never do at home, such as going to an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, attending a National Hockey League playoff game, and eating at a unique Mesa restaurant called Joe’s Farm Grill, where they grow their own food. When I last talked to Gage, she was planning a visit to the Grand Canyon. (You can follow her trip online at her blog, RMS Roadshow, at rms-ontheroad.com.)
Jones, her boss, is delighted with the results of the trip so far. The response from customers, he said, “has been overwhelming.”
Once Gage has finished her two-year stint on the road, Jones said, the company may offer to buy her motorhome to keep someone on the road all the time, maybe in rotating stretches of three months or more. Some employees have already volunteered, Jones said, and “I would consider doing it myself.”
And who knows how many other people may be inspired to buy an RV and incorporate it into their lifestyle. As she travels, Gage is distributing copies of Live a Thousand Years to all the customers she visits so they, too, can think about how they might expand their horizons and lead fuller lives.
Write to Mike Ward, editor at RV Life magazine, 18717 76th Avenue West, Suite B, Lynnwood, WA 98037 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Find First Glance online at rvlife.com.