by Susan Copola
Andy Rogozinski can sit at his desk, returning the endless phone calls,
calculating on the endless paperwork that accompanies owning his Inland R.V.Center, Inc. and watch the planes taking off and landing at the tiny airport across the field from the industrial park where he spends his days -- and many of his nights and too much of his weekends, thinking up solutions and designing parts for his "re-manufacturing" of the Airstreams his customers, some of the Holly wood set, and some not, bring in.
Actually, the tiny silver model airplanes floating on invisible strands from his office ceiling take him back to the connection that brought him to his first Airstream 32 years ago. In 1966, a dental surgeon friend of his at Randolph Air Force Base bought a new Airstream and a new air conditioner unit, separately. So, Andy went in to the dealer's shop at night, after hours, and the only time that he had, as a favor to his friend to put this contraption securely on the roof of the new coach. When he returned the second night to finish, he noticed that the shop minions were copying his work on a second installation. Hmmmm . . . . .
So, he thought, and he wrote ... a manual where the calculation of repairs down to a formula for the number of rivets could be consistently and accurately proven. Caravaners Insurance, a division of Airstream, got hold of the manual and, recognizing a good thing, got hold of Andy. They put him in a new Airstream and sent him out to train service departments throughout the country.
That first go-around started in Denver and went down through New Mexico and Arizona, landing in California. It took three months. It went on for four years. If hail storms or other forces of nature put a rush on his services, he'd hop a plane to Albuquerque and stay on the airport pay phone to the dealer in Phoenix until last boarding call, trying to solve all the problems in all the places. But finally it had to stop. He had a family after all. So he returned to San Antonio.
But California called, as it does to some chosen by destiny, and he was brought with his entire household to Corona to what, as fate would have it, was the precursor of the business he now owns. The company was unraveling at the time, until February of 1987, when Andy took over. In November, 1988, he moved Inland RV to a shiny new industrial park and planted his roses.
When Airstream closed out their Santa Fe Springs factory, Andy was able to buy up their entire parts inventory for 1968 and pro models. Monday through Friday, his crew gives estimates (still using Andy's manual for accurate calculations), services, and "re-manufactures" from the skin-in and the frame-out in a spacious industrial warehouse. The yard is packed with more units awaiting their turn or in a holding pattern for their owners.
Andy has taken up flying again. It clears his head, gives him a focus beyond the aluminum crafts grounded in his garage. But, the design principle is too similar for this to be just mere coincidence. This is serendipitous. Perhaps he's getting above the mundane, looking at the horizon, seeing the future for the classic Airstream that people fall in love with.
"In the last three years, the Airstream client is younger and hipper. They see the Airstream as an art object. And it is," Andy muses.
"RE-MANUFACTURING?" It is not about classic restoration of the Airstream trailer. It's thinking of new designs that work, solutions for the client's needs and particular problems. Aluminum has its own peculiar characteristics. For example, nothing will bond to this surface unless you sand it with 150-grit paper to give the paint a surface to bite into. Andy does not think twice about painting a shiny aluminum Airstream silver or light lavender. A door had an encounter with a tree branch. It was one of Andy's aluminum's stretching characteristics, will never function again. The paint so bonds and becomes integral to the material itself that there is no cracking or pulling away from this aluminum surface. You can, however, if you really try, scratch it with your Swiss Army knife.
A ROCK AND ROLL COUPLE had Andy "re-manufacture" their Airstream motor home to give them secure locked storage for their instruments. Their exterior door is like something integral to a submarine, beautifully composited to the design of the coach's overall appearance. The bumper is purple an the coach a silver lavender. Get on the Bus! Enjoy the lilac, enamel wooden cabinets. Lie in splendor in the king-size mattress window-to-window in the rear. It's still under construction. It, will have paint artistically spattered on the dash console when it is finished.
Inland RV Hollywood SHOW clients include Tim Burton, Michael Madsen, Matthew Modine and Kyle McLaughlin.
Photos shown on this page and used in this article courtesy of Bryan Burkhart