It all started with a broken air conditioner.
Kyle Spilker of DeWitt, Neb., got out his family's camper for the summer and realized there was a problem. He eventually made an appointment for Aug. 15 at Apache Camper Center in Roca, Neb., to have the unit repaired or replaced. He called another shop to see if it could fix it sooner but never heard back.
Then the appointment was pushed back because Spilker, wife Betsy and three sons wanted to use the camper in Colorado that week.
The procrastination and wait paid off. After Spilker finally dropped off his camper for repairs, he got a call that he had won a free air conditioner from manufacturer Coleman Mach, along with a $500 gift card to Apache Camper Center.
The air conditioner — the five millionth made by Coleman Mach — wore a gold shroud signed by all who helped make it. It was then placed in the box and shipped from Indiana and randomly distributed just like any other Coleman Mach RV air conditioner, ending up in Roca.
The unit will now find a home in the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. In exchange for turning the shroud back over to the company, the president of Apache Camper Center, David Sothan, will receive a free cruise to Alaska. Sothan isn't sure what he will do with it since he recently returned from an Alaskan cruise.
“I'm sure somebody will enjoy it, I just don't know who yet,” he said.
Sothan said there was quite a bit of excitement about the discovery of the air conditioner that was Coleman Mach's five millionth. “I heard all the screaming coming through the service department. I figured something was going on.”
It's not the first experience Apache has had with lucky customers. The full-line RV dealer with a second location in Bellevue in 1998 turned over a new camper to a Lincoln resident who had won it on the game show “The Price Is Right.”
For Spilker, the free air conditioner, which would have cost about $1,000 to purchase and install, was a relief after a string of what seemed to be bad luck. While taking the camper to get fixed, it blew a tire. The water heater also needed replacing.
“We had a little bad luck taking it up there, so this all helps cushion the final bill,” he said.