In the early spring of 2021, Luke Underwood had some issues with the electrical system in his 2008 Jayco Eagle 32-foot fifth wheel camper. He is naturally mechanically-inclined, not born with any silver spoon in his mouth, but more likely a chrome wrench in his tiny hand. He figured out two things: (1) How to repair the electrical problem, and (2) he loved fixing it. So, he did what any brilliant entrepreneur does. He made a business out of something he is both skilled at and enjoys doing.
With a red toolbox and a blue lunchbox in his white Jeep, he began making his presence and repair services known in campgrounds in the area. At the same time, he dived into learning everything he could find about campers and recreational vehicles (RV). The business flourished quickly.
While some companies are releasing their brick and mortar presence for online or house calls, Luke found the road from on-site camper and RV calls into the brick and mortar arena. He rented a bay from Radford Auto Auction, and when that wasn’t large enough, he moved into his own 4-bay building behind the Radford Travel Center at exit 109 off I-81, next to Tannahill Truck.
The Entrepreneur Gene
At the age of 12, Luke had his own lawn care business. When he met his wife, Madison, in Mrs. Epperly’s class at Christiansburg High School three years later, he told her right up front that he planned to have his own business. They fit like a matching nut and bolt because Madison is a powerhouse herself of energy and ambition.
Luke spent lots of time as a kid with his grandfather, Raymond Underwood, on his Floyd farm. Raymond owned and operated Underwood Chevrolet, and Luke admired [and inherited] his independent spirit, strong work ethic and ability to back up any trailer. “My grandfather taught me how to back up a trailer, and I never dreamed then how handy that skill would be in my own business,” Luke relates.
Madison has been running her own photography business since her teens [memoriesbymadison on Facebook] and works as a hair stylist and behind-the-scenes receptionist, bookkeeper, schedule master and organization linch pin at Luke’s business. She is the one who came up with the Nomadic Camper & RV Repair name.
Together, they are the Underwood Team at Gravity Real Estate, both are licensed REALTORS®. The couple has renovated a couple houses for rentals, and they live in Floyd with three dogs, one cat, some chickens and four pigs. They dated since they were 15 and have been married one year.
The Business Model
Luke, 23, is closing in on two years in business and loves all the challenges, which many of us find to be frustrations. “There’s something new every day, and it keeps me motivated,” he states. “The custom jobs are some of the most rewarding because the camper or RV owner is blown away with interior renovations like new carpet, new furnishings, fresh paint, new counters or fixtures and water damage repair. For many, this is totally their home away from home or their only home.”
Of course, other customers are equally thrilled with repairs like:
• roof sealing or replacement
• axle work
• trailer hitch installation
• HVAC fixes
• winterization measures
• slide-out mechanisms
• plumbing issues
• LP pressure tests
• Trailer brakes
• Plus more …
• And what started it all: Electrical systems
One of Luke’s goals was to bring a business to the New River Valley which was not here. He has four employees which they treat like family, enjoying cookouts together. “Luke worked in a couple factories and said if ever he had his own company, each individual would not be treated like a number on the wall,” Madison explains. And they usually have a job opening for another mechanical person.
The small business is big already having partnered with some of the best suppliers in the camper and RV industry like Dometic, Carefree, Lippert, Dicor, Suburban, Meyers, AP Products and NTP. Luke is also a Ranch Hand dealer and B&W Hitch dealer. He has signed on with Keystone RV as a service center, and they do warranty and insurance work.
As campers themselves, Luke and Madison bring a personal passion to Nomadic Camper and RV Repair. As homeowners, they understand keeping well-maintained rental property for a fair price. As REALTORS®, they keep their fingers on the pulse of the housing market across the New River Valley. And as entrepreneurs, they embody the consistent courage, ebullient enthusiasm and aspiring ambition for success.
Nomadic Camper & RV Repair
“It’s not the destination. It’s how you get there.”
2399 Tyler Road, Christiansburg
Exit 109 off I-81
Open Monday-Friday, 9-5 p.m.