COMPANY PROFILE: Desert RV Brand Extends Beyond Its Services | Open
Desert RV in Brawley provides repairs, maintenance, and parts for the large number of RVs in the area, both locals and those traveling to and from Glamis Dunes and other desert parks, as well as the snowbirds of Canada, and the colder parts of the United States.
The company is owned and operated by Joel A. Gonzalez, a native of Brawley. He started the business, with the help of his parents, in 2009 after an eight-year career as a deputy in the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office.
Starting with just one other employee, the business has grown to now employ 13. In addition to mechanical repairs on recreational vehicles, the business has a high volume of body repairs and upgrades. Desert RV also installs fifth-wheel hitches in appropriately designed electric truck beds, as well as goosenecks. Window tinting is also available for commercial and personal vehicles.
Gonzalez encourages all RV owners to schedule an inspection before using the RV if it has been in storage or if it has simply not been used for several months. “This simple and inexpensive inspection will give you a safe and positive experience when you hit the roads,” he said.
At the end of October, just before the desert launch season, Desert RV hosts a customer and supplier appreciation function with a live band, food, and a general good time in the company’s parking lot. “It’s a way to bring the community together in a relaxed atmosphere with our employees and their families,” Gonzalez explained.
The annual launch event is likely due to the Desert RV and the Gonzalez experience in the annual Brawley Chili Cook-Off, which is one of the events leading up to the Cattle Call Rodeo. Gonzalez estimated he has been participating in the event for 13 years, generally placing in the top three and finishing first three times.
Gonzalez is also a car enthusiast. He has been a member of the LaGente Car Club for 22 years. The club, which has been around for about 42 years, participates in many local events, including the Cattle Call Parade. He also raises funds to support the Brawley Boxing Hall. Money raised from club events, which include low riders, hot rods and custom bikes, is used to help purchase equipment and maintain facilities.
Gonzalez’s love for playing around with old cars, including a 1964 Impala, dovetailed with his daily job. One of Desert RV’s new business lines is the restoration of vintage cars. This includes a total rebuild of the engine, transmission, major work on the body, a repaint and a complete overhaul of the interior.
To complete the interior work, he called on local talent. Currently he’s working on a 1971 Ford Mustang. Part of that work involved equipment that Desert RV didn’t have, so to keep things local, Gonzalez partnered up with D&H Body Works, which is located just around the corner from his store. All car restoration is done by appointment only.
Gonzalez is committed to supporting the community. He is a member of the Elks Lodge, the Hidalgo Society, the Brawley Chamber of Commerce – including six years on the board of trustees – and first year trustee on the Brawley Union High School district board of trustees. . In 2018, the Hidalgo Society named Gonzalez Hispanic of the Year, and the following year he was one of three recipients of the Branding Iron Award from the Brawley Chamber of Commerce.
During last year’s wildfire in Niland, which destroyed around 40 homes, Gonzalez and his team lent their support. Desert RV is the repair contractor for the Imperial Irrigation District Mobile Command Center. As part of the emergency response, Gonzalez was contacted to help position the large IID vehicle. He was there overnight, and then when the need for donations became apparent, Desert RV served as a drop-off point for the gift and delivered them to Niland for a full week. The Brawley American Legion post then volunteered to take over the operation from there.
Gonzalez’s outreach efforts weren’t limited to the valley. When the 2018 Texas floods were so devastating and the local community wanted to help, Desert RV also served as a donation center. Employees helped organize and package the donations on trailers so they could be transported safely and efficiently to the Texas coast and interior communities.
Like many graduates of Brawley Union High School, Gonzalez is a sports fan and supporter of various local sports programs. When his son, Jonathan, was 12, he and three others from Brawley were selected to play New York in an Under-12 game. Gonzalez raised the necessary funds so that the four could travel and spend a week for the tournament. Jonathan now attends Colorado Mesa College on a baseball scholarship.
Gonzalez also has a daughter, Makayla, and two stepdaughters, Savannah and Jocelyn.
Desert RV was the opportunity for Gonzalez to provide for his family, grow the business, and support his employees and their families. The success of the business has returned to the community and beyond in a way that could not have been imagined in 2009.