Story and Photos by Richard K. Mater Cool-Fun Ices Prices, Now Rico-Pros RV Cooling Units


The scene is a common and off repeated one. RVers begin their annual, Iong-awaited vacations after months of winter planning. Expectations and enthusiasm run high as the rig is loaded in preparation for what is planned as a relaxing getaway.

Unfortunately, despite numerous efforts to activate it, something appears to be awry with the refrigerator. It won’t cool properly, and many foodstuffs requiring refrigeration have been purchased for the vacation.

A hasty and hopeful visit is made to the neighborhood RV service center where, to much dismay, the RVer’s worst fears are confirmed. The absorption refrigerator cooling unit has failed and must be replaced!

At this point several less-than-desirable options are presented to the frustrated owner. The entire refrigerator can be replaced with a newer, updated model, but not without great expense. The vacation can be canceled altogether, or the cooling unit can be replaced with either a new or reconditioned unit.

The latter option is the one most often invoked by anxious RVers poised ready for their vacation, particularly since installation of a rebuilt can be performed for approximately onethird the price of a new, complete refrigerator.

Much to the appreciation of these desperate owners. Cool-Fun, Inc. of lrwindale, CA is in the business of providing quality, reconditioned cooling units to a surprising number of RV service centers. Thought to be the largest provider of rebuilt absorption refrigerator components in the world, Cool-Fun distributes its products to over 2,400 service centers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as other areas of the world where RVs are found.

During my visit to the facility, Corporate Vice President Joel Rico provided me with the background of the company as well as the other corporate officers. Initially he noted that the four primary officers—himself; Felix Ortiz, president; Matt Bartowick, international purchasing agent, and Plant Manager Fernando Rico have over 70 years of cumulative experience with absorption—type refrigerators.


This, he believes, is responsible for the steady expansion and growth enjoyed by the company since its founding in 1978. Rico said he became aware of a critical need going unfulfilled during the mid-70’s. The need was two-fold, with one consideration being the insufficient numbers of rebuilt cooling units available to the industry during this time.

The second condition viewed as unattended by Rico was the lack of reliable sources to provide parts for orphaned refrigerators. That is, products no longer in production due to the demise of the original manufacturer. These two considerations have, and continue to be, the foundation of Cool—Fun.

Starting with approximately 100 detective cooling units provided by a local dealer, the company slowly gained a solid grip on the replacement market. Compared to this meager beginning, the holding area for units awaiting rebuild now houses thousands of major


Felix Ortiz and Joel Rico, owners of Cool Fun, Inc. and Travel Products, lnc., display one of the new Edesa “Go Anywhere Multi-Powered Freezers” as Fernando Rico, plant manager, looks on.

Matt Bartowick, purchasing agent, programs a new source of supply into Cool Fun’s computer system.


Amanda Velasquez ls pictured changing the coils on an old cooling unit in the above picture.

Components taken from literally every type of RV absorption refrigerator ever built. For this reason, company officials believe they can fill cooling unit orders for nearly any model still in existence.

Though it is not often required, Rico stated that a cooling unit can be stripped, cleaned, repaired, recharged, tested, and shipped within 24 to 48 hours after receipt. This, of course, would only be done on units requiring priority handling, but indicates a responsiveness and willingness to serve by those at


All cooling units are thoroughly tested before packaging and shipping. Cool-Fun distributes products to more than 2,400 service centers around the world.

Approximately 8,000 cooling units are rebuilt each year at Cool-Fun. The firm presently offers a one-year limited warranty on the units, and is planning to offer a second year of coverage In the near future.


When asked if the company had encountered difficulty during the last fuel crunch and subsequent decline in RVsales, Rico replied with a firm “absolutely not.” He went on to indicate that significant growth was encountered during this period as a result of owners repairing their existing RVs rather than purchasing new ones. At this time, the reconditioning efforts of the company were stepped up to encompass the repair of virtually all types of RV appliances.

In addition to absorption refrigerators. Cool-Fun also repairs compressor based units, roof air conditioners, kitchen ranges, and most other appliances common to an RV. Also, a complete line of thermostats, heating elements, interior door panels and hardware is stocked by purchasing agent Bartowick. With an eye to future consumer needs, Bartowick is often instrumental in acquiring complete stocks of obsolete components from suppliers no longer wishing to carry slow-moving items.

However, even slow items have been known to move at respectable rates after being purchased by the company. This is a result of industry awareness that Cool-Fun can often provide normally scarce parts in short order.

According to Rico, RV dealers would do their customers a great service by stressing, and re-stressing the need to properly level absorption refrigerators before operation. Drawing upon company statistics, he noted that over 80 percent of the cooling unlts received for reconditioning have boiler tubes that are blocked from long-term off-level operation. The remainder suffer from various maladies such as leaks.

While the latter defects are normally beyond the control of the RVer, just keeping the unit level will go a long way towards avoiding the disappointment of ruined vacation plans, according to Rico.

Given the opportunity to expand upon Cool-Fun’s strengths, both Rico and Ortiz replied. They noted a very low turn-over rate of employees, which  naturally leads to a better overall work-force. ln fact, of the 23 full-time employees at Cool-Fun, most are cross-trained in the many phases of rebuilding. This assures a near-normal production flow during vacations and periods of employee illness, and is primarily the result of training techniques incorporated by plant manager Fernando Rico.

Rebuilt cooling units leave the factory at a rate in excess of 650 per month, or approximately 8,000 per year. Presently, all of these units are covered by a 12-month limited warranty, but Rico explained plans to offer an optional second year of coverage in the near future.

As often occurs with companies that begin as single product enterprises, executives at Cool-Fun have now started another company under the name Travel Products, Inc. This sister corporation is intended to compliment present efforts by venturing into the distribution of new travel appliances.

Many of the commonly known RV appliance manufacturers will be represented by Travel Products.



Phone 951-785-7001