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Winnebago Not Satisfied, Staying in High Gear

Winnebago Industries Inc.’s innovation has helped turn around the company’s bottom line and now the motorhome manufacturer must continue to be a leader in product development,  said Randy Potts, president, CEO and chairman of the Forest City, Iowa-based builder.

“It’s one thing to build excitement, it’s another thing to keep it,” Potts said of products such as the Minnie Winnie that have helped the motorhome manufacturer finish another fiscal quarter with dramatically improved financial numbers.

According to a report by the Forest City Summit, Winnebago’s third quarter operating profit increased by 191% over the operating profit recorded in third quarter of fiscal year 2012.

Potts said Winnebago must continue to introduce new models and still maintain appeal across the market from lower priced to higher-end motorhomes to continue to maintain and increase sales.

Winnebago has always introduced new models and focused on innovations but now, “I think the market is more aggressive than in the past,” Potts said.

The company introduced a new Itasca model, the Solei, at a dealer event over the weekend of June 21-23 in Wyoming.

Although the lower priced models have done well, “that’s not to say the market will stay that way in the future,” Potts said. Products in a higher price range are also doing well, Potts said.

Although the company has a backlog of products on order that it needs to manufacture, CFO Sarah Nielsen said the orders aren’t artificial.

Some dealers are ordering products early because of the delay the company has in receiving Class A model Ford chassis, Nielsen said. The chassis issue is shared throughout the recreational industry, Nielsen said.

Dealers aren’t ordering product to be safe and with the expectation they could cancel those orders, Potts and Nielsen said.

“The growth we’ve seen in recent months is completely supportable,” Nielsen said.

Potts said as the company continues to make more motorhomes, the number of employees is “right where we need to be.”

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