While The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) recent National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., didn’t set any attendance records, Scott Degnan, Winnebago Industries Inc. vice president of sales and product management, says the Forest City, Iowa, manufacturer was pleased with the show’s traffic and outcome.
”We had a very good show,” Degnan said. ”I’ve seen a lot of good ones and bad ones, but this one seemed pretty positive according to the dealers I talked to. It was a nice steady flow of traffic.
”Louisville is still the staple of the industry and a premier event. It is recognized internationally and it’s a better setup (to show product). We are going to continue to support the industry show, the large consumer shows and our dealer meeting.”
RVIA reported that 7,525 people attended this year’s gathering earlier this month, a drop of 3% compared to last year. The dealer personnel count of 2,454 represented a decline of 4%.
Nonetheless, interest among dealers was across the RV spectrum reported Degnan, whose company showcased its new 2015 Brave/Tribute Class A as well as the all-new Spyder toy hauler and Destination fifth-wheel.
”Interest didn’t seem to be in one particular segment,” he said.
While not reporting specific figures because publicly owned Winnebago is in a ”blackout period” due to release of its fourth-quarter financial report on Thursday (Dec. 18), Degnan noted that Winnebago isn’t necessarily concerned about direct sales at the Louisville Show.
”We don’t target this as a big order-writing event, although we did write a lot more orders this year than we did last year,” Degnan told RVBUSINESS.com. ”Our priority is to meet with our dealers and show them new product, new floorplans, new features and give them a chance to walk through our product in a much deeper way with our product managers.”
He said that Winnebago Class B Touring Coaches — consisting of the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based Era and the gas Travato, built on the Chrysler Ram ProMaster chassis — were set up in a display of their own. ”That got a lot of attention,” Degnan said. ”Dealers would spend 30 minutes to an hour in that display and then move onto the rest of the product.”
Winnebago occupies 26% of the Class B market, which is up 22% overall year-to-date, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Winnebago, which did not show motorized product in September at the Elkhart (Ind.) RV Open House, will continue to focus its attention on its Dealers Days, held last May in Las Vegas, along with the Louisville Show.
”I don’t envision us going to Elkhart with motorhomes anytime soon,” Degnan said. ”Our ‘open house’ is our Las Vegas Dealers Days. That’s the event for us. Louisville is half a year later and it’s perfect timing to introduce more new floorplans and features.”
Capturing a piece of Americana embodied in the Flying W logo and “eyebrow design” that distinguished Winnebago Industries Inc.’s 1960s era motorhomes, the company has successfully resurrected those iconic symbols of the road in its line of Brave and Tribute Class A gas motorhomes.
“The retro styling has really been well received by buyers,” Winnebago Director of Marketing Chad Reece told RVBUSINESS.com. “It harkens back to the original look when we launched our first motorhome. We’re seeing a broad mix of consumers that are drawn to it – people that used to own a Winnebago or their parents or grandparents did, along with a lot of younger buyers that are making a connection.
“We’re not only hearing great reports from our dealers but also drivers who have said that people followed them until they stopped to ask them what kind of motorhome they were carrying. The Brave and Tribute just have that iconic eye appeal that resounds with people.”
Adding to the appeal is an eye-catching ad campaign that keys on consumers’ “need for nostalgia,” according to Reece. Driven by the tag line of “Peace, Love and Winnebago,” the campaign blends a 60s theme while also touting the array of modern-day amenities, technology and conveniences built into the motorhomes.
“We’ve been able to have a lot of fun with this product,” Reece said. “The ad has really caught on, and has generated a lot of buzz. There has also been a lot of interest from the national press. It’s definitely one of our most popular products from a PR standpoint. The ad is at the heart of the campaign, but there are variations as far as promotional materials. Of course, we’ll continue to develop the ad concept through the life of the product, but it looks like we hit a home run.”
Reece stressed that it was more than just the retro styling that was pumping sales. The Winnebago Brave and Itasca Tribute are loaded with features that match the standards demanded by today’s discerning RVer.
“A key part of our research and development was making sure we were in step with modern trends,” Reece said. “The engineering in the Brave and Tribute speaks to the needs of today’s consumer.”
He added, “We’ve been developing this product for several years. We were able to see some successes in the automotive industry – companies that went back to their roots – but there were also a lot of ideas that didn’t work. We knew that we only had one chance with this, so we wanted to make sure it was done right.”
Reece noted that Winnebago leaned on a loyal and experienced workforce when it entered the development stage. “Some of our most senior employees were around when Winnebago worked on its first prototype motorhome,” Reece said. “They were a big part of our early meetings, and everybody was immediately on board with the concept. That input really helped us tweak the end-product. Actually, the process included a wide swathe of employees. That’s how well thought-out the process was.”
Making their debut at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., the Brave and Tribute have continued to turn heads, according to Reece.
“We had a great showing at the California RV Show,” he said, “and we’ve had success across the country. Dealers are telling us that the Brave and Tribute have been turning quickly on their lots. That’s a really good thing – for us and our dealers.”
Winnebago will be showing the motorhomes at the National RV Trade Show, Dec. 2-4 in Louisville, Ky., while also including the coaches in a demonstration of the company’s build philosophy.
“We want to demonstrate how we design and construct our products,” Reece said. “We want to tell the story of how we do things at Winnebago.”
Winnebago Industries Inc. today (Oct. 16) reported double-digit gains in fourth-quarter revenue and earnings, boosted by continued strength in its motorhome division coupled with improved profitability from the company’s towable unit.
Revenue for the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter, ended Aug. 30, increased 14.8% to $245.9 million versus $214.2 million for the fiscal 2013 fourth quarter. During the period, net income grew 21.8% to $12.9 million and diluted earnings per share increased 26.3% to 48 cents from 38 cents while operating income rose 19.2% to $18.3 million.
Revenues for the 52-weeks of fiscal 2014 were $945.2 million, an increase of 17.7% from $803.2 million for the 53-weeks of fiscal 2013. For the year, operating income rose 43.9% to $63.9 million, net income grew 41% to $45.1 million, and diluted earnings per share increased 45.1% to $1.64 from $1.13.
The Forest City, Iowa-based builder noted that fourth-quarter earnings improved year-over-year primarily as a result of higher motorhome unit sales, a significant improvement in towables profitability and operating expense leverage.
Motorhome revenue grew 15% in the quarter driven by motorhome unit growth of 25.1%, partially offset by lower motorhome average selling prices (ASP) of 8.4% as a result of product mix. Compared to the same periods as last year, the company’s motorhome retail registrations increased 17% in the fourth quarter and 28% on a rolling 12-month basis, based on internally reported retail information.
Towables operating income improved by $1.4 million in the fourth quarter and was positively impacted by towables revenue growth of 8.6%, comprised of a 9.9% improvement in ASP and an 0.8% increase in units.
Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts commented, “Demand for our products resulted in industry-leading unit volume growth and market share gains for Winnebago motorized products through the first seven months of calendar 2014, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. The motorized growth and profitability within our towables business contributed to an outstanding fiscal year for the company resulting in year-over-year earnings per share growth of 45%. With a strong product lineup and increasing confidence in our towables group, we believe we are well positioned to leverage future growth opportunities.”
CFO Sarah Nielsen added, “We generated $13 million in operating cash flow during the fourth quarter primarily as a result of improved profitability. We did experience an increase in receivables of $13.4 million in the fourth quarter due to a greater level of units in transit, however, this was offset by non-cash expenses and other changes in working capital. With no debt and nearly $58 million in cash, our balance sheet is very strong, supporting future growth opportunities as well as potential stock repurchases and our recently announced quarterly cash dividend.”
Winnebago will conduct a conference call to discuss results at 10 a.m. EDT today.
To view a complete earnings report click Q4 2014 Earnings Release.
Winnebago Industries Inc. announced it is now shipping the Winnebago Minnie to Australia as part of an agreement with Australian-owned Winnebago RV Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo.
According to a press release, Apollo CEO Luke Trouchet and Executive General Manager Operations Paul Truman recently visited Winnebago Towables in Middlebury, Ind., to inspect the first Winnebago Minnie to be delivered to Australia as part of Apollo’s initial order of Australian designed and compliant caravans. Winnebago representatives on hand to meet them were Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts; VP, CFO Sarah Nielsen; Towables President Johnny Hernandez; Towables National Sales Manager Brion Brady; and export specialist, Doug Spencer.
Trouchet said bringing Winnebago to Australia and New Zealand realized a long-held ambition and represented an exciting milestone for his family-owned company, which was established in 1985.
“It’s a real privilege to represent Winnebago in Australia and New Zealand, and we know the market is very keen to at last have access to this iconic brand,” Trouchet said. “We’re absolutely delighted to see the first Minnie caravans heading ‘Down Under’ and we are sure they will be out on the road in no time.”
Potts added, “We look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with Apollo and the export of our first Minnie is a great step to a long and successful relationship.”
Winnebago Industries Inc. has a host of new 2015 products on display at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., running Sept. 8-14.
Leading the way is a new Brave 31C floorplan that is making its debut at the show. According to a press release, the new Brave brings back the legendary “eyebrow” design with a fresh new modern look. Beyond appearance, the coach is loaded with today’s best features and is offered in three versatile floorplans fit for weekend getaways or extended trips.
Available in both the Brave and Tribute lines, the new 31C features a full-wall slideout on the driver’s side of the vehicle and a dinette slideout on the passenger side, significantly increasing the interior living area. With an available StudioLoft bed over the cab area, sofa/bed, and a rear queen or optional king bed, there is sleeping available for up to six inside. The Brave and Tribute 31C also have plentiful storage, including a large wardrobe across the bedroom wall. A split bath with privacy doors on either side also provides a flexible living space.
A full complement of products will be on display, including a “Flame Red” Travato complete with optional bike rack, luggage rack and ladder, and kayak racks that appeals to active outdoor enthusiasts. Built on the Ram ProMaster chassis, the fuel-efficient Travato Class B has a flexible floorplan, complete with a Murphy Bed that attaches to the wall to maximize floor space.
A new Class B floorplan, the Era 170C, is built on the fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz chassis and features a slideout and hydronic heating system. The 170C also offers a storage system in the rear of the unit that has a unique door that goes into the shower stall, providing easy access to large items such as golf clubs.
The ultimate in luxury, the Ellipse Ultra 42QL is also on display. Featuring the show-stopping “Bronze Halo” premium exterior full-body paint package and the interior “After Hours” fabric collection with “Glazed Java” cabinetry, the Ellipse Ultra is the final stop for luxurious living. The Grand Tour and Ellipse Ultra feature the 450-hp Cummins turbo-charged diesel engine on the Freightliner Maxum chassis tag axle chassis with lowered rail construction for an improved ride, performance and storage capacity.
Inside the Grand Tour and Ellipse RVers can enjoy the luxury six-way adjustable Villa cab seats in Ultraleather with power footrest, heat and massage and power lumber support. They also swivel to become luxury seating elements within the living space when parked. Upscale luxurious amenities that add to the Grand Tour and Ellipse Ultra experience include polished porcelain tiles, a large skylight with powered shade, Villa furniture, keyless entry and six full-body paint packages.
Multiplex switch panels located throughout the all-electric coach allow RVers to easily control coach functions, including exterior and interior lights, hydraulic jacks, MCD power shades, slideout rooms, and more, while the Carefree Paramount awnings extend from the top of the RV to three easy positions: slideout, slideout and window, and full patio extension.
Winnebago Towables lineup is also on display, including the Micro Minnie, colorful Minnie and Ultralite trailers, as well as the Voyage, Latitude, and Destination fifth-wheels.
While the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” craze roars — or splashes — on, Winnebago Industries Inc. Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts took the challenge in an unusual way today (Aug. 22) – in the company’s motorhome water test booth.
Potts challenged the rest of the Winnebago executive team, who, after seeing Potts get drenched, declined to participate in the water.
As a result of the team declining the challenge, Winnebago Industries made a donation of $1000 to the ALS organization.
The ice bucket challenge phenomenon has been raising money to support research into Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a degenerative condition.
Participants have a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads and publicly challenge another person or group of people to do the same — or to decline by donating money to fund ALS research.
On August 21, the New York Times reported that the ALS Association had received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 through Aug. 21.
Winnebago Industries Inc. will debut the Winnebago Outdoor brand licensing program at the 2014 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow this week in Salt Lake City. Winnebago, an official sponsor and first-time exhibitor, will be joined by anchor apparel and headwear licensee, 540Brands LLC.
According to a press release, 540Brands will debut its complete line of officially licensed Winnebago apparel and headwear, consisting of more than 40 SKUS. This authentic All-American lifestyle line “captures the fun and irreverent humor of the 1970’s with a contemporary sensibility for today’s trendsetters,” Winnebago said. The agreement between Winnebago and 540Brands was brokered by licensing agency Brandgenuity.
Attendees of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the all-new 2015 Winnebago Brave recreational vehicle at the Pavilion Plaza. The Brave blends the iconic vintage design with modern sensibilities, evoking childhood memories and appealing to a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Guests are invited to tour the Brave and encouraged to enter the #BEBRAVEORSHOW social media challenge to win exclusive Winnebago gear.
“We are thrilled to be launching our brand licensing program with 540Brands at the Outdoor Retailer Show,” said Chad Reece, director of marketing at Winnebago. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to venture into the consumer products space and we are eager to use this opportunity to connect with our core fans and introduce them to the all-new 2015 Winnebago Brave.”
Winnebago is actively seeking opportunities to expand the Winnebago brand into new product categories, including outdoor and camping equipment and performance apparel among others. Brandgenuity will be attending Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. For licensing inquiries, contact Brandgenuity at email@example.com or (212) 925-0730.
Winnebago Industries Inc. has started the countdown to the launch of the annual WIT Grand National Rally (GNR) July 16-20 at the rally grounds across from the company’s headquarters in Forest City, Iowa.
“We have started the countdown sequence as we prepare to host our WIT members for another memorable rally,” said Winnebago Consumer Engagement Manager Denise Yeager. “1969 was a year that not only launched our first WIT GNR, but also marked the first landing on the moon. We have a very special celebration this year as we celebrate these historic events. WIT members are already rolling into the rally grounds here in Forest City preparing to get reacquainted with old friends and meet some new ones as well.”
Several activities are planned during the event, including a visit from NASA’s Orion Project and the University of Iowa’s Mobile Museum.
GNR attendees can also sign on for in-depth building tours of Winnebago’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, informative seminars, and a variety of entertainment. Evening entertainment throughout the week includes the musical artists Rivoli Review, local comedy/singing duo Tina and Lena and a performance by Jefferson Starship.
Select vendors also participate in the GNR with displays and over 100 different informative seminar sessions throughout the rally. In addition, new 2015 Winnebago, Itasca, Winnebago Touring Coach motorhomes and Winnebago towables will also be on display, including brand new models such as the Brave and Tribute whose design harkens back to 1969 with a vibrant retro design with modern state of the art features. Rally participants looking for that hands-on feel, are also able to ride and drive some of the new 2015 units while they’re here.
Membership in the WIT Club is open to anyone who owns a Winnebago motorhome or towable product. There are currently more than 12,000 Club members. WIT Club members are eligible for special member benefits and can also participate in local, state, regional and special interest clubs, and receive special discount pricing on Winnebago Outdoor Adventure events and caravans.
To find out more about joining the WIT Club or participating in the upcoming WIT Club GNR or other WIT Club events, please contact: (800) 643-4892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rossmiller is a 25-year veteran of Winnebago and began her Winnebago career as a purchasing analyst in 1989. She has served in a variety of positions since that time, including production coordinator and inventory analyst.
In her new position, Rossmiller is responsible for the purchasing of production components including graphics, awnings, windows, doors and fasteners.
Rossmiller is a native of Titonka, Iowa, and graduated from Hamilton Business College in Mason City, with a legal accounting degree. She lives in Forest City with her husband, Eric, and their two sons. Rossmiller is an active volunteer with Boy Scout Troop 418 and serves as a Sunday School teacher for the United Methodist Church in Forest City
Winnebago Industries Towables has named Greg Pettine as district sales manager.
According to a press release, Pettine recently joined Winnebago Towables as the district sales manager for the Southeast region of the United States. Pettine is a 20-year RV industry veteran, having previously worked for Coachmen Industries Inc., Jayco Inc. and Keystone RV Co. as a district sales manager.
A native of Acton, Mass., he graduated with a bachelor’s in business management from Indiana University in 1985. Pettine currently resides in Granger, Ind., and may be reached at (574) 825-5250, ext. 5178, or email@example.com.
Winnebago Industries Inc. announced that Board Director Robert J. Olson will not seek reelection and will retire from his position on the board when his current term expires at the 2014 Annual Meeting on Dec. 16.
Winnebago stated in a press release that Olson previously served as chairman, CEO and president of Winnebago, retiring from active employment in February 2012 after 43 years of service to the company.
“Bob has been invaluable to Winnebago,” said Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts. “He brought a tremendous depth of knowledge to his position on the board from his tenure as a great leader and employee of Winnebago Industries. We thank him for his dedication and service and wish him well in retirement. He will be greatly missed.”
Olson’s position on the board will be filled by a candidate who will be approved in the normal course to be elected at the company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on Dec. 16.
Winnebago Industries Inc. was the recipient of the Iowa Job Honor Awards, a new initiative aimed at recognizing Iowans who have overcome significant barriers to employment.
Kyle Horn, founder and director of the awards, describes his motivation to launch the initiative: “Our society celebrates lottery winners, celebrities and professional athletes. Yet if these are the only paths to self-sufficiency, then most Iowans will never escape poverty. It’s time for a new kind of hero.”
According to a press release, nominations were submitted via the organization’s website, www.jobhonor.org, and judged by a statewide panel. Gary McCarthy, Winnebago personnel supervisor, was on hand for the award presentation during the Iowa Association of Business and Industry annual conference on June 11. Several hundred Iowa business leaders assembled in Cedar Rapids’ Paramount Theatre to witness the ceremony, in which biographical videos described the honoree’s efforts to win life-changing jobs.
In the employer category, T&D Repair in Burlington and Winnebago of Forest City were honored for their commitment to hire disadvantaged candidates. According to McCarthy, “Our employees are very loyal, hardworking, and dependable. Because of their struggles, they really value their job.”
One such honoree is Yvonne Rodriguez of Sheldon. Trapped in a life of poverty and lacking marketable skills, Rodriguez pursued training in her struggle to gain financial independence for her family. She’s now employed as an optometrist assistant at Eye Care Center in Sheldon, where her employer credits her with attracting new customers through community involvement and bilingual skills.
Each employee honoree received a $500 cash award and engraved trophy.
Honoree Yvonne Rodriguez believes perseverance is the key for struggling jobseekers. “Always believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” she urges, “There will be a day you wake up and say ‘This is the life I’ve been wanting.’”
As Winnebago Industries Inc. works to strengthen its presence in the outdoor lifestyle market through Winnebago Outdoor, it has found an opportunity to do it about a mile from its production plant in Forest City, Iowa.
The Mason City Globe Gazette reported that Winnebago Outdoor is one of the sponsors of the Tree Town Music Festival slated for May 23-25 at Heritage Park of North Iowa in Forest City.
“We saw an opportunity right across the street and thought ‘Let’s jump on it,'” Denise Yeager said of Tree Town. Yeager is the consumer engagement manager who oversees WIT Club and brand and licensing.
Winnebago Outdoor is the motor home manufacturer’s brand licensing effort geared toward sharing the Winnebago name and philosophy with public in a variety of outdoor gear, clothing and other items.
“We will start with categories close to the RV (lifestyle),” Yeager said of Winnebago Outdoor’s event relationships. “We want to reach out to anyone who enjoys the outdoor lifestyle.”
One way to reach out is at the Tree Town festival.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to have Winnebago Outdoor’s name on stage,” Yeager said. “People will see the stars performing and see our name at the same time.”
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Top sales awards were given to the company’s dealers in the United States and Canada, as well as the top rental dealer and new dealer of the year for the Winnebago and Itasca brands.
This year’s award winners are:
• Camping World RV, Lincolnshire, Ill. – Top Winnebago Industries Dealer Multiple Locations.
• Lazydays, Sefner, Fla. – Top Winnebago Industries Dealer Single Location, Top Winnebago Dealer North America, and Top Dealer Winnebago – East.
• La Mesa RV Center, Sanford, Fla. – Top Itasca Dealer North America and Top Itasca Dealer – East.
• La Mesa RV, Mesa, Ariz. – Top Winnebago and Itasca Dealer – West.
• Sicard Holiday Campers, Smithville, Ontario – Top Winnebago Dealer Canada.
• Carefree Coach and RV, Edmonton, Alberta – Top Itasca Dealer Canada.
• Colonial Itasca, Lakewood, N.J. – Top Winnebago Touring Coach Dealer – North America.
• Great Alaskan Holidays, Anchorage, Alaska – Top Rental Dealer.
• La Mesa RV Center, Fort Myers, FL – Itasca New Dealer of the Year
• High River Autoplex & RV, High River, Alberta – Winnebago New Dealer of the Year.
In addition to these awards, 102 dealers were honored with the Circle of Excellence award in recognition of their excellence in customer satisfaction, as it relates to the customers’ sales and service experience with the dealer.
In its ninth year, the PIE award recognizes those motorhome dealers with the best market share penetration within their basic trade area (BTA).
Twelve Winnebago and Itasca dealerships were recognized in three market categories from both the East and West regions. The categories are defined as basic trade areas with 99 or fewer annual retail registrations, 100-199 annual registrations and greater than 200 registrations.
Following are this year’s PIE award winners as ranked by market size from smallest BTA to largest BTA:
Winnebago – Western Region
Affinity RV, Prescott, Ariz.
La Mesa RV Center, Tucson, Aiz.
La Mesa RV Center, Davis, Calif.
Itasca – Western Region
Guaranty RV Centers, Junction City, Ore.
Olathe Ford RV Center, Gardner, Kan.
Camping World RV Sales, Wood Village, Ore.
Winnebago – Eastern Region
US Adventure RV, Davenport, Iowa
Camping World RV Sales, Calera, Ala.
Camping World of Ft. Myers, Ft. Myers, Fla.
Itasca – Eastern Region
Flagg RV, Uxbridge, Mass.
La Mesa RV, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
La Mesa RV Center, Ft. Myers, Fla.
In addition to the PIE award, 102 dealers have also been honored with the Circle of Excellence award in recognition of their excellence in customer satisfaction, as it relates to the customers’ sales and service experience with the dealer.
The company has also presented top sales awards to Winnebago, Itasca, Winnebago Touring Coach brand motorhome and Winnebago and SunnyBrook dealers in the United States and Canada as well as top rental dealer and new Winnebago and Itasca motorized dealers of the year.