RV builder Winnebago Australia has officially changed its name to Avida Motorhomes, following a legal dispute with Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. over the name of the company.
SmartCompany.com reported that the Australian firm is currently appealing a Federal Court decision which last year found it had infringed the copyright of the American company and had capitalized and taken advantage of the company’s brand.
An appeal has been launched, but isn’t due to be heard until March 26 and a decision may not be reached until June. For now, the company has changed its name to Avida Motorhomes.
Avida sales and marketing manager Max Mayo told SmartCompany that changing the name was a difficult process.
“Everyone is used to Winnebago so it was very hard,” he said. “When determining what the name was about we employed a professional branding company and discussed the psychology of names.”
In a statement, the company said Avida is “a brand name that is totally Australian, one that focuses on everything Australian.”
The name change follows a volatile legal battle. Bruce Binns owns the Australian company and Justice Lindsay Foster found Binns, through his company Knott Investment, acted knowingly to gain financially from the reputation of Winnebago Industries.
“I find that, by choosing to exploit the Winnebago name and the Winnebago logos, he was intending to gain for himself as much benefit as possible in Australia from the goodwill and reputation of Winnebago and its recreational vehicles,” Binns said.
“His decision was motivated by a keen appreciation that he and his associates would gain financial benefit from using the Winnebago marks in Australia.”
The family owned and operated company began in 1965, but it wasn’t until 1978 it became Winnebago Australia.
A settlement agreement was reached between the Australian and American brands in September 1992 and Binns registered Winnebago as a trademark in Australia. But legal action soon followed.
Winnebago Industries Inc. has been recognized by Statistical Surveys Inc. as the top performing motorhome manufacturer with both the largest volume and the largest overall growth in motorhome retail registrations during calendar 2012, the company stated in a press release.
In the U.S. motorhome retail registration report issued yesterday by Statistical Surveys for December of 2012, Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago was listed as the top selling manufacturer for Class A and Class C motorhomes in calendar 2012, with market share of 20.6% compared to 19.0% for calendar 2011. Winnebago Industries’ volume growth was 16.1% above retail registrations during calendar 2011 compared to industry growth of 7.3%.
In the U.S. Class A market segment, Winnebago Industries is also the top-selling market leader with 22.2% for calendar 2012. In addition, the Company also led the U.S. Class A gas market segment with 24.2% market share, grew U.S. Class A diesel market share to 19.4% and U.S. Class C market share to 18.5% for calendar 2012.
“We are passionate about developing and delivering innovative new products of the highest quality backed by best-in-class support after the sale,” said Winnebago Vice President of Sales and Product Management Scott Degnan. “These dynamic retail statistics both confirm and continue to fuel that drive. Thanks to our industry leading and loyal dealer network along with the hard work of our employees, we are establishing new, higher benchmarks for ourselves. We congratulate our dedicated employees and our strong dealer partners in achieving this top selling position. We will continue to work diligently to develop exciting new products and to provide industry-leading support for our dealers and retail customers.”
Winnebago Industries Inc. announced the appointments of Matthew Popovic and Jordan Mault as regional sales managers for Winnebago Industries Towables.
According to a press release, Popovic is responsible for sales of the company’s Winnebago brand travel trailer and fifth-wheel products on the East Coast of the United States and Canada, while Mault is responsible for sales of the SunnyBrook brand products on the East Coast of the U.S.
Popovic, 39, rejoined Winnebago Industries Towables in January 2013, having previously served as a sales manager for the company, as well as in sales and product management positions with other national RV manufacturers.
A native of South Bend, Ind., Popovic attended Southern Illinois University.
Mault, 27, recently joined Winnebago Industries Towables and formerly served in sales positions for another national RV manufacturer.
A native of Goshen, Ind., Mault graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., with a bachelor’s in finance.
Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. today (Feb. 4) announced that Ron Stoddard has been named as district sales manager while Terry Tweeten will serve as director of specialty vehicles.
According to a press release, Stoddard is responsible for sales of the company’s Winnebago, Itasca and Era motorhomes, as well as dealer development and training for dealers in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and portions of Nevada, Idaho and Texas.
Stoddard, 50, has a diverse background in recreational products, logging 22 years at Yamaha Motor Corp. in the marine and watercraft divisions. Since 2006, he has served in several sales and management roles for motorized and towable products for Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Fleetwood RV Inc. and Northwood Manufacturing Inc.
Tweeten will oversee specialty vehicle operations for Winnebago, which includes commercial and specialty vehicles, as well as transit buses. He reports to Vice President of Sales and Product Management Scott Degnan.
Tweeten, 49, a 25-year veteran of Winnebago, most recently served as director of strategic planning. Previously, he held positions in lead, supervisory, production and plant manager roles for the company.
Tweeten holds a bachelor’s from Iowa State University and a master’s in manufacturing management from Kettering University, formerly GMI Engineering and Management Institute, in Flint, Mich.
Winnebago Industries Inc. has announced the appointment of Wayne Popovic to the position of national sales manager of Winnebago Industries Towables.
According to a press release, Popovic will be responsible for sales of the company’s Winnebago and SunnyBrook travel trailer and fifth-wheel products.
Popovic, 43, joined Winnebago Industries Towables in July 2012 and served as the sales manager for the East Coast. He is a seven-year veteran of the RV industry, previously serving as regional sales manager at Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Coachmen Industries Inc.and most recently, national sales manager for Freedom Express at Forest River Inc.
A native of South Bend, Ind., Popovic graduated from LaSalle High School and Indiana University with a bachelor’s in business. He now resides in Granger with his wife, Debby, and three children, AJ, Lainey and Lizzie.
Winnebago Industries Inc. announced the appointment of Johnny Hernandez to the position of president of Winnebago Industries Towables, reporting directly to Winnebago Industries Vice President, CFO Sarah Nielsen. Former president Elvie Frey has resigned to pursue other interests.
According to a press release, Hernandez, 56, has over 38 years’ experience in the RV industry, and most recently served as vice president of sales and product management for Winnebago Industries Towables. Prior to joining Winnebago, he served as national sales and product manager for Coachmen RV’s Brookstone fifth-wheel trailers. Hernandez also spent 26 years with Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., serving in a variety of towable and motorhome sales and product planning positions.
Winnebago, based in Forest City, Iowa, acquired the assets of SunnyBrook RV Inc. in 2010 for $5.7 million to add towable units to its existing line of gas- and diesel-powered RVs. The company reported last month that in the first fiscal quarter of this year, the towable line lost $1.4 million, and the company noted significant management changes.
“I am truly excited to be heading up the towable group of Winnebago Industries,” said Hernandez. “Winnebago Industries is a world class company that is recognized globally for its products, quality, and award winning service. I am honored to be working with the best work force in our industry towards our goal of providing innovative quality towable products that will live up to the legendary Winnebago name.
He added, “The marriage of Sunnybrook and Winnebago created a company that has an historic reputation for not sacrificing quality for quantity with a brand that is iconic throughout the world and not just the RV industry. During my tenure within the RV industry, I have worked with some very good companies and been involved with some very successful products but I have never before witnessed the enormous potential that lies before our company, our employees and our dealers.”
Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. will introduce the new Winnebago Sightseer and Itasca Sunova 35G floorplan to the retail market at the 2013 Florida RV SuperShow scheduled for Jan. 16-20 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
According to a press release, the gas-powered Sightseer and Sunova Class A motorhomes offer four full-featured floorplans, including the all-new 35G. With three spacious slideouts, the 35G features a unique extendable U-shaped sectional sofa/sleeper and the exclusive “InTable,” designed to function as an end table, dining table, island and desk. The “InTable” also has flip-up ends to expand its working surface, offers storage and is mobile so that it can be used throughout the front living area of the motorhome.
In addition, a full complement of Winnebago motorhomes and towable products will be on display at the show, including:
• Winnebago Tour and Itasca Ellipse 42GD with four slideouts, a unique forward galley, 55-inch LCD TV mid-coach with great lounge seating in an L-shaped extendable sectional sofa, a spacious bathroom and extendable dining table.
• Winnebago Vista and Itasca Sunstar 26HE, a value-loaded floorplan that is ideal for RV enthusiasts of all ages.
• Winnebago Journey and Itasca Meridian 34B, a new floorplan that brings an extendable sectional comfort sofa sleeper and three slideouts.
• Winnebago Ultralite, a new entry into the lightweight travel trailer market that features a blend of Amish craftsmanship with 21st century styling. At less than 6,000 pounds, the Ultralite can be towed with most of today’s smaller tow vehicles.
To view an accompanying video on this story click here.
Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. has undergone some tough economic times, but leaders say their outlook is looking good.
As reported by KIMT TV, Winnebago has been around for more than 50 years and they are not going away any time soon.
“I’m proud of what I do,” said Harlan Rodberg.
Rodberg has been working at Winnebago for 48 years. He’s currently a floor installer for the motorhomes that come through this assembly line and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’ve got a good company to work for, we’ve got good benefits, the pay is good, and it’s fun every year to see how the motorhomes expand,” said Rodberg.
It’s definitely an industry that’s seen it’s changes and challenges.
“Motorhomes, specifically, is really a very small market. I mean if you think of a country with 300 million people in it, this year 25,000 to 26,000 motorhomes will be sold so we’re trying to identify that one person out of 1,000 that’s in the market,” said President, CEO and Chairman Randy Potts.
But if Winnebago knows how to do anything, it’s to keep rolling.
“I like to say we’re reinventing ourselves. It’s everything from changes in personnel a lot of different people around here a lot of new products that are hitting the market were changing the way we do a lot of things,” said Potts.
They plan to rev up their advertising campaign and are getting into transit bus manufacturing.
And it’s all being done to rocket the company out of “survival mode,” which they’ve been running on the past few years.
“Winnebago is very unique not just in the RV industry but in business in general especially publicly traded companies like us to endure the test of time is a truly unique thing it’s a special thing,” said Potts.
And it seems to be working for employees like Harlan.
“We build a good quality motor home and I think people notice that,” said Rodberg.
Randy Potts also credits the employees and north Iowa work ethic for helping keep the company going strong through the years.
Winnebago Industries Inc. has again received Ford Motor Co.’s “fully meets” classification as part of its “Truck Quality Program.”
According to a press release, the “Truck Quality Program” is the highest honor awarded to vehicle modifiers. It is based on an assessment of a modifier’s engineering capability, design and build process controls, management commitment and quality control procedures.
Ford said the purpose of the program is to assure vehicle modifiers have the capability and processes in place to “complete the vehicle in a repeatable manner that maintains the integrity of the Ford chassis system, meets federal and other standards in place at the time of the build, and provides end users with a quality built vehicle that meets their expectations.”
Winnebago Industries has received Ford’s “fully meets” classification every year since the program’s inception in 1997.
“Once again, Winnebago Industries is proud to earn the fully meets classification from Ford’s ‘Truck Quality Program,’” said Winnebago Director of Quality Control Chuck Hughes. “Our top priority is to manufacture the highest quality motorhomes on the market – and it all starts with the chassis. Meeting the stringent requirements by Ford to earn this classification shows that we are maintaining the integrity of the chassis while at the same time building the superior products our customers want.
“We hold Ford’s ‘Truck Quality Program’ in high regard and we will continue to strive to meet their expectations, as well as those of our customers.”
Winnebago Industries Inc. hit a 52-week high of $16.94 per share following its impressive fiscal first-quarter report on Dec. 20, according to NASDAQ.com.
Winnebago also achieved a Zacks No. 1 Rank (Strong Buy) based on strong earnings estimate revisions.
The Forest City, Iowa-based company reported a 46.8% increase in sales for its first quarter while earnings rose to $7.4 million compared to $1 million the previous year.
Winnebago also reported a 242.7% year-over-year hike in product backlog for the current quarter, led by the high-margin gas- and diesel-powered Class A motorhomes.