Who We Are:
Winnebago Industries, Inc., headquartered in Forest City, Iowa, is a leading United States (U.S.) manufacturer of recreation vehicles (RVs), which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities. The Company builds quality motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheel products, and transit buses. The Company markets its recreation vehicles on a wholesale basis to a diversified dealer organization located throughout the U.S., and Canada. As of August 30, 2014, the motorhome and towable dealer organization in the U.S. and Canada included approximately 274 and 207 dealer locations respectively. Other products manufactured by the Company consist primarily of original equipment manufacturing (OEM) parts, including extruded aluminum and other component products for other manufacturers and commercial vehicles.
Winnebago Industries was incorporated under the laws of the state of Iowa on February 12, 1958, and adopted its present name on February 28, 1961.
The Road to #1.
In the mid-1950s Forest City, Iowa, was looking at a bleak future. The farm economy was down and young people were leaving this rural area. Forward-looking members of the community set about bringing industry to town. In 1958, businessman John K. Hanson and others convinced a California company to open a travel trailer factory in Forest City. After a rough start, the operation was purchased by five Forest City residents and John K. Hanson became president. In 1960 the name of the company was changed to Winnebago Industries. To improve quality, Winnebago Industries manufactured furniture and other components designed specifically for its travel trailers.
In 1963 a wall construction process called Thermo-Panel® was developed. It provides a strong, yet lightweight and well insulated sidewall. Innovations such as these resulted in a dramatic increase in the company’s sales. In 1966 the first motorhome rolled off the Winnebago Industries assembly lines. Through use of the assembly line and other manufacturing innovations in the motorhome industry, Winnebago Industries could produce a motorhome that sold for half the price of competitors’ models.
In 1970 Winnebago Industries moved to a new and expanded manufacturing facility. In 1970 the company also was listed on the New York Stock exchange (WGO) and in 1971 the stock appreciated 462 percent - more than any other company on the exchange. The Itasca line was introduced in 1975 and in 1977 Winnebago Industries built its 100,000th unit - the first RV manufacturer to reach that production level.
The company continued to grow in the 1980s. Sales for the fiscal year ending on August 25, 1984, totaled $411 million - the first time the company’s sales topped $400 million. 1986 was a year of more firsts for Winnebago Industries. The company celebrated 20 years of motorhome production - the first RV manufacturer to reach that milestone. In 1986 the company also was the first to produce 200,000 motorhomes. In addition, 1986 marked the appearance of Winnebago Industries on the Fortune 500 list of corporations. Winnebago Industries ranked 340 in net income as a percentage of stockholder equity and made the Top Ten in innovation. During 1989 a state-of-the-art testing facility was completed.
Fiscal 2004 was a banner year for the company with record revenues of $1.1 billion and motorhome production of approximately 12,500 units as the U.S. economy peaked with low interest rates and high consumer confidence levels. In 2008, as the company celebrated its 50th anniversary, Winnebago Industries reached another milestone with the production of the 400,000th unit. The Era Class B motorhome was also introduced in 2008, providing Winnebago Industries with a third motorhome brand. Winnebago Industries entered a new chapter when the company purchased SunnyBrook RV in December 2010, re-entering the towable manufacturing market for the first time since 1983.
Changes - But Quality Remains
Much has changed since the first recreational vehicles were produced in the American heartland of Forest City, Iowa, by Winnebago Industries more than 50 years ago. But much also remains the same. The Winnebago Industries commitment to providing high quality, great value, efficient design and eye-catching style in recreation vehicles remains a driving force for the company.
The Home of Hard Work and Innovation.
At Winnebago Industries, items such as furniture, holding tanks, bumpers, and galley cabinets are literally "built from scratch" in our own facilities. We start with raw materials such as billets of aluminum, bulk dimension lumber, and pellets or sheets of plastic and end with finished products. Winnebago Industries operates what are clearly the largest and most sophisticated recreation vehicle (RV) production facilities in the world. Producing so much ourselves results in many benefits for owners of Winnebago Industries’ products. First of all, there is QUALITY. Since so much of each motorhome and travel trailer is made by Winnebago Industries in the heartland of the U.S.A., we can easily set and maintain the strictest quality controls possible. Also, doing it ourselves allows us to design to our needs and not use some off-the-shelf item designed for another use. Making it ourselves also gives faster turnaround on improvements and new designs. And, there’s the advantage of availability of replacement parts. Dies and molds are kept on hand. So, if you need a holding tank 10 years from now, you can get one. The tank was made by us, not by someone else who has long since gone out of business or shifted production.
The Winnebago Industries main production facility in Forest City, Iowa covers about 200 acres, not counting parking areas near the main complex. The 20-plus buildings on the site have a total of approximately 60 acres (2 million square feet) under roof. There are also satellite manufacturing facilities at Charles City and Lake Mills, Iowa and Middlebury, Indiana. These facilities add another 534,300 square feet (approximately) of manufacturing space. Total Winnebago Industries employment is approximately 2,680 as of August 31, 2013. There are several major divisions within Winnebago Industries, each producing a specific series of items for our RVs. The Winnebago Industries production family includes:
CAPCO: Creative Aluminum Products Company (CAPCO) first converts billets of superheated aluminum into extrusions using two huge presses. Then these extrusions are used to make windows, ladders, screen doors, and other items.
Rotocast: This facility contains large rotational molding machines used to produce items such as holding tanks, fresh water tanks, luggage compartments, heat ducts and wheel wells.
Plastics: This facility processes more than 1.1 million pounds of raw materials a year. Sheets of plastic are heated and vacuum formed. Motorhome components manufactured here include shower stalls, dashboards, even tail light housings.
Stitchcraft: The Stitchcraft division is responsible for providing soft goods for Winnebago Industries motorhomes. These include chairs, sofas, cushions, draperies, shades, foam mattresses, bedspreads, and trim panels.
Sawmill Cabinet Shop: This facility is responsible for supplying wood components, including doors, cabinets, laminated panels, and countertops.
Metal Stamping: This facility is responsible for supplying steel components which are used throughout Winnebago Industries motorhomes. This includes structural steel and sheet metal parts. In recent years, Metal Stamping has processed more than 13,500 tons of steel a year.
Fiberglass: The Fiberglass facility generates exterior fiberglass components including front end, roof caps, and back wall parts.
Warehousing: There are 14 truck docks for receiving and shipping materials at the largest building on our Forest City campus. The Warehouse facilities has the ability to process between $3.5 to $4 million in parts each week. With that base volume and because we manufacture most of our own parts, you can rest easy knowing you can readily access replacement parts.
Chassis Prep: Winnebago Industries is well known for its steel surround cab structure which gives our motorhomes a greatly increased safety factor. In this building, cab assemblies are manufactured and are processed through a 12-stage full immersion electrodeposition coating system. Chassis are modified and the cabs are then attached using the latest in laser alignment technology.
Learn more about Winnebago’s E-coat process here.
Motorhome Production: This is where the final assembly of motorhomes takes place. It contains three moving assembly lines, each approximately 900 feet in length. The electrical system, LP system, holding tanks and water system are fully tested on each unit. Every motorhome also goes through a severe water test. Each coach gets five minutes of concentrated water spray from 160 spray heads that deliver water at a rainfall rate of 50 inches per hour.
Shipout: Before a motorhome is shipped, a Pre-Delivery Audit (PDA) is conducted at Shipout. A total functional test of each system is performed and there’s a final inspection.
Towable Production: The company builds SunnyBrook and Winnebago brand travel trailers and fifth wheel trailers in Middlebury, Indiana. Our towable products are the result of modern design and high technology with employees who believe that doing it right starts with fresh ideas, practical designs, a workplace that’s enjoyable, and people who care.
All of this adds up to more for you, the RV customer. And, after all, isn’t quality and value what you want?
Commitment to Quality
Designed to be the Leader.
What does it take to be a real leader in the recreation vehicle (RV) industry? To produce the highest quality, best designed, best tested, best built, and safest motorhomes and towable products available? To produce products whose very name is the most recognizable in the industry? It takes many different things and at Winnebago Industries we have been doing what it takes to produce quality RVs since 1958. We plan to continue doing what it takes to make Winnebago Industries motorhomes and towable products the best overall values in the marketplace for many years to come.
After several years of producing travel trailers, the first motorhome rolled off the assembly line at Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa, in 1966. It was a 19-foot model that had everything a family needed for cross-country adventure.
From the very beginning, Winnebago, Itasca, and Winnebago Touring Coach motorhomes have been built with innovations unique within the motorhome industry. That first motorhome was built with the Thermo-Panel® system which provides strong, lightweight and well insulated backwalls and sidewalls. It’s a Winnebago Industries exclusive.
From the beginning Winnebago Industries also has manufactured many of the motorhome components that others buy from outside suppliers. Most cabinets, furniture, holding tanks, plastic and aluminum components in Winnebago and Itasca motorhomes are made right on site. We design and manufacture components to meet our own rigorous specifications. This means higher quality at a lower price and better parts availability down the road.
Since the beginning, Winnebago, Itasca, and Winnebago Touring Coach motorhomes have been built on the most technologically advanced, automotive-style assembly lines anywhere in the motorhome industry. This means higher quality at lower production costs per unit, which results in more real value for you . . . the motorhome buyer.
And from the beginning Winnebago, Itasca, and Winnebago Touring Coach motorhomes have been built in the heartland of America at our plant in Forest City, Iowa, by some of the hardest working and most dedicated employees anywhere. And now Winnebago Industries has expanded its product offerings to include SunnyBrook and Winnebago towable products built in Middlebury, Indiana, in the heart of RV country with the same dynamic of hard working, dedicated employees who believe that quality is the top priority.
Many employees have been working at Winnebago Industries for more than 30 years. The average is approximately 16 years! Some of our workers are following in the footsteps of parents and grandparents. Speaking of our factory in Forest City, it’s the largest and most technologically advanced motorhome manufacturing facility in the world! It’s a 200-acre site with approximately 60 acres under roof - that’s nearly 2 million square feet! Because we build so many motorhomes at one location, we can afford to install and use the latest in computerized manufacturing equipment. Again, this means higher quality without a higher price. Higher quality also is the result of ongoing testing. A state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot testing facility was completed in 1989. The computerized road simulator (nicknamed "The Shaker") and the half-mile test track can simulate the effects of years of normal driving in just a few days. Components are checked under hot, cold, wet, and dry conditions and every Winnebago Industries motorhome goes through a high-pressure water tunnel and is checked for leaks before shipping.
From the beginning, Winnebago Industries has been the motorhome leader in technological and design advances - and we continue to lead today. Examples include three-point seat belts for the driver and co-pilot on all models, Thermo-Panel® sidewalls, appliance tie-downs, and an all-metal welded subfloor framework on all units with no wood compartments or floor supports. Other advances include: interiors created by a professional design staff, a huge 12-stage automotive-style dip tank which electrocoats steel front passenger cages, and chassis components with rust resistant paint. Others follow and copy, but by the time they reach our plateau we’ve climbed to an even higher level. For instance, no other manufacturer of mid-range motorhomes can match our single-piece fiberglass roofs with a 10-year parts-and-labor warranty!
By offering motorhome consumers the best possible products in a wide variety of models, Winnebago Industries continues to lead the motorhome industry. Founded in 1958 and producing motorhomes since 1966, and now re-entering the towable RV market in 2011, Winnebago Industries continues into the future with steady growth; commitment to quality; extensive research and testing, and a fantastic lineup of RV products!