RV camping popular in pandemic, Winnebago may benefit

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The pandemic has made vacationing in a recreational vehicle more attractive and Forest City-based Winnebago Industries hopes to capitalize on that demand.

“The motor home business has been working very hard the last number of years to revitalize its product line, strengthen the culture here in north Iowa, improve dealership relationships around the country,”  Winnebago CEO Michael Happe says, “and I think the business is very much headed in a good direction.”

The company builds motor homes as well as travel trailers that are towed by a pick-up or S-U-V. In 2019, Winnebago acquired Newmar, which makes luxury motor homes. It bought Florida-based boat building Criss Craft the year before. In 2016, Winnebago acquired Grand Design, which makes towable trailers.

“We’ve been in business now for 62 years and I think one of the ways you stay in business for 62 years and, hopefully, 62 more is to try to be smart in the way you run the business and make investments where you think are appropriate,” Happe says. “But you also want to be prudent and disciplined.”

An RV Industry Association survey projects that 46 million Americans will take an R-V trip in the next 12 months and half of those surveyed said health concerns had increased their interest in camping in an RV.

(By AJ Taylor, KIOW, Forest City and Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

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