Winnebago Chairman Bruce Hertzke admits he would have liked to see the Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Housing Industry Hall of Fame “along highway 9 in Iowa.” But he told a gathering in Elkhart, Ind., Thursday night that he agrees the northern Indiana city is the best location for a facility honoring the founders of the two industries.
Elkhart is near Interstate 80/90, a major east-west corridor for cross-country travelers, and the new hall of fame facility, proposed to be built closer to the interstate, will add even more to its visibility, Hertzke said.
And Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago is doing more than just speaking-out in support of building a new $6 million industry hall of fame in Elkhart. On Thursday, Hertzke provided the first installment of what will be a $1 million donation, spread over 10 years, to help pay for construction of the hall of fame-museum-research library facility on the northeast side of Elkhart.
Winnebago’s founder, the late John K. Hanson, come through with a $31,000 contribution several years ago when the RV/MH Heritage Foundation was struggling financially, said Carl Ehry, president of the non-profit foundation. Hanson’s contribution was crucial to the foundation’s survival, Ehry said.
The foundation is the operator of the existing industry hall of fame facility near downtown Elkhart and it is responsible for raising funds to build the new facility.
During the foundation’s early years, it had to struggle with the fact that industry leaders from outside the Elkhart area assumed the primary purpose of the hall of fame-museum-research library facility was to honor Elkhart area entrepreneurs and companies.
But the hall of fame’s inductees for 2000 reflect a geographical diversity. The RV industry leaders officially inducted into the hall of fame Thursday night included the following:
Southern California dealer Dave Altman
Iowa dealer John Ketelsen
Retired Indiana park model manufacturer Bob Kropf
Retired Oregon motorhome manufacturer Bob Lee
Retired Indiana supplier firm executive Jerry Pickrell
Tennessee supplier firm executive Al Ruhl
Indiana motorhome and travel trailer manufacturing company founder Jim Shea Sr.