The senior managers of Winnebago Industries Inc. were not trying to show off their acting skills when they dressed as characters from the Old West for presentations during the company’s Dealers Days in Las Vegas last week.
Instead, they were demonstrating their belief that RV product quality represents “the New Frontier,” said Bruce Hertzke, chairman, president and CEO.
Winnebago, Itasca, Rialta and Ultimate dealers apparently endorse the company’s approach because Winnebago Industries’ order backlog as of early this month was 100% larger than it was at the same time a year-ago, Hertzke said.
RV product quality is improving industrywide and Winnebago is the industry leader in terms of consumer satisfaction, according to Hertzke, who cited Winnebago Industries’ own Circle of Excellence consumer surveys along with those conducted by JD Power & Associates and Roper Starch for the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence.
But then Hertzke asked the representatives of 200 dealerships who were in attendance, “If 75% of the industry’s coach owners were satisfied with their units in 2001, doesn’t that also mean that there were 25% who weren’t?
“The satisfaction levels are nowhere near good enough,” he concluded.
Improving quality will require a coordinated effort involving Winnebago Industries, its suppliers and dealers, Hertzke continued.
“To be successful in the New Frontier, we all have to continually improve — to take things to the next level — to dig a little deeper into how we do things and find ways each manufacturer, supplier and dealer can make small improvements that collectively make a big difference. We want you to join us on that ride toward continuous improvement one small step at a time.”
In an effort to achieve the goal, Winnebago industries added features to its line in 2003 that Bill O’Leary, vice president/product development, described as “nuggets of gold that will make the products that you (dealers) sell even better. And if we do our job right, those nuggets all add up to better profits for you.”