Winnebago Industries, Inc. is the “most admired” RV manufacturer in America, judging by the latest RVBUSINESS.com Industry Poll. In fact, nearly a third of the survey respondents gave high marks to the Forest City, Iowa-based motorhome manufacturer.
Coburg, Ore.-based Monaco Coach Corp. was the second most admired company in the survey, garnering 15% of the vote, with Riverside, Calif.-based Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. pulling 7.5%. Thor Industries, Inc. of Jackson Center, Ohio, and Forest River, Inc. of Elkhart, Ind. each drew 6.5% of the vote.
Roughly a fourth of the survey respondents extolled the business virtues of other companies, with Nappanee, Ind.-based Newmar Corp., Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach, Inc., Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco, Inc. and Red Bay, Ala.’s Tiffin Motor Homes, Inc. among the most popular.
Nearly 300 RV industry professionals participated in the mid-August survey. Participants were presented a list of the nation’s highest volume RV builders as food for thought. At the same time, they were invited to submit their own nominations. And, in the final analysis, Winnebago won the highest marks, not only for the quality of its units, but for the caliber of its aftermarket service and dealer support.
“Winnebago seems to have a vision that is truly inclusive of dealers and retail customers,” one survey respondent wrote. “While I am not a Winnebago dealer, I appreciate their drive for competitive product, (their) understanding of dealers and their need to be able to service the retail customer. Winnebago seems to be sensitive to the changing market demands and has chosen to partner with dealers, not patronize them.”
“Winnebago has a very sound distribution system for their vehicles,” another industry observer wrote. “They are very engineering-oriented in their product offerings and focus and execute better than most in the area of customer service, warranty and parts.”
A similar viewpoint from another regular RVBUSINESS.com cruiser: “Winnebago has a consistent business model that translates into sound practices for all of their operations. As a previous Winnebago dealer, I feel their level of professionalism and customer care is unmatched by any other manufacturer. Winnebago also builds a well engineered product that does not require extensive pre-delivery reconstruction.”
Said yet another: “I am no longer working with Winnebago, but let me say that their parts, service and warranty policies are second to none.”
Monaco, for its part, also received accolades.
“Monaco is continually pushing forward in the design of their products and services to both the consumer and the dealer network,” said one survey respondent. “Management in this company is some of the best if not the best in the industry. They are aware of the needs of their stockholders, dealers and consumers and do all that they can to meet those needs and it shows.”
“Their attention to the customer, their willingness to go the extra mile on service and warranty related issues, their craftsmanship and attention to detail, as well as their being a good business partner in the communities they are located in, all rate Monaco as a most admired RV maker,” another survey respondent wrote.
“Monaco (builds) a quality product,” wrote another survey respondent. “They are not concerned with the entry-level products that tend to erode the industry’s ability to keep customers as RVers.
In all fairness, though, there were plenty of kudos to go around.
“I admire both Newmar and Jayco as industry leaders because both companies have similar corporate philosophies rooted in their founders’ conservative beliefs and traditions. Those core fundamentals have allowed both companies to flourish in their respective markets more due in part (to) customers’ word of mouth and loyalty (than) monies spent in advertising and marketing.”
Said another: “Tiffin Motor Homes is well known for its customer service after the sale (and its) well made, innovative products that meet the needs of the retail customer. One of the last family-owned manufacturers left, Bob Tiffin is always (known) to do what is right.”
Solidly in the mix was Country Coach: “Country Coach has a very well built product,” said one survey respondent. “Their customer support as well as dealer support is outstanding. We as a dealer have had very (few) problems that Country Coach has not taken care of. The warranty process is smooth and the parts received are generally correct. Technical help is only a short phone call away. Other manufacturers may never help or get back with you at all.”
And so was Thor Industries Inc., as one admirer wrote: “One has to admire the vision of Wade Thompson and Peter Orthwein and their strategy of buying under-performing companies, recapitalizing them and letting them flourish under seasoned management. Thor is a great company and a great supplier to our firm.”