Headquartered in Winkler, Manitoba, ICON Technologies, one of the RV industry’s premier suppliers of aftermarket thermoformed and roto-molded repair and replacement skirts, holding tanks and other parts, celebrated its 20th anniversary May 24 with the grand opening of a new 105,000-square-foot production facility.
About 100 guests gathered in a 1,600-square-foot section of the new facility, symbolic of the original building owner John Loewen leased from a cement contractor to start the company in late 1997. As ICON’s business development manager Harv Giesbrecht explained, it was a physical representation to guests of how one man’s dream can grow exponentially with enough time, perseverance, and determination in changing market conditions.
“John is a true entrepreneur,” Giesbrecht told RVBUSINESS.com. “He saw something in the market that nobody else was doing, and he created a business to fill that. It wasn’t a copy of something or a cheaper way of doing things. It was truly something he created. The party was a great opportunity to celebrate his vision.
“I asked his wife, Trish, what it must have been like for her husband to come and say he quit his job because he wanted to start his own company,” he continued. “I mean, can you imagine that? He’s got a wife and three kids and he comes home and says he’s basically unemployable because he doesn’t want to work for anyone. Instead, he’s always been interested in the plastics business and the RV industry. So he starts ICON Technologies. It’s also an opportunity for him to serve people not only in the marketplace, but the community, too. He wanted to create jobs for people who wanted to stay and live and work here in our area.”
During the anniversary celebration, Loewen – who’s not one to seek the spotlight – shared with the group the challenge of getting the new building “right-sized” to the business. Occupying less than four of the property’s 17 acres, planning and construction on the new facility began less than a year after a major renovation of ICON’s previous facility, which saw the plant completely rebuilt and renovated while remaining in full operation during the project.
Rapid expansion in the RV industry generally was reflected in the growth of the aftermarket and service sectors as well, which forced the decision to begin construction again a year later. The new plant nearly doubles the company’s footprint and allows it to accommodate future growth. In fact, Giesbrecht noted, ICON now employs about 65 people while just two years ago the company had 32 employees.
“Business is good, and to a large degree we reflect what’s going on in the larger industry,” Giesbrecht said. “But for us, specifically, there’s two things going on. One, there’s obviously more RVs out there that need the service or replacement parts. The other thing is, as people want to trade up to a new unit or as dealers are wanting to refurbish a unit for resale, they need a source for repair parts.”
During his turn at the podium, Giesbrecht said he spoke about the solid reputation and trust the company has built with dealers and distributors across North America based on solid business ethics, business planning, and business systems to support their customer service and production functions.
Local dignitaries on hand included: Candice Bergen, member of Parliament for Portage-Lisgar; Cameron Friesen, member of the Legislature for Morden-Winkler; Martin Harder, mayor of Winkler; Kori da Costa, president of the Winkler and District Chamber of Commerce; Ed Penner, president of Ed Penner Construction; and Robert Lajoie, VP Financing & Consulting, Manitoba – Business Development Bank of Canada.
Guests were treated to a catered barbecue lunch and guided tours of the new facility following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was performed by Loewen and his wife, along with daughters Ashton, Abby and Jyana.