Winnebago Industries Inc. announced today (June 21) several important updates related to key leadership positions within the organization. In addition, the company is announcing the creation of a new Advanced Technology Group (ATG) to enable stronger levels of product innovation in the future.
• Don Clark, president CEO of Grand Design RV (GDRV) and vice president of Winnebago Industries, has committed to a multi-year agreement to continue leading Grand Design RV and serving as an executive officer for the company. Under Clark’s leadership, towable builder GDRV has experienced unprecedented market share growth within the RV industry in its first six-plus years of existence. Winnebago Industries acquired Grand Design RV in November of 2016. Clark will continue to report directly to Michael Happe, president and CEO of Winnebago, and have responsibility for Grand Design RV’s business operations. As a member of Winnebago’s executive leadership team, Clark will also support and contribute to the execution of the company’s overall outdoor lifestyle strategies and long-term enterprise goals.
• Bryan Hughes, vice president and CFO of Winnebago Industries, will have his role expanded to include oversight for the company’s information technology function and responsibility for annual and long-term strategic planning processes within Winnebago. Jeff Kubacki, chief information officer, will continue to serve on the WGO executive leadership team and lead IT to deliver strategic value for the whole of the Winnebago enterprise. He will report directly to Hughes. Already responsible for the company’s financial functions, Hughes will ensure that Winnebago’s strategic, financial, and technical processes and systems are working in synergy for the benefit of the firm’s end customers, channel partners, and shareholders. Hughes will continue reporting directly to Happe.
• Russ Garfin has been promoted to director, product management for Winnebago-branded Class B vans and Class C Diesel products in the Winnebago motorhome business and will continue to report to Brian Hazelton, vice president – Winnebago motorhomes. Garfin’s leadership has been especially instrumental in Winnebago’s rise to the top market share position in the growing Class B van category in North America.
• Winnebago Industries announced this past April the addition of Joel Eberlein as the new general manager of Winnebago towables, overseeing sales, marketing, product development, and engineering. Eberlein, another North American RV industry veteran who was previously with Heartland RV, reports directly to Scott Degnan, vice president – Winnebago towables and will work to strengthen the vitality of products and channel relationships within the business. The Winnebago-branded towables line has doubled its North American market share in the last three years.
Winnebago also announced the formation of a new Advanced Technology Group (ATG). Under the leadership of Ashis Bhattacharya, vice president of business development, specialty vehicles, and advanced technology, the new ATG function will work closely with each of the company’s business units to identify, develop, and commercialize emerging technologies as applied to and within future products. Jamie Sorenson, director – advanced technology, will report to Bhattacharya and lead ATG on a day-to-day basis. The initial areas of focus within the Advanced Technology Group will be the increasing electrification and connectivity of the organization’s products, delivering value via data acquisition from customer use of products, and improving the user interface experience for our end customers. Bhattacharya reports directly to Happe and will continue to lead the expansion of Winnebago’s specialty vehicles business and its overall Business Development activities.
“I am extremely excited about the announcements we are making today related to these leaders. We are very fortunate to have strong executives like Don Clark, Bryan Hughes, and Ashis Bhattacharya in incredibly important positions to strengthen and shape our company’s future,” Happe said. “Each of them made a conscious decision to join Winnebago Industries within the last three years and have delivered impressive contributions to our overall progress as a more competitive and profitable organization. Especially notable is the job Don has done to build a winning culture within the Grand Design business, which has parlayed into tremendous growth and many satisfied dealers and end customers.
“The introduction and evolution of a new Advanced Technology Group at Winnebago will also ensure that all our brands are focused on driving even more industry-leading customer-valued innovation and differentiation throughout our entire portfolio,” Happe added. “There are many new technologies that will impact the customer experience in the RV and marine industries and we will look to aggressively leverage those that offer the most value.”