Winnebago Industries Inc. opened a new assembly plant earlier this year and it has other projects underway now to allow it to build more motorhomes.
However, that does not mean Winnebago is looking to add more dealers to its retail network, said Roger Martin, Winnebago’s vice president of sales and marketing, during the company’s national dealer meeting in Las Vegas a few weeks ago.
“We were asked what we were going to do with the additional capacity generated by our new plant in Charles City, Iowa,” Martin said to the dealers in attendance. “We were asked, ‘Do you plan to build a new line of products and add a bunch of new dealers to sell it?’ ”
But Martin said that Don Wheatley, Winnebago’s general sales manager, replied, “We’re building the plant for you (dealers).”
Winnebago began production in its new Class C motorhome assembly plant in Charles City on May 28 and it was producing 40 units per week as of the end of July, said Bruce Hertzke, chairman, president and CEO.
The company also is expanding its hardwood cabinet plant and Winnebago’s motorhome painting vendor, Carrera Designs Inc., is expanding its full-body plant plant in Forest City, Iowa, Winnebago’s home base, Hertzke added.
Winnebago is expanding because the company believes “we’re going to see increasing demand for our products and the RV lifestyle overall,” Martin told the dealers. “We want to be prepared so you can be prepared, and we anticipate that will mean growing retail volumes for you and greater stocking levels, too, to meet demand.
“Beyond building capacity for the future,” Martin said. “We’re also building our partnership with you to be strong and longer.”
As a result, Winnebago, which introduced five-year dealer agreements four year ago, has changed those contracts to 10-year agreements, Martin said.
“I hope you recognize that this change is another example of how we’re working hard to continue to meet your needs and grow our companies,” Martin added.
Currently, Winnebago’s dealer body consists of around 300 dealership locations in the U.S. and Canada. During Winnebago’s fiscal year 2002, which ended last Aug. 31, the company’s largest dealer was La Mesa RV, with locations in Arizona, California and Oregon. La Mesa accounted for 9% of Winnebago’s unit volume during its fiscal 2002, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.
Seven dealers accounted for 25% of Winnebago’s total unit volume during its fiscal 2002, according to the SEC document.