Winnebago Industries Inc. will increase motorhome production because of sharply higher wholesale and retail sales, according to Bruce Hertzke, chairman, president and CEO.

Hertzke, in a speech during Winnebago’s annual shareholders meeting Tuesday (Jan. 15), did not reveal the amount by which output will be increased. However, he said the company’s order backlog for Class A and Class C motorhomes was 2,365 units as of last Saturday (Jan. 12). That represents a 70% increase from a year earlier.

Winnebago’s order backlog has increased 50% since Dec. 1, Hertzke added.

Meanwhile, Winnebago’s dealers reported that retail sales of its motorhomes increased 16% during the Dec. 1 through Jan. 12 period, when compared with the same period a year earlier, Hertzke said.

Winnebago is hiring more workers and scheduling overtime to satisfy the demand, he added.

The demand for the new Winnebago Vista and Sightseer and Itasca Sunstar and Sunova models is particularly strong. “We also see this increase in sales activity as a positive sign of improvement in the condition of the RV industry and the economy in general,” Hertzke said.

Winnebago is the retail market share leader in the combined Class A and Class C motorhome category, Hertzke said, citing Statistical Surveys Inc. data. It had a 19.05% share for the combined retail market for Class A’s and C’s during the first 11 months of 2001, compared with a 17.02% share during the same portion of 2000.

Winnebago is No. 3 in Class A’s, behind Monaco Coach Corp. and Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., but it is No. 1 in Class C’s by a wide margin.