Adding the title of president to Ed Barker’s responsibilities for motorhome builder Winnebago Industries Inc. won’t drastically change his day-to-day routine, according to a report in the Forest City Summit.
Barker retained his duties as CFO after being named president of Forest City-based Winnebago last week, replacing Bruce Hertzke, who will remain as the company’s chairman and CEO.
Winnebago officials said the title changes were designed to give Hertzke more time to concentrate on the future of the company along with his new duties as chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
Barker joined Winnebago in 1969 and has been the company’s CFO since 1989. He believes that role has prepared him for his new position.
“A CFO must be involved in the day-to-day operations of a company,” he said, “and as president, that’s really what I’ll be concentrating on. I don’t see a great deal of change coming because of this. I’ve worked with the orders, shipments, production issues and I will continue to do that.”
Hertzke said he isn’t bothered by the loss of one of his three titles; in fact, he said regulators are pushing corporations to not have the same person fill all of a company’s top positions.
And Hertzke added that it’s important for Winnebago to continue to look at building its profitability in the years ahead.
“Over the last several years, we’ve averaged 19% growth rate in revenue,” he said, “and this will give us an opportunity for the company to explore new opportunities … to grow Winnebago.”
Hertzke conceded that after spending more than 30 years in operations he will have a hard time not being involved in day-to-day decisions. “I’m sure I’ll take a peek now and then,” he said with a laugh, “but seriously, Mr. Barker is very qualified to handle this new position.”
Barker began his career at Winnebago as a cost accountant, and he has served in various financial and management positions with the company. He has worked in senior management since 1980.
He said the fact that Winnebago’s two top employees have both been promoted within is part of “an important culture we have here. … Industry wide, I think what you’re seeing is that the people who ‘grew up’ in the industry have found success. I’m not saying outsiders can’t come in and do a good job, but the track record has been that being familiar with a company and the industry has worked.”