Winnebago Industries Factory Tour Video
in Forest City, Iowa
Winnebago Industries, Inc., headquartered in Forest City, Iowa, is a leading United States (U.S.) manufacturer of recreation vehicles (RVs), which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities.
The company was founded by Forest City businessman John K. Hanson in February 1958, and adopted its present name on February 28, 1961. At the time, the town, located in Winnebago County, Iowa, was undergoing an economic downturn, so Hanson and a group of community leaders convinced a California firm, Modernistic Industries, to open a travel trailer factory in a bid to revive the local economy.
Surviving a rough beginning, the entire operation was purchased by five Midwesterners, with Hanson serving as president. In 1960 the name of the company was changed to Winnebago Industries. To improve quality, Winnebago Industries manufactured furniture and other components designed specifically for its travel trailers. One such innovation was the "Thermo-Panel", a strong, lightweight sidewall that was a characteristic of Winnebago products.
In 1966 the first motor home rolled off the Winnebago Industries assembly lines. These motor homes were sold at a price approximately half of what was being charged for competitors' models, which led to its ubiquity and popularity in the RV community. The brand name has become synonymous with "motor home" and is commonly used as a generic trademark for such vehicles, whether they were produced by the company or not.
In December 2010 Winnebago Industries entered a new chapter when the company purchased SunnyBrook RV, re-entering the towable manufacturing market for the first time since 1983.
In March 2015, Winnebago announced that it was opening a production center to employ 70 in Waverly, Iowa, due to labor shortage issues in the Forest City area.The company now employs about 2,400 workers in Forest City, 200 in Charles City and 60 in Lake Mills, plus additional employees in Middlebury, Indiana.