This post is part of our Big Company, Small Town series, featuring large companies and the small towns in which they are headquartered.
Ever taken a road trip in an RV? If you have, there is a good chance that you were inside a Winnebago recreational vehicle. The name Winnebago has been synonymous with the large RV for as long as I can remember. With such a rich history, one would think Winnebago is located somewhere next a major interstate corridor or airport. Otherwise, how would it receive in its raw materials and ship out its finished product?
Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WGO) is actually based in Forest City, Iowa, founded in 1958 in Winnebago County (that's where the company's name comes from). From its inception, the company has been involved with travel trailers. It used names from Native American tribes to name its different lines of trailers, and in the 1970s and early 1980s, made smaller trailers as gas prices spiked upward. In fact, come this summer, one of Winnebago's manufacturing plants in Charles City, Iowa, will be closed due to drastic changes in Winnebago's market due to higher gas prices and declining demand. The company has already laid off 200 employees from its headquarters in Forest City.
Unlike many American companies these days, Winnebago still makes the majority of its products in the United States, most of which are built on top of chassis units made by Ford or Chevy. The term Winnebago has made itself, after more then 40 years, into a brand name completely associated with RVs and trailers. Do you blow your nose with a Kleenex or tissue? Drink Coke or a soft drink? Go on vacation in a Winnebago or travel trailer? There's the brand power the company continues to have today, even with the hard times its experiencing.
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