April '19

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24 • RV PRO • April 2019 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S wides with triple slides, all built the same way and easy for salespeople to know what they're pitching," he says. At the May 3, 2018, groundbreaking for the expansion, Degnan said, "Our dealers have been very supportive of the new direction taken by Winnebago Towables. The Minnie family of products has streamlined the brand's product offerings while also leveraging the iconic Winnebago brand name." At the subsequent Elkhart Open House Week event about four months later, Winnebago Towables introduced its second fifth wheel brand, the Micro Minnie, and reintroduced the Spyder toy hauler (see "Winnebago Continues to Broaden Towable Lineup" story on page 26 for more details). "Many customers seeking fifth wheel comfort and func- tionality are held back by the larger tow vehicle capacities typically required to accommodate that product," Christof- fersen said at the Micro Minnie launch. "The Winnebago Micro Minnie fifth wheel provides a very attractive and viable option for customers who are looking for the ease of towing, maneuverability and floorplan livability that a fifth wheel design offers in a unique package that can be towed with a typical mid-sized truck." The Micro Minnie earned an RV PRO Best of Show award and as well as praise from other industry trade press. Overall, these changes have helped the Towables Division gain market share (see Figure 1 above for an overview of the gains). While the percentage gains in Figure 1 are calculated on a scant base, they reflect growth nonetheless. Some observers may term these baby steps, but the 2018 market share growth occurred while the entire industry was expe- riencing year-over-year shipment declines, so any gains are salient points for Degnan and his staff and worth noting. Combined with Grand Design, the two divisions own about 8 percent of the towables market, according to Statistical Surveys. Ending Channel Confusion & Big Discounting Meanwhile, at the same time, Degnan and his team were taking other steps to right the ship at Winnebago Towables. Besides "cleaning up the product offerings so they made sense to our dealers and not a collection of random brands, we also cleaned up our dealer channel because we had several dealers in the same markets," Degnan says. Now, Winnebago Towables maintains one dealer per market and that dealer will carry every brand Winnebago Towables produces. In addition, to dealers' delight, the company doesn't build sister or competing brands. Winnebago Towables' dealer body in the U.S. and Canada numbers about 160 and is separate from the motorized dealer body and Grand Design's dealer body, although the three divi- sions sometimes serve the same dealers. Winnebago Towables is hopeful that by not building clone U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (fourth from right) and Degnan (third from right) join other Winnebago team members including CEO Michael Happe (fifth from left) and local dignitaries in May 2018 at a groundbreaking ceremony for a $12 million expansion to the towables plant in Middlebury. Figure 1 Winnebago Towables Market Share Through the Years * Year TTs(1) Fivers (2) Combined Growth 2018 2 0.3 1.6 12.4 2017 1.7 0.4 1.4 14.3 2011 0.6 0.5 0.6 XX** * For the United States, represented in percentages (1) TTs = Travel Trailers (2) Fivers = Fifth Wheels ** Because Winnebago Towables started in 2011, there is no prior year to compare it to. Source: Statistical Surveys PHOTO COURTESY OF WINNEBAGO

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