Winnebago History

Winnebago History

Who We Are:

Winnebago began as a civic project. It was in the late 1950's, and Forest City, Iowa needed jobs.  Local businessman John K. Hanson loved vacations in his family's Aljo travel trailer., and had an idea: Lure the RV's California manufacturer to open a local factory.

It worked.  Backed by local investors, Modernistic Industries began production with 17 employees on February 12, 1958, and produced its first 15-foot towable weeks later.  Its sticker price $895.

Soon, John K. bought out the other investors, and kicked off a series of innovations in design, quality, and safety.  The company made 50 improvements to the Aljo, including a choice of 15-foot, 17-foot, and 19-foot models.

The 1960's were a decade of phenomenal growth, and American prosperity drove an RV boom.  Winnebago deliveries would soar from $1 million in all of 1961 to $1 million a day by September 1968. In 1961, 102 RV dealers came to the company's first Dealer Days for tours of the now-legendary plant.

With a name change to Winnebago Industries (after the county of its locale), Winnebago pioneered game-changers in quality, manufacturing, including: 
  • Super structure framework for building integrity
  • Strong, lightweight construction with Thermo-Panel walls and roof; and
  • An efficient, automotive-style assembly line with outstanding craftmanship

Out of these innovations came KD Kaps, a popular pickup bed RV that was easy to ship and install.
In 1966, Winnebago rolled out its first self-contained motorhomes: the F-19, built on a Ford chassis, and in 1967, the famous D22, built on a Dodge chassis. It was the first of many times Winnebago would set the pace for an entire industry.

1967 D22 Winnebago Motorhome1966 F19 Winnebago Motorhome

Soon, an avid community was born.  What is now the Winnebago International Travelers (WIT) club drew 155 trailers to the first Grand National Rally in 1966.

Winnebago managed all of this during recovery from a 1964 fire, and construction of three new plants.
By the end of the 1960's, the once-small Iowa company was the No. 1 manufacturer of travel trailers and motorhomes.  And the Winnebago name had become synonymous with all RV's.

For several decades, Winnebago focused on motorhomes and raised the bar with living amenities that have become industry standard. But a surge in camping among young people and active adults is driving a big revival in towables.  A generation that values experiences over stuff wants affordable, compact models that help them unplug while keeping modern conveniences and digital connections.

So, while staying strong in motorhomes, Winnebago has returned to its roots, putting smart design and manufacturing into a full line of feature packed travel trailers. After six decades, the RV pioneer is still a leading innovator, giving the new RVer extraordinary options for work, play, and travel.

Winnebago Industries, Inc. is a leading U.S. manufacturer of outdoor lifestyle products under the Winnebago, Grand Design and Chris-Craft brands, which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities. The Company builds quality motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheel products and boats. Winnebago Industries has multiple facilities in Iowa, Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota and Florida. The Company's common stock is listed on the New York and Chicago Stock Exchanges and traded under the symbol WGO. Options for the Company's common stock are traded on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

Winnebago Industries was incorporated under the laws of the state of Iowa on February 12, 1958, and adopted its present name on February 28, 1961.

Our Purpose

We help our customers explore the outdoor lifestyle, enabling extraordinary experiences as they travel, live, work and play.

Our Vision

We will be the trusted leader in outdoor lifestyle solutions by providing unmatched innovation, quality and service in the industries we engage.

Our Mission

To create lifetime advocates through a relentless focus on delivering an unsurpassed customer experience.

Our Values


Our customers are the reason we exist. We understand and care deeply about their unmet needs. Our drive to elevate their ownership experience is pervasive in every area of our business.


We are focused on market leadership and delivering consistent financial results. With a bias for critical thinking and execution, we will deliver a rewarding, safe work experience for our employees and superior shareholder returns.


We are committed to push the frontiers every day to develop innovative and differentiated solutions. Internally, we will consistently reinvent our processes to continuously improve and exceed expectations.


We will strive to set the standard for quality in our industries, working every day to improve upon these levels of excellence. We are focused to do things right the first time in all we do.


We care about each other deeply. We work in high performing teams that are accountable to each other. We seek employees with strong, diverse talents who work together effectively to deliver results.


We will always conduct ourselves with the highest degree of integrity, trust and respect. We will honor our code of conduct. We will strive to be strong ambassadors in the communities our employees live and work in.

Guiding Principles

We respect our roots and legacy of success; we do not rest on them. We work to understand our customers’ unmet needs and develop an experience that creates lifelong advocates. Our employees are driven and caring. We strive to develop the best talent possible and enable a culture of servant leadership. We embrace thoughtful change in order to deliver market leadership as well as superior profitability.

We will work strategically with our channel partners to help them succeed. We will continue to build respected brands that will be among our greatest assets. In every part of our company, we relentlessly pursue continuous improvement and enhanced productivity, driving out waste, and creating meaningful strategic differentiation.