Winnebago: A Love Story

Brad finds there's a lot to love in Forest City, Iowa

Brad Herzog  |  06.26.2015

Having just spent a couple of days in the Iowa hometown of Winnebago Industries, I’m inspired to muse about exactly what I love about Winnebago…

I love that the fact that it’s a big company in a small town, just like a Winnebago allows me to explore the big picture by reaching some of the smallest dots on the map. I love that the town is called Forest City because a house-on-wheels journey may be THE best way to make sure you don’t miss the forest because you’re too focused on the trees.Pic 2

I love how the various Winnebago models that I’ve driven over the years have names that seem to encapsulate the experience of a cross-country journey—Brave, Adventurer, Via, Vista, Tribute. I love the fact that, even more than a half-century after its beginnings, the Winnebago brand name is often still substituted for the product—like Kleenex or Frisbee or Xerox. That only happens to icons.Pic 3

I love the fact that anyone can walk into the Winnebago Visitors Center and be transported back in time…Pic 4

Then step back outside and travel “Back to the Future”…Pic 5

I love how the Winnebago Museum offers a stroll through some history (that’s Amy educatin’)…Pic 6

… and biography (that’s company founder John Hanson)…Pic 7

… and family (that’s a scroll for Hanson, signed by every Winnebago employee)…Pic 8

… and whimsy.Pic 9

I love that you can take a short bus ride to explore a factory where RVs are made.Pic 10

And you can see how they manufacture nearly every part of the Winnebago experience—how they put the foam in the cushions (cool shrink-wrapping), how they stitch bedspreads, how they use lasers and concentrated streams of waters to create intricate cut-outs, how they mold plastic into various water tank shapes, how they lower slide-outs onto a chassis. Fortune magazine described the facilities as having a “whimsical, Willy Wonka quality”—no Golden Ticket necessary.Pic 11

I love that Winnebago Industries knows exactly when it should take itself seriously…Pic 12

… and when it should reveal a sense of humor.Pic 13

I love how the Winnebago Outdoor store sells everything from T-shirts, hats, and thermoses to do-it-yourself model kits. Why shouldn’t Winnebago owners be as proud and appareled as Harley enthusiasts?Pic 14

And I love that Winnebago has never been afraid to try something different. Sometimes, really different. Like a photo shoot featuring “upholstery wear”…Pic 15

Or a set of Winnebago trading cards…Pic 16

Or—and I’m not making this up—a Winnebago Heli-Home…Pic 17

And I love that all of this can be found in a state where the welcome sign echoes a road trip’s possibilities—“Fields of Opportunity.”Pic 18

 

 


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4 Comments

  1. Awana Black Posted on 02.13.2016

    My first newsletter…completely awesome!!!

  2. Tessa Posted on 08.04.2015

    “You can’t take sex, booze, and weekends away from the American People” . . . great quote!

  3. Kelly & Beth Powell Posted on 07.16.2015

    I wish I could find a place that I could take our 1989 winnebago elandan to to get restored and that would not cost us an arm and a leg have done .a very low 76,000 miles on her just like to give her a nice fresh up on the outside.
    Just took her on a nice trip to South Dakota to the Black Hills and the Badlands what a fantastic trip with her.

  4. Eileen Hazen Posted on 07.03.2015

    I HAVE HAD 4 WINNEBAGO AND I DEARLY LOVED THEM ALL. NOW at 87 years old I will turn my last one over to family in Texas.