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.
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.
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.
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?