Forest City-based Winnebago Industries is announcing plans to close its Charles City plant, eliminating 270 jobs. The plant manufactures "Class C" motor homes, which are smaller units built on a van chassis. The Charles City plant will close on August 1st and all work will be transferred to the company’s Forest City campus.
Winnebago president and CEO Bob Olson says there are a number of factors that led the company to make the decision. He says things like record high fuel costs, fluctuating interest rates, retail financing that is more difficult to acquire, and the overall impact of the woes of the housing market have impacted the motor home industry.
Olson says the company wants to help those who will be losing their jobs. He says they’ll bring in state and private agencies will come in to try and assist the workers in finding new employment. Olson says he doesn’t expect motor home sales to improve until sometime next year. He forecasts some improvement in the spring selling season in 2009 not only in the motor home sector but other areas.
Motor home sales industry-wide are expected to be 42% lower this year when compared to 2004. Olson says the company will maintain a significant presence in the Charles City area, with approximately 190 employees remaining in the Company’s Hardwoods Facility and Charles City Assembly Facility, which produces the Company’s new Class B motor homes.