The C.E.O. of Winnebago Industries says the company has narrowed its net loss from a year ago and the 2010 fiscal year is off to a good start. Revenues for the first quarter of the fiscal year ending November 28th were $81-million, a 16.7% increase when compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2009.
The company did end up losing $1.3- million during the first three months, better than the $9.6-million it lost in the same period a year ago. Winnebago C.E.O. Bob Olson says it looks like the company’s financial woes are beginning to end.
He says it has been a long time coming as he says they’ve “been in a downward spin for in excess of two years.” Olson says they have all three production lines working 40 hours or over 40 hours, and have hired 350 employees back to work and to make a little gross profit “it feels kind of good.” The company’s orders more than quadrupled during the first quarter with dealer inventory falling 52%. Olson says that has helped the factory ramp production up immensely.
Olson says one of the things that has spurred excitement with shareholders, workers and managers is that they have gone up 350% in the backlog and 440% in the value of the backlog. He says they have their schedule locked in for several weeks, which is something they didn’t have before. Olson says the backlog is so high that something will happen in a couple of weeks that he thinks has never happened in Winnebago’s history.
He says he never recalls the company working over the Christmas holiday, and they will be working the Monday through Wednesday between Christmas and New Year’s. He believes not only does the company owe it to the shareholders and the customers, but the employees as well who need the money after being laid off in what he calls a “brutal time period.” Olson says he’s elated to be able to hire back about 350 employees who were out of a job due to the downturn in R-V sales.
He says from the day he stepped into the C.E.O. role at the company, all he’s seen is a downward spiral, and to be able to hire people back and to start giving back to some of the employees who sacrificed greatly shows that good things are in the future for Winnebago. The R-V industry as a whole has been pounded during the recession, as falling income and rising unemployment have caused consumers to reconsider purchases of big discretionary items. The price of Winnebago’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange jumped in trading today, being up as much as 25% during the noon hour.
By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City