Forest City based motor home maker Winnebago Industries has returned to profitability in the fiscal year third quarter. Winnebago CEO Bob Olson says it’s been a long two years. “The last time we had an operating profit was in the second quarter of 2008,” Olson said. “There’s been a lot of sacrifices and hard work on the part of our employees. It’s been a total team effort to get to the point where we’re at right now.”

The company’s net income for the third quarter was $6 million. That compares to a loss of $8.6 million over the same period last year. Olson says Winnebago’s deliveries to dealers have more than doubled. “Over the course of the last 12 months, (dealers) have taken their inventories to historic low levels,” Olson said. “They saw the need to start the replenishment cycle…I think now they’re at levels where they’re in pretty good shape.” Winnebago delivered a total of 1,366 recreational vehicles during the third quarter.

Olson says now’s not the time for the company to celebrate and become complacent. “We are a manufacturer of a product that people love to have, but they don’t have to have it,” Olsen said. “So, we have to be very careful going forward. Our economy right now, I think, is extremely fragile and all it would take is one or two disasters that could reverse this trend we’re on right now.” Despite the third quarter profits, Winnebago still shows an operating loss of $4.4 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2010.

By Bob Fisher (KGLO, Mason City) and Pat Curtis (Radio Iowa)