Winnebago Industries reports its third-straight quarterly profit. The Forest City-based motor home maker reports its net income was $3.8 million for the first quarter of the fiscal year that ended November 27. That compared to a loss of $1.3-million for the same quarter a year ago. Winnebago C.E.O. Bob Olson says while it’s good news, the company is remaining cautious as the country’s economy continues to struggle.

He says there are so many variables that have an impact on the motor home industry and the company that are different than in the past. Winnebago’s first quarter was positively impacted by increased motor home deliveries, the rise in average selling price due to a shift to more higher-priced products, and improved labor efficiencies as a result of higher production levels.

Olson says the recession has been brutal to the industry, but there continues to be signs that people are wanting to spend money on discretionary items like motor homes. He says banks are starting to lend more and consumer confidence is starting to grow. Olson adds, some people are ready to not be handcuffed anymore by the recession and they’re going out and spending money on things that aren’t necessities.

He says the motor home lifestyle continues to be embraced by the American consumer, campgrounds are full and the company continues to be a “memory maker” with its product. Olson credits the employees that have suffered through some tough times while the company was struggling to get back into positive territory.

He says if it wasn’t for the sacrifice of the employees over the last three years, the company wouldn’t be where it is today. He adds the company will be looking into ways to give back to the employees as long as the trend of profitability continues.

Winnebago also reported a $644 million gain from the sale of its former factory building in Charles City to C-G-S Tires Incorporated. Dealer inventory for the quarter was up 32% from last year, with 2,066 motor homes on dealer lots at the end of the quarter.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City