WinnebagoWinnebago Industries reported that their fourth-quarter earnings dropped when compared to the same time period last year, in a quarter that saw the immediate retirement of its chief operating officer after a leadership struggle within the company. The Forest City-based motor home manufacturer says its profit fell to $11.7 million for the quarter, compared to $12.9 million in the same quarter a year ago. Net income for the fiscal year was also down about $4 million compared to Fiscal Year 2014.

Vice President of Sales and Product Development Scott Degnan says despite the lower profit numbers, the attitude is positive within the company. “The management team here and the employees seem to be very positive with where we ended. You know, we do have some constraints here and so we are somewhat limited in how many (motor homes) we can produce and ship, but they are working on plans to fix that,” Degnan says. “But all in all, we still made over 41 million dollars year and feel pretty good about it.”

Degnan says the company’s gross margin improved from the third quarter but there were several factors that cut into profits, such as warranty expense, costs related to motorized manufacturing inefficiencies, and costs related to the retirement agreement with the company’s former CEO Randy Potts. Degnan says the company continues to be happy with their overall sales numbers. He says the market continues to be healthy and it’s been growing at a good pace.

Degnan says the prognosticators of the industry say it’s going to continue to grow moving forward, maybe not quite as robustly as it has, but single-digit type growth moving forward. He says that would be perfect for the company to have some slow, steady growth in the industry. “So, really good numbers and a really good outlook for the future,” Degnan says.

Winnebago earlier this week announced the sale of its Metro Link transit bus operation to Metro Worldwide LLC of Clear Lake, a subsidiary of PNI Incorporated. Degnan says the company wanted to concentrate on motor homes. He says it’s about motor homes being the “bread and butter” for the company, and the more they can free up people, resources and space to build more motor homes to keep up with the demand, the better for everyone.

Degnan says motor home retail registrations increased 28 percent in the fourth quarter and 16 percent on a rolling 12-month basis, while towable retail registrations increased 21 percent in the quarter and 14 percent on the 12-month basis.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)