Forest City-based Winnebago Industries says the actions at the company’s Winnebago, Grand Design RV, Newmar, and Chris-Craft facilities are in response to the spread of COVID-19 and an unforeseeable change in business circumstances that accompanied it.
Chad Reece, Winnebago’s director of corporate relations, says production will be suspended starting this week through at least April 12th. “Our top priority here at the company is the health and well-being of our employees, and also our business partners, our customers in the communities that we operate in too,” Reece says. “Those are our key areas of concern here, and we want to make sure we’re proactive here in the ever-evolving face of this crisis and making sure that we were doing the proper rules and activities to protect those groups.”
Reece says the company will support its employees and their families with pay and benefits during at least the initial phase of the shutdown. “We want to be able to support our employees and their families in the best way we can in the situation,” Reece says. “Employees that are impacted will be provided with two weeks of salary or pay and benefits during that period, too.”
Winnebago is also seeing demand for its products shift dramatically as the nation takes appropriate actions to curb the spread of coronavirus. Reece says while a lot of the company’s products are used for recreation, other products can be used for support activities as well.
“We do believe that there are opportunities for our products to be used to support different activities as far as the support that is needed around some of the logistics testing, sleeping quarters, those type of things, but we’re looking at the changing environment that changes basically every day from a standpoint,” Reece says. “With this situation and viability of what may be in the future, we want to be prudent. But the main concern for our decision is the safety and well-being of our employees.”
Winnebago Industries employs about 2,000 people in north-central Iowa, with about 5,500 employees overall in Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, and Florida.
(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)