Who Owns Winnebago?

Winnebago Industries, Inc. is a well-known American company that manufactures recreational vehicles (RV). It is located in Forest City, Iowa. It also has manufacturing facilities in Florida, Minnesota as well as Indiana. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of the company’s stock are traded under the symbol WGO. It is an investor-owned company.

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Company Creation

John K. Hanson was a businessman from Forest City, Iowa. He founded the company in February 1958. During this time, Winnebago County in Iowa was experiencing economic challenges. Hanson joined with a group of local leaders. Together they were able to convince a California company called Modernistic Industries to establish a travel trailer factory in their county. This was done as a way to help the local economy. The company was incorporated in Iowa in February 1958.

Name Change

The beginning of the company was difficult. It was called Modernistic Industries and had 17 employees. A 15-foot Aljo trailer was its first product. It came off of the assembly line and retailed at $895. It was obvious the company had potential. The company was purchased by five Midwestern businessmen. They made John K. Hanson the company president. In 1960, the company’s name was changed to Winnebago Industries. This name was based on the river that goes through Forest City and the County in Iowa where the company was started.

First Motor homes

The first motor home manufactured by the company rolled off its assembly line in 1966. The company was able to sell it at a cost that was half of what its competitors were charging for similar models. It was a huge hit with members of the RV community. The company’s name soon became synonymous with the term motorhome. It is often a word used to describe a motorhome whether it was manufactured by the company or not. The company went from making $1 million a year in 1961 to making $1 million a day by 1968. Soon the company was the top manufacturer of motorhomes and travel trailers in the United States.


The company introduced the Minnie Winnie in 1973. It quickly became very popular and continues to be built in the 21st century. There are also times when fuel prices impact the decision to purchase a motorhome. To accommodate this situation, the company created the Winnie Wagon. It comes with a pop-up and has a low profile. During the 1980s and 1990s, the company expanded to provide medium-duty utility vehicles. There is also a strong market for Winnebago parts.

American Road Culture

There are a number of television series and movies that feature the company’s products. The stories often involve a desire for adventure and the need to give up the domestic life. It is often portrayed as a cozy family sanctuary. People often see living in a motorhome as an escape from society and participation in a free, nomadic lifestyle on the road.

  • In 1987 the movie “Spaceballs” featured a modified version of the company’s motorhome. It was fitted with rocket engines and wings for traveling in space.
  • The animated television series “Glenn Martin, DDS” had an episode in 2009 with the dentist taking his family on a road trip after burning down their home. They used one of the company’s products.
  • A documentary was made in 2010 about an RV salesman. It featured outtakes from one of the company’s industrial films that was released in 1989. The industrial film was popular underground and viewed on VHS tape. It recently became popular with internet users.
  • The television series “Breaking Bad” ran from 2008 to 2013. It featured a family man who changed one of the company’s products into a mobile methamphetamine lab.


The company is responsible for innovations that changed the manufacturing of the motorhome industry.

  • They created an assembly line that is similar to an automotive-style assembly line. It is designed to enhance outstanding craftsmanship in making motor homes.
  • They designed a superstructure framework for integrity in the manufacturing process.
  • They incorporated lightweight construction that is known for being strong and uses a Thermo-Panel roof and walls.

The company today is a leading manufacturer of outdoor lifestyle products in the United States. It is now dedicated to building quality travel trailers, motorhomes, boats as well as fifth wheel products. It is still considered a leading pioneer for innovation in the motorhome industry.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.