Winnebago's Christ-Craft in for major changes

Plans under consideration include:

  • Expanding its plant on 17 acres. The company has site-plan approval from Manatee County to add 80,000 square feet of building, increasing its current 160,000 square feet by about a third.
  • Adding up to 250 staff to its current payroll of about 340 over the next five years. The company had 20 openings last month. The immediate aim is to produce more boats and fill a gap in its lineup.

“There are parts of the market we don’t participate in, and we’re going to be able to migrate into those,” Heese said. “Right now, we compete mainly above 25 feet and there’s a lot of market below 25 feet, so we don’t have to go very far down to pick up a lot of potential market.”

“Chris-Craft was interested in whether the RV industry could use a more refined approach to design,” Happe said, “and we were looking to expand our design approach as well.”

The two companies discussed opportunities and projects and developed trust. Happe said Winnebago officials also learned about Chris-Craft’s “growth plans and what they aspired to be, where they wanted to take their brand, and our team at Winnebago got excited about their vision and the way they did things, the way they treated their employees, the dealers, the way they took care of their customers.”

Winnebago’s new vision statement is to become a premier outdoor lifestyle company, not just a recreational vehicle manufacturer. “The marine industry is an adjacent industry we believe will grow as more people continue to come back to the water.”

Nation’s take:

This should be great news for Grand Design owners. While other RV manufactures continue to consolidate brands, Winnebago is diversifying. It feels like this is a smart move to help protect the company rather then relying on income from one market.

What is more important is could we combine the unique ability for Winnebago to produce many of their own parts and the luxury and style of Chris-Craft with the other brands such as Grand Design. It would be welcomed to see a manufacture design RV’s for the next generation of younger enthusiasts.