(Monday, March 23, 2020) — Winnebago Industries Inc. announced today it will temporarily suspend most production activities at the company’s Winnebago, Grand Design RV, Newmar Corp., and Chris-Craft (boating) facilities. It’s the first major RV manufacturer to halt its production lines.
The closing could potentially idle many of the company’s 5,500 employees in Iowa and Florida, including roughly 3,500 in Elkhart County, Indiana.
According to a release, this action is in response to the national spread of the coronavirus, the national emergency associated with the virus, and unforeseeable change in business circumstances that have accompanied it. These steps are designed to lower the probability of coronavirus exposure to employees and adjust future production output relative to a fast-changing demand landscape for the company’s products.
Winnebago Industries and its businesses will remain open and perform essential activities for its dealers and end customers, including remote retail support for dealers, along with technical care, warranty administration and parts fulfillment. Each of the company’s businesses will suspend production during the week of March 23 and based on present conditions, the manufacturing suspension is currently anticipated to last through April 12.
“As this global situation continues to rapidly evolve, our top priority is the health and well-being of our employees, business partners, customers and communities,” said Winnebago Industries President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Happe. “We are also seeing demand for our products shift dramatically as the nation takes appropriate action to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This decision is not an easy one, but we are confident it is in the best interests of all our stakeholders. During this time, we will remain flexible with operations that can provide products related to the support of mobile health care, command centers and other logistical needs that local, state and Federal resources may require during this crisis.”
To support employees and their families affected by this temporary production suspension, the company is providing base pay and benefits for the first two weeks.
“As we take precautionary measures in the best interest of both our employees’ health and our long-term business prospects, we remain confident in the strength of our balance sheet and in our cash position to allow us to provide the appropriate pay and benefits to our employees and weather a period of business interruption from this health crisis,” Happe continued.
Winnebago Industries will continue to monitor this situation very closely and is committed to executing contingency plans that ensure a safe work environment for employees and disciplined production strategies that benefit the company and its channel partners before resuming full operations.
The action is in response to the national spread of the coronavirus, the national emergency associated with the virus, and unforeseeable change in business circumstances that have accompanied it. These steps are designed to lower the probability of coronavirus exposure to employees and adjust future production output relative to a fast-changing demand landscape for the company’s products.