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Forest City-based Winnebago doubles profits, reports $1.5 billion in revenue

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Forest City Winnebago

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette

FOREST CITY | Winnebago Industries, Inc. on Thursday reported it has more than doubled its profits this year. 

The Forest City-based leading U.S. recreation vehicle manufacturer, said in a news release its fiscal 2017 revenues were $1.547 billion, up 58.6 percent from $975.2 million the previous year.

The company attributed the profits to the addition of Grand Design and growth in its towable products. Founded in 2012, Middlebury, Indiana-based Grand Design generated $248 million in revenue in 2015-16 before Winnebago purchased it for $500 million in 2016. 

In 2016, Grand Design said it had experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 80 percent since 2013. 

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Assembly line worker Scott Lieber examines the inner roof of an RV on the assembly line at Winnebago Industries in Forest City in March 2016. 

Winnebago has made “significant progress” in transforming itself into a “larger, more profitable outdoor lifestyle company offering a full line of RVs,” President and CEO Michael Happe said in a statement. 

The company has paid down its debt ahead of schedule, Happe said, with $69 million paid off since the end of the first quarter.

“I want to thank all our Winnebago Industries employees for their hard work over the year and their continued dedication to providing our customers with an extraordinary experience and strengthening our company overall,” Happe said.

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Assembly line workers Jared Maas, right, and Stan Trca work under the chassis of an RV on the Winnebago Industries assembly line in Forest City in March 2016. 

The company’s fourth quarter revenues were $454.9 million, an increase of 72.8 percent compared to $263.3 million the previous year. The quarter ended Aug. 26.

Although revenues for its motorized RVs — $226.2 million — were down 4.4 percent from the previous year, Winnebago reported its revenues from towable RVs more than doubled.

Those revenues were $228.7 million, up $202.1 million over the prior year. Winnebago said that was due to $193.4 in revenue from the Grand Design acquisition and growth in its branded towables, up 33 percent from last year.

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Workers walk in a production area of Winnebago Industries in Forest City in this file photo from April 2015.

As a result, Happe said the company’s towable division will receive a $12 million expansion. The division is located in Indiana. 

“We have very strong brands, and our long-term aspiration is to be the undisputed leader in the market,” Happe said. 

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