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James and I just got back from our most recent trip! Were we at the beach? Nope! A national park? Nope! WE WERE IN IOWA!!!!
We’ve had “Winnebago” on the brain lately, so it seemed fitting to go snoop around their headquarters and check them out. It all started in January when the Winnebagans came to Salt Lake City for the giant Outdoor Retailer show.
The OR show is THE trade show for all things active and outdoorsy. The public isn’t invited, but James and I get to attend as part of the press corp. Winnebago, who’s clearly motivated to connect with this active, outdoorsy crowd, actually showed up with the Travato! We were so excited and impressed. No other RV manufacturers were around.
James and I see the Travato as an exciting part of the current shift in HOW people are RVing. Did you see the article on CNBC about this very topic? (Plus they mentioned us!)
The days of sitting in the lawn chair all day at the RV park are being replaced. RVers are shifting to a more active and adventurous demographic, and they want their RVs to fit that lifestyle. And here we have Winnebago stepping up and taking notice. Finally, FINALLY! In talking with the Winnebagans, they have lots more in store for the active RVer, and they are constantly updating their plans for the Travato. That made us even bigger Winnebago fans.
We had to go see all this for ourselves, so we headed to Iowa. Iowa is nothing new for me. My parents were raised in Clinton, Iowa, both ISU alums (go Cyclones!). They actually met at college, never knew each other before that, even though they’re from the same hometown. My grandpa Howard (dad’s side) owned Elmwood Dairy in Clinton; any of you remember it? It was back in the milk delivery days, but the dairy was most fondly remembered for its unique ice-cream flavors and getting cones and shakes in the front of the dairy.
My grandma Ginny (mom’s side) was a nurse for DuPont, which had a huge plant in Clinton back then.
I was actually born in Iowa City (go Hawks! yeah, I got both covered), though we didn’t live there long.
My parents now reside just north of the Iowa border. My sister, however, is still an Iowan, and lives rurally in the northeastern part of the state.
If you’ve never been to the Winnebago headquarters, prepare to be surprised. You’d think, as big of a company as they are, they’d be in a bustling big city. But actually, Forest City, Iowa is a typical, tiny Iowa town (population 4,000) with a large agricultural influence. That’s not the only surprising thing. Even though this is a publicly traded company, and not family-owned like our other favorites (LTV, Pleasure-Way, Advanced RV), it had that family feel to it. It’s small-town people running it, so it makes sense. I find this incredibly endearing; perhaps partly because I feel such a connection, with Winnebago being a huge part of my birth state and all. There’s a lot of pride in this company, and there’s even a long list of people who have been working there OVER 30 years!
We had a blast on the factory tour, and will eventually put up a video so you can see it, too…but since we took 217 video clips on the tour (a little overexcited, I admit), it might be a while. We also swung by my folk’s place in Minnesota while up that way, and got to see my siblings, too. What a great trip!
We’ll be heading out in the RV again in a few weeks….heading to the Advanced Fest Open House, and then northward to visit our friends at The Hitch House in Canada. Will keep you posted and we hope to see you on the road!
Here I am in my parents’ Open Road van. Maybe THIS is why I’m such a huge Class B fan today!!!