Winnebago CEO: Buyers are still scarce
Winnebago CEO Bob Olson says his company is still dealing with the effects of the recession and is waiting for retail buyers to start buying again.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Olson said that the sales rebound the RV manufacturer has seen in recent months was due to dealers restocking, not consumer demand.
"The dealers, they took their inventories down to historical levels - and I mean not by just a little bit, they took it down pretty significantly to record lows," Olson told the news source."Well they have now looked at it and said, 'Spring is coming. We've got empty shelves. We've got to start the replenishment cycle.' So they started that about four months ago."
The economic downturn hit the RV industry especially hard. In 2009, sales totaled about 12,000 units compared to a peak of 70,000 units sold in 2004. The industry also had massive lay-offs because of the recession.
Olson told Reuters that Winnebago has rehired 350 of the nearly 2,200 workers it laid off over the past two years and is running all three assembly lines at Forest City, Iowa, to keep up with dealer demand.
"The difference about this recession over others ones we've dealt with in the past was that it went so deep, with such velocity, that you couldn't keep up," Olson told Reuters.