October '17

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20 • RV PRO • October 2017 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S A glaring number jumped off the pages of the third quarter report of Winnebago Industries, which came out in mid-June. The report showed that, as of May 27, Winnebago's backlog of travel trailers and fifth wheel orders totaled 8,657 units. The bulk of that nearly $270 million tally represented orders placed by dealers of Grand Design RV, a wholly owned Winnebago subsidiary. "At Grand Design's current production rate, dealer lead times were becoming lengthy. That was unacceptable and we needed to do a better job of timely supplying our dealers with their orders," Grand Design President and CEO Don Clark says in retrospect. In fact, by late May, Clark and his team had already pre- pared a comprehensive expansion proposal to head off future dealer backlog frustrations. The solution is a more than $10 million expansion project that will provide two new, state- of-the-art, 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facilities on a 52-acre site immediately south of Grand Design's Middlebury, Ind., campus. One of the new plants will provide much-needed capacity for Grand Design's most popular products. The other will house a new product line that Grand Design dealers have urged the RV maker to build, according to Clark. "We will be entering a major market segment and will do it in typical Grand Design style," he says. "Where everybody else is going left, we're going right. It will be distinctive. We want to excite the dealers and retail customers when we unveil the product." Clark is keeping details under wraps for now, but he believes it could help Grand Design/ Winnebago as it tries to decrease the chasm between it and towable leaders Thor Industries and Forest River. Grand Design also will build a multi-million-dollar addition to its lamination operations "to keep up with the incredible growing demand for our products," Clark says. The new facilities will bring Grand Design space under roof to more than 1 million square feet, while adding between 350 and 400 workers, according to Clark's estimates. In all, the expansion will provide much needed production space within the Grand Design business, and will have a positive impact on all Grand Design brands. Meanwhile, as a service to its end users, Grand Design is building a small campground where customers can stay while repairs are being made to their coaches. The campground, which will include full-service hookups for eight campsites, will be located immediately north of the company's customer service center. The opening is planned for this month. The RV maker hasn't slowed down since its October 2016 acquisition by Winnebago. Grand Design recently broke ground on two new manufacturing facilities, one of which will produce a new product line. Grand Design: One Year Later By Steve Bibler A large group of people turned out for the Aug. 23 groundbreaking ceremony on Grand Design's campus in Middlebury, Ind. Grand Design is building two 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facilities to help keep up with the strong demand for its products. PHOTOS BY STEVE TOEPP/MIDWEST PHOTOGRAPHICS

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