Winnebago Industries CEO Expects Financial Stability During Pandemic Recovery

Picture of Michael Happe, President & CEO of Winnebago

Winnebago Industries gave details about its plans to support employees and maintain stability in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday morning.

The company indicated its finances are strong and that it will continue providing for employees’ needs as many of them return to work in the coming weeks. Winnebago Industries also recently launched an emergency assistance fund for staff and their families, called the WGO Together Fund.

President and CEO Michael Happe said he expects the company to not only endure the current economic downturn, but to potentially benefit from a higher interest in the RV lifestyle post-pandemic.

“We remain convinced that the powerful appeal of the outdoors will endure through these uncertain times and end consumers will increasingly be attracted to the RVing and boating lifestyle,” Happe said.

Also on Wednesday, Winnebago Industries announced many of its plants will gradually return to manufacturing operations starting the week of May 4.

The company confirmed that all remaining furloughed employees will maintain their medical and dental insurance benefits during any unpaid leave. Winnebago Industries began implementing “significant cost containment and financial management measures” at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recently announced it will continue to do so.

“While we closely monitor community conditions related to the pandemic and track consumer appetite for our products and outdoor activity, our organization will continue to make necessary and critical decisions around expense management, capital deployment, and strategic product development that will ensure our long-term financial stability and position our incredible team to compete successfully in the future,” Happe said.

Winnebago Industries reported it is “operating from a strong liquidity and financial position,” with $123 million cash on hand at the end of February. The company also announced that it has access to a $193 million ABL credit facility, but considering its cash position, at this time has elected to forego drawing on that facility.

Under its current credit facility, Winnebago Industries has no significant debt maturities until November 2023, the company announced Wednesday.

The company will continue to evaluate its liquidity across several economic and RV industry scenarios and will work with its strategic banking partners to consider the appropriate alternatives to pursue in the capital markets for each of these scenarios.

WGO Together Fund

Winnebago Industries recently created an emergency assistance fund to further support its employees during the crisis. The company shared details about new WGO Together Fund on Wednesday.

“Winnebago Industries is committed to supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company announced. “In recognition of these challenging conditions, the company has launched the WGO Together Fund, a COVID-19 emergency assistance resource for Winnebago Industries employees with particularly high cases of financial hardship due to the pandemic.”

The Winnebago Industries Foundation has provided grants to the fund, and is encouraging additional opportunities with a dollar-for-dollar match, up to a certain cap, to employees, families and friends who wish to provide tax-deductible contributions to the fund. The program is currently active and accepting applications.

The company announced it intends to focus this effort on COVID-19 hardship cases for the present time, and then transition to an ongoing, general emergency assistance fund for its employees into the foreseeable future.

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