- Created: Tuesday, 18 March 2014 17:51
Winnebago Industries offers free factory tours of its manufacturing facilities in Forest City, Iowa. According to the company, more than 10,000 visitors tour the factory each year, getting the inside story of one of America's most iconic brands.
Founded in 1958, "Winnebago" became a household word when the company became the first recreation vehicle manufacturer to build motorhomes in an automotive-style assembly line system.
Winnebago builds Winnebago, Itasca and Winnebago Touring Coach motorhome brands.
Tour details and Big Bertha
"If you haven't been on our tour, you are missing out," said Randy Potts, Winnebago chairman, CEO and president. The tour shows how Winnebago motorhomes are built from start to finish, Potts said, and also covers technology and designs that are unique to Winnbago.
The tour starts at the Winnebago Visitors' Center with a 20-minute video that offers a preview of the manufacturing process. After the video, the tour bus, manufactured by Winnebago Industries, departs for a drive-through tour of the grounds.
Tour goers also can do walk-in tours of three buildings: the Chassis Weld facility, where the raw chassis is prepared to become a home on wheels with the front cab and basement storage added; the Stitchcraft facility that builds chairs, window valances, sofas and other furniture pieces; and the company’s main production building, which is called Big Bertha.
Equivalent in size to eight football fields, Big Bertha features three production lines. Visitors will see the magnitude of this building thanks to mezzanines that provide a bird's-eye view.
Winnebago Museum, Visitors' Center
Before or after the tour, visitors can visit the Winnebago Museum, which is located in the upper level of the Visitors' Center. The museum chronicles the company's 56-year history, as well as the design and construction of the company's motorhomes.
In spring and summer, the Visitors' Center features some of the latest models of the Company's Winnebago, Itasca, and Winnebago Touring Coach motorhomes, as well as Winnebago towables, right off the assembly lines.
In addition, visitors can see one of the first motorhomes built by Winnebago Industries, the classic 1967 Winnebago D22, as well as a 1959 trailer.
The Visitors' Center is also home to WIT Club, the company's product owners club, and Winnebago Outdoor Store, which offers a variety of Winnebago branded apparel and gifts.
More Winnebago tour info
Tours are open to persons of all ages. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The Visitors' Center is accessible to those with disabilities; the factory tour, however, does include three staircases.
Tours, which last approximately two hours, are offered twice daily: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday from April through October, and at 1 p.m. in November. For groups larger than six, reservations are recommended.