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Editorial: Potts’ Departure Raises Questions

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The departure of Randy Potts as chief executive officer and president of Winnebago Industries raises questions.

Just exactly what direction did the motor home manufacturer’s board of directors want the company to take is one. Another is how much influence do shareholders have in determining that direction, The Globe Gazette writes

By many standards, Winnebago Industries was doing well under Potts’ leadership. The company had just completed another consecutive fiscal quarter with a profit and increased revenue.

Sales, revenue and profit all grew in the four years Potts was CEO.  The company’s new products including the return of the retro-styled Brave and Chieftain and the Class B Travato became highlights of the RV industry.

Winnebago began to again pay dividends to stockholders. That dividend was .9 cents a share to stockholders. That dividend is less than .27 cents per share paid by Thor Industries but Thor also recorded $1.17 billion in sales in its most recent quarter.

So what difference in direction causes a CEO’s resignation to be effective the same day it’s announced?

The company is “seeking an aggressive leader with strong long-term vision and strategic planning abilities,” company spokesman Sam Jefson said.

It seems difficult to find fault with Potts’ long-term vision and strategic planning. Under Potts’ leadership the company began investing in new software and planning to make production and planning more efficient.

Some ideas didn’t work out as well as planned. It took well into two years before the towable branch recorded a profit.  The company isn’t sharing many highlights about the transit product started under Potts’ watch.

Potts also had to contend with low unemployment rates and a constant hiring process as well as interruptions in some parts delivery.

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