Winnebago Industries is merging its Itasca lines into the Winnebago name in an effort to emphasize the Winnebago brand and phase out its Itasca moniker, Winnebago Vice President of Sales and Product Management Scott Degnan told RV PRO.
Degnan said Wednesday that the move is part of an ongoing process that began years ago.
“This goes back at least two years, and maybe even a little more, where we started to de-emphasize the Itasca name physically on the motorhomes … but the real goal is to emphasize the Winnebago brand,” he said.
Since 1975, Winnebago has sold motorhomes under both names. Today, each Itasca reflects a similar Winnebago-branded unit, sharing the same chassis and shape. Some dealers sell both lines, and others sell one or the other, but Degnan said the move would not affect dealer agreements.
“There will be no dealer agreements affected by this,” he said. “Those have all changed or evolved over the past couple of years.”
One of those changes included making dealer agreements specific to models, rather than the overarching Itasca and Winnebago brands, which Degnan said had taken place about two years ago.
“The individual brand is what is important on the dealer agreement, so yes, in any given market, if there is a dealer that has the ability to carry products that used to be considered under the Winnebago name or used to be considered under the Itasca name, those individual brands now stand on their own, and they can go to whoever the best dealer is in the market,” he said.
Winnebago doesn’t have a specific date in mind for when it will have the Itasca name completely phased out, but Degnan noted that, for the most part, it’s already happened.
“I think it’s going to end up there (with the Itasca name phased out entirely), and we’re probably there now,” he said. “It’s been an ongoing process, and we’re probably there now to where the name Itasca is not on the outside of any of the motorhomes.”
Though the move to de-emphasize the Itasca brand has evolved over the past two years, many dealers first heard about the initiative last week at the RV Dealers Convention in Las Vegas.
Bill Hawley, who owns the nation’s oldest Winnebago dealership in Dodge City, Kan., said he first heard of the move at the RVDA Convention, and didn’t anticipate the change affecting his business.
“We’re so far away from where anyone else wants to be in business that it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
A California dealer, speaking on the condition that he would not be named, said he first noted the change a month ago at the RV Industry Association Show in Pomona, Calif., when he saw Winnebago-branded units in a competitor’s display.
“All those Itasca dealers should be excited because they’re all Winnebago dealers now,” he said. “One of our competitors sells Itasca, and now they’re Winnebago dealers.”