Founded in 1958, Winnebago Industries is a leading U.S. manufacturer of outdoor lifestyle products, including quality motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheel products, and boats. Brands include Winnebago, Grand Design, and Chris-Craft. The company is committed to helping customers explore the outdoor lifestyle and to providing unmatched innovation, quality, and services. Winnebago is based in Forest City, Iowa, and has facilities in Iowa, Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota, and Florida.
Winnebago’s relationship with The Bailey Group (TBG) began in late 2015, when new CEO Michael Happe selected Leigh Bailey to be a personal leadership coach and conduct an assimilation session with the executive leadership team (ELT). Mike, a 19-year veteran of Toro and a first-time CEO, faced substantial challenges at Winnebago, chief among them a lack of strategic vision and direction for the organization’s future.
The company also needed to recruit new executive talent capable of successfully meeting the challenges the company faced and broaden the recreational vehicle portfolio into towables, the industry’s largest and fastest growing segment.
Against this backdrop, Mike sought to establish a new direction for Winnebago, one that included inorganic growth investments, a more engaged board of directors, and establishing a corporate presence in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The overarching goal was to provide Winnebago with the strategic and intellectual resources it needed for successful long-term growth.
With these goals in mind, TBG provided individual coaching for Mike and conducted personality assessments of the current leadership team. As new leaders were being recruited, we worked with the human resources department to conduct pre-hire assessments to identify candidates who were a strong cultural fit and could bring critical thinking skills to the team. We then led team-building and group development exercises with the newly formed ELT.
Mike set up a Twin Cities-based office, which helped Winnebago recruit new talent, including most of his ELT. Drawing on our coaching expertise grounded in behavioral neuroscience, we worked with Mike and his team, helping them identify individual and team goals to ensure alignment. We also provided team building, group development, and individual coaching for other employees on an as-needed basis.
Recently, our work expanded to board development, including surveying the board and ELT members and leading a series of working sessions to help the board operate more effectively. To foster stronger interaction, we facilitated the formation of individual committees, each with different action items, and encouraged cross-committee communication. “Winnebago’s board had many new members, each bringing his or her individual ideas to the group.” says a coach from TBG. “The biggest benefit of this work was that they became a team.”
Over the past few years, Winnebago has undergone a major
operational and human talent transformation. The company
has grown significantly, and most of the board and the entire
executive leadership team are new.
In 2016, Winnebago acquired Grand Design, the fastest-
growing brand in the history of the RV industry, substantially increasing the towables portion of its portfolio. Two years
later, it acquired Chris-Craft, the iconic recreational luxury boat builder, in an effort to begin profitable diversification
into new outdoor industries.
As Winnebago continues to acquire other companies, cultural
integration remains a priority. TBG’s work with Mike is
ongoing, as is our involvement in helping him hire, develop, and engage talented people.
“We are pleased to be a strategic partner to Winnebago in
developing leaders for today and the future,” says Leigh.
“Under Mike’s leadership, Winnebago has a bright future.”
I’ve been extremely pleased with the relationship with Leigh and the entire Bailey Group team. Leigh’s personal coaching for me as a new CEO has been invaluable in terms of growing into the job, and we’ve found multiple ways to use TBG’s resources and expertise to address our leadership needs throughout the board and the management team. I’m an improved leader and we are a better company because of our work with The Bailey Group.
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