FOREST CITY, Iowa – There’s a big event in north Iowa drawing in thousands of people from around the country. The Grand National Rally is underway in Forest City.
It’s an annual gathering of those who love Winnebago products.The rally is in its 45th year, which means hundreds of Winnebago RVs are parked in north Iowa.
Gary Prins has had his Winnebago for about 4 years, but he put a lot of time and research into his decision to buy an RV.
“The old Vectras that were made at that time had a chassis air bag suspension. I’m a truck driver, and I wanted that air bag suspension,” Prins explains.
This is his third year at the WIT Club Grand National Rally. He says there’s something about the RV lifestyle that drives folks back year after year.
“Yeah, we have a lot of fun, visit a lot of people. Really enjoy the rally here, get to meet a lot of people.”
One of the must-sees at this years rally is the Winnebago Grand Tour. It’s the top of the line, most expensive RV you can get at Winnebago, and it can be yours for only $430,000.
If Winnebago is making RVs at that price range, there has to be a market for them. There is, according to product manager, Ryan Roske.
“The market itself is growing since ’09. It’s getting back to where it used to be,” Roske explains.
He says if people have the money to spend on an RV in that price range, they’re likely going to want one that does it all.
Roske says the industry has had its ups and downs over the past decade.
“Going back to ’04, the market had boomed. Then, when the recession hit in ’08, everything kind of drastically went down,” adds Roske.
But, he says since then, they’ve been gaining those customer back. Customers like Gary Prins, who wouldn’t trade the feeling of driving his RV around.
“Driving a big bus reminds me of a big ol’ truck, I mean it’s got air horns, air breaks, it’s what we need.”
Winnebago does have some of its newest coaches on sale at the rally, including the Grand Tour. The company doesn’t have any numbers on sales at the event quite yet, but they say WIT Club members are their best customers. There are about 1,000 coaches at the event this year. Event officials say attendance is up compared to 2013.