Winnebago Industries axing hundreds in Junction City

Company officials said they've been struggling to make a profit and plan to move their Class A diesel motorhome manufacturing to Iowa.

Posted: Feb 4, 2019 11:21 AM
Updated: Feb 4, 2019 6:18 PM

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. -- Winnebago Industries will lay off 220 employees at its Junction City manufacturing plant, company officials said Monday morning.

Chad Reece of Winnebago said the change comes as they've been struggling to make a profit. He said they plan to move their "Class A" diesel motorhome manufacturing to Iowa.

"It's based around some efficiency needs and some things there," Recce said. "Obviously, we found some very strong and great workforce there and this transition will move that production back into the midwest."

The Junction City plant has 250 workers and does motorhome manufacturing, as well as parts and services.

Reece said they plan to keep the parts and service department in Junction City, which will leave about 30 employees. The transition will be completed by this fall but the layoffs could start as early as April, Reece said.

Winnebago Industries has been in Junction City since 2015 after Country Coach, another RV maker, filed for bankruptcy. Donna Wickwire of Max Porter's Coffee House remembers what it felt like when Country Coach left and is worried the layoffs could impact her business.

"It was really depressing," Wickwire said. "It was sad because there used to a be a lot of people and downtown was vibrant. People were coming and going and it seemed like a lot of businesses did close and a lot of things did change."

KEZI 9 News reached to employees at Winnebago to see how they are doing but none of them wanted to speak to us on camera. Some of them did tell us they heard rumors of the layoffs and suspected it was coming.

Rick Kissock of the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce said Winnebago is one of the largest employers in the area and feels for the workers. He also is worried about what will happen to the empty manufacturing plant. Winnebago officials said the company would determine its plans for the vacant assembly space in the near future.

"Remember it's a small community and close-knit community and everybody is going to know somebody impacted by this," said Kissock.

Reece said they are offering severance packages to qualified workers and say some will have the opportunity to continue to work with the company.

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